Our 2018 Speakers 

Rodney is a digital artist, social influencer, film maker, multiple award-winning blogger, lecturer, founder of the world’s largest pet health page on Facebook called Planet Paws, and, more importantly, a pet parent.


His massive social media presence has gained him worldwide recognition, including being honored at the Canadian House of Parliament (December, 2016) when the government recognized him for having one of the biggest brand followings in the country. In 2015 he was awarded the Communicator of the Year Award at the International Summit and Facebook recently recognized and honored him for having the largest pet health page and one of their top pages, which allows him to spread his message to over 100 million news feeds.


In 2016, Rodney was honored to give the very first TEDx talk on pet health4, which currently stands as the highest viewed TED in history pertaining to dogs. He was also featured alongside Dr. Jane Goodall and Sir Richard Branson in the inspiring book, 101 Reasons To Get Out of Bed (and Change the World).


Once the host of the #1 radio show in Canada, In The Dish, Rodney left the radio world to pursue his passion in film making creating micro-documentaries for his social media platform. He’s also filmed and produced a documentary series on the canine cancer epidemic ravaging the planet called The Dog Cancer Survival Series.


Rodney has made numerous TV, social media headlines, movie, and radio/podcast appearances including ABC National News, BBC London, CBC, Global National News TV, Financial Post, National Post, the Pet Food Documentary “Dog Food Mythbusters”, Ty Bollinger’s upcoming Truth About Cancer series, and Dr. Marty Goldstein’s upcoming box office movie on pets.


Other achievements include: Man of the Year by the Boys and Girls Club of Canada, 2014 Rolf. C. Hagen Scholarship for Emerging Leader, 2013 Summit Retailer Award and 2013 HRM School Board Golden Apple Award. Rodney recently established the Paws For Change Foundation to raise money through charitable donations to further education and research in the areas of animal nutrition and the role of nutraceuticals, herbs, and natural healing in promoting animal longevity and wellbeing.


Digital artist, film maker, multiple award winning vlogger and the founder of the world’s largest pet health page on Facebook, Planet Paws

For more than 4 decades, Dave Ratner has been building an independent, critically and commercially acclaimed pet supply business.


With seven Dave’s Soda and Pet City stores, and a nationally marketed line of high-quality pet food for dogs and cats, Dave has earned a seat at the table on the National Retail Federation Board of Directors. He also sits on the Retail Advertising and Marketing Association Board of Directors, the only small business owner representing the independent retailer alongside the VPs of Marketing for Home Depot, Walgreens, and Target.


As he puts it, “It’s all these big dogs — and me!” Dave has represented the voice of small business owners before both houses of Congress and continues to work to elevate the retail industry.


Dave Ratner received the Silver Award from the National Retail Federation and was named to the Massachusetts Retail Hall of Fame in recognition of outstanding contributions to the Retail Industry and induction into the Massachusetts Retail Hall of Fame.


Owner, Dave’s Soda and Pet City & Dave’s Pet Food

Marco Cavazzoni, DVM, MSc. Dr. Marco Cavazzoni since 2012 has been leading the international scientific committee of Farmina Pet Foods. A graduate from the University of Milan, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, with a thesis on the use of natural condensed tannins to control intestinal parasitosis. With a focus on animal nutrition and as a member of the European Society of Veterinary and Comparative Nutrition, Dr. Cavazzoni has coordinated many cruelty-free scientific research studies with over 10 International Universities including Cornell.


Scientific Director, Farmina Pet Foods


Hunter Buffington is the Executive Director of the Colorado Hemp Industries Association. She has been working with municipal and state based organizations to achieve sustainable development that includes economic, environmental and social benefits for over a decade. Hunter is excited to work to build the industrial hemp movement with a focus on supporting entrepreneurs and farmers while bringing new markets and technologies to fruition. As Executive Director she works for the members of COHIA to give them a voice in the future of hemp. “I believe by celebrating enterprise, capitalizing relationships and working together we can change the world.  Industrial Hemp is the realization of that opportunity.”


 Executive Director, Colorado Hemp Industries Association

Bill Bookout is a founding member of the National Animal Supplement Council, serving as President and Chair of the Board of Directors of the nonprofit organization and has been in the Pet Industry for over 20 years. He is widely regarded as one of the leading experts in the supplement industry for companion animals.  


Mr. Bookout was President of Genesis Limited, a company he founded in 1999 that provides both feed and health supplements for companion animals. In March of 2012, Genesis was acquired by Kemin Industries Inc., a privately held, family-owned company that has nearly 1500 employees and operates in more than 90 countries. He was Vice President of Global Sales at Kemin before reassuming the role of NASC President.   


