2024 Morning Keynote Speaker

Leading Projects in the Age of AI Means Leading Change with our Uniquely Human Abilities (and Letting the Machines do What They Do Best)


The Age of AI will demand a different set of skills from Project Managers. We will need to be ready to use automation to help return business value quickly and efficiently. We will need to differentiate ourselves by connecting with all our stakeholders and team members through effective emotional intelligence. And we will need to bring people through change in a human-centric way that reduces the pain and churn often associated with transition. Gain strategies and tactics for all three in this high-energy keynote.


Presented by Sinikka Waugh, PMP


Sinikka Waugh, PMP, President of Your Clear Next Step, is a recognized leader in understanding people and adapting tools, techniques, and processes to meet the demands of the situation at hand. Sinikka spends her days helping people have better workdays. Trainer, coach, business leader, and difference maker, Sinikka is known for consistently helping people improve their emotional intelligence and find innovative ways to solve problems and get things done at work. Putting her 20+ year background in languages, literature, and project management to good use, Sinikka has provided compassionate leadership in transformation initiatives and helped over 50,000 people have better workdays since 2008.

AM1 & PM1: Project Management in the Age of AI: How to Prepare and Benefit

In this compelling presentation, we will explore the profound impact of Artificial Intelligence (AI) on projects and project management, emphasizing the critical role of preparedness for project managers amidst this disruptive moment.
We will explore the transformative potential of AI-driven project management, envisioning a future where project managers navigate complex projects with the aid of intelligent technologies. The presentation will begin by highlighting the current challenges in project management, where only 35% of projects are deemed successful. With a potential gap in outdated mindsets, tools, and technologies, project managers who embrace AI technologies and other technological innovations can best deliver in an AI-forward organization. Gartner's research predicts that by 2023, 80% of project management tasks will be powered by AI, ushering in a new era of efficiency and success.
Key Takeaways:
  • The Evolving Role of the Project Manager: Project managers must evolve, emphasizing soft skills, leadership, and strategic thinking while integrating AI as a tool for superior decision-making. Attendees will engage in reflection and discussions on preparing organizations and projects for the adoption of AI technologies.
  • Revolutionizing Communication with Virtual Project Assistants: AI-powered virtual assistants will transform project communication and information management, providing real-time updates and intelligent interactions. The session includes practical demonstrations showcasing AI-driven virtual assistants applicable to project management.
This session is designed to empower project managers with the knowledge and tools essential for navigating the AI revolution, ensuring they are well-equipped to thrive in the evolving landscape of project management.

Presented by Lori Schoenhard


Lori Schoenhard, PMP, is a delivery professional with two decades of experience leading PMOs and cross-functional global teams. Her expertise spans global cloud transformations, managing mergers and acquisitions, overseeing business unit operations, directing digital strategy and client implementations, and spearheading change management and process improvement initiatives for Fortune 500 companies to SMBs. Lori is the Founder and Principal of Athena Project Consulting, offering program and operations services, as well as project management talent development.
Lori holds an MS in IT Project Management and Computer Information Systems from Boston University, as well as a BA in Music from Luther College. She has earned several certifications, including PMP, CSM, CSPO, SAFe, and ITIL. Lori resides in Marion, IA, with her husband and daughter.

AM2 & PM2: AI-Powered Project Management

In this interactive session, participants will dive into practical applications of AI in project management. Through guided exercises and demonstrations, attendees will explore opportunities with AI tools and techniques designed to streamline project workflows, enhance decision-making, and improve overall project outcomes. Join us to learn how to tryout using AI effectively in your project management practices.

