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Youth of the Year Keynote Speakers

February 22nd, 2016

Attending our 2016 Youth of the Year Luncheon? Find out more about our amazing keynote speakers:

Kristin Ekkens

Kristin Ekkens, MA, is a cultural intelligence strategist, speaker and consultant. With experience as manager of Inclusion & Diversity for an integrated healthcare system (23,000+ employees), TEDx speaker (2014), business owner, executive director of a national nonprofit, corporate intercultural trainer and language program director, Kristin brings a unique perspective to global leadership and talent management. Kristin is an activator, achiever, and includer, whose passion is helping organizations drive culturally intelligent innovation. 

In 2015, Kristin was recognized as a 40 under Forty Business Leader by the Grand Rapids Business Journal. She was a nominee for Raising the Bar award from the Grand Rapids Young Professionals and the Bridge Builder award from the West Michigan Hispanic Chamber of Commerce.  In 2014, Kristin was recognized as a "cultural entrepreneur" in the Grand Rapids Business JournalCalvin Spark, and a language journal in Taiwan.  Her workplace learning initiatives have received multiple awards for quality and innovation including international exposure in a 2008 broadcast of ABC World News Tonight with Charles Gibson and recognition in 2011 as a best practice by Singapore Workforce Development Agency. 

Kristin is an advanced certified Cultural Intelligence (CQ) facilitator through the Cultural Intelligence Center and Qualified Administrator of Intercultural Development Inventory (IDI). She earned an MA in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL) from Michigan State University and a BA in Spanish and Linguistics from Calvin College in Grand Rapids, Michigan, USA.  She currently serves as interest section Immediate Past Chair (2014-15) for an international language teaching association. Kristin’s international experience includes living in Spain, Mexico and Costa Rica, and traveling extensively throughout the United States, United Kingdom, Western Europe, and New Zealand. 

Cesar Vargas

Cesar Vargas was born in Guanajuato, Mexico. He migrated to Grand Rapids, Michigan when he was six years old. Playing soccer on open gym nights led him to become engaged in other aspects of the the Boys and Girls Club, which includes the Keys Stone program, and competing for Youth of the Year. He graduated from Union High School, earned his BA in Sociology and Latino Studies from the University of Michigan and is currently pursuing a Master's degree in Higher Education Student Affairs [HESA] at Eastern Michigan. As a first generation college student, he is interested in developing support services geared towards Student Access, and most importantly Educational Attainment. His ultimate goal is to help individuals find themselves as students. Most importantly he genuinely states that all his hard work, goals and objectives are God driven.

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