Lorena Allen, Workshop
|Lorena Allen has been directing manager of Eastview Christian Church Bookstore in Normal, Illinois since August, 2006.
Prior to this, she held various positions in both family and corporate businesses, as well as in the restaurant and retail industries. During her time as a stay-at-home mom, she spent many hours volunteering, leading events, and receiving mentoring through her church in Streator, Illinois. She and her husband, Dave, also purchased his family business, Allen Disposal, which they operated for several years.
Allen’s primary passion is helping people through ministry. She’s an avid CrossFit athlete and loves landscaping, travel, and hanging out with her husband, two grown children, son-in-law, and two grandchildren.
“My life has been a reflection of how, ‘in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purposes’” (Romans 8:28-29), says Allen.
Michelle Amster, Workshop
|Michelle has worked in the Christian Bookstore industry for over 30 years and has designed over 100 retail stores. Her passion is to give stores ideas to help them thrive in their market. She began her career at Spring Arbor Distributors when it was pretty new and had the slogan “The Distributor with the Heart of a Retailer” under the leadership of Jim Carlson and has been helping small, medium and large stores ever since.
Presently David (Michelle’s husband) and Michelle are majority owners of Integra Interactive and have the My Media Burn Bar kiosks in over 300 stores and have recently introduces Arty Olive to retail stores which provides stores a kiosk to personalize art signs in stores which helps them compete with websites like Etsy and Amazon by offering personized products in under 10 minutes.
Curt Anderson, Welcome Breakfast, Future of the Industry Breakfast
|On the heels of his recently released collection, Every Moment Vol. II, singer/songwriter and pop vocalist Curt Anderson stands poised to impact growing audiences around the globe this year. An international ambassador of Christian music, Anderson has traveled frequently to Australia, Hong Kong, England, Wales, Canada, Germany, Thailand, and Qatar. He has released two full-length albums and two EPs since his recording debut in 2002 and has also collaborated on recordings by such artists as kj-52, Tricia Brock (formerly of Superchick), and Satellites & Sirens. He and his family reside near Nashville.|
Craig Cable, Workshop
|Craig serves as a leader and tactical trainer for the armed church security team at a megachurch in Loveland, Colorado. He also provides security consulting and training for churches and is a board member of the NOCO Christian Security Roundtable. In addition, he’s a professional trainer and an expert on managing volunteer teams. He also leads strategic planning and product development teams for the creation of new ministry innovations, and has been a guest speaker at national and international conferences as well as a columnist for a variety of nationally circulated ministry-related publications.|
Jekalyn Carr, Worship Him!
|Jekalyn Carr is a GRAMMY, two-time Billboard Music Award, and GMA Dove Award-nominated and Stellar Award-winning independent recording artist, musician, evangelist, entrepreneur, actress, and author. She has spent half a decade on top of the charts, as a top selling independent recording artist.Carr has garnered two No. 1 Billboard Gospel albums, The Life Project and One Nation Under God; and two No. 1 Billboard songs, “You’re Bigger” and “You Will Win”.
Carr released her first book You Will Win! (Trilogy Christian Publishing, Inc.) earlier this year.
[sponsor] Lunjeal Music Group/New Day Christian Distributors
Susan Chipman, Church Bookstore Workshop
|With a passion for connecting people with the latest resources, Susan Chipman is the go-to person at Granger Community Church for all things retail. With a B.S. in retail management and 13 years of experience working as a retail manager, she’s been overseeing retail services at Granger since 2002. She’s also been involved with The Church Bookstore Network since it began in 2006.|
Jason Crabb, Worship Him!
|In his career, Kentucky-born Jason Crabb has won a Grammy and 21 Dove Awards–being named the Gospel Music Association’s Dove Awards Artist and Male Vocalist of the Year, along with Song of the Year.
Since his first solo release in 2009, Crabb has performed at many of the world’s most prestigious stages such as Carnegie Hall, the Grand Ole Opry, the Brooklyn Tabernacle, and Billy Graham’s final crusade in New York City.
Whatever the Road, Crabb’s 2015 release, was nominated for a Grammy for Best Contemporary Christian Album.
His latest album, Unexpected, released on April 20.
[sponsor] Daywind Records/New Day Christian Distributors
Erik Ernstrom, Retail Academy
|Erik Ernstrom has worked in the Christian retail marketplace for more than 25 years. He has managed an independently owned Christian retail store, a customer service department that served 300 Christian stores, and currently manages the business analytics department of The Parable Group.|
Kevin Ferguson, Retail Academy
|Kevin Ferguson has seen the impact of a Christian bookstore in the life of the community, and has, with his wife, Krista, responded to the clear call to keep these resources available for the Willamette Valley area through their store, Willamette Valley Christian Supply. Not only is their focus on Christ and supplying resources for churches and individuals, but it’s also about community.|
Ron Forster, Retail Academy
|Ron Forster was born and raised in Terre Haute, Indiana. After working in construction, in 1984 Forster had a career change that propelled him into the retail industry and the eventual ownership of The Open Door Christian Bookstore. The Open Door opened in inside a mall, and in 1993 it moved to its present location. In 1994 CBA honored the store, naming it Regional Store of the Year.
