Safety Summit Speakers

Adele L. Abrams

Adele L. Abrams, Esq., CMSP
Law Office of Adele L. Abrams PC

Adele L. Abrams is an attorney and Certified Mine Safety Professional who is president of the Law Office of Adele L. Abrams P.C., a multi-attorney firm with offices in Beltsville, MD, Denver, CO, and Charleston, WV. The firm represents employers in OSHA and MSHA litigation nationwide, and her firm also handles employment law matters in a large number of states. Abrams and her firm colleagues provide employment and safety law consultation, safety audits, industrial hygiene assistance, and training services to companies in a variety of industries.

She is a member of the Maryland, DC and PA Bars; the U.S. District Courts of Maryland, DC, and TN; the U.S. Court of Appeals, DC Circuit 3rd Circuit, and 4th Circuit; and the United States Supreme Court. She also serves on the adjunct faculties of the Catholic University of America in Washington, DC, and the University of Colorado-Boulder, where she teaches on employment, labor and occupational safety law.

She has been a professional member of ASSE (now ASSP) since 1997 and has been a SPY award recipient at the practice specialty, chapter, and regional level multiple times. She is an active member of the National Safety Council, where she was awarded the Distinguished Service to Safety Award (DSSA) in 2017. Adele has co-authored several textbooks on employment law, occupational and mine safety and health, and is a regular columnist on safety law issues for multiple magazines.

Hector Alvarez, CTM, MS
Alvarez Associates LLC

Hector R. Alvarez, CTM, MS, the president of Alvarez Associates LLC, is a security expert who specializes in workplace violence prevention. He holds a BS in criminal justice and has more than 25 years of experience in mitigating security threats. He has worked as a security director protecting one of our nation’s most sensitive critical infrastructures, as a city police officer, and as a professional security consultant. He understands the challenges individuals and organizations face when addressing the threats of violence because he has responded to them. In addition, he has helped organizations recover from significant incidents of violence and has served as a responder to the Loma Prieta earthquake and the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.

Alvarez has personally assessed and/or responded to thousands of potentially violent situations, developed numerous violence prevention programs and trained tens of thousands of employees and managers in the areas of crisis intervention, active shooter response, violence prevention, domestic terrorism, and emergency management.

He is frequently called upon as a commentator and public speaker, and he has made numerous media appearances. He has been featured on ABC10, KCRA3, CBS13, FOX40, Univision, KFBK, Sacramento Bee, Folsom Telegraph, Sacramento Business Journal, and the Society for Human Resource Management. His clients include a broad range of industries from the public and private sector.

Earl Blair, EdD, CSP, FASSP
Visiting Lecturer, Safety Management
Indiana University

Earl Blair, CSP, is a visiting lecturer of safety management and an award-winning author and teacher at Indiana University. Blair has authored a number of articles in safety publications such as Professional Safety Journal and is a frequent speaker at national and international safety seminars. His research involves ways to improve safety performance through leadership, measurement, and education. Blair is a Fellow of the American Society of Safety Professionals and a recipient of BLR’s Lifetime Achievement in Safety Award in 2018.

Dominic Cooper, PhD. CFIOSH C.Pscychol
B-Safe Management Solutions, Inc.

Dominic Cooper, the CEO of B-Safe Management Solutions, Inc., is an award-winning author, a Chartered Psychologist, Associate Fellow of the British Psychological Society (BPS), Chartered Fellow of the Institute of Occupational Safety & Health (IOSH), and a Member of the American Society of Safety Professionals (ASSP).


Cooper pioneered the use of behavioral safety in the UK construction industry on behalf of the British Health & Safety Executive (HSE) while studying his Ph.D. in the School of Management, the University of Manchester Institute of Science & Technology (UMIST). He also developed the B-Safe® an award-winning behavioral safety process, and founded BSMS Inc, an international consultancy operating in the Americas, Asia, Africa, Australasia, Europe and the Middle East. One of his Middle East projects (2006-7) led to the client achieving the lowest lost-time incident rate in the entire global Oil & Gas Industry.

Cooper publishes books, articles or journal papers on the topics of personnel selection, motivation, quality, risk, safety culture, leadership, and behavioral safety. A well-known speaker at major international conferences, he was the recipient of awards from IOSH in the UK for his writings on behavioral safety in 1995 and 1997. In 1998 he published “Improving Safety Culture: A Practical Guide.” He also established, the world’s first free interactive web site devoted to behavioral safety, and the first online “behavioral safety software service.” This has since grown into sophisticated safety leadership software (

A past full-time Associate Professor of Safety Education and Visiting Professor of Psychology at Indiana University, Bloomington, USA, Cooper’s recent works are “Strategic Safety Culture Roadmap”, “Navigating the safety culture construct: a review” and “Criterion-related validity of the cultural web when assessing safety culture”

Eric J. Conn, Esq.

