Keynote Speakers 2018-04-16T16:57:37+00:00

Keynote Speakers

2018 NISOD Conference 40th Year banner

Alex Sheen photo
2018 SDR Award image

Alex Sheen

Because I Said I Would

We live in a society that often does not respect the importance of a promise. It is too easy to say “I’ll get to it” or “tomorrow.” In many ways we have become numb to disappointment and broken commitments. This expectation starts to fade into our character as individuals. Alex Sheen, founder of the international social movement “because I said I would,” believes that every individual has the strength to become a person of their word. Alex shares his insights and actionable ways to become better at fulfilling commitments. Alex inspires others to become more accountable to their promises through compelling real-life examples from the movement and convincingly illustrates how integrity and keeping your promises are forever interwoven. Alex discusses how holding ourselves and each other accountable truly changes humanity for the better.

Monday, 12:00 – 1:30 p.m. General Session Lunch


Alex Sheen is the founder of because I said I would, a social movement and nonprofit dedicated to bettering humanity through promises made and kept. Sparked by the loss of his father, Alex and his organization send “promise cards” to anyone anywhere in the world at no cost. Alex is someone who truly honors commitment. He once walked over 240 miles across the entire state of Ohio in 10 days to fulfill a promise.

Since his father’s passing on September 4, 2012, because I said I would has sent over 4.47 million promise cards to over 150 countries. The promises written on these cards have made headlines around the world.

Alex’s charitable projects and awareness campaigns have been featured on ABC World News with Diane Sawyer, CBS Nightly News, Fox News, CNN, The Today Show, Good Morning America, NPR, The Los Angeles Times, and most recently, Megyn Kelly TODAY. Alex has also been featured on the cover of Spirit Magazine, honored as a Steve Harvey “Harvey’s Hero,” and was the closing TED speaker at TEDxUtica and TEDxYouth@Austin.

Alex’s efforts in social media were featured in BuzzFeed’s “Most Important Viral Videos of 2013.” Alex’s posts have made the number one spot on the front page of Reddit.com over 10 times.

The Suanne Davis Roueche Distinguished Lecturer Award is named for Suanne Davis Roueche, who served as NISOD’s director for nearly 20 years.

Tonjua Williams photo
2018 JER Award image

Dr. Tonjua Williams

The Evolving Role of Today’s Community College Faculty: Mentor, Role Model, and Coach

The needs of today’s students are different than from any time in recent history, and the importance of education’s impact on improving economic mobility has never been more pronounced. Furthermore, faculty are realizing that the ideal “college-ready” student is a myth, as they see growing numbers of students in need of access to resources at the college and in their communities. This session provides a framework for creating a “Community of Care” that addresses students’ needs while simultaneously breaking down perceived barriers to their success. The model focuses on four areas: Culture, Communication, Collaboration, and Creativity. It is designed to help students feel connected and engaged on college campuses, especially within classrooms. During this keynote presentation, the audience learns the importance of creating a community of care within their own learning environments and the steps to take to make it happen.

Tuesday, 11:45 a.m. – 1:00 p.m. Closing General Session Lunch


Tonjua Williams, Ph.D., became St. Petersburg College’s seventh president on July 3, 2017. A St. Petersburg, Florida native, Dr. Williams began her tenure with the college in 1986, rising through the ranks in a variety of academic and administrative roles.

Prior to becoming President, Dr. Williams was Senior Vice President for Student Services from 2013 to 2017. She has served in nearly every area of the college, including Provost, Associate Provost, Director of Special Programs, Program Coordinator, Academic Advisor, Recruiter, Senior Accounting Clerk, and Adjunct Faculty.

Dr. Williams earned a doctoral degree in Higher Education Administration from Barry University, a master’s degree in Counselor Education from University of South Florida, and bachelor’s degrees in Business Administration and Humanities from Clearwater Christian College.

In 2016, Dr. Williams was awarded the prestigious Aspen Presidential Fellowship for Community College Excellence, making her part of the inaugural class of the Aspen Presidential Fellows. She is a graduate of Leadership Tampa Bay, Leadership St. Petersburg, the Chancellor’s Leadership Program, and the Executive Leadership Program at the University of Florida.

Dr. Williams has served in a number of leadership capacities and received numerous awards and recognitions, including:

  • Achieving the Dream Advisory Network Committee
  • State of Florida Performance-Based Incentive Program Review Committee
  • State of Florida Student Activities Committee
  • American Association of Community College’s President’s Round Table
  • Council for Student Affairs, Florida College System
  • National Council of Negro Women
  • Tampa Bay Business Journal, Businesswoman of the Year, Government/Nonprofit Category’
  • National Coalition of 100 Black Women, Passing the Torch Leadership Award for Education
  • Academy Preparatory School, Five Fabulous Females
  • Chamber of Commerce, Iconic Woman of the Year Finalist for Large Businesses
  • Junior Achievement, Educator of the Year

The John E. Roueche International Leadership Award honors John’s service to The University of Texas at Austin and recognizes his role as the founder of NISOD four decades ago. Dr. Roueche also held the Sid Richardson Regents Chair and served as Director of the Community College Leadership Program for over four decades.