Meet the Dynamic Speakers for IgniteOKC X

As an entrepreneur with more than 20 years of experience, Piyush Patel became an innovator in corporate culture as he grew his company, Digital-Tutors, into a leader throughout the world of online training, educating over 1.5M students around the globe along the way. Piyush is an avid member of the Entrepreneurs’ Organization of Oklahoma, sits as an Advisory Board Member of Regent Bank and The Trust Company of Oklahoma, and continues to advise and speak at local universities and companies around the country. He has won numerous awards acknowledging his entrepreneurship as a trend-setter in our community. When he’s not mentoring new entrepreneurs, you can find him playing video games with his son, Nick, cooking something delicious in the kitchen or planning a fresh adventure with his wife, Lisa. For now, Piyush’s current business journey takes him to wine country in California where he and Lisa are proud owners of Conclusion Wines in Napa. Every bottle of their high-end wine makes a difference to Oklahoma non-profits. His hope is to leave a positive, lasting mark on those who cross his path.
Valerie S. Reynolds is a native Tulsan and graduated from Booker T. Washington High School and the University of Tulsa with a Bachelors in Psychology. She received her Master’s in Human Development from St. Mary’s University in Minneapolis, MN, along with a certification in Unconditional Love and Forgiveness from the Midwest Institute for Forgiveness. She is a strong advocate for women who have survived rape/sexual assault and has volunteered her time and life coaching skills to help those who wish to become empowered after such a horrific act. After Graduate school, she moved back to Tulsa and worked in the entertainment technology industry, before finding her niche in Human Resources, which she has happily been doing for the last seven years. She is very family oriented and loves that the majority of her family resides in Tulsa. She especially loves getting to spend time with her nieces and nephew. She enjoys playing the piano and has even composed a few of my her own pieces. She loves the outdoors and enjoys taking walks around Tulsa’s beautiful parks. When she gets home from work, her sweet Pitbull terrier, Parker greets her with his adorable face and they play catch in the backyard. She loves hanging out with her friends, whether it’s playing board games, watching movies, enjoying happy hour or just sitting around talking and laughing together. She also enjoys a good lazy, Netflix binge every once in a while. Valerie prides herself on being an authentic person and can honestly say that she doesn’t have any regrets in her life. Every path that she’s taken, person she’s encountered and event that’s occurred, whether good or bad, have all provided valuable lessons and led her to become the person she is today and for that, she is grateful.
David B. McLaughlin is the Assistant Vice-President of American Fidelity and past President and Executive Advisor for the Central Oklahoma Chapter of the Association for Talent Development (ATD). David was the 2016 Oklahoma City Human Resources Society (OCHRS) HR Champion of the Year. David has a Master’s Degree in Education and a B.S. in Accounting from the University of Central Oklahoma. He is a Senior Certified Professional from the Society of Human Resources Management (SHRM-SCP). He has also enjoyed serving on the boards of several non-profit organizations. David is the founder of Full Volume Development, a think tank that explores best practices related to high performance in organizational development.
Eric Laverentz lives in Edmond having recently moved with his family from Overland Park, Kansas. He serves as the Lead Pastor at First Presbyterian Church of Edmond. He and his wife Jen have four young children, a daughter and three sons, ranging in age from two to ten years old. He was born in Muskogee, Oklahoma and has been speaking publicly since the age of 13. He holds a Doctor of Ministry from Pittsburgh Theological Seminary, a Master of Arts (Emphasis on Christian Ethics) from Vanderbilt University, a Master of Theology (Emphasis on Christian Ethics) from Princeton Theological Seminary, and a Master of Divinity from Princeton Theological Seminary, as well as a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from Truman State University. Eric has served churches in Tennessee, Ohio and Kansas prior to coming to Oklahoma. His first paid job, however, was in an amusement park where among his jobs was test-riding roller coasters every morning. As a teenager he ran a business exporting rare dogs all over the country. Eric also currently serves as the National Coordinator for Flourishing Leaders which is dedicated to helping church leadership lead to their fullest capacity and calling. He is frequent Conference Speaker and Workshop Leader on Church Leadership. He was recently a member of the State of Kansas Human Rights Commission for the past three years. Eric is an avid reader, runner, hiker, and Kansas City sports fan. He is the author of two books.
