2021 Speakers

Greg Brooks has been thinking, writing, and teaching for much of his adult life. He is passionate about the pursuit of learning in both formal and informal settings. Having served as an adjunct instructor in varied college settings, he currently serves as an adjunct in the humanities department at Lake-Sumter State College and teaches social studies at The Villages Charter High School.  Greg’s publications include articles written for Real Life MagazineLiberty Magazine, Pulpit Digest, and Gospel-Centered Discipleship. He and his wife, Fran, have three children and three grandchildren.  

Heidi A. Campbell is Professor of Communication, affiliate faculty in Religious Studies, and a Presidential Impact Fellow at Texas A&M University. She is also director of the Network for New Media, Religion and Digital Culture Studies (http://digitalreligion.tamu.edu). Her research focuses on intersections between technology, religion and digital culture, with emphasis on Jewish, Muslim & Christian negotiations with digital media. She is co-editor of Routledge’s Religion and Digital Culture book series, and author of over 100 articles and books including When Religion Meets New Media (2010), Networked Theology (2016) and Digital Creatives and the Rethinking Religious Authority in Digital Culture (2020).

Lane Davis is currently a student in Lake-Sumter State College’s Honors Program where he aims to continue his education at another university to obtain his bachelor’s degree. He became an Eagle Scout in 2017, served as a State Officer for SkillsUSA Florida, and became the first Bank of America Student Leader in Lake County in 2019. He continues to serve the college as a student leader and aspires to go into the entertainment industry following university.

Dr. Becca C. Johnson, a licensed psychologist for 30 years, has served as trainer, counselor, consulting psychologist, clinical director, aftercare director and international program director for numerous anti-trafficking and child abuse organizations. Becca has provided support, training and consultation on child abuse, human trafficking and trauma recovery to numerous NGOs and restoration programs around the world (in over 30 countries). Becca is author of books on abuse and trauma recovery, guilt and anger. Her book, The Journey to Hope – Overcoming Abuse (available on Amazon.com) guides victims on a journey of healing and can also be used by others (whether family, friends or professionals) wanting to help the abused.

Dr. Linda Karp holds a PhD in Industrial and Organizational Psychology and a master’s in political science. Her dissertation addressed an employee’s perception of destructive leadership in higher education. She currently works as an instructor for Lake-Sumter State College teaching political science and psychology courses. Additionally, she owns her own Coaching and Consulting Firm, Mustang Coaching & Consulting, LLC. In her spare time, she shows and trains her three horses.

Originally from Brazil, Renata Martins’ path began on volleyball courts and reached the United States in her junior year of high school. As the daughter of parents who didn’t attend college, she made it her goal to make the best out of the opportunities that came her way. She just graduated from the University of South Florida with a bachelor’s degree in global business and marketing and accepted a full-time offer from Cintas Corporation as a catalog sales representative. Renata has spoken to over 400 Brazilian children and teenagers about her journey and the important things she has learned. Her goal is to help make our world better through education and mentorship because she believes in a generation that appreciates the opportunity to study.

Alyssa Miller is a life-long hacker, programmer, security advocate researcher, author, and internationally recognized speaker. Her career began as a software developer and later pivoted to security as a penetration tester. She has 15 years of experience in security leadership across enterprise, consulting, and security product roles. Alyssa crusades against imposter syndrome and advocates for aspiring security professionals trying to find a path into security. Her advocacy extends to expanding diverse representation from all backgrounds in security. She’s a member of the Women in Cyber Security (WiCyS), a Women of Security (WoSEC) chapter leader and presented at She Speaks Security at RSA USA 2020. She currently serves as an application security advocate for Snyk Ltd.

Originally from Chillicothe, Ohio, Jay Miller was hired to lead the Lake-Sumter State College softball program in 2015. Jay played collegiate baseball at Oklahoma Panhandle State University, where he completed his undergraduate degree in Exercise Science in 2012 before earning his Master’s Degree in Applied Health and Sports Sciences at Northwest Missouri State in 2014. In five seasons at Lake-Sumter, Jay has amassed over 100 wins and in his third season became the all-time winningest softball coach in school history. His program has produced a President’s Award winner (2016), a Jean Williams Scholar-Athlete award winner (2018), 14 NJCAA All-Academic student-athletes, 14 All-Conference players and five consecutive years as an NJCAA All-Academic Team. Jay’s book, The Island: An Unconventional Approach to Coaching People, Not Players, was released in 2020 and is focused on the LSSC softball program.

Gary Sligh was born and raised in Roanoke, Virginia and educated at the University of Virginia, Wesley Theological Seminary, The American University, and Indiana University of Pennsylvania.  He earned a PhD in Literature and Criticism in 1998. He and his wife Julie were married in 1990, and they have three adult children — Carter, Mary, and Graham — who enjoy successful and satisfying careers. He has worked as a pastor, a college professor, a full-time Dad, a college administrator, a fiber artist and shop keeper, and as a wizard in The Wizarding World of Harry Potter.  He is currently semi-retired and running a small shop in downtown Leesburg, Florida.

Toni Marie Upchurch has her MS in Business Communication and is an Assistant Professor at Lake Sumter State College. Before teaching, she served as an Americorps VISTA advocating for at-risk youth with National Safe Place Services; she has worked in nonprofit, and has owned her own business. Upchurch has taught public speaking, journalism, intercultural, and interpersonal communication classes, and has coached business professionals. She is passionate about helping people to identify and reach their full potential and believes that true leaders serve others.  

A native of Jamaica, New York, Hank Van Putten earned his B.S. in Education from Northeastern University, and a M. Ed. from Cambridge College. Hank spent 35 years in the Newton Public Schools in Massachusetts and is currently a Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Facilitator/Trainer for the Peace and Justice Institute at Valencia College. Hank is an anti-racist educator who has received training from internationally recognized scholars. His interests have focused on the impact of race on the academic achievement of African American students. To this end he has taught a graduate course for educators entitled “Active Anti-Racism and Effective Classroom Practices for All Students,” and the Foundation Course in the Graduate Program of Conflict Resolution and Peaceable Schools at Lesley University.

Buddy felt a call to international missions at age 16 and made his first short-term mission trip to Mexico at age 19. He graduated from the Spanish Language School of Guadalajara, Mexico and received his theological training from the El Calvario International Bible College in Guatemala, C.A.  He has served with numerous international disaster relief efforts, coordinated international mission teams and developed broad based partnerships for advocating sustainable community development with local government, churches, business leaders, educators and non-profit organizations. Buddy later began working with an agricultural consulting firm and received training in soil science and plant nutrition.  He built and operated a wholesale nursery and has developed three micro-intensive farms and a community garden project. In 2012, Buddy started the Empower School & Farm, a residential educational and apprenticeship program located in Umatilla, Florida, which provides training in Christian discipleship, micro-enterprise, sustainable agriculture, community development and world missions.