Creative Freelancer Conference Speakers

All Creative Freelancer Conference speakers are there to help you, through advice,
suggestions and their own experience. So take a minute to get to know them before you get to
San Francisco.
We'll be updating our list of speakers over the next few days so check back to see our
star line up!

Ilise Benun
Marketing Mentor
IliseBenun is a national speaker and founder of and the Creative Freelancer Conference (with HOW magazine). She specializes in coaching creative entrepreneurs who are serious about growing their business. She is the author of The Creative Professional’s Guide to Money, The Designer’s Guide to Marketing and Pricing and StopPushing Me Around: A Workplace Guide for the Timid, Shy and Less Assertive. She regularly publishes Quick Tips from Marketing Mentor, and hosts an online store,, featuring tools to make creatives more successful, including The Designer’s Proposal Bundle and The Pricing Bundle.
1. Official Welcome to CFC - CFC
5. From the Trenches Panel: How to Grow Into a Small Business - CFC
11. From the Trenches Freelance Panel: The Skinny on Working with Corporate Clients - CFC
12. Day 1 Takeaways - CFC
19. Day 2 Takeaways - CFC
CFC Workshop: Determine Your Positioning and Find Your Target Market - (Extra Fee Required)
Alisa Bonsignore
Clarifying Complex Ideas
By day, you can find Alisa Bonsignore clarifying complex ideas, helping multinational medical device, high tech and healthcare IT companies translate complicated technical and clinical concepts into understandable English. By night, she raises a curious 6-year-old son, is a Captain with Team in Training, and writes for

She has attended every Creative Freelancer Conference, and can’t imagine where she’d be today without the lessons she’s learned and people she’s met through CFC. And yes, she is conspicuously tall.

9. Saving Your Sanity Through Better Client Relations: How to Stop Apologizing, Say No Tactfully and Know When to Shut Up and Listen - CFC
Jonathan Cleveland
Cleveland Design
After four years of freelancing in Boston, Jonathan Cleveland took his business relationships to a new level and founded Cleveland Design in 1992. His strategic approach to design communications has earned him the respect of a wide range of clients, from Fortune 100 market leaders to innovative startups and non-profit organizations. Relied upon as a valued advisor for key marketing and branding initiatives in the corporate world, he also insists on great design for nonprofits and is the co-author of Designing for the Greater Good: The Best of Cause Marketing and Nonprofit Design (Harper Collins, 2010).
Jenn David Connolly
Founder and Creative Director
Jenn David Design
Jenn David Connolly is founder and creative director of Jenn David Design, a full-service graphic design studio in San Diego with a passion for and commitment to creating unique design that commands attention. With a client base that includes several of today’s most highly recognized consumer brands, the studio specializes in packaging but also the whole package—websites, identity, collateral and more.
Sarah Durham
Big Duck
Sarah Durham is the Principal and Founder of Big Duck. Since 1994, Big Duck has worked to help nonprofits increase visibility, raise money, and move the needle on missions. She was named a top fundraiser under 40 by Fundraising Success Magazine in 2006, and one of the most influential women in technology by Fast Company magazine in 2010.

The author of Brandraising: How Nonprofits Raise Visibility and Money Through Smart Communications (Jossey-Bass/Wiley, 2010), Sarah teaches aspiring nonprofit communications nerds at NYU’s Wagner School. She regularly gives workshops and webinars to anyone who’ll listen.

Twitter: @BigDuckSarah

3. Integrating Your Values and Your Positioning - CFC
Johnny Earle aka Johnny Cupcakes
Johnny Cupcakes
At age 19—with a learning disability and no investors—Johnny started an independent, family run, multimillion dollar, experience-based t-shirt brand out of the trunk of his beat up '89 Camry. Johnny does not sell baked goods, however, he sells and displays t-shirts with dessert-themed graphics on them inside of refrigerators and vintage ovens at his frosting-scented faux-bakeries in Boston, Los Angeles and London. Although Johnny tricks hungry people daily, JC has dedicated customers around the globe who camp out for days for his special edition t-shirts, while thousands of die-hard customers have the brands logo tattooed on themselves.