Forster has seen both increasing and decreasing sales in his career. “God has been good to guide us through both the good and the lean years of Christian retail. CBA’s training and being mentored by other retailers has been of great benefit. Using an ‘open to buy’ budgeting process has helped us stay in business during good and lean times.”
Ron has enjoyed being a part his community by taking servant roles in his church and serving on the local school board. He married his wife, Diana, in 1970, and they have two adult children.
Giovani Gallucci, Workshop
|Giovanni Gallucci, digital strategist at search + social + strategy, is an award-winning search engine optimization expert, social media specialist, and digital strategist who develops loyal, engaged online audiences for brands in entertainment, fashion, food and beverage, sports, and technology. He also develops targeted, relevant content for engaging with fans on social networks via photography and video.|
Jared Geesey, ICVM
|Jared Geesey is General Manager of Christian Cinema and led the company to develop and launch the first digital streaming platform exclusively for the Christian market with an app ecosystem spanning from mobile to OTT streaming devices to powering major online retailers. Christian Cinema recently merged with iDisciple in Alpharetta, Georgia to form a new media and resource company which will now be the Christian market’s most diverse and extensive content library.
Raised as a son of a minister, Jared continued in that legacy with ministry throughout North America and international missions work through the arts in the 1990’s before partnering with Christian Cinema founder Bobby Downes in 2004.
Bob Gillett, Workshop
|Bob Gillett has been serving in the Christian products industry for 48 years. He has managed stores in the Midwest for a large chain store, franchise store and as manager/owner of his own independent store. He is currently working in church relations at Baker Book House in Grand Rapids, Michigan. During his three years at Baker, he has reached out to hundreds of area churches to partner in their ministries.|
Eric Grimm, Rep Arounds
|Eric Grimm, CBA’s Director of Communications, has worked for CBA over 20 years involved in several major industry initiatives, including industry-promotion campaigns, supply-chain management and standards development, and various CBA research projects, including gift and specialty research, CBA State of the Industry Report research, and more. He won national awards during his journalism career and continues to contribute to various CBA media.|
Eli Hochstetler, Retail Academy
|Eli, along with his wife Vesta, has owned the Gospel Book Store since 1975, buying it from the previous owners who opened it in 1956. They have been CBA members since acquiring the store. Along with business ownership responsibilities, Eli has previously been on East Holmes School Board, Buckeye School Board, and is currently the President of the Berlin Main Street Merchants. He has been a member of the Walnut Creek Mennonite Church for more than 50 years and has served as a council member, elder, and Sunday school teacher.|
Richard Knox, Workshop
|Richard Knox is a 30-year publishing professional, dating back to his first position as a territory rep for InterVarsity Press. He has extensive experience in both the Christian and ABA markets and since 2014 has held various sales roles with Moody Publishers, including director of sales. He previously served with Follett, The UK Department of Trade, Oasis Audio/Domain Communications, NavPress, and Crossway.|
Patrick “PK” Kucera, Worship Him!
|Known as the “Entrepreneurial Evangelist,” Patrick “PK” Kucera has travelled the world connecting people to Christ through business. Kucera, who is co-sponsoring the $1 million gift to CBA-member retailers to attend UNITE, is a pastor, entrepreneur and recently became a Kansas gubernatorial candidate.
Kucera focuses his ministry in the business sector, encouraging people to monetize their God-given gifts and give God the credit as the original author and true source of success. Kucera’s inspirational approach and unique message has led some Christian leaders to call him the next Zig Ziglar. In his new book, Revival of Revenue, Kucera outlines how a revival of revenue can happen not just in the Christian marketplace but in American businesses as a whole.
Dr. Mary Manz Simon, PhD, Rep Arounds
|Dr. Mary Manz Simon has been a thought leader in the children’s Christian market for more than 25 years. She has also worked with a variety of general market companies including Walden Media, Sony Home Entertainment, and American Girl (Mattel). Her award-winning books have sold more than 3 million copies and are available in 10 languages.|
Deborah Mash, Workshop
|Deborah Mash is an Emmy and Telly Award-winning television and film producer. She’s written more than 4,000 articles for news and faith publications and serves on the CBA Service Corporation Board of Directors.|
Donna McCullough, Retail Academy
|Donna McCollough is a second-generation co-owner of Dove Christian Supply in Dothan, Alabama. Donna and her husband, Chip, have taken on more responsibilities over the last 20 years leading up to Pete and Yvonne McCollough’s retirement and the transfer of ownership in January 2017. Donna oversees all gift buying, social media marketing, advertising, and merchandising.|
Sherry Morris, Retail Academy, Rep Arounds
|Sherry Morris is an industry veteran who has served as Carpentree’s marketing manager for the past 10 years and in various other positions through her long history with the company. She has been a regular contributor to trade magazines since she became marketing manager. Morris has had many opportunities to listen to the heartbeat of the industry and understands how changes therein affect stores’ buying practices. Equipping stores with the tools to be successful in selling gifts is her personal mission and ministry goal. Her love of merchandising stems from time spent in product and interior design, trade show management, and product staging. Morris is a freelance writer and the author of four books, curriculum for a preschool missions magazine, and other periodicals and publications. She and her husband of 39 years, Steve, have three grown children.|
Sandi Patty, Worship Him!
|Sandi Patty is the most awarded female vocalist in contemporary Christian music history, with 40 Dove Awards, and is a member of the Gospel Music Hall of Fame. She has released over 30 albums during her forty-year career and is the author of eight books.