Eric J. Conn, Esq.
Founding Partner
Conn Maciel Carey LLP

Eric Conn, a founding partner of Conn Maciel Carey and Chair of the firm’s national OSHA Workplace Safety Practice Group, focuses his practice focuses exclusively on issues involving occupational safety and health law.  Before launching his own OSHA Practice, Conn practiced for more than a decade alongside the former first General Counsel of the OSH Review Commission. Conn develops safety and health regulatory strategies for employers across all industries with a particular emphasis in representing employers in defense of OSHA citations, negotiations of settlements geared to minimize the impact of enforcement actions on wrongful death and personal injury civil cases, and trials before the OSH Review Commission. He also counsels clients through catastrophic industrial, construction, and manufacturing workplace accidents, including explosions and chemical releases, develops and audits safety programs and policies, and provides workplace safety training and compliance counseling for employers

Prior to founding Conn Maciel Carey, Conn was head of an OSHA practice group that was honored as the “Occupational Health & Safety Law Firm of the Year” by Corporate INTL Magazine in its 2014 Global Awards. In 2013 and 2014, he was named a “Rising Star” by Washington, DC Super Lawyers, and as a Super Lawyer every year since.  He has also been selected for inclusion in the Washington Post’s Top-Rated Lawyers list in Washington, DC. Conn is a prolific writer on all topics OSHA related. He is the curator of Conn Maciel Carey’s award-winning OSHA Defense Report blog, and previously edited a popular OSHA law blog at another firm.  Conn has authored multiple chapters in OSHA treatises, including “OSHA Inspections” in the Occupational Safety and Health Law Handbook, 2nd ed. (Gov’t. Institutes, 2008), and “Defending Against the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s Increasingly Severe Enforcement Practices” in Complying with the Occupational Safety and Health Act: Leading Lawyers (Aspatore, Inside the Minds, 2012).

Conn is also a popular speaker on OSHA and related legal issues, including regular keynotes trade group and industry conferences.  He is often quoted as a leader in the field in trade publications.

Conn created and curates the OSHA Defense Report Group on LinkedIn and can be found on twitter as @OSHA_Guy.

Chip Darius, OHST, CSHO, CIT
Safety Priority Consultants

Chip Darius, president of Safety Priority, has been active in safety and emergency response since 1980 and has been providing specialized OSHA compliance consulting and training since 1991 throughout North America and internationally. Since 2002, he has served as an instructor for the OSHA Training Institute Region 1 Education Center (New England) and as an adjunct faculty member at Keene State College. He  is an authorized OSHA Outreach trainer for both construction and general industry, and has served as a trainer for Associated General Contractors of America. He is the vice president for the Connecticut Valley Chapter and an active member of the American Society of Safety Professionals. He is frequently called upon as an expert witness in complex lawsuits involving fatalities and catastrophic injuries. Darius also holds a Master’s degree in Communication Sciences from The University of Connecticut.

Daniel C. Deacon, Esq.

Daniel C. Deacon, Esq.
Conn Maciel Carey LLP

Daniel C. Deacon is an associate in the Washington, DC office of Conn Maciel Carey LLP working in both the Labor and Employment and OSHA practice groups. Deacon advises and represents employers on a wide range of employment-related issues, including wage and hour disputes, claims of discrimination and harassment, compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), the Affordable Care Act (ACA), and the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA).  Mr. Deacon also helps employers develop and implement effective workplace policies and safety and health programs.

Additionally, Deacon represents and advises employers during inspections and investigations conducted by the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and state OSHA programs, responds to notices from OSHA about employee complaints of safety hazards, and represents employers in OSHA litigation, including citation contests and administrative hearings. Deacon also helps employers develop safety and health programs and policies, and conducts presentations on a variety of workplace safety topics.

Edwin G. Foulke, Jr., Esq.
Fisher Phillips LLP

Edwin G. Foulke, Jr. is a partner in the Atlanta office of Fisher & Phillips LLP. He also serves as President of Fisher Phillips Safety Solutions LLC.  Prior to joining Fisher & Phillips, he was the Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health.  Named by President George W. Bush to head OSHA, he served in that capacity from April 2006 to November 2008.  During his tenure at OSHA, workplace injury, illness, and fatality rates dropped to their lowest levels in recorded history.  For more than 30 years, Foulke has worked in the labor and employment area, focusing on occupational safety and health issues.  He also served on the Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission in Washington, DC, chairing the Commission from March 1990 to February 1994. He has been named one of the “50 Most Influential EHS Leaders” by EHS Today magazine for several years and named one of the “50 Most Influential EHS Leaders” in the United States by Occupational Hazards magazine. He is recognized as one of the nation’s leading authorities on occupational safety and health issues.

