2020 Speakers

(2021 Speakers to be released soon)

Keynote & Local Brainerd Leaders

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Rachel Cruze

Author, Motivational Speaker

The daughter of Dave Ramsey, Rachel Cruze learned the basic principles of handling money properly at an early age. Today, she’s using the knowledge and experience that came with growing up in the Ramsey household to educate and financially empower young generations. Her book Smart Money Smart Kids, co-authored by her dad, released in April 2014 and debuted at #1 on the New York Times best-sellers list. Her second book, Love Your Life, Not Theirs, was published in October 2016.
Since joining her father’s company in 2010, Cruze has traveled the country speaking at colleges, churches, and conferences and educating students and young adults on the dangers of debt and how to budget their money and save for the future. Already a veteran communicator and presenter, she has been speaking to audiences as large as 10,000 since the age of 15, when she began making appearances on stage with her father as part of the company’s Total Money Makeover LIVE! events. She also teaches Foundations in Personal Finance, a curriculum geared toward high school and college students.
Cruze earned a Bachelor of Science degree in communications studies from The University of Tennessee. She lives with her husband, Winston, in Franklin, Tennessee.

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Kristi Westbrock


Kristi Westbrock is the Chief Executive Officer/General Manager at Consolidated Telephone Company (CTC) and has been with the Cooperative since 2007.  She has over 22 years of experience in the telecommunications industry and has a strong background in Human Resources, Sales and Marketing and Business Operations, Strategic Planning and Product Development. Kristi has a passion for organizational management, effective communication and creating unique work environments/experiences while driving business revenues.

Kristi has served on numerous local and state committees and board of directors within the industry as well as the Brainerd Lakes community including the United Way of Cass and Crow Wing County, Lakes Area Human Resources Association, Past-Chair Brainerd Lakes Area Chambers of Commerce, Lakes Area Safety/Health Organization, Minnesota Telecom Alliance, Brainerd/Baxter Business Council, Society of Human Resources, and First Lutheran Church.  She currently serves as a national Trustee for the Group Health Plan of the National Telecommunications Cooperative Association as well as a Trustee for the Initiative Foundation.   

Kristi is mother to 9-year old Emily and spouse to Mike for 14 years.  In her free time she loves to adventure to new locations, volunteer for the Smiles for Jake Movement and have cooking parties with friends.  

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Kim Ellingson

Regional President Bremer Bank

Kim has over 30 years of banking experience and has been with Bremer Bank for 20 years.  Kim currently serves as the Region President of North Central MN, a position she has held for the last 6 years. This region includes Brainerd, Baxter, Aitkin, International Falls, Duluth and all points in between.  As Region President, she oversees all operations including but not limited to executing local decision making, influencing and executing enterprise leadership, growing the market profitability while remaining committed to clients, and engaging, inspiring and recognizing high performing talent.

 Prior to taking on the role of region president, Kim managed the business banking and treasury management areas for several years and has individual experience in managing a business banking portfolio.  Prior to her time at Bremer Bank, Kim held business banking roles with Wells Fargo and Community First National Bank of Fargo, ND. 

Kim has a Bachelor of Arts in Business Administration from Concordia College. She is currently the Vice Chair for the Initiative Foundation in Little Falls and volunteers at Trinity Children’s Center and the Brainerd Lakes Chambers of Commerce.   Kim and her husband, David, live in Brainerd, MN and have two children ages 24 and 22. Hobbies include spending free time outdoors with family and friends and traveling.

Dr. Hara Charlier

President, Central Lakes College

Dr. Hara Charlier took her post as president of Central Lakes College in July 2016.  During her tenure, the college has experienced growth at a time when nationwide community college enrollment is falling, expanded its commitment to sustainability with solar arrays on each campus, renovated facilities to better serve students, and launched new programs to meet the region’s workforce needs. Dr. Charlier considers relationships to be the foundation of any successful organization. Under her leadership, the employees of CLC have worked to build a strong culture focused on people and voice. Recently, the college was recognized as a 2019 Great College to Work For, achieving elite Honor Roll status by the program.

Prior to joining Central Lakes College, Dr. Charlier served as vice president of instruction and student services at Virginia Highlands Community College. Previously, she held leadership and faculty roles at Blue Ridge Community College in Virginia. Dr. Charlier lives in Nisswa with her husband, Russ, and a menagerie of animals. They have two adult daughters, Devon and Lili.

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Cindy Clough

Founder & CEO Just for Kix

Coach of the Brainerd High School, Warrior Dance Team, “The Kixters” since 1976-77 season.  They have won 8-state championships, 2nd plce for 8 years. . Top 5 in the state for 25 years straight.  National High Kick Championship in 1987 in Orlando, Florida.

One of her most memorable experiences as a high school coach has been, when her team was chosen to represent the United States with the US Military Band from Washington D.C. for the opening of the Tokyo Dome in Japan.   

Cofounder and past president of the Minnesota Association of Dance Teams in 1981.  She served on the Board of Directors for 12 years.

Member of the steering committee which was successful in getting Dance Team to be a part of the Minnesota State High School League. Passed in 1995.

Choreographed 35 major Collegiate Bowl Game Half-Time Shows.

(Including Holiday Bowl/San Diego, Freedom Bowls/Anaheim, Orange Bowls/Miami, Citrus Bowls/Orlando, and numerous Outback Bowls in Tampa.)


* Inducted into Minnesota Dance Team Coaches Hall Of Fame 87

* Minnesota Dance Team Coach of the year 87, 99 and 2010

* Let's Cheer Magazine’s Hall Of Fame 1988,

* North Dakota Drill Team Association Hall Of Fame 1991,

* Brainerd High School ATHLETIC Hall Of Fame 1995,

* Voted as one of the top 5 directors in the Midwest in 2000.  

* Brainerd’s Young Citizen of The Year, 2001  

* Recipient of the Breaking Barriers Award, presented at the State Capital,

 for contributing significantly to Women’s Sports in MN, 2004

* Recipient of the State of Minnesota’s Small Business administrations Entrepreneur of the Year Award. 2006

* Recipient of the Distinguished Graduates Brainerd High School Hall Of Fame 2007

* Coached AAA All State in 2006 and again in 2011

* Wisconsin WACPC Hall Of Fame 2014

Served on Minnesota State High School League Advisory Board and Dance Spirit Magazine Advisory Board. 

* Brainerd Chamber Business Excellence Award 2016 

* National Dance Coach of the year 2019 

* National Dance Coaches Hall of Fame 2019

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