Johnny has been recognized for his innovative business strategies; he has been named America's #1 Young Entrepreneur by BusinessWeek as well as placed #237  in Inc. Magazine's top 500 fastest growing independent businesses. The Boston Globe recently named Johnny as one of the 30 most innovative businessmen in Massachusetts. Johnny Cupcakes has also been featured on NPR, MTV, CNN, The Wall Street Journal, Entrepreneur Magazine, Web Marketing for Dummies, The New York Times, MSNBC, The Big Idea with Donny Deutsch, Wired Magazine, WWD, NYLON,Computer Arts, The Los Angeles Times and as a case study in numerous text books.

Reinventing Your Ideas: How the Little Things Yield Big Results - HDC, DPDC, IHMC, CFC
Jason Early
Founder & Designer
Jason Early is the Founder & Designer of gruntmonkey, a small creative studio in Chicago, Illinois. He has worked with clients such as NASA, M&M/MARS, Boeing and Motorola, providing designs that maintain a balance of beauty and functionality, and is an advocate on the importance of Design and its impact on all aspects of our lives. He’s also a maker of limited edition screen-prints through The Poster Works, creator of the web-based portfolio framework Viewport, design mentor through The Starter League, coffee addict, and devout fan of baseball.
Stacey King Gordon
President and Founder
Suite Seven
Stacey is the president and founder of Suite Seven, a content strategy and brand communications consultancy based in Oakland, CA, that helps brands win customers and build long-term relationships through well-orchestrated content. Stacey started as a one-woman show in 2008 and now manages a growing team of consultants and writers. She has managed complex projects for such as McKesson, Microsoft, AT&T, Club One, Silicon Valley Bank, and Autodesk.
Jessica Hische
Letterer, Illustrator

JESSICA HISCHE is a letterer, illustrator, and self-described “avid internetter.” She has a degree in Graphic and Interactive Design from Tyler School of Art and worked as Senior Designer at Louise Fili Ltd. While working for Louise, Jessica also maintained a busy freelance career and after two and a half years of little sleep and a lot of lettering, she left to further her freelance career and embark on several personal projects. Jessica’s clients include Wes Anderson, Dave Eggers, Penguin Books, The New York Times, Tiffany & Co., OXFAM America, McSweeney’s, American Express, Target, Victoria’s Secret, Chronicle Books, Nike, and Samsung.

Jezra Kaye
Speak Up For Success
Jezra Kaye, president of Speak Up for Success, is a speaker coach and former Fortune 500 speechwriter who shows people how to present themselves and their ideas with power, passion, authenticity, and ease. Her new book, Speak Like Yourself... No, Really!  Follow Your Strengths and Skills to Great Public Speaking, is a hands-on, step-by-step guide to presentation success, and Jezra is also is the co-author of Managing the Unmanageable: How to Motivate Even the Most Unruly Employee, and the author of a novel, The Tattooed Heart.

A former jazz singer, she lives in Brooklyn, New York.

10. Promote and Present: How to Speak Persuasively to Current and Future Clients, In Person and Virtually - CFC
17. CFC Lab: Freelancers Speak on Their Best Business Practices - CFC
Austin Kleon
Best-Selling Author
Austin Kleon is a writer, artist, speaker, and New York Times best-selling author. His work has been featured on NPR’s Morning Edition, PBS Newshour, Time, The Atlantic, Forbes, and The Wall Street Journal. Now he’s brought his depth and range of experience as a creator to his new book, Steal Like An Artist, an illustrated manifesto for creativity in the digital age.

Steal Like An Artist is a lesson in applied creativity. It’s based on a list Austin drew up one day of key insights he wishes he’d known when he started out. He boiled them down into pithy phrases: “Steal like an artist,” “Use your hands,” “Creativity is subtraction,” and many more. He turned that list into a talk, the text and slides from the talk “rocked the creative world” (GalleyCat) and went viral— and since it’s been online, the original blog post has reached millions of readers.