Mr. Bookout was selected by Health Canada to serve on the Expert Advisory Committee for Veterinary Natural Health Products.  Prior to founding Genesis, he spent 15 years in the human medical device and animal health industries, including executive positions with Medex Medical, the All-Care Animal Referral Center (a specialty referral veterinary hospital) and AnaMed International, and was Director of Sales & Marketing for Marquest Medical Products.  


Mr. Bookout received his bachelor’s degree in physical sciences from the University of  Wyoming and an MBA from Pepperdine University, Presidents and Key Executive Program.


Founding Member, National Animal Supplement Council 

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Rachelle is Vice President and Tax Counsel for the National Retail Federation (NRF).  As such, Rachelle is the principal lobbyist for the NRF on tax policy matters, interacting with members of Congress and their staff, Treasury Department and IRS officials on behalf of the retail industry.  Rachelle also staffs the NRF’s Taxation Committee, made up of the tax directors for the nation’s largest retailers.  In addition to advocating for members on tax policy matters, Rachelle serves as a liaison with the IRS’ Retail Industry Group.  In this capacity, Rachelle works to negotiate solutions on industry-wide matters that will ease the tax compliance burden for the retail industry. Rachelle also serves as a spokesperson for the NRF in dealing with the media on tax-related issues.


 Vice President, Tax Counsel National Retail Federation 

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Tilford is a leading force and early pioneer of the pet supplements industry. He is co-founder, formulating herbalist and CEO for Animal Essentials Inc., a company that has been producing a full range of animal supplements for over 20 years.  

A charter member of the Scientific Advisory Committee of the National Animal Supplements Council (NASC), Greg is a world renowned expert in the field of veterinary botanical medicine.  An international lecturer, he has taught courses at several veterinary medicine institutions throughout the world, including Colorado State University Teaching Hospital; the Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts University; University of Wisconsin School of Veterinary Medicine and the nationally accredited Healing Oasis Wellness Center in Sturtevant, Wisconsin. 

In Asia, he is an honorary advisor to the Japan Animal Wellness Association, a model educational institution training international pet care professionals on the science and philosophy behind natural veterinary medicine.

Greg is the author of five books, including the acclaimed Herbs for Pets, the Natural Way to Enhance your Pet’s Life (i-5 Publications, second ed. 2009). Other books include Edible & Medicinal Plants of the West, From Earth to Herbalist, and The EcoHerbalist’s Fieldbook. He’s also published numerous articles on herbs in consumer and trade magazines.


CEO, Animal Essentials, Inc.

Vicki Lynne Morgan has a passion for mentoring entrepreneurs and small business owners on achieving their goals for sustaining growth and profitability.


Engaged in the pet industry for 40 years, Vicki Lynne Morgan is the first woman to own a pet industry manufacturers’ rep agency.  A marketing and sales professional, she is credited for initiating and sustaining programs that have enabled select pet product manufacturers to achieve brand recognition and sales through independent distribution channels.  Ms. Morgan was selected and recognized as a Pet Age Woman of Influence in 2016.  She was also nominated for Pet Industry Woman of the Year sponsored by Women in the Pet Industry Network.


She has been a counselor and instructor for the New Jersey Small Business Development Centers since 2001 for which she writes programs and teaches professional education programs at many centers, including: William Paterson University, Raritan Valley and Bergen Community Colleges, and The College of New Jersey.  


She serves on advisory boards for the Academic Marketing Department and SBDC at Raritan Valley Community College.  Ms. Morgan served on the Board of Directors of the Gateway Regional Chamber of Commerce (NJ) and is past president of their affiliate, Somerset Hills Business Network. 


President, Califon Connection LLC, dba Animal Brands® Consulting Agency and Russmor Mentoring Group 

Owner of a Golden Retriever (Harvey) with a never-met-a-stranger personality, Chris is focused on driving sales and solutions for WholesalePet.com suppliers, retailers and partners.  Having joined the pack in 2015 after a decade leading teams at Lowe’s Companies, Inc., he also prioritizes building new partnerships and growth initiatives.  Whenever possible he likes to spend time outdoors with his son (9), daughter (12), wife and Harvey.


CEO, Wholesalepet.com

Anthony Bennie is a pioneer in the natural pet nutrition movement, a writer and speaker on pet industry topics, and the Founder and Chief Nutrition Officer of  Clear Conscience Pet®, the makers of SuperGravy® Pet Food Toppers.  “CCP” is the most awarded brand in animal nutrition with 21 awards including the 2015 “Pet Industry Icon” award. His article, “Is it Time for a Pet Food Divorce?” appeared in the March 2018 issue of Animal Wellness magazine, and he has two books slated for publication in 2019, “Confessions of a Dog Food Salesman” and “The Dog Rules: How Dogs Can Teach Us to Be Better Humans.” 


