Session Descriptions & Room Locations

The 2023 MCDA Spring Conference

Co-Presented by:
Minnesota Career Development Association &
Normandale Community College GCDF

This year’s conference returns to being in person on Friday, April 21 at Normandale Community College! The conference theme is Finding Purpose in an Ever-Changing World. It will feature two keynotes; Ingredients for Finding Purpose by Ken Barr Jr. and Prejudice to Purpose: Barriers and Opportunities Facing LGBTQ Candidates by Nick Alm. Additionally, there will be breakout sessions, networking opportunities, and time to reconnect with career development colleagues.

Morning Keynote Presentation

Ingredients for Finding Purpose (9:15 – 10:15 am)

Finding your purpose is another way to say, “finding your why.”  And when we deconstruct a fulfilling why, we find it is often built with the ingredients of Strengths, Hope, and Engagement.  In this session, we will explore the link between these ingredients to wellbeing and success.  Participants will learn ways to discover their Strengths, maximize workplace and personal engagement, and explore opportunities to apply their Strengths in the communities most important to them. 

Ken Barr Jr. – Gallup Certified Strengths Coach

Author of Turning Talents into Strengths: Stories of Coaching Transformation. Ken is a Licensed Professional Counselor, career coach, and organizational consultant dedicated to helping individuals and teams discover, develop, and apply their strengths. He works frequently in the education, non-profit, retail, hospitality, healthcare, and customer service fields providing solutions that include program startup, team development, best practices, recognition, and talent insights. 

As the former director of Student Strengths Development at Kalamazoo Valley Community College, Ken was responsible for leading all facets of the creation, development, assessment, and operations of an award-winning talent development/student success program. 

He also specializes in career coaching, guiding clients through the career decision-making process based on their Strengths, personality type, work values, skills, and interests. He emphasizes making informed career choices and finding ways to use natural talents every day.  Ken is also a passionate speaker and trainer who focuses on: Talent and Strengths development, engagement (campus and employee), mentoring, networking, experiential education, substance abuse prevention, risk management, and strategic planning.  He is Michigan’s first Gallup-Certified Strengths Coach and has helped more than 20,000 people discover their Strengths.

Afternoon Keynote Presentation

Prejudice to Purpose: Barriers and Opportunities Facing LGBTQ Candidates (12:30 – 1:30 pm)

46% of LGBTQ individuals are in the closet at work and even more so in the hiring process. They face a variety of challenges in hiring including unconscious bias, a lack of information from employers about LGBTQ-inclusive policies and benefits and a gap in social and emotional support from professionals tasked with supporting their career journeys. Many LGBTQ people don’t have the luxury of thinking about purpose, they are simply grateful to find an employment opportunity free of harassment and discrimination. What would it take to co-create a world where LGBTQ people aren’t afraid to pursue their career dreams? How can career professionals support the LGBTQ community by applying pressure on employers who fail to make the necessary changes so that LGBTQ people are safe and affirmed? How can LGBTQ people and allies across different generations collaborate and work together effectively?

Nick Alm – Founder and CEO of Mossier ( – “Creating Workplace Equity for Everyone LGBTQ” 

Nick Alm (they/them) was born in St. Paul and grew up in Stillwater, Minnesota. While pursuing a degree in Management Information Systems from the University of Minnesota, they co-founded The Carlson School’s first undergraduate LGBTQ student organization, Compass. It was through Compass that they developed a deep passion for advancing conversations about Queer employment equity. Today, Nick is the founder and CEO of Mossier, a social enterprise with a mission of employment equity for everyone LGBTQ. Mossier helps organizations of all sizes attract Queer talent while simultaneously developing workplace cultures and practices that actively dismantle systems of homophobia, transphobia and white supremacy. 


Friday, April 21, 2023
8:00 am – 4:30 pm 
Normandale Community College (9700 France Avenue South Bloomington, MN 55431)


8:15 – 9:00 am | Check-in | coffee and pastries will be provided

9:15 – 10:15 am | Morning Keynote | Ingredients for Finding Purpose | Ken Barr Jr. | Room 0806 A&B

10:30 – 11:30 am | Breakout Sessions (session descriptions)

Keynote Follow-up: CliftonStrengths Assessment, Coaching, and Certification | Ken Barr Jr. | Room 0806 A&B 

Intentional Indecision: A Planned Happenstance Approach to Guiding the Undecided | Abby Wilfert, Michael Stebleton, Vic Massaglia | Room P0838

Minnesota’s Changing Labor Market | Tim O’Neil | Room P0840

11:30 – 12:30 pm | Lunch

12:30 – 1:30 pm | Afternoon Keynote | Prejudice to Purpose: Barriers and Opportunities Facing LGBTQ Candidates | Nick Alm | Room 0806 A&B

1:45 – 2:45 pm | General Session: Young Career Development Professionals of Color Panel: Experiences, Observations and Suggestions About Diversity in the Field of Career Development (panel description) | Room 0806 A&B

  • Panelists:
    • Marcos Cruz, (he/him/his) – Associate Director of College Advising, Macalester College, (LinkedIn)
    • Saloni Saraf, (she/her/hers) – Graduate Intern, Career and Internship Services, University of Minnesota-Twin Cities
    • Luciano Guzman, (he/him/his) – Assistant Director, Recruiting and Admissions, Graduate Business Programs, Opus College of Business, University of St. Thomas, (LinkedIn)
    • Britney Hayes, (she/her/hers) – Cargill thrive Program Coordinator, University of Minnesota: Office for Diversity and Inclusion, College of Food Agriculture and Natural Resource Sciences – (LinkedIn)
  • Moderator: 
    • Violeta Lara, (she/her/hers) – Associate Director of Career Education, University of St. Thomas

3:00 – 4:00 pm | Breakout Sessions (session descriptions)

Learning from COVID-19: A Call to Integrate Career and Mental Health on Campus | Katie Niznik | P0806 A&B

WHO Logic: A Practical Valuation Tool with a Purpose | Tammison Smith | Room P0838

At Least You’re Not Juggling Knives! | Cynthia Favre and Kayla Malgren | Room P0840

4:00 – 4:30 pm | Reception, Networking and Awards | Room 0806 A&B

*CEUs will be available


Current MCDA Members: $59

Current Students, Retirees and Career Professionals in-transition Members Members: $49

Non Members: $89

Registration: CLOSED ON APRIL 14

Membership Details

$70 Annually for Standard Membership

$35 Annually for Graduate Student and Retiree Membership

Renew your membership now!



Address: Normandale Community College, 9700 France Avenue South, Bloomington, MN 55431

Building: Partnership Center. Building P on the Normandale Campus Map. Note: Enter via Student Center entrance and the conference is to the left, in the Partnership Building.

Parking: Park in Lot 3, nearest to the Partnership Center. Normandale’s parking facilities are available to all visitors at no charge. Please park in any non-designated stall. Normandale’s Parking Info page.

Hotel Options: List of Hotels close to Normandale Community College

Questions? Contact Tina Wagner via email at