MEET THE STAFF
The people that help define Premiere's excellence.

We at Premiere Speakers pride ourselves on our hard work to make booking speakers a breeze for you, but that doesn't mean we don't like to have a little fun along the way.

Click on a profile below to learn more about the different personalities behind Premiere. We have offered up ten fun and insightful facts about each member of our crew. You will also find one lie buried in the list. If you are curious as to which fact is a lie, or if you believe you know which it is and want to double check, email them to find out the truth.


Duane Ward

Duane Ward

Founder and CEO

(615) 261-4000 x1015 |

Duane Ward, founder of Premiere Speakers Bureau comes to this profession from many years in public relations and marketing. Raised in Florida, schooled in Missouri, and holding positions in Michigan, Texas, and Virginia before moving to Nashville to begin Premiere, Duane loves the challenge of building a loyal client base for the bureau. "Great Speakers and Customer Service are the keys," he says of the future of Premiere and the industry. Duane and Kathy have two children and four grandsons who have the full attention of their doting grandparents!

Click here to catch Duane in a lie...

Shawn Hanks

Shawn Hanks

President

(615) 261-4000 x1011 |

Shawn Hanks, President of Premiere Speakers Bureau, brings experience in various fields. Over the course of fourteen years in the event industry, he has gained valuable experience advising corporate, association non-profit events. In addition, he provides direction to speakers in the Premiere roster. Shawn is an avid football and basketball fan. He is a frequent reader and a musician, and he is active in the International Association of Speakers Bureaus (IASB). As native Texans, Shawn and Heather have enjoyed living in Southeast and Central Texas and, currently, Middle Tennessee. They are the proud parents of Mia (11), Ethan (9), Ella Kate (7) and Ava (5.)

Click here to catch Shawn in a lie...

Sherry Olson

Sherry Olson

Chief Financial Officer

(615) 261-4000 x1014 |

Sherry came to Premiere Speakers in 2004 after working for 16 years in the entertainment industry. Originally from Michigan, Sherry has also lived in Boston, Massachusetts, and Los Angeles, California. She now oversees all accounting functions for Premiere. Sherry and her husband, Steve, live in Franklin, Tennessee. They have two sons, Eric and Craig.

Click here to catch Sherry in a lie...

Chris Yount

Chris Yount

Chief Information Officer

(615) 261-4000 x1016 |

Chris was born on the East Coast of the US, traveled extensively, saved a puppy from a runaway train and then (the only obvious follow up to saving a puppy) joined the Premiere family as a designer and developer. Chris runs the Creative and IT/Development departments, and spends his free time searching for new adventures with his wife Chrystal (and yes, they are well aware of how confusing it is being Chris and Chrys Yount).

Click here to catch Chris in a lie...

Shawn Hanks

Shawn Hanks

President / Associational & Political Events

(615) 261-4000 x1011 |
Watch an Introductory Video

Shawn Hanks, President of Premiere Speakers Bureau, brings experience in various fields. Over the course of fourteen years in the event industry, he has gained valuable experience advising corporate, association non-profit events. In addition, he provides direction to speakers in the Premiere roster. Shawn is an avid football and basketball fan. He is a frequent reader and a musician, and he is active in the International Association of Speakers Bureaus (IASB). As native Texans, Shawn and Heather have enjoyed living in Southeast and Central Texas and, currently, Middle Tennessee. They are the proud parents of Mia (11), Ethan (9), Ella Kate (7) and Ava (5.)

Click here to catch Shawn in a lie...

Brian Lord

Brian Lord

Corporate Events

(615) 261-4000 x1005 |
Watch an Introductory Video

Since January, 2000, Brian has served as Senior Vice President. Prior to Premiere, Brian was with the William Morris Agency as well as his own agency. He has been interviewed on the BBC, been quoted in the Wall Street Journal and multiple industry publications, and has presented at the National Speakers Association Annual Conference. Brian has been a member of both the Technology Committee (07-09) and Continuing Education Committee (06-07) for the International Association of Speakers Bureaus. He married his wife Krista in April, 2001, and they have enjoyed establishing their home in Franklin, Tennessee with their two daughters Brooklyn and Sydney. In his free time, Brian competes in triathlons and marathons, and enjoys art, reading and history quite a bit, too. Brian graduated with a degree in political science from DePauw University. Connect at www.linkedin.com/in/brianlord or www.twitter.com/premierebrian

Click here to catch Brian in a lie...