Pet Industry Icon Award Winner, Writer, Speaker, and Founder, Clear Conscience Pet LLC

As a Retail Industry Expert, and  co-host of "This Commerce Life" podcast  Phil tracks emerging trends and insights that may impact businesses engaged in commerce. With 20 years of experience under his belt, Phil helps brands and retailers adapt to the the new realities of retail and the next generation of commerce.  With three kids, he's more familiar with Gen Z than he'd care to admit. A frequent speaker at industry events in Canada and the US, across multiple verticals, you'll find him searching for unique local businesses everywhere he goes.


Retail Industry Expert and co-host of "This Commerce Life" podcast

Tom Crossman has been a successful store designer for much of the last 10 years, designing for the big guys and the little guys including Dollywood, London Fog, Joe Boxer, LEGOLAND, and visual projects for many of the big film studios, including projects for Star Wars and Barbie. His clients hire him not just for his design skills, but also because he knows the business side of retail. His 30-year retail career has encompassed sales, buying and store management, as well as leading seminars at theme parks, and speaking at NY Toy Fair. Tom previous worked at FAO Schwarz as Creative Director for the 42-store chain, Toys R Us  as Marketing VP in charge of in-store visuals, as well as Macy’s Buyer and Department Manager and Disney Store- Store Manager.


Former VP Creative Director at FAO Schwarz and Marketing VP at Toys’R’Us

Candace D'Agnolo has been in the pet industry for over 16 years (retail, wholesale, doggy daycare, grooming, training, dog walking) and has successfully translated her passion for pets into multiple million-dollar businesses (including a retail store she sold to Marcus Lemonis and Bentley’s Pet Stuff). She's conquered cash flow, tackled team issues, traveled the world while her business ran like clockwork, and created a freedom lifestyle instead of working like a dog in her business. But it wasn’t always that way. She's turned obstacles into opportunities and created step by-step systems for every facet of pet businesses unique challenges.    


Her latest business, Pet Boss Nation, is a coaching and consulting community helping bring profits to pet businesses through inventory planning, cash flow road maps, marketing, goal setting and more via her signature program the Pet Boss Club.  


Candace was also recently honored with the Women in the Pet Industries - 2017 Woman of the Year Award in the Entrepreneur category and a 2018 Pet Age Woman of Influence.  


In addition to being the CEO of Dogaholics, her doggy daycare in Chicago, Candace is a business consultant, Pets+ Magazine Columnist, Conference Speaker, on the Board of Directors for both the Lakeview Chamber of Commerce and Chicago Canine Rescue, and most importantly a dog mom to Guinness, Clover and Dory.


Founder, Pet Boss Nation 

Nancy Guinn is the founder and president of Dog Krazy Inc. an award-winning family owned and operated natural pet supply store in Virginia with five open locations and a sixth in the works. Nancy finished school in 2016 to become the only Clinical Pet Nutritionist in her area.  She's used her certification to work with the local veterinarians in her area and has taught her staff the same principals in helping to better pets’ lives through natural foods, supplements and stress free grooming.  She recently received the award for Excellence in Marketing and was named one of the top 12 retailers for Pet Product News.  Other achievements include Excellence in Business award for the city of Fredericksburg for taking the Dog Krazy brand and opening in multiple locations throughout Virginia and the best pet supply store and best pet groomers for three years and running in Fredericksburg, Stafford, and Spotsylvania Virginia.  In addition to running multiple locations, in her spare time, Nancy also does podcasts, webinars, and nutrition consults with veterinarians.    


While Dog Krazy is a huge part of her life, the most important part are the hearts of her business, her business partner and husband, Chris and their furry and feathered inspirations Sushi, Pork Wonton, Stirfry Fatguy, Tala, Jimmy Dean, Ozzie, and Max.


Clinical Pet Nutritionist and President, Dog Krazy Inc.

Nancy Hassel is the founder and President of American Pet Professionals, an award winning business networking, educational and multimedia organization for the pet industry since 2009.  Leading over 100 in-person educational networking events, seminars, fundraisers and online events for pet industry professionals. A Public Relations specialist for the pet industry, Nancy works with pet companies in many aspects of PR, event planning, media relations and training for pet professionals.  Nancy also co-hosts the boutique B2B trade-show, NYC Re-Tails & Sales Pet Expo, with Dana Humphrey every spring.  Also, Nancy is a speaker at various pet industry conferences, a writer for pet trade and consumer magazines, blogger, avid photographer, and was a TV producer and production coordinator for 10+ years. Nancy created a Responsible Dog Ownership program and taught over 2,500 pet parents in a 5-year period. Recently awarded the 2018 Women of Influence by Pet Age Magazine and her organization was voted Best Networking organization three years in a row by LI Press newspaper.  Nancy resides on Long Island, NY and is the proud pet parent of Cody, a rescued American Pit Bull Terrier. 


