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Keynote Speakers

Sunday General Session 

August 26 | 10:00 a.m. – 12 Noon

Roy Spence

The Power of Purpose — Where Your Talents and the Needs of the World Intersect

It was 1971, and four recent University of Texas graduates decided to start an advertising agency in Austin, Texas ‐‐ then a funky little college town known primarily for hippies and armadillos. Roy Spence was one of them. He went down to the bank to borrow $5,000 and the loan officer asked, “What is your business plan?” Roy was frozen and then finally said, “Well let’s see. We want to stay together, stay in Austin, make a difference and some money, too.” He got the loan. 

45 years later, Roy and his partners are still together, still in Austin and still trying to make a difference. Roy signs every letter with the words, “Ride at Dawn.” That’s not just a sign‐off, it’s a manifesto — a call to action to live life to its fullest every day. 

Roy is also Co-founder and CEO of The Purpose Institute. The Purpose Institute is focused on discovering the core values that define and shape an organization’s culture and the core purpose that captures the difference an organization makes in the world. 

In 2017, Roy created the Promiseland Project to maximize the power of purpose to enlighten, inspire, engage, and motivate Americans to bridge the cultural divide. The Promiseland Project uses the power of positive, non-partisan, solutions-driven, and purpose-inspired communications to lead the way in building a high-performing, job-creating, mutual-respect Culture of US, within the USA.

Roy is also the author of two books and is a Gallup Senior Adviser as Gallup’s expert on purpose and champion of Clifton’s Strengths Movement. 
The theme for the 2018 PWX is The Power of Public Works! Don’t miss this inspiring opportunity to discover and bring the power of purpose to your public works service to your organizations and communities.  


Monday General Session

August 27 | 8:00 – 9:30 a.m.

Vernice “FlyGirl” Armour

Cleared Hot! You HAVE Permission to Engage

Known simply as FlyGirl, Vernice Armour’s story spans many “firsts” including becoming the first African American woman on the Nashville Police Department’s motorcycle squad, and America’s first African American female combat pilot. 

Upon completion of two tours in Iraq and leaving the military, Vernice leveraged her “Breakthrough Mentality” mindset by creating a 7-step process called the Zero to Breakthrough™ Success Plan. 

She’s been featured on Oprah, CNN, Tavis Smiley, and NPR impressing audiences with her passion for leadership excellence. She’s battle-tested and eager to show the APWA PWX audience how to get cleared for take-off and realize remarkable goal-targeted achievement.

Vernice will offer you tools for creating a solid flight plan that will serve both the needs of your organization and strengthen your professional and personal growth. You’ll discover strategies for self-discipline and tips for moving past challenges and obstacles to achieve mastery.

FlyGirl’s signature book is called Zero to Breakthrough: The 7-Step, Battle-Tested Method for Accomplishing Goals that Matter. 


Tuesday General Session

August 28 | 8:00 – 9:30 a.m.

Jason Latimer

See Beyond the Illusion of Knowledge

Jason Latimer has spent his entire life asking one question, “What is possible?” In pursuit of this question, his ongoing education spans multiple fields including mathematics, applied physics, chemistry, perceptual psychology, and economics. Jason’s quest for knowledge has led to an entirely new paradigm that unites science and magic!

As a magician, Jason’s performances are unprecedented with seventeen consecutive championship titles and awards for his work, including the highest honor the world of magic bestows – The Grand Prix “Best Overall” World Champion of Magic.

In science, Jason is the Curator of Impossible Science at the Reuben H. Fleet Science Center in San Diego, California. There, he continues his research on making “impossibilities” possible and developing curriculum that inspires wonder and showing young audiences how asking the right questions can change everything.

Jason is also breaking ground as host of Comic Con HQ’s digital platform original series “Impossible Science.” This 10-episode show explores how previously “impossible” science fiction ideas are now being brought to life by scientists and engineers who are asking the right questions and challenging the “known” paradigm.

Jason’s presentations captivate audiences with jaw-dropping effects, but it’s his infectious love for the unknown that inspires audiences to join in and ask: “What is possible?”

Wednesday Closing General Session

August 29| 11:00 a.m. – 12:15 p.m.

Jake Wood

The One and Nine: Building Teams and Organizations That Win

For every 100 people in a typical organization or on your team, there are 10 people who shouldn’t even be there, 80 who at their best have a neutral impact, 9 who perform exceptionally, and one who is a true leader capable of taking command and creating a winning team or culture. This reality is forcing organizations to rethink what they know about leadership, change management and risk.  Those that can adapt will thrive, while those that refuse change will flounder and fail. Using his own remarkable journey as an athlete, Marine Scout Sniper, and co-founder of Team Rubicon, Jake Wood will inspire you and explain how you can find and build the team needed to win life’s battles and become the “one” others look to.

Many public works agencies, especially those that have been involved in disaster response and recovery, are familiar with Jake Wood and Team Rubicon. Team Rubicon is the only nonprofit disaster response organization that utilizes the skills of military veterans to rapidly deploy emergency response teams. In giving veterans an opportunity to continue their service, Team Rubicon provides them with a sense of purpose, community and identity.

Since its founding in 2010 following the massive Haiti earthquake, Team Rubicon has responded to over 200 disasters and grown from eight to 75,000 volunteer members. Under Wood’s leadership, the organization has responded following the tornado in Joplin, Missouri, Hurricane Sandy, the tornado in Moore, Oklahoma, Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines, the 2015 earthquakes in Nepal and the devastating hurricanes in Texas, Florida and Puerto Rico in 2017.  

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