Ryan Giffen

Ryan Giffen

K-12 & University Events

(615) 261-4000 x1018 |
Watch an Introductory Video

I was born and raised in Dallas, TX... enough said. Danica and I have THREE amazing sons: Will (7), Eli (2), and Jad (1). My best days will likely include wrestling with the boys, eating Chicago style pizza (or any pizza) and enjoying some good ESPN highlights. An interesting fact about myself is that I have traveled to 24 countries and once lived in a thatched roof mud hut for 3 weeks... on purpose.

Click here to catch Ryan in a lie...

Brian Elliott

Brian Elliott

Faith, Government & Chamber of Commerce Events

(615) 261-4000 x1010 |
Watch an Introductory Video

Brian comes to Premiere Speakers Bureau after spending twelve years in the entertainment industry in Nashville. His experience as an event planner for a major music industry trade association as well as a booking agent for national touring artists & bands, gives him a unique ability to relate with clients, having been on both sides of the booking process. In his free time, Brian enjoys spending time with family and is highly involved in mentoring in his local community. He is a novice triathlete and enjoys water sports. Originally from the Tampa Bay area of Florida, Brian has lived in Nashville since 2000 where he met & married his wife Gwen in 2002. They have one daughter (Taylor) and two sons (Micah & Garrett) and make their home in Franklin, Tennessee.

Click here to catch Brian in a lie...

Carl Ware

Carl Ware

Non-profit Events

(615) 261-4000 x1045 |
Watch an Introductory Video

Carl first started at Premiere in the Advance Department with the responsibility of handling speakers’ travel and event logistics. A couple of years and hundreds of successful events later, he has assumed the role of Agent in which he helps professional event planners and non-profit organizations find the ideal speaker for their special event.

Click here to catch Carl in a lie...

Jordan Smallwood

Jordan Smallwood

Agent

(615) 261-4000 x1030 |

Jordan comes to Premiere having previously worked in politics, public accounting, and business development. Jordan graduated cum laude from The University of Tennessee where he studied accounting and finance. In his free time Jordan enjoys playing golf, finishing middle of the pack in local 5k's, and spending time exploring New York City with his wife.

Click here to catch Jordan in a lie...

Brandon Edmonson

Brandon Edmonson

Agent

(615) 261-4000 x1002 |

Brandon joins Premiere with 6 years of experience as a Booking Agent in the faith music market. He specializes in finding clients the perfect speaker or talent for their event. Before he became an Agent, he was a Sales Director for a technology company. Brandon was born and raised in Kansas City, Kansas and lived there until 2000 when he moved to Nashville on a college soccer scholarship. He and his wife Becka reside in Franklin, TN with their three children Brooklyn, Gabriel, and Ethan. Brandon enjoys staying active by playing golf, soccer, basketball, running, and keeping up with three kids.

Click here to catch Brandon in a lie...

Lisa Borquez

Lisa Borquez

(615) 261-4000 x1007 |
Watch an Introductory Video

As an Event Guru, Lisa works with both clients and speakers in handling the details and logistics of their events, helping to ensure that each event booked will be a success for everyone involved. In her spare time, Lisa enjoys spending time with her husband and their kids, reading, playing board games, running, and traveling as often as she can.

Click here to catch Lisa in a lie...

Heather Rawdon

Heather Rawdon

(615) 261-4000 x1017 |
Watch an Introductory Video

Heather has been praised by many top CEOs, Presidents of Universities, and industry leading meeting planners around the world for her dedication toward making sure each event is a success and every expectation of both speaker and client are accurately communicated to every party involved.

Click here to catch Heather in a lie...

Heather Brett

Heather Brett

(615) 261-4000 x1013 |

Heather comes to Premiere Speakers Bureau with over ten years in the event planning industry. She has worked for venues helping clients coordinate their event logistics as well as booking and executing events for Dave Ramsey. In her free time, Heather enjoys running, reading, playing with her dog and time in the great outdoors.

Click here to catch Heather in a lie...