Founder and President, American Pet Professionals

Robbi Hess is a professional blogger, social media consultant, copy (and ghost) writer, editor and creative thinker. She help individuals and small business owners define their key message and express it through social media platforms, a robust website presence, blogging, newsletters and other online and print media.


Chief Writing Officer, All Words Matter

Dana Humphrey is the Lead Publicist & Owner at Whitegate PR, a boutique public relations agency specializing in the pet industry. She also positions herself as a pet expert as "The Pet Lady" and travels coast to coast scouting out the best pet products, brands and pet experts and showcasing them on morning talk shows on TV and radio. Dana is also a professor at FIT, (Fashion Institute of Technology) and teaches in the pet product marketing and design department. Humphrey is the co-founder of the NYC Re-tails and Sales Pet Expo, a B2B pet product trade show going on it's seventh year with her business partner Nancy Hassel. She was recently awarded by Pet Age Magazine 40 under 40 and Women of Influence and a Rising Star by the Queens Courier. She has traveled to more than 50 countries and lived in five. Currently she resides in Astoria, Queens with her pet frog Prince Charming.


Lead Publicist & Owner, Whitegate PR 

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Theresa Piasta is the Founder and CEO of Puppy Mama, a pet-tech company enhancing the lives of dog moms around the world. Together, the Puppy Mama community is advocating for a more dog-friendly world and for the healing power of canine therapy.

Before founding Puppy Mama, Theresa Piasta was a Vice President at JPMorgan, spending six total years in the Investment Bank and Sales & Trading businesses at two Wall Street banks. Prior to that, she served as an Army Captain in a Field Artillery Brigade. During her 14-month Iraq deployment in 2008, Theresa led a large team to defend thousands of soldiers and contractors residing on Forward Operating Base (FOB) Delta near the Iranian border. She was awarded the Bronze Star Medal for her service.

Theresa attended the Stanford Graduate School of Business Ignite program in 2016 and received a BA in Economics from Wellesley College in 2006. She also studied military science at Massachusetts Institute of Technology as a ROTC scholarship recipient.


Founder and CEO, Puppy Mama

Shawna has 25+ years as a business owner/entrepreneur that provides perspective and insights to help make WIPIN work. Shawna spends the time she isn’t feeding, cleaning and vacuuming pet hair working with professionals as an executive coach and facilitator. She is a Master Practitioner in Neuro Linguistic Programming (NLP) as well as holds the prestigious Certified Speaking Professional (CSP) designation from the National Speakers Association – held by less than 8 % of speakers worldwide.  She is an author, media personality and content provider who runs multiple enterprises from her 20 acres in rural Western Oregon. She shares her life with a horse, dogs, a cat, a house rabbit and mini pig as well as one confused goat.


President and Chief Pet Wrangler, Women in the Pet Industry (WIPIN)

As a child, Lisa quickly realized her parents were more likely to let her keep the stray and injured animals she always seemed to find if she just brought them home, instead of asking permission first.  


Her career began in finance, but it didn’t take long before things went to the dogs… and cats. In 2008, after losing two precious cats to illness, Lisa took a closer look at what was in the food she was feeding her pets day in and day out. “I was shocked. The ingredient lists were filled with items I couldn’t pronounce and things I certainly wouldn’t eat myself. I knew immediately that I wanted to do something about it.” says Lisa Senafe who to this day analyzes every brand of food and treats that enter her stores so that the consumer knows they can walk into Bentley’s Pet Stuff or shop online and the food promise is there.


Bentley, a Belgian malinois/chow mix is the namesake of the Bentley’s Pet Stuff locations and a big inspiration along with their two cats Oregano and Spice.    


The company expanded and Senafe’s husband, Giovanni joined her to focus on Bentley’s. Growth wasn’t always easy. The couple moved eight times in nine years so they could afford to maintain the business. After opening store number eight, they were fortunate to woo investor Marcus Lemonis aka The Profit, a valued ally and mentor.


As the company blossomed so did her family. Lisa and Giovanni were delighted to adopt two sons, first Sebastian, then Miles. Truly a family business, the boys now accompany mom and dad to Bentley’s stores around the country whenever possible.


Running a business that does good as it does well is essential to Lisa, so Bentley’s provides all full-time employees with 16 paid hours per year to volunteer with the local charity of their choosing (eight hours for part-time employees). Bentley’s has donated several thousands in monetary and in-kind donations to children’s and animal welfare organizations in the communities Bentley’s serves, and that number continues to grow every month.


Today, the company has expanded to 92 stores in 10 states and an e-commerce website. In 2018, it received commendation as the Best Overall Pet Retailer 2018 in the U.S. by Pet Business Magazine at the Global Pet Expo. The core values and commitment to quality remain the same as when Lisa founded Bentley’s 10 years ago.


President & Co-Founder, Bentley's Pet Stuff 

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