Jenifer Kienle

Jenifer Kienle, Esq.

Founding Partner
Kienle Law, PC

Jenifer Kienle is  the Founding Partner of  Kienle Law, PC,  a civil defense firm specializing in representing employers in personal injury matters and Cal and Federal OSHA enforcement actions.   Kienle Law offers responsive “first line of defense” services available 24 hours a day in numerous regions of the country, whether the need is for a simple telephone conference to discuss strategy or responding to a catastrophic workplace accident.  Ms. Kienle collaborates with employers in taking control of OSHA inspections, ensuring that inspectors are provided with clear and strong evidence of a client’s safety program and all available defenses.


Melanie L. Paul, Esq.
Of Counsel
Jackson Lewis, P.C.

Melanie L. Paul is Of Counsel in the Atlanta, Georgia office of Jackson Lewis P.C where here practice focuses on occupational safety and health and wage and hour issues. Her clients benefit from her unique inside experience as a trial attorney for the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) for more than a decade.

During Paul’s time with the DOL, she regularly appeared at hearings and trials before federal administrative tribunals and federal district courts throughout the southeastern United States in matters of Occupational Safety and Health (OSHA) law, Mine Safety and Health (MSHA) law, whistleblower and federal wage and hour matters. She also defended agency management against allegations of employment discrimination and prohibited personnel practices before the EEOC and the MSPB. While at the DOL, Paul was the Criminal OSHA Coordinator for the southeastern region and worked with U.S. Department of Justice to have Occupational Safety and Health cases criminally prosecuted.
Prior to working at the DOL, Paul gained invaluable trial experience as an Assistant District Attorney in Fulton County, Atlanta, Georgia where she tried felony criminal jury cases. She also was a law clerk to U.S. Magistrate Judge Linda T. Walker for the U.S. District Court in the Northern District of Georgia, where she worked on predominantly employment discrimination cases.

Doug Pontsler
Chairman and Managing Director
Center of Visual Expertise

Doug Pontsler is Chairman and Managing Director for COVE, the Center of Visual Expertise. Launched in 2018 by the Toledo Museum of Art, COVE is dedicated to the application of visual literacy for industrial and service applications with an emphasis on safety. In this leadership role he is responsible for all aspects of the enterprise including thought leadership, product development and client satisfaction.

Pontsler was the former vice president of operations sustainability and EHS for Owens Corning (retired). He joined Owens Corning in 2002 and held leadership positions including director of corporate services and vice president of global sourcing. Prior to joining Owens Corning, Pontsler spent 23 years with Eaton Corporation. While at Eaton, he held various roles of increasing responsibilities in accounting, finance, production and inventory control management, factory management, and sourcing.

Pontsler served as a member of the National Safety Council (NSC) Board of Directors and as the Chairman of the Campbell Institute at the National Safety Council. He is a recipient of NSC’s 2019 Distinguished Service to Safety Award, the highest individual award given by the NSC.

He received a bachelor of science in business administration from Miami University with a major in accounting.

Alicia Richardson
Senior Ombudsman
Cleveland Clinic

Alicia Richardson is a leader in the Office of Patient Experience and part of Executive Administration at the Cleveland Clinic. She provides guidance within the Ombudsman Office for the entire enterprise and focuses on workplace violence for the Office of Patient Experience. She is a Co-Chair of the Cleveland Clinic’s Main Campus Work Place Violence Committee and has helped develop educational materials to help Caregivers protect themselves at work.

Richardson is an active member of the Hospital Emergency Response Team (HERT) and is a FEMA certified trainer for Emergency Response and Decontamination curriculum. She volunteers her time to serve underprivileged communities and has assisted in the development of Food as Medicine programs.  She was awarded the Cleveland Clinic’s Martin Luther King Jr. Service Award in 2017 for her work in addressing food insecurity in East Cleveland.

Steve Roberts, Ph.D.
Co-founder/Senior Partner
Safety Performance Solutions, Inc.

Steve Roberts is co-founder and senior partner at Safety Performance Solutions, Inc. He earned an M.S. in Industrial/Organizational Psychology from West Chester University and an M.A. and Ph.D. in Applied/Experimental Psychology with a focus in Organizational Behavior Management from Virginia Tech. His specific areas of expertise include the design, implementation, and evaluation of behavior and people-based safety processes, the assessment of organizational culture to guide safety interventions, increasing employee involvement in safety activities, organizational management systems design, organizational leadership development, and understanding and reducing human error in the workplace.

