2016 Connect Marketplace Keynote Speakers

Keynote speaker Shaquille O'Neal
  • Shaquille O'Neal

    Few individuals ever become iconic enough to be known by one name. A revered cultural icon, Shaquille O’Neal (aka Shaq) is best known for an NBA career spanning nearly two decades and earning him the sport’s highest honors. The four-time NBA champion, 15-time NBA All-Star and three-time NBA Finals MVP has been named one of the most influential athletes by Forbes magazine, in addition to being the highest-ranked NBA athlete on Nielsen’s State of the Media: Year in Sports 2010 and Bloomberg Businessweek’s Power Sports 100.


    But O’Neal isn’t only a legendary athlete; he has also established himself as a powerful media personality and businessman over the years. Ranked among the 100 most creative people in business in 2013 by Fast Company, O’Neal is currently an NBA analyst on TNT’s Emmy Award-winning show, “Inside the NBA.”


    In addition to being an early investor in companies such as Google, O’Neal has managed an increasingly robust personal brand, which has included television shows, a shoe line and social media/tech products. The first verified celebrity on Twitter, O’Neal announced his NBA retirement via Tout, a new social media app that allows users to tape 15-second video statuses.

  • Karen McCullough

    Karen McCullough is a Branding Expert, a Social Media Enthusiast, and a Gen Y Evangelist, and she’s on a mission to get you excited about change. She’s an award-winning speaker who inspires and empowers organizations and individuals to evolve, grow, and realize their true potential for excellence.


    Karen has a 20 year business background in sales, marketing, branding, and as a retail CEO. She has worked with two great branding and retail giants Leslie Wexner, founder of the Limited Stores and with fashion brand guru Ralph Lauren.


    For the last 14 years, Karen has been developing creative solutions and implementing innovative methods for motivating people to embrace and thrive with CHANGE.


    She believes that enduring success is the combination of talent, attitude, relationship building, and the ability to adapt and change. Achieving your goals requires honesty to identify what it is that is getting in your way and the courage to change it.


    Some of her clients include: The World Bank, Procter & Gamble, Exxon, HP, GE, Humana, and McGraw-Hill.

  • Rob Lowe

    Rob Lowe began his acting career in local television and theater at the age of 8. After his family relocated to Los Angeles, Lowe began his national acting career starring in the ABC television series, “A New Kind of Family.” Today, Lowe’s charismatic talent and palpable success have radiated far beyond the realm of television.


    Lowe will next be seen starring with Kristen Bell in the 2017 movie “How to Be a Latin Lover,” directed by Ken Marino. He most recently starred in Fox’s “The Grinder,” for which he was nominated for a 2016 Golden Globe Award, as well as in Sky 1’s biggest drama debut, “You, Me, and the Apocalypse,” which is currently on NBC. He is also lending his voice talents to Comedy Central’s “Moonbeam City” as Dazzle Novak, and Disney Channel’s “The Lion Guard” as Simba.


    Lowe rose to fame with starring roles in movies such as “The Outsiders,” “St. Elmo's Fire” and “Wayne’s World.”


    From 1999-2003, Lowe starred as Sam Seaborn on hit NBC drama “The West Wing.” His performance garnered him Emmy, Golden Globe and Screen Actors Guild award nominations. In May 2010, Rob Lowe joined the cast of NBC’s “Parks and Recreation.”


    Lowe’s legacy in Hollywood was cemented in 2015 with the unveiling of his Walk of Fame star.



  • Jennie Finch

    Jennie Finch played college softball for University of Arizona, where she was a three-time All-American pitcher, first baseman and Honda Award winner for Player of the Year.  Her jersey number, 27, was retired by the University of Arizona when she graduated.


    Jennie began playing for the USA Women's National Team in 2001.  She was named to the 2004 Olympic team and went 15-0 in the month leading up to the Athens 2004 Olympic Games.  Finch had a 2–0 win–loss record in the 2004 Games, striking out 13 batters in eight innings while giving up only one hit, one walk and no runs.  Jennie's pitching helped lead the Americans to the gold medal.


    In 2005, Jennie married Houston Astros' pitcher Casey Daigle.  The couple had their son, Ace, in May of 2006, just six weeks before Jennie would compete internationally.  Jennie played in the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games and helped lead the team to the gold medal game, where they lost to Japan and won silver at the sport's last Olympic Games.  She was last a member of the 2010 Women's National Team and helped lead Team USA to win its seventh consecutive World Championship title.


    She retired from softball during the summer of 2010 and now she and Casey are the proud parents of three children, Ace, Diesel and Paisley and reside in Louisiana.

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