Austin is also the author of Newspaper Black-out, a collection of poetry made by redacting newspaper articles with a permanent marker. His art has been called “brilliant” by New York magazine and The New Yorker said his poems “resurrect the newspaper when everyone else is declaring it dead.” Austin speaks on creativity, visual thinking, and being an artist online.

HOW Design Live Opening Keynote - 1. How to Steal Like an Artist
Jim Krause
Designer and Author
Jim Krause Design
Jim Krause is a designer, author, photographer, videographer and illustrator (and all five in a single day, surprisingly often) who works from his office in northwest Washington state. He is the author of over a dozen books on design, creativity and photography. Several of his books, including the popular Color Index set and Design Basics Index are available around the world and in multiple languages. His latest book, The Logo Brainstorm Book, is one of HOW Books’ top-selling titles. When Jim is not working, he can usually be found making stuff, drinking espresso, reading, hiking or riding fast motorcycles.

6. How to Stuff 10 Pounds of You-Know What Into a 5-Day Week (Week After Week) - CFC
18. 30 in 60 - CFC
7. Nailing Logos: from Brainstorm to Finish - HDC
Jen Lombardi
Head Honcho and Creative Genius
Kiwi Creative
Jen Lombardi is the “Head Honcho & Creative Genius” at Kiwi Creative, a small marketing and design studio located in the lovely ‘burbs of Cleveland, Ohio. She is a self-admitted graphic design geek with a slight obsession with Apple products and a strong hatred of Comic Sans.
Dana Manciagli
Networking and Career Expert, and Speaker/Author of “Cut the Crap, Get a Job!”
Dana Manciagli, called “a combination of Jillian Michaels and Suze Orman for careers,” has been a corporate executive for more than 30 years and has leveraged her employee hiring and management experience into that of author, blogger, keynote speaker, career coach, and global career expert. She is the author of Cut the Crap, Get a Job! A New Job Search Process for a New Era.

Dana has had a remarkable career in global sales and marketing roles in Fortune 500 corporations. Recently retired from a decade’s tenure at Microsoft as worldwide sales general manager, Dana previously worked for Kodak as VP of worldwide marketing and climbed the corporate career ladder through Sea-Land, Avery Dennison, and IBM. She also helped grow a fast-growing technology start-up from early stage to IPO and sale of the company.

Dana has coached, interviewed, and hired thousands of job seekers. As a result, she has developed a proprietary job search and networking process. Her ideas and techniques are proven to be as effective for college graduates as for senior executives. Dana has presented her concept at hundreds of career-centric and corporate events and is a prolific writer on the subject. She is a sought-after speaker and a regular contributor to print and online publications.

Named a top “Women of Influence” in Seattle, Dana lives and works in Puget Sound where she serves on the Worldwide Board of Junior Achievement. She is also a breast cancer conqueror, received her MBA at the Thunderbird School of Global Management in Arizona, and speaks fluent Spanish. Dana shares her life with Mathis, is immensely proud of her two grown sons, Shane and Chad, and loves to golf and travel the world.

Bryn Mooth
Indepentent Journalist & Copywriter
Bryn Mooth is an independent journalist and copywriter focused on food, wellness and design. She helps publications, creative agencies and brands tell mouthwatering stories to their audiences.

In addition to her client work, Bryn writes the Midwest-based food blog, shares recipes and kitchen wisdom and explores regional foods and producers.

Writing about food, wellness and design is the latest chapter in a successful 20+ year career in publishing. For 13 years, Bryn led the HOW brand, a multimillion-dollar, multi-platform franchise that included an award-winning magazine, well-regarded events, a successful book line and several online outlets. Prior to HOW, Bryn created, launched and managed a lifestyle publication for more than 200,000 American Express incentive cardholders. Her expertise includes content development for print and web, writing and editing, social media and online communication.