David Sarkus, MS, CSP
Safety Speaker, Consultant, Executive Coach
David Sarkus International, Inc.

David J. Sarkus, MS, CSP is Chief Servant Leader and Founder of David Sarkus International Inc., a leading health and safety management consulting and training firm based in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. David is a motivational safety speaker who delivers keynotes, training, and consulting in a broad variety of industries. His experience, education, and leadership qualities have allowed him and his firm to successfully apply strategies and tactics within a large variation of mainstream work-processes for over 30 years.  His customized safety interventions have produced improvements in key performance indicators from 35% to more than 85% over the previous year. He’s proven that results like this are not only possible, but scalable and sustainable.

Sarkus holds Master of Science degrees in both safety management and organizational psychology. He is a recognized leader in the practice of safety management and has written cover stories for major industry magazines including Professional Safety and Industrial Safety & Hygiene News. He has been recognized by ISHN as one of the “Top 50 Leaders” in the field. He has written five books and over 100 evidence-based articles.

Sarkus works with some of the biggest and best run organizations in the world and can help you move toward— and embrace— sustainable excellence in safety.

Dick Sem, CPP CSC
Sem Security Management

Dick Sem, CPP CSC, the President of Sem Security Management, which specializes in planning security for hospitals and clinics, manufacturers, office buildings, schools, and other facilities, has 47 years security and workplace management experience. He served as Global Director of Security and Crisis Management for Waste Management for 11 years and as Vice President of Pinkerton- Securitas, responsible for 18 offices in 11 states of the Northeast United States. He served clients as an independent security and workplace violence consultant for more than 20 years.

Sem has been board certified as a Certified Protection Professional (CPP) since 1979, is certified as a Certified Security Consultant (CSC), was President of the International Security Management Association (ISMA), and served on the Board and as Vice President of the International Association of Professional Security Consultants (IAPSC). He has made many presentations and had articles published on aspects of Security and Workplace Violence Management.

Sem is a member of the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), The International Association for Healthcare Security and Safety (IAHSS), the International Association of Professional Security Consultants (IAPSC), the American College of Healthcare Executives (ACHE) and has been a member of ASIS International since 1974.

Pam Walaski, CSP
Senior Program Director
Specialty Technical Consultants, Inc.

Pam Walaski, CSP, a senior program director with Specialty Technical Consultants, Inc., has 25 years of experience helping organizations create sustainable occupational safety and health programs. She specializes in conducting safety and health management system assessments and integrating risk management programs that assist organizations improve bottom line performance. She has a national reputation as a seminar leader, and conference/webinar presenter covering multiple occupational safety and health topics including risk management, serious injury prevention, OSHA compliance, and contractor management. Walaski is also a published author including her own book Risk and Crisis Communications; Methods and Messages (Wiley, 2011) and is the Safety Management Systems Section Coordinator for the 3rd edition of the Safety Professionals Handbook, currently under revision [American Society of Safety Professionals (ASSP), 2012]. She is currently an At-Large Member of the Board of Directors of the ASSP. She received the Safety Professional of the Year Award from Region VIII in 2018.

Jake Williams, PE, CSP
Senior Civil Engineer
MarCom, LLC

Jake Williams, PE, CSP, an engineer with MarCom, LLC is a registered professional engineer and a trained Qualified Person, Competent Person, and Competent Tower Climber/Rescuer in the realm of fall protection. He has acted as a consultant for the United States Navy by performing numerous fall hazard assessments for site specific hazards associated with various aircraft frames and ships and for site-wide surveys at Navy installations throughout the world over the last eight years. He has evaluated and developed fall protection programs for multiple organizations, and he has also developed and taught fall protection courses for Navy active-duty and civilian personnel over the last four years.

Ashley Withrow, MSSA, LISW-S
Victim Advocate
Cleveland Clinic

Ashley Withrow is the Program Manager for the Cleveland Clinic Police Department Victim Assistance Program. In this role, she provides victim advocacy to Cleveland Clinic patients, visitors and employees by offering trauma-informed crisis intervention, support and education. She has her master of science in social administration from the Mandel School of Applied Social Sciences at Case Western Reserve University, is an independently licensed social worker with supervision designation and a registered advocate with senior standing in the State of Ohio.  She has 13 years of experience working with trauma survivors, including as the Director of 24-Hour Advocacy Programs at Cleveland Rape Crisis Center and the Program Coordinator at the Violence Prevention and Action Center at John Carroll University.  She also serves as adjunct faculty member at Case Western Reserve University and Kent State University.

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