With five Grammy awards, four Billboard Music Awards, three platinum records, five gold records, and eleven million units sold, Sandi Patty is simply known as “The Voice.”
For more information about Sandi, please visit www.SandiPatty.com.
Steve Potratz, Retail Academy
|As a nationally recognized Christian marketing pioneer, Potratz has been a leader in the industry for over 40 years. His ability to pinpoint marketing and digital trends and apply them to business strategies has made him one of the industry’s leading innovators. Early in his career, Potratz managed two different Christian stores, served as vice president of Sparrow Records, and became a Christian storeowner in 1981. In 1985, he founded The Parable Group to help fellow independent storeowners buy, promote, and sell products using data, technology, and marketing expertise. Under Potratz’s leadership, The Parable Group has served over 1,000 Christian brands with customized marketing and digital solutions that reach and engage Christian consumers; including retailers, publishers, churches, non-profits, film studios, apps and more.|
Chris Rainey, Retail Academy
|Chris Rainey has been part of the Christian product industry for more than 20 years. He’s worked with everyone from authors and global ministries to retailers and vendors to provide high impact, integrated marketing strategies. Connect with him on his blog at www.chrisrainey.net.|
Kimberley & Alberto Rivera, Ignite the Globe Worship
|Alberto and Kimberly Rivera met in 1996, Alberto from Santiago, Chile, and Kimberly from Cookeville, Tennessee. They quickly discovered the Lord had given them the same heart for His presence, and so they began their journey of exploring the realm of spontaneous songs in worship. Their desire is assist the body of Christ in releasing their unique sound DNA in corporate gatherings and to engage and synchronize with heaven, experiencing the flow of the Spirit.|
Dr. Clyde Rivers, Welcome Breakfast
|Clyde Rivers sees his divine assignment as one that takes James 2:8 to the whole world. “This is the law of God that, when it’s applied in its fullness, will change any system, institution, or organizations in the world,” he says. “This same royal law, when it’s applied, will cause everyone to be able to bring their contribution to the world.
“In this mission we are establishing cultures of honor globally. We are creating Golden Rule standards by honoring Golden Rule living, the royal law.”
Kurt Ruf, Future of the Industry Breakfast
|Kurt Ruf is a partner with Ruf Strategic Solutions, a pioneering market segmentation and big-data analytics services firm. He is the co-author of Contemporary Database Marketing, a comprehensive, basic introduction to the world of big data and database marketing. Ruf Strategic Solutions delivers a full suite of marketing intelligence solutions to help organizations acquire new customers, retain existing customers and develop one-to-one relationships to maximize profitability.|
Noël Russell, Church Bookstore Workshop
|Noël Russell is director of retail services at Christ Church in Fairview Heights, Illinois. After attending Illinois State University she was a store manager and helped with new store training and development for Starbucks Coffee Co. Noel has a passion for vintage design and using found objects throughout the store and her home. This experience has helped her to design for others and r to constantly reimagine The Bookstore and Cafe at Christ Church.|
Rachel Savage, Church Bookstore Workshop
|In Christian retail since 1994, Rachel Savage currently serves as the senior director of bookstore operations at Calvary Chapel Melbourne, and has run Watermark Christian Store since its opening in 2001. Rachel spearheaded a remodel and rebranding of the store in 2014. Formerly The Chapel Store, today Watermark Christian Store has a contemporary look and seeks to live out its tagline: “Leaving the mark of Christ through our products and service.”|
Darron Schroeder, Workshop
|Darron Schroeder is the assistant manager at Baker Book House. He holds a degree in literature from Cornerstone University, a 4.0 study-abroad from Oxford University, and has been a committee member for the Breathe Christian Writer’s Conference for over 10 years. In his position at Baker, Darron performs marketing and project management, and oversees all outreach programs.|
Heather Trost, Retail Academy
|Heather Trost purchased The Greatest Gift & Scripture Supply in 2011, a store that has been serving Southern Colorado and Northern New Mexico since 1949. Her biggest passion is Bibles and getting the Word of God into people’s hands.|
Lorraine Valk, Retail Academy
|Lorraine Valk is a second-generation bookstore owner who spent her early childhood cleaning customer bathrooms and glass doors—and is still doing those tasks today as well as consciously making choices to help her store weather the ever-changing retail landscape so that it can be a sought after haven of Christ’s love. She is very thankful that God has placed her in Christian retail, and is convinced that together our stores can do this.|