ACA, Great Rivers Fall Conference Keynote Speakers

Emily Golinsky

Emily’s sessions get described many ways, but her favorites are “tremendously helpful,” “definitely not the same-old-same-old,” “fun and informative” and “not to be missed – a reason to come to the conference!” After 14 years as the Executive Director of Camp Starfish (a non-profit for youth with emotional, behavioral, social and learning difficulties), Emily now works with camps, educators, mental health professionals and families nationwide helping design group and individualized participation strategies that enable staff and camper success and manage a spectrum of behaviors from "challenging" to "crisis." Her undergrad work was in Pharmacy and Health Psychology followed by a Master of Science in Camp Administration and Leadership.  She sits on the New Hampshire Camps Board of Directors and volunteers with ACA New England on the Conference and Fund Development committees, as a Standards Visitor, and as faculty for the New Camp Directors’ Workshop. She is an avid collector of terribly awesome puns.

Opening Keynote--Outwit Your Mental Clutter: You CAN Do 2022

“This one was rough” or “well, we got through it” kind of sums up the most positive things we’ve expressed about the summer of 2021, and let’s be honest – many of us were out of gas before we ever got to day 1. So how do we think forward into next year? Where do we summon the energy and strength to create new programs, build up our staff teams, re-engage our campers and families, raise more money, and on, and on, and on? Mind traps – or cognitive distortions if you want to use the fancy term – keep us anchored in self-doubt and limit our ability to dream big and take the next steps. Clearing the mental clutter is key to identifying the positive take-aways from what has been one of the toughest times we can remember for professionals in our industry, and then using those take-aways to build a plan for an even better 2022. Join Emily for a fascinating tour of your strategic needs (staff and camper MESH supports, staff hiring and retention, etc.) through the lens of cognitive distortion. You’ll come away re-enthused about your job and with the confidence that comes from knowing you are not outmatched by the challenges currently on your plate. 


Sam StecherSam Stecher

Sam has been changing school culture from the inside since 1997, serving in roles ranging from Paraprofessional to Superintendent of Schools. Sam got his start in education as a teacher at Horizon Middle School where he taught History and coached wrestling for 11 years. He is also co-founder, with his good friend Mark, of an educational consulting firm known as which specializes in providing leaders, educators, schools, and communities with interventions to foster a positive school culture. He also co-authored It Happens in the Hallway, a dynamic account of experiences in the classroom.

Sam has provided instruction, training, and leadership at every level from elementary school to university institutions. Through as well as the opportunity to speak at conferences and schools, Sam and Mark have been able to connect with thousands of leaders and educators nationwide. This endeavor began years ago in a little coffee shop where two good friends would get together to talk about their successes and failures as teachers. Logically it grew beyond the classroom to changing the world. And that conversation never really stopped. Consider this your invitation to join them.

Closing Keynote--MissionMonday: Take the Random Out of Random Acts of Kindness

MissionMonday is a plan to impact your community and make it a better place one week at a time. Learn how to use intentional interventions to impact the climate, culture, and individual relationships. Sam will help you take the Random out of Random Acts of Kindness. You will leave with a plan to engage stakeholders and empower them with consistent interventions to foster the assets everyone needs to be authentically successful, socially responsible, and emotionally sound.