Josh Smallbone

Josh Smallbone

(615) 261-4000 x1040 |

Josh has been traveling for many years domestically and internationally. His traveling experience helps Premiere Speakers when planning logistics for speakers. Josh's expertise in book publishing also assists in making books a part of most speakers events.

Click here to catch Josh in a lie...

Ken Fitzpatrick

Ken Fitzpatrick

(615) 261-4000 x1035 |

Ken came to Premiere with six years of experience in the transportation industry. After graduating college, Ken began his own company providing ground transportation to schools, churches and nonprofit organizations. Ken now handles the transportation for book tours and speaking engagements that require considerable ground transport. A native of Columbus, Ohio, Ken now lives in Nashville and enjoys biking, traveling and reading.

Click here to catch Ken in a lie...

Sherry Olson

Sherry Olson

Chief Financial Officer

(615) 261-4000 x1014 |

Sherry came to Premiere Speakers in 2004 after working for 16 years in the entertainment industry. Originally from Michigan, Sherry has also lived in Boston, Massachusetts, and Los Angeles, California. She now oversees all accounting functions for Premiere. Sherry and her husband, Steve, live in Franklin, Tennessee. They have two sons, Eric and Craig.

Click here to catch Sherry in a lie...

Jeanne Bergstrom

Jeanne Bergstrom

(615) 261-4000 x1008 |

Jeanne came to Premiere Speakers in August of 2005. She brings several years of accounting experience in the convention, exhibit & health care industry with her. She loves outdoor activities,traveling and being with family & friends. She is a Nashville native and now lives in Franklin.

Click here to catch Jeanne in a lie...

Jessa Grimsley

Jessa Grimsley

(615) 261-4000 x1006 |

I am originally from Seattle Washington, but love living in Nashville with my husband. I enjoy reading, wake boarding, traveling and spending time with friends and family.

Click here to catch Jessa in a lie...

Renee Palakovic

Renee Palakovic

(615) 261-4000 x2009 |

Renee comes to us from Pennsylvania where she worked for 24 years in Educational Administration for the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. She has expertise in grant writing, event planning, program development and implementation. She has been married for nearly 25 years, has two teenage children and spends her free time reading, geocaching, visiting historical sites and relaxing with her family.

Click here to catch Renee in a lie...

Josh Smallbone

Josh Smallbone

(615) 261-4000 x1040 |

Josh has been traveling for many years domestically and internationally. His traveling experience helps Premiere Speakers when planning logistics for speakers. Josh's expertise in book publishing also assists in making books a part of most speakers events.

Click here to catch Josh in a lie...

Chris Yount

Chris Yount

Chief Information Officer

(615) 261-4000 x1016 |

Chris was born on the East Coast of the US, traveled extensively, saved a puppy from a runaway train and then (the only obvious follow up to saving a puppy) joined the Premiere family as a designer and developer. Chris runs the Creative and IT/Development departments, and spends his free time searching for new adventures with his wife Chrystal (and yes, they are well aware of how confusing it is being Chris and Chrys Yount).

Click here to catch Chris in a lie...

Alex Kranzusch

Alex Kranzusch

Marketing & Web Content

(615) 261-4000 x1020 |

Alex was born and raised in Montgomery, AL. He went on to study Graphic Design at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. Alex is a sucker for nostalgia and is used to people mispronouncing his last name. Alex joined the Premiere team in late 2011.

Click here to catch Alex in a lie...

Travis Franklin

Travis Franklin

Marketing & Web Content

(615) 261-4000 x1024 |

Travis was born and raised in Nashville, TN, and briefly sojourned to Chattanooga where he studied Advertising and Communication at Lee University. Travis' parents were missionaries traveling and speaking in all 50 states and over 35 foreign countries, so it only makes sense that he joined Premiere Speakers Bureau with its many national and international connections.

Click here to catch Travis in a lie...

Ryan Clark

Ryan Clark

Information Technology

(615) 261-4000 x |

Ryan was born and raised in Franklin, Tennessee, and is proud to be a part of the Premiere team. He spends his free time reading, listening to and playing music, learning how to draw, and being married to his wonderful wife, Tiana.

Click here to catch Ryan in a lie...

Are you finding what you need? YES NO

ABOUT PREMIERE