Speaker Bios

Mark Herrera

Director of Safety and Security
International Association of Venue Managers

Mark Herrera is the Director of Safety and Security for the International Association of Venue Managers (IAVM) and recognized as one of the 25 most influential leaders in the meetings and event industry. As part of his duties, he teaches Situational Awareness-Mindset training aimed at giving venues the tools to be safer and more secure. The training emphasizes Exceptional Focus, Performance, and Control in Extreme Situations and Risk Mitigation through Guest Services Interjection. In addition, as the Director of Safety and Security for IAVM, Herrera represents the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Office of Infrastructure Protection as the current Chair for the Public Assembly Facilities Sub-Sector Council (PAFSC). As a representative of PAFSC, he works in collaboration with DHS and the Protective Security Advisor to identify capability gaps across soft target community, counter threats to the pattern of life, research technology to mitigate risk and provide information to protect our Public Assembly Facilities and all Critical Infrastructures.

Herrera is also a seasoned law enforcement officer and trainer, having spent 20 years with the Hobbs, New Mexico, Police Department in numerous roles including Patrol Officer, Detective for the Gang and Narcotics Unit, Supervisor of the Crime Prevention Division, Field Training Officer, Honor Guard Commander, and Entry Team Leader and Tactical Sergeant for a Special Operations Unit known as S.W.A.T. During this time, his responsibilities also included the development and implementation of security policies and procedures and security awareness programs for the Community of Hobbs. Upon retiring from the police department, he leveraged his training background to implement security policies, procedures and training programs for the oil and gas industry and later worked as an instructor for DHS, training 3,000 armed pilots to defend against acts of terrorism involving criminal violence or air piracy.

Reverend Dr. Bryant T. Marks, Sr.

Founder and Chief Equity Officer
The National Training Institute on Race and Equity

Reverend Dr. Bryant T. Marks, Sr. is a minister, researcher, trainer, award-winning educator, and former member of the Obama Administration. He is the Founder and Chief Equity Officer of the National Training Institute on Race and Equity and a tenured professor of Psychology at Morehouse College. 

Between 2017 and 2021, Dr. Marks provided implicit bias training to over 100,000 employees and volunteers in law enforcement; city, county, and federal government; corporations; education; and healthcare.

Dr. Marks holds a B.A. in psychology and a minor in economics from Morehouse College, and a Master’s and Ph.D. in Social Psychology from the University of Michigan.Dr. Marks conducts research and professional development in the areas of diversity and implicit bias, Black male psychology and development, and personal passion and productivity. Dr. Marks is married to Dr. Kimberly Marks and father to Kim, Zion-Trinity, and Bryant II. 

Stephen C. Rayfield

Learning and Education Director
Creative Reaction Lab

Stephen Rayfield (he/him, él) joined the Creative Reaction Lab team as its Learning and Education Director having previous professional experience as a teacher, a professional learning designer, a trainer and consultant, and a school leader. His education includes a doctorate in Education Policy and Organizational Leadership and a Masters in Education Leadership from the University of NC at Chapel Hill, with postgraduate study and undergraduate studies from Harvard University and the University of NC at Greensboro.

You can find Stephen serving on several boards and charities, but his favorite job outside of CRXLAB is being a father to his little boy, Briar. Some awards and honors he has received are: the Guy B. Phillips Award for Educational Leadership (UNC), Advanced Education Leadership (Harvard), Teacher of the Year 2015-2016, N.C. Teaching Fellow, Chapel Hill Hometown Hero, Village Pride Award Chapelboro, and Outstanding Achievement in Teaching Award (UNCG). His most rewarding professional accomplishment, however, has been to build deep and lasting relationships with partners, communities, and changemakers that last beyond their time together professionally. He believes deeply in the power of connection and relationships.

Nina Simon

Best-selling author
The Art of Relevance

Nina Simon has been described as a “museum visionary” by Smithsonian Magazine for her community-based approach to design. She is an Ashoka fellow, cultural manager, author, and a leader in the movement for more inclusive and relevant cultural and civic organizations.

Nina is the founder of OF/BY/FOR ALL, a global nonprofit that creates digital tools to help civic and cultural organizations become more inclusive, relevant, and sustainable. The OF/BY/FOR ALL Change Network includes over 100 museums, libraries, parks, theaters, and community organizations around the world. Prior to founding OF/BY/FOR ALL, Nina was Executive Director of the Santa Cruz Museum of Art & History, where she led a dramatic turnaround and eight years of growth rooted in community involvement and public arts engagement. Nina is the best-selling author of The Participatory Museum (2010) and The Art of Relevance (2016). Nina lives off the grid in the Santa Cruz mountains with 20 people, 16 chickens, 3 dogs, and 1 zip line.

Sharon Yazowski

Executive Director
Levitt Foundation

As Executive Director, Sharon provides visionary leadership in fulfilling the Levitt Foundation’s mission. She is the chief spokesperson for the organization, traveling across the country to share the impact of Levitt programs and creative placemaking. Her passionate commitment to the arts as a vehicle for creating equitable, healthy, and thriving communities has guided the growth of Levitt programs nationwide, including the development of long-term public/private partnerships and sustainability strategies for the national Levitt network of venues and concert sites. In her role, Sharon also leads the Levitt Foundation’s contributions to the field, including research and field-building initiatives.

Prior to her position with the Levitt Foundation, Sharon was the founding Executive Director of Levitt Pavilion Los Angeles at MacArthur Park. Her work there and the venue’s impact in the community earned her the recognition of “Los Angeles Park Hero” by the City of Los Angeles. Sharon’s career began working with arts nonprofits in metropolitan Chicago. She earned a Bachelor of Music from Northwestern University with a concentration in arts and business management.

Sharon is often an invited speaker at regional and national conferences, including the National Main Street Conference; Grantmakers in the Arts; Walk/Bike/Places; Growing Sustainable Communities Conference; Association for Performing Arts Presenters; EcoDistricts Summit; National Recreation and Parks Association Conference; Music Cities Convention; City/Nation/Place Americas; FestForums; VenueConnect; and National Outdoor Recreation Conference, amongst others.