Jeff Provine earned the nickname “Ghost Guy” following the start of a ghost tour at the University of Oklahoma in 2009. Since then, he has added two new Oklahoma spooky tours for Norman and downtown OKC. His collections of local folklore include Campus Ghosts of Norman, Oklahoma; Haunted Norman Oklahoma; Haunted Guthrie, Oklahoma; and Haunted Oklahoma City, the latter two co-written with paranormal investigator Tanya McCoy. In addition to nonfiction tales, Jeff writes science fiction and fantasy. He serves as a curriculum developer and lecturer, teaching courses such as Creative Writing, Mythology, and the History of Comic Books. Jeff lives in Norman with his wife Courtney and their houseful of zany animals.
Dennis Spielman is a filmmaker and writer whose most notable work is his travel and interview series, Uncovering Oklahoma. In addition to his travel series, he’s author of the 16th Phoenix Universe Stories, director of the feature length documentaries, District Up! and Inviting Art, and has created several short films and music videos. He currently lives with his wife in Norman, Oklahoma.
Dave Ross is a speaker, trainer, facilitator, radio station manager, and a story teller. Originally from Sacramento, California, he became an officer in the Air Force after graduating from the United States Air Force Academy. Dave has gathered stories from his diverse life experiences such as flying combat support missions, commanding a recruiting squadron, working with Native villages in Alaska, helping small businesses, and coaching public speakers around the world. He has traveled 27 foreign countries, 49 states, and two US territories. A gifted communicator, Dave has had a near life-long association with Toastmasters International and earned the title of Distinguished Toastmaster and won the World Championship of Public Speaking in 1991. He has jumped out of airplanes, climbed the great pyramid in Egypt, and swam in five of the “Seven Seas”. Dave is a retired Air Force Lieutenant Colonel. He has a Bachelor of Science from the United States Air Force Academy and a Master’s Degree from Oklahoma City University but he thinks life stories are the best form of education.
Clayton Ramick is a tried-and-true Oklahoma City citizen. He was raised in south Oklahoma City, educated in Edmond, and currently lives in the Plaza District with his wife and two animal children. Rumor has it, when you look up the word millennial in the dictionary his headshot is the first thing that comes up. He received his Masters in Nonprofit Leadership in 2016, and is currently the Community and Development Manager for Big Brothers Big Sisters of Oklahoma. When he is not at work or on Twitter, you can find him volunteering, camping, sipping his favorite drinks, or traveling with his high school sweetheart. He is passionate about politics, social justice issues, and child advocacy and plans to make a career in the nonprofit sector for many years to come.
Benedria Smith is the giver of useful information. She Inspires! She is a Humanitarian of the 21st Century! A Best-Selling Author, Mentor, Adjunct Professor, a Researcher, Public Speaker, & Livestream Host of the #BeeInspired Digital Brand. Well known for her dynamic personality and high-impact presentations, she is a tireless community advocate, spokesperson, and educator. She lectures worldwide on Customer Service, Leadership Strategy, Efficiency and Organizational Succession Planning. She serves as a board member for the March of Dimes, the Founder of the Positive Imagination Mentoring Group and most recently, the Creator of the Hope and Empowering #BeeInspired Talks Conferences supporting community advocacy in Oklahoma City and around the World!
