Speakers

Dr. Virgil A. Wood

Dr. Virgil A. Wood–church leader, educator, and civil rights activist—has committed much of his life’s work to the struggle for economic and spiritual development among the nation’s disadvantaged. In 2011, he joined forces with Fred Stawitz who has assisted him in organizing the FREE The Dream movement.

Ordained as a Baptist Minister in his late teens, Dr. Wood has served churches for over 50 years in Rhode Island, Massachusetts, and Virginia. Dr. Wood concluded his Pastoral Ministry in 2005 at Pond Street Baptist after serving for 25 years.

Actively involved with the Civil Rights movement, he set up Martin Luther King’s work in Virginia as the Lynchburg Improvement Association. From 1963 to 1970, he led the Blue Hill Christian Center in Boston’s Roxbury community, and headed up the Massachusetts Unit of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC). He served on the National Executive Board of the SCLC and coordinated the State of Virginia in the historic “March on Washington” on August 28, 1963.

As Administrator for Opportunities Industrialization Centers (OIC) of America, a job training organization serving disadvantaged and under skilled Americans of all races, he assisted in founding and establishing 13 OIC centers in 8 southern states and in Boston, Massachusetts.

Dr. Wood served as a panelist at 3 White House Conferences under the Johnson, Nixon, and Carter Administrations.  His publications include “In Love We Trust: Lessons I Learned From Martin Luther King” (2005), “The Jubilee Bible” (originator and contributing editor, 1999 & 2012), and “Introduction to Black Church Economic Studies” (1974).

Dr. Wood received a Doctorate of Education from Harvard University. He was Dean and Director of the African American Institute, Associate Professor of Northeastern University in Boston, a Professor at Virginia Seminary and College in Lynchburg, and a visiting Lecturer, Research and Teaching Fellow at Harvard University.

He is joyfully married to the former Lillian Walker, with whom he shared the joys of parenting their now-grown children; they are also proud grandparents. Dr. and Mrs. Wood live in Houston, Texas.

 

LaFern Batie, MBA, SPHR

LaFern Batie is a business strategist, leadership consultant, corporate trainer, keynote speaker and author of Marketing Brand YOU®: Moving from Chaos to Clarity. As CEO of The Batie Group, LaFern is committed to creating practical, high-impact organizational solutions that help leaders maximize performance and profits. With proven corporate and civic leadership experience, the value LaFern and her team deliver to leaders helps them maximize their potential while delivering clear, tangible outcomes. With corporate accounting, operations and human resources experience, she is a visionary with high business acumen and a commitment to excellence.

In addition to extensive executive coach training,  LaFern earned a Master of Business Administration degree from the University of Maryland, a Bachelor of Science degree in Accounting from Salisbury University and a leadership certificate from Harvard University. She holds Senior Professional designations in human resources and is a member of the International Coach Foundation and the National Speakers Association.

 

Dr. Kit Evans-Ford, D.Min. 

National trainer, spiritual retreat leader, and minister, Dr. Kit Evans-Ford is a woman who is passionate about nonviolence, God, and serving others.  She has been a trainer and activist for 13 years working relentlessly in the areas of nonviolence education and assisting people in healing from violence and abuse. Born in Mebane, North Carolina, education became a positive outlet for her.  Kit holds a BA in Communications Studies, a MA in Teaching: Special Education, MA in Social Justice and Community Development, MDiv degree and a Doctor of Ministry Degree in Spiritual Direction from Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary in Evanston, IL. Dr. Kit is a Teach for America and United States Peace Corps Alumni.  She has studied, worked, and served in England, Japan, South Africa, Tanzania, Kenya, Saint Lucia, Saint Kitts and Nevis.

In May of 2008, Kit became a survivor of an extremely violent sexual assault on her life.  After surviving the attack, she became more driven to promote the power of nonviolent social change. Kit is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Theology and Religion at St. Ambrose University .   Dr. Kit also splits her time as the Action Outreach Organizer for Pace e Bene Nonviolence Service where she is one of the lead organizers for Campaign Nonviolence. She has lead in organizing thousands of peace actions around the world.

