Panel Speakers

Panel Speakers


Jody Halsted

Jody Halsted’s first blog, Iowa Geek, was voted “Des Moines Best Local Blog” in 2009 by  In 2005 she began sharing her family’s travel adventures on her blog Family Rambling- which has become a full website devoted to sharing travel tips and destinations with families around the world.  In 2009 Jody hosted I_Blog, a blog and social media conference focused on the Midwest.

Jody has worked with small local businesses, convention and visitor’s bureaus, and large national companies to help promote their products, destinations and ideas through her popular websites.

Jody will be sharing her expertise on working with bloggers to grow your social media outreach affordably by utilizing authentic and trusted voices already established in the blog-o-sphere, on Twitter and Facebook.

Judy Wrolson and Keri Holmes
Cornerstone Cottage on Facebook

Judy Wrolson owns a retail gift store in Iowa.  About ten years ago, Judy was a crafty stay at home mom who decided to sell a few things she made.  Being a smart woman, she created a coalition of women to do the same thing and Cluster Marketing was born.  That home business blossomed into a retail store and today she’s integrating social media into her marketing plan.

Keri Holmes is a renaissance woman and a valued asset to her community.  She’s really walking the line between old and new marketing and having a great time at it.  She also works for Judy and between the two of them, they are shaking things up in their town.

Marci Penner and WenDee LaPlant

Kansas Sampler Foundation, 978 Arapaho Rd., Inman, KS, 620-585-2374,

In 1993, Marci Penner and her father, Milferd Penner, formed the Kansas Sampler Foundation to help preserve and sustain rural culture.  Some of the better known projects are the 8 Wonders of Kansas, the Kansas Sampler Festival, and the Kansas Guidebook for Explorers.  Marci went to every one of the 627 incorporated cities in Kansas to research for the guidebook and that journey sealed her affection for rural Kansas.

Director of the Foundation, Marci served as a co-chair for the Governor’s Rural Life Task Force, was named Distinguished Kansas of the Year in 2005 and has received other state and national awards for her work with rural communities.

WenDee LaPlant , a native of Tribune, Kansas has been employed by the Kansas Sampler Foundation since 2006, moving to Inman from Garden City where she had lived since 1978.  Wendee brings experience as an Exhibits Curator, CVB Director, Hot Air Balloon Classic organizer with her.

WenDee oversees the Kansas Sampler Festival and works to improve results by supporting the host community and creating a consistent template. The Kansas Sampler Festival is the signature event of the Foundation. She also helps organize the We Kan! Conference, the Retreat for Rural Leaders, and activities of the Kansas Explorers Club and assists with the many diverse projects that help preserve, sustain, and grow rural culture.

Both women have a tireless passion for Kansas and rural business.

Tom White Junior

Over the past 11 years, Tom has built a reputation as a Special Finance and Automotive Internet Expert. He regularly consults and speaks with Dealers all over the country on a variety of topics including Internet Lead Generation, Sales Management, Legal Compliance, and Website Marketing and Optimization. As a highly disciplined and experienced Manager, Tom is constantly on the cutting edge of the Automotive Retail Business.

Tom says “Both the CIA and NASA turned me down (google app is still pending) – they stated I was a much better “car guy” than either a spy or rocket scientist.  If I can’t be a spy or a rocket scientist, I can’t think of anything I would rather be doing than working in the greatest car dealership in the World.”