General Sessions

Opening General Session: Sunday, July 9
Mark and Scott Kelly

Highly Decorated NASA Astronauts & Retired U.S. Navy Captains

SNA's 2017 Annual National Conference (ANC) Keynote Speaker Mark and Scott Kelly

Sponsored by Jennie-O Turkey Store.
Scott and Mark Kelly have experienced personal and professional challenges unique to most other American brothers. U.S. Navy fighter and test pilots. NASA astronauts. American heroes. Identical twins, Captains Mark and Scott Kelly’s career achievements have been almost as similar as they are remarkable.

At ANC 2017, the Kelly brothers will share candid perspectives on the individual and shared experiences that have shaped their views on teamwork and leadership and helped them to face and overcome adversity. From flying in combat and NASA’s groundbreaking Twin Study to Scott’s history-making year in space and Mark’s steadfast support of wife Gabrielle Gifford’s inspiring recovery, their shared presentation will be a unique and entertaining experience.

Get to know a little more about these fascinating Americans:

SNA's 2017 Annual National Conference (ANC) Keynote Speaker Mark and Scott Kelly

Captain Mark Kelly
After retiring from the U.S. Navy as an experienced aviator, Mark began his career as an astronaut in 1996. He commanded not one, but two Space shuttles, Discovery and Endeavor, including the latter’s final flight in May 2011. He is one of only two individuals who have visited the International Space Station (ISS) on four different occasions. As the Space and Aviation Contributor for NBC News and MSNBC, Mark has provided the world with insider perspective and intimate coverage of America’s space program, including the groundbreaking year-long Twin Study, conducted with his brother Scott.

Mark also gained renown in the aftermath of an assassination attempt on his wife, former U.S. Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords. The story of her recovery and his support captivated the nation, turning the couple into a symbol of strength and perseverance.

Captain Scott Kelly
Also an astronaut since 1996, and also after retiring from the Navy, Scott excelled in a 20-year career with NASA, which includes recognition as America’s first astronaut to complete a year-long mission in space, stationed at the ISS. During this historic mission, which spanned from March 2015 to March 2016, Kelly and Russian cosmonaut Mikhail Kornienko conducted experiments, reconfigured station modules and captivated the world with live interviews and never-seen photos.

The mission also featured a unique, year-long study on the effects of space affects the human body, comparing Scott with his literally Earth-bound brother Mark, who served as a ground control subject. Data collected will help inform future explorations that are likely to involve long spaceflights. In October 2015, Scott set the record for the total accumulated number of days, 382, spent in space by an American astronaut.

Closing General Session: Wednesday, July 12
Alex Sheen

SNA's 2017 Annual National Conference (ANC) Keynote Speaker Alex Sheen

Nationally Respected Thought Leader

Why don’t people keep the promises that they make? Many times in life we say, we’ll get to that tomorrow, but Alex Sheen, the founder of because I said I would international social movement says, “One day there may not be a tomorrow.” A nonprofit dedicated to the betterment of humanity through promises made and kept, because I said I would adheres to seven important principles: compassion, self-control, sacrifice, honesty, hope, contemplation, and accountability. At ANC 2017, Sheen will share with you his definition and meaning behind the Latin word promittere or promise, and why it is important that we share our values and make a sincere attempt to live by them.

Sheen’s father was good at keeping his promises and when he died of small cell lung cancer on September 4, 2012, he titled his father’s eulogy “because I said I would” and created the promise card in his memory. At the time, Sheen was a corporate strategy lead at Hyland Software and managed the firm’s corporate-wide Innovation Program. Sheen decided to leave his job and pursue a life of philanthropy and service after the loss of his father. As founder of because I said I would, Sheen has sent over 5.46 million promise cards to more than 150 countries around the world and his commitment to the betterment of humanity has inspired millions of people.

The story of Sheen’s promises has been shared virally throughout social media and international news. Among them include:

  • Walking 245 miles across the entire state of Ohio in under 10 days to fulfill a promise to the three Cleveland women who were held captive for 10 years.
  • Committing to volunteer at 52 different nonprofit organizations in a single year and honoring his word.
  • Promising children with cancer trips to Disneyland and personally delivering 100 tickets.
  • Driving through the night to deliver disaster relief aid to the victims of Hurricane Sandy.
  • Volunteering in Ferguson, Missouri on Thanksgiving after looters destroyed small businesses.

Sheen believes the world’s greatest problems can be solved if society just had a greater sense of commitment. “We don’t always need miracle solutions,” Sheen says, “We just need people to do what we said they were going to do.” Listening to Sheen at ANC 2017, will inspire you to keep your commitments and make the world a little better place.

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