Cruise is a classical composer and baker. He would not have it any other way. Born and raised on a large sheep farm in the middle of a tremendous stretch of flat land to an Arab father and Chickasaw mother, he finds himself continually exploring ways to relate and incorporate the two heritages in the kitchen. He studied music composition and piano performance at Oklahoma City University. Until closing in November, he was the Bread Baker and Assistant Pastry Chef at beloved Midtown artisan bakery, Prairie Thunder Baking Company. Take heart casual reader! Though the bakery is gone, his love of naturally leavened bread and pastry lives on. He now teaches piano and composition privately and continues his work as a freelance composer of classical music, but is no stranger to more contemporary musical expression. His music, having been performed at the Guggenheim and Kennedy Center and more locally at the Cox Convention Center and his ‘20’s duplex in the Miller District to an enthusiastic audience of his roommate and dog, has been described by NewMusicBox as, “an exciting, intensely rhythmic roller coaster” with it’s “Shostakovich slashing figures” (Gramophone Magazine). His string music has been recorded on Grammy-winning record label, Thunderbird Records, by NYC-based “virtuosic alternative string quartet,” (The New Yorker), Ethel, in a landmark recording that Encore Magazine states, “reflects a maturity in structure and professionalism in tempo that any veteran contemporary composer would strive for as a marquee achievement.” Lee Passarella of Audiophile Audition says of his music, “very strong work… his obsessive rhythms and repetition of a brief thematic cell call to mind Steve Reich or Terry Riley… clearly music with a bigger compositional horizon than might initially seem apparent.” Spring 2017 will be spent scoring and rehearsing for the world premiere of his fourth string chamber work, Donne XIV in Five Cues, to be premiered in June by new music ensemble, Crossing Borders, at the American Indian Center in Chicago. When he isn’t rowing or thinking up new ways to combine the experiences of food and music, he serves on the Board of the Oklahoma City Philharmonic and as a Music Associate and the Culinary Director of newly formed nonprofit, Fresh Paint Performance Lab, which seeks to provide a supportive space for local artists to experiment, collaborate, and produce new and developing works in the community. In his heart he longs for the ideal collaborative ethos – a quest for a common creative expression that is forged in the fostering of community. He believes that music and all the arts are a training field for innovation and empathy. Cruise lives in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.
Tom Marks has spent his entire career in the creation of hi-tech products. He led the development of over 100 devices in a variety of industries including wireless electronics, human-machine interfaces, and intrinsically-safe control systems – most containing either embedded or computer software components. The last 17 years of his career have been spent in technical leadership: 12 of those in senior or executive level positions. He has worked in a variety of corporate sizes and structures, from small startups to multi-million and billion dollar companies. In that time, he has come to understand the fundamental truth that people and effective teamwork drive the success of any company. Tom holds a B.S. in electrical engineering and an MBA in finance. He currently leads application development for Devon Energy.
Patrick Fuller is an accomplished Executive with nearly 20 years of experience within the legal profession. He has won numerous awards for business development, primarily with start-up and emerging technologies, products, and platforms. As a leader, he has built teams that consistently beat expectations, while driving product innovation and service excellence. As a strategy Consultant, he has worked with both law firms and legal departments, in the areas of Client Growth Strategies, Organizational Strategy, Competitive Intelligence, Mergers & Acquisitions, and Data & Analytics. He is a frequent author and lecturer who has logged more than 100 speaking and authorship credits within the legal profession over his career. He was most recently a contributing author to the book “Strategic Intelligence for Law Firms”, published in September 2016 by ARK Group, and will be a featured author in their 2017 book “Performance Measurement & KPIs”. Patrick was recently recognized by his peers for induction in 2017 as a Fellow in The College of Law Practice Management.
Ty McBride is a preservation entrepreneur who left his family’s large residential roofing & construction business in 2015 to build a business that would inspire homeowners to restore, not replace. In the fall of 2015, Ty assembled a team of rogues and rebels with beards and bad tattoos that would solely focus on restoring and reproducing historic wood windows. In March of 2016, they named the team Wood Window Rescue and have seen great success combining traditional craftsmanship and digital marketing. Ty lives in Oklahoma City’s historic Mesta Park with his wife April, their daughter Sophia and twin boys, Jameson and Charlie.