4. What to Expect When You’re Freelancing - CFC
Luke Mysse
Luke Mysse calls himself a "business minded creative" because of his strategic approach to generating revenue for his clients. He is a frequent business conference speaker, a TEDx presenter and will be sharing at CFC for his fourth consecutive year. Known as an activator, strategic thinker, some say that he talks too much. In a constant fight for balance he divides his time between running Crossgrain, working with non-profits, cycling 100’s of miles on his bikes, being a husband and dad. He plans to spend his life helping others.

2. Hey, We’ve Been There Before - CFC
20. Where We Going? - CFC
Mark O'Brien
Mark O'Brien is the CEO of Newfangled, a web development company specializing in working with agencies to create conversion-focused websites for themselves and their clients. Mark speaks internationally on web strategy topics at events for HOW, MarketingProfs, and ReCourses (among others), and is the author of A Website That Works: How Marketing Agencies Can Create Business Generating Websites.

15. The Conversion-Focused Website - CFC
CFC Workshop: You Don’t Know What You know: Developing Your Content Strategy (Extra Fee Required)
Erin Pheil
TimeForCake Web Strategy
Erin Pheil owns TimeForCake Web Strategy, a boutique web design/development, strategy & marketing agency in Colorado. Since 2002, her company has helped hundreds of businesses across the country transform their websites into invaluable marketing tools that achieve specific online goals through increased traffic, leads, and sales. Her work and words have been features in website books, magazines, blogs, webinars, and galleries, and she’s consulted for individual freelancers as well as national organizations with as many as 85,000 members. Connect with her at @timeforcake and  When not working, she’s mountain biking if it’s summer or snowboarding if it’s winter.
Kirk Roberts
Kirk Roberts Design

Kirk Roberts represents approximately 0.0000000001434% of Earth’s human population. He wants to single-handedly make our planet a slightly happier and more peaceful place. Kirk is a husband, father, drumming enthusiast, and the sole embodiment of Kirk Roberts Design, a website consultancy that powerfully extends the online capabilities of client-collaborators across the English-speaking world. His design and development work has been featured in national design publications and stuff. He thinks the phrase “I don’t know” is a powerful release and wonderful gateway to discovery. Also, he sometimes writes auto-biographies of 100 words (or less). Find out more at

Grover Sanschagrin
Grover is responsible for a steady flow of photography business education through live speaking engagements and the PhotoShelter blog. Before PhotoShelter, Grover served in management roles at several large-scale online productions including,, and Grover is a founder and Executive Producer of, the largest sports photography website on the Internet, and also operates to serve his primary non-photography passion. Grover studied Photography and Photojournalism at the Rochester Institute of Technology and Ohio University, and worked as a staff photographer for several newspapers in Michigan before turning his attention to technology projects serving the photography world.
Dyana Valentine
Dyana Valentine is not for the faint of heart. She’s spent the past 12 years instigating entrepreneurs and teams to complete seemingly impossible projects—we’re talking major brand overhauls, six-figure product launches, full-fledged manuscripts. She serves up straight-from-the-hip advice in online magazines and columns all over the ‘net…in a past life, she was an idiot-savant microsurgery tech, worked for the Olympic Games organizing committee, and was personally approached by the FBI with a recruitment invitation—for classified reasons—on two separate occasions.
Colleen Wainwright
Colleen Wainwright shows creatives how to promote themselves effectively in the postmodern marketplace. In 2011, using the methodologies she teaches, she raised $111,000 in 50 days for an L.A. nonprofit benefitting teen girls. She fully believes everyone should have this much fun marketing something.
June Walker
Tax Advisor & Accountant
June Walker, tax advisor and accountant to solo entrepreneurs in the USA, Europe and the Middle East since 1979, is an advocate of simplicity, order and ease in understanding a tax system that is complex, confusing and unfair to independent professionals. “Upfront … irreverent … flexible … knowledgeable …” that’s what freelancers say about June, a “numbers person” who understands creativity. Through her website, seminars, and as expert commentator online, on radio, and in publications including BusinessWeek and Fast Company, she has instilled financial confidence in the self-employed, whom she calls indies. Her latest book is The Confident Indie.