Celebrity Keynote Speaker
Kimberly Williams-Paisley is an actress, New York Times Best Selling author, Alzheimer’s advocate, and co-founder of non-profit, The Store, an organization in Nashville which aims to address food insecurity.
Her film credits include: Father of the Bride and its sequel as well as the recent Part 3ish mini-sequel, co-starring Steve Martin, Diane Keaton and Martin Short; Netflix’s The Christmas Chronicles and its sequel, The Christmas Chronicles 2, with Kurt Russell and Goldie Hawn; We Are Marshall, opposite Matthew McConaughey; The War At Home, opposite Kathy Bates and Martin Sheen; Alvin and The Chipmunks: The Road Chip, co-starring Jason Lee and Tony Hale; How To Eat Fried Worms, opposite Tom Cavanagh.
Television credits include: Netflix’s Heartstrings series episode entitled Jolene, opposite Dolly Parton and Julianne Hough; the long-running ABC comedy series According to Jim, of which she also directed three episodes; two seasons on ABC’s Nashville; CBS’s The Christmas Shoes, opposite Rob Lowe, CBS’s Two and a Half Men opposite Jon Cryer; ABC Family’s Lucky Seven, opposite Patrick Dempsey; ABC’s series Relativity; the NBC mini-series, The Tenth Kingdom; The Hallmark Hall of Fame movie The Christmas Train, opposite Dermot Mulroney, Joan Cusack and Danny Glover; and the series finale of David E. Kelley’s Boston Legal, arguing in the Supreme Court opposite William Shatner and James Spader. In 2021, Williams-Paisley starred in the Sister Swap movies for the Hallmark Network, working for the first time on screen with her sister Ashley Williams. Most recently she filmed Jesus Revolution for Lionsgate.
Theater credits include: Alfred Uhry’s Tony-award winning play, The Last Night of Ballyhoo, opposite Paul Rudd and Cynthia Nixon on Broadway; Mamet’s Speed-The-Plow in London’s West End; David Ives’ All In The Timing at the Geffen Theater in Los Angeles, Eve Ensler’s The Vagina Monologues in New York and Los Angeles.
Williams-Paisley’s memoir Where The Light Gets In: Losing My Mother Only to Find Her Again, chronicling her mother’s battle with Alzheimer’s disease (Crown imprint, Penguin Random House), came out in 2016 and hit the New York Times Bestseller list. She was awarded a Champion Award in 2016 from the Alzheimer’s Association for her advocacy work dedicated to sharing her family’s story, funding research and supporting caregivers. Her annual Dance Party to End Alz in Nashville has raised over a million dollars in its first three years.
She is a global ambassador for CARE International, traveling to Haiti and Guatemala to follow U.S. funding for programs that support women and children, and then sharing her story back home, including engaging with lawmakers on Capitol Hill to help preserve global health funding. She is a spokesperson for CARE’s She Feeds the World partnership with the PepsiCo Foundation to address food insecurity and tackle gender inequality in the agriculture sector. In 2020, she joined Charlize Theron’s Together For Her campaign in partnership with CARE, to help deploy funds and support the global fight against domestic violence during the time of the Global Covid Pandemic.
In 2020, Williams-Paisley and her husband Brad Paisley opened their non-profit free, referral-based grocery called The Store. The Store aims to empower and dignify individuals and families seeking self-sufficiency by providing choices for their food needs. In association with Belmont University, The Store pivoted from its original model to disaster relief after its opening week last March when the tornados hit Nashville. During the pandemic, the organization has moved to curb-side pickup and added a delivery service for homebound seniors. They’ve just surpassed one million meals donated and are currently serving five times the number of people they expected in their first year.
Industry Keynote Speaker
Sonia is an experienced AgTech industry executive who brings a wealth of experience scaling indoor agriculture operations. She has served as CEO of Sensei AG, Crop One Holdings, Inc. and various leadership roles including Google, and eZoka (which she co-founded). Lo currently also serves on the Board of Directors of Griffith Foods International, Urban-Gro, and Hart Dairy. Lo earned her bachelor’s degree in political science with a minor in mathematics from Stanford University and an MBA with Distinction from Harvard Business School. She also holds professional chef and pastry degrees from London and City College.
Southern Roots Speaker
Heather "Lucky" Penney
Most widely recognized for her service on September 11, Heather “Lucky” Penney is a renowned speaker on topics ranging from personal courage; citizenship; decision-making under stress; leadership; organizational transformation; inclusivity; high performance teams; national defense issues; and aviation. Heather was part of the first wave of women who went directly into fighters from pilot training. She grew up around aviation and warbirds, learning that Congress had opened combat aviation to women while she was earning her Master of Arts at Purdue University where she stood up the first collegiate team to race in the Air Race Classic. She applied to the Air National Guard and earned her wings at ENJJPT, Euro-NATO Joint Jet Pilot Training, where she flew the T-37 and T-38. The first and only woman in the 121st Fighter Squadron, Heather deployed to Operation Iraqi Freedom for initial combat operations as a night-time SCUD Hunter in the western deserts of Iraq, also supporting Special Operations Forces. She flew the F-16 for ten years, deploying for a second combat tour, before having to make the difficult decision to leave the fighter aviation as a single mother. She continued to serve, flying the Gulfstream G-100 Astra jet for another six years in the VIP Special Airlift Mission.
For over ten years, Heather was a director of various Air Force programs for Lockheed Martin, specializing in capture management, government relations, and strategic business development. Her portfolio included the F-22, the F-16, F-35 training, and the Air Force’s Advanced Pilot Training competition to replace the T-38. She now is a Senior Resident Fellow for the Mitchell Institute for Aerospace Studies at the Air Force Association, where she researches and advises on national security and defense policy issues related to airpower and the Air Force. Her areas of research and expertise include advanced technologies; future operational concepts; the use of information in warfare; unmanned and autonomous aircraft; and force design. She has been a regular lecturer at the Air Force’s Squadron Officer School; is Director Emeritus for the Experimental Aviation Association; has been inducted as an Air Force Eagle at Air University; was the Beideman Visiting Scholar at the Oskin Leadership Institute for Weideman University; and is a member of the Order of the Griffin at Purdue University.
Heather’s passion for aviation has never faded – she flew her 1941 Taylorcraft BC-12 coast-to-coast, has owned several vintage aircraft, raced jets at the Reno Air Races, and is type-rated in multiple business jets; and she has over 3,700 hours with Commercial, CFII/MEI, and ATP ratings. She is passionate about flight, advocating for and mentoring women in aviation. She enjoys flying her 1942 WWII Army Air Forces PT-13 Stearman, 1961 aerobatic Bucker Jungmann, and 1950 Cessna 170A with her husband, two daughters, and rescue dog named Gilmore (after Roscoe’s lion). When she isn’t in the air, you can usually find her with her family, camping and hiking in a National Park.
SEPC University Educational Session Speakers
Educational Session I - The Prime Directive: Food Waste & Nutrition Insecurity
Global Initiative Lead of Food Circularity Program
World Wildlife Fund
President & Co-Founder
Chief Commercial Officer
Chief Procurement Officer
The Farmlink Project
Educational Session II - The Power of Produce 2023
Vice President of Fresh Foods
210 Analytics, LLC
VP of Produce & Floral
Director of Produce Category Pricing & Merchandising
VP of Global Produce Sourcing