Convention Presenters and Sessions

The 2019 INA Convention and Trade Show will feature high-caliber speakers from across the country. Find out more about each of them below.


Ryan Dohrn, Brain Swell Media

Ryan Dohrn is the founder of media sales strategy firm Brain Swell Media and the creator of the 360 Ad Sales System taught to over 6,000 ad sales reps in 7 countries.  Dohrn works with over 50 newspapers per year and has a deep passion for the newspaper business.  Dohrn’s 25-year media sales and marketing career includes leadership roles at PennWell Publishing, Morris Publishing, Disney/ABC TV and The NY Times Company. He is an Emmy Award winner, business book author and has been featured in USA Today and on  Dohrn currently works monthly with over 50 media companies and their related sales and management teams.  

â–ª 60 Media Sales Tips in 60 Minutes - Friday at 10:30 a.m.
â–ª Turning “I Have No Budget” Into a Closed Deal - Friday at 1:45 p.m.
â–ª 6 Ways to Sell Web and Digital - Friday at 3:30 p.m.


Dennis Host, Coborn’s, Inc.

Dennis Host oversees all marketing functions for Coborn’s, Inc. including advertising, loyalty programs, brand strategy, strategic planning, social media, digital marketing, graphic design, event marketing, print services, store design, guest relations and e-commerce marketing efforts for the company.

Host has more than 35 years of experience in marketing, strategy, media management and digital. He joined Coborn’s, Inc. in 2010 as the Manager of E-Commerce Marketing at CobornsDelivers/Twin Cities after a 25-year career in media marketing with Gannett, Inc. where he served in various advertising and marketing roles, with the most recent as Market Development Director for the St. Cloud Times as well as a marketing field consultant for Gannett U.S. Community Publishing. He is a four-time winner of the Gannett President’s Ring, a Gannett Chairman’s Ring winner, and has won numerous Minnesota Newspaper Association and National Grocers Association awards.

â–ª What’s the Grocery Game? - Thursday at 1:45 p.m.


Michelle Johnson, National Basketball Association

Lieutenant General, USAF (Retired) Michelle D. Johnson is the NBA senior vice president and head of referee operations, in charge of the NBA’s officiating program which includes recruitment, training, and evaluation of the entire “eco system” of NBA referees including the WNBA and developmental G League referees—stewards of the integrity of the game.  She also oversees the NBA Replay Center. 

A 1981 US Air Force Academy (USAFA) graduate and the Academy’s 19th Superintendent, Johnson earned the leadership role of cadet wing commander a first for women at USAFA and among all federal service academies.  She also won a Rhodes Scholarship, as well as twice being named a basketball Academic All American, and later was inducted in the Academic All-America Hall of Fame. During her distinguished Air Force career, Michelle was a command pilot with more than 3,600 flying hours; deployed several times to Southwest Asia and worldwide; and commanded flying units at the squadron, group and wing level in the US and overseas. She also served in the White House as Air Force Aide to Presidents Bush ’41 and Clinton.  As a brigadier general, she led a team on the Pentagon’s Joint Staff that created the policy foundation for US Cyber Command.  As a major general in US Transportation Command she refined DoD policy for sea to rail supply of US forces Afghanistan via Central Asia, plus civil reserve air fleet and maritime anti-piracy policy. Prior to her appointment as USAFA’s Superintendent, she spent two years as NATO’s deputy chief of staff for operations and intelligence in support of NATO military actions from Afghanistan and Libya to the Balkan peace keeping and Baltic air policing.

Keynote Presentation:
"Deep Roots, Long Reach" - Friday at noon


Ken Paulson, Free Speech Center

Ken Paulson is a journalist, lawyer and educator who has combined these roles as an advocate and expert on the First Amendment. He’s the president of the Free Speech Center, dean of the College of Media and Entertainment at Middle Tennessee State University and the former editor of USA Today, where he remains a columnist writing about First Amendment issues.

Paulson is widely known for developing creative approaches to teaching the First Amendment, including a musical stage show called “Freedom Sings,” the social media campaign called “Free to Tweet,” the Emmy-honored national television show “Speaking Freely” and the highly engaging presentation you’re about to experience.  He’s also the host of “The Songwriters,” seen in more than 100 cities on PBS stations nationwide.

Kick-Off Presentation:
â–ª "Revolution, Rights and Rock 'n' Roll" - Friday at 9:00 a.m.


Dr. Celina Peerman, The Peerman Group

Dr. Celina Peerman serves as an organizational behavior specialist with more than 24 years' experience in a wide range of industries and organizations. She is passionate about engaging our human resources in innovative ways to achieve even better organizational results.

While she does some traveling out of our region, Celina is focused on helping Iowa first.  Making sure we are well prepared to recruit and keep the best people and companies right here is priority.  Celina’s passion is for how people behave at work; the good, the bad and the worst.  Her style has been described as dynamic noting the ability to draw in even the most resistant attendees through real life examples and humor.

Understanding Motivation on the Job - Thursday at 1:45 p.m.
Managing Constant Change and Transition - Thursday at 3:15 p.m.


Lisa Rossi, Bonfire Media Strategy

Lisa Rossi is the founder of Bonfire Media Strategy, a Des Moines-based firm that helps organizations and communities uncover creative solutions by better understanding and emphasizing with their customers and constituents. Rossi has nearly 20 years of experience in the news industry, holding leadership roles at The Des Moines Register, and American Journalism Review. She specialized in reader acquisition and audience growth. She recently completed the Stanford John S. Knight Journalism Fellowship, where she tested how to improve how information flows between citizens in who don’t regularly consume news. While there, she received training in the problem-solving method known as design thinking from the Hasso Plattner Institute of Design.

â–ª Crash Course in Decoding Your Readers - Friday at 1:45 p.m.


Tim Schmitt, GateHouse Media

Tim Schmitt has spent decades in various newsrooms — some print, and some broadcast. He was a sports reporter, news reporter, and then managing editor of his hometown paper, the Tonawanda News in New York, where he led an award-winning editorial page. He has worked as an editor, staffer and longtime contributor with the Arizona Daily Sun, the Mesa Tribune, the Arizona Republic, the Buffalo Current, and the Niagara Falls Gazette, where he was executive sports editor over four dailies.

â–ª Writing Better Ledes - Friday at 10:30 a.m.
Journalism Toolbox: Better Journalism Through Technology - Friday at 1:45 p.m.


Russell Viers, Adobe

Russell Viers is an international speaker who, since 1997 has presented in 23 countries for publishing events including AdobeMAX, where he was honored as an AdobeMAX Master. In addition to speaking, he has helped many major publications and designers learn techniques to work faster and improve quality including Better Homes and Gardens, Ladies Home Journal, American Greetings, and many others.

â–ª Adobe: InDesign Secrets - Friday at 10:30 a.m.
Editing and Altering PDFs - Friday at 1:45 p.m.
Preparing Graphics for Web and Print - Friday at 3:30 p.m.