Presented by Samantha Dahlby and Jess Faber

Samantha-Dahlby.jpg          Jess-Faber.png

Samantha Dahlby is a recovering software engineer with passions for public transportation, kids, and technology. She currently works at the New Bohemian Innovation Collaborative (NewBoCo), a nonprofit in Cedar Rapids, as the Director of K–12 Education. Samantha promotes and supports K–12 computer science education in Iowa, oversees NewBoCo’s K–12 programs for students and educators, and tries to find as much time as possible to play with technology and kids. Her background in computer engineering and various experiences in educational programs both benefit her current role. Samantha also has two young daughters, and has learned to enjoy watching them tear apart *most* things in the name of curiosity.
Jess Faber is the Lead User Experience Designer and Front End Developer at NewBoCo. She routinely shares her skills, knowledge, and experience through speaking engagements at conferences, code bootcamps, and business accelerator programs and holds the distinction of Emerging Technology Leader from The Technology Association of Iowa at the 2021 Prometheus Awards. “We need more girls on this stage” - Jess Bertling at the 2021 Prometheus Awards.

AM3 & PM3: Unlocking the Potential of AI in Project Management: From Meeting Minutes to Strategic Insights

This session examines the substantial impact of artificial intelligence (AI) on project management, encompassing both incremental adjustments and larger transformations. AI’s influence on conventional waterfall projects and agile methodologies are revealing novel approaches and opportunities emerge. Discussion also extends to the broader implications of AI on professional practices and individual career trajectories, highlighting both challenges and prospects. Attendees are invited to explore the transformative potential of AI in reshaping the trajectory of project management.

Presented by Mark Latta, PMP


Mark Latta is a seasoned leader including over 10 years of experience in program and portfolio management, specializing in IT projects. With a diverse background spanning various roles in quality and project management, Mark has successfully led teams across different industries to achieve their objectives. He holds an MBA and a Masters in Strategic Leadership from Mount Mercy University and is a certified Project Management Professional (PMP), Agile Certified Practitioner (ACP), Certified Quality Engineer (CQE), and Certified Manager of Quality and Organizational Excellence (CMQOE).

AM4 & PM4: The AI Frontier: Navigating the Risks of our New World

This session will help you navigate the ethical quandaries, security concerns, and legal compliance challenges posed by AI. We’ll discuss the importance of human oversight, data privacy, and the environmental impact of AI technologies. Additionally, we’ll examine the phenomena of AI biases and hallucinations, empowering you with the insights to confidently and safely chart your AI journey.

Presented by Steve Billingsley

Steve’s career was built by developing solutions, strategies and architectures for insurance, financial services and professional services organizations. He currently manages the Enterprise Architecture team at ITA Group where he leads a multi-faceted team in providing guidance, design, implementation and support of world-class recognition and incentive solutions. Steve's team won the Creative Technology Solution of the Year award for our AI based claims management solution, was a finalist for the Emerging Technology Leader of the Year, is a member of Iowa Technology Leadership Institute and is Co-chair of the Technology Association of Iowa's AI Roundtable.

2024 Afternoon Keynote Speaker

Preserving Human Connection in the AI Landscape

Join us for an insightful keynote as we explore the critical significance of preserving human connection in the evolving landscape of AI's influence. In our time together we will discuss the importance of prioritizing human needs, values and experiences amidst this digital transformation. Additionally, we will discover the importance of empathy as a counterbalance to AI's impersonal nature. This keynote will reinforce the profound impact of human connection on individual well-being and organizational success. 

Presented by Courtney Misener


Courtney is a writer, professional speaker and emotional health advocate. She served as the Director of Programs and Engagement at House of Hope in Cedar Rapids for five years before leaving to teach Boundaries and Emotional Intelligence at a corporate level. Courtney has worked with non-profits, start-ups and companies both small and large to provide tools that promote emotional health, respectful communication, empathy and boundaries. Courtney was named Eastern Iowa's Professional Women's Network 2020 Woman of the Year. Between football games, hip-hop dance competitions and work, you can find Courtney dancing and engaging with the family's robust Instagram account; a community of half a million followers from around the world. A Tennessee girl living in Iowa; her southern roots will hopefully make you feel like you're entering a conversation with a friend. 

Back to Previous Page

Register For PDD 2024