She is the author of 101 Testimonies of Hope: Life Stories to Encourage Your Faith in God and A Children’s Book On Bishop Richard Allen:  A Nonviolent Journey.  She is also a certified Spiritual Director and founder of Spirit Life, LLC: Spiritual Direction for Everyday People.  Her program Overcoming the Storm:  A Program for Women Healing from Violence and Abuse has assisted many women in their healing from sexual violence through support groups and spiritual retreats.  

Dr. Evans-Ford is the founder of Argrow’s House of Healing and Hope in Davenport, Iowa. Argrow’s House is a safe space where free services are offered daily for women  healing from violence and abuse in the greater Quad Cities area.  Argrow’s House is also a successful social enterprise where women healing from violence and abuse create beautiful bath products that provide a living wage for themselves in a safe space that celebrates who they are.

Dr. Kit is a proud member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated and serves as a minister at Grace City Church. Kit resides in Davenport, Iowa with her husband, Pastor Dwight L. Ford, and children; Imani and Justice.

 

Dr. Burl Randolph, Jr. Colonel, DM

Burl recently retired as a United States Army Military Intelligence Colonel, after 31 years of service to the nation in various command, leadership, and management, intelligence and security, recruiting and retention, and mentoring and performance improvement positions. Burl last served as the Deputy Chief of Staff for Intelligence and Security, G-2, Army Sustainment Command and Rock Island Arsenal, Rock Island, IL. He led intelligence and security professionals in providing accurate and predictive analysis and security services to over 70,000 members worldwide. Burl has extensive strategic and operational intelligence experience, serving as the XVIII Airborne Corps Deputy Chief of Staff for Intelligence, G-2, the Defense Threat Reduction Agency Onsite Inspections as a Site Commander, Deputy Site Commander, Weapons Inspector, and Monitor, and with the Defense Intelligence Agency as an Operations Officer. Much of Burl’s intelligence experience occurred during his three combat tours in Iraq, Kuwait, and Saudi Arabia.

Burl also has broad executive level experience leading several successful recruiting operations throughout the Army. He has served as a Battalion Executive Officer (Corporate VP), leading a staff in supporting recruiting operations in Virginia, West Virginia, Tennessee, and Kentucky. Burl commanded (CEO) the largest recruiting battalion in the Army for 36 months with over 550 personnel in the Washington, DC, Maryland, Virginia, and West Virginia areas. His last recruiting assignment was as a Brigade Deputy Commanding Officer (COO) for 14 states in the Mid and Southwest areas of the United States, leading over 2500 personnel.

Burl earned a Doctor of Management in Organizational Leadership from the University of Phoenix. He also holds a Master of Strategic Studies from the Senior Service College (US Army War College), Carlisle Barracks, PA, a Master of Business Administration from Troy University, and a Bachelor of Science in Business from Iowa State University. Burl received a Doctoral Leadership Scholarship in 2014 for work towards his dissertation, was named a Pinnacle Professional of the Year in 2013 from Continental Who’s Who, and received The Chairman’s Award for 2010 from The ROCKS, Inc. for his efforts in mentoring.

Burl is often sought after as a motivational speaker, and most recently has forayed into youth mentoring and motivational speaking. Burl prides himself on his work not only in the military, but within his passion: Mentoring. Burl began mentoring in 1988 at Fort Hood, TX, was dubbed as The Silent Drummer, and has mentored continuously ever since. Burl has mentored all over the world, influencing notable organizations such as Partnership for Peace in Germany, Campus Crusade for Christ in the Washington, DC area, Carlisle Victory Circle, Carlisle, PA, and most markedly, The ROCKS Inc, in Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Texas, and Iraq. Most recently, Burl served as the founding advisor to Mentoring on the Rock, an officer mentoring organization at Rock Island Arsenal, Rock Island, IL, and as the Director of the newly formed Untapped Wonders, a youth mentoring program in Davenport, IA.