Before the trade floor at The PPAI Expo 2023 truly opens up for exhibitors and distributors, the Mandalay Bay Convention Center in Las Vegas will be buzzing with industry professionals looking to soak up some of the year’s best educational sessions at The PPAI Expo Conference.

Meant to elevate promotional product businesses with messages from leading professional speakers and industry experts, The PPAI Expo Conference is a day full of promo education in conference format held on Monday, January 9, the day before the trade floor kicks off.

While the day will include sessions on a breadth of promo topics, Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) as well as Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) will take a front seat at The PPAI Expo Conference. Like many industries, the promo world finds itself in a position to improve its practices in areas that consumers and the general public have begun to perceive as urgent and essential. Some of those issues aren’t easy to talk about, but PPAI has designed sessions that carefully address them in a way that companies can begin to implement.

Keynote: Diversity, Inclusion And Bias: Measuring Progress, Improving Performance and Increasing Productivity
Keynote Speaker: James Pogue, Ph.D.

Already a well-received speaker at this year’s North American Leadership Conference, Pogue likes to focus on “the right kind of uncomfortable” when it comes to DEI. The charismatic speaker uses audience participation and a depth of knowledge to identify practical steps that eliminate bias and create organizational success.


PPAI Expo: Dr. James Pogue from PPAI on Vimeo.

“Attendees will leave with a clear understanding of the business case for diversity and inclusive leadership,” Pogue told PPAI Media.

Waste Diversion Solutions
Breakout Session: Ashlee Baker, Principal & Waste Diversion Specialist, Waste NOT Consulting

Best practices require information supporting them. Where does your company’s waste actually end up? Baker will provide facts and end-of-life solutions to create more sustainable possibilities, proving it’s possible to sell promotional products and have a positive environmental impact.

The Business Case For CSR: Conscious Consumerism: A Seismic Shift in Buying Behavior
Breakout Session: Liz Tracy, Senior Product Designer, PCNA; and Andrew Dickson, Senior Category Director, PCNA

Conscious consumerism is more than a buzzword, according to Dickson and Tracy. Making ethical purchasing decisions based on environmental and social considerations represents a Ppandora’s box of sorts; expect it to not only continue but increase. Tracy and Dickson are looking at this phenomenon not as industry outsiders, but from PCNA’s perspective. They have a stake in these conversations as they pertain to promo and plan.

“We’ll present eye-opening statistics that illustrate how this macro trend is dramatically affecting buying decisions, and why it will likely be the biggest catalyst of both change and opportunity in the promotional products market for years to come,” say Tracy and Dickson.

CSR, The Case for Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Belonging
Breakout Session: Dawn Olds, MAS, Board Chair, HALO; Johanna Gottlieb, HALO; and Kara Keister, MAS, Social Good Promotions

An afternoon session between PPAI’s Board Chair, the Chair of PPAI’s DEI Task Force and the PPAI Board’s recently appointed Regional Relations Committee Delegate will tackle the importance of belonging in our industry and how that can be accomplished through a focus on diversity, equity and inclusion.

The Rising Generations: How to Attract and Retain Millennial and Gen Z Talent and Customers
Breakout Session: Mykayla Goodwin, senior director of marketing, OrderMyGear; and Taylor Borst, director of marketing, events and PR, American Solutions for Businesses

The promotional products industry has been around for generations, but as the talent pool and customer pool comprises a larger percentage of Gen Z and millennials, promo companies need to know how to attract, retain and support their younger employees and customers. Goodwin and Borst will provide insight on how to make your company more approachable and appealing to rising generations. They’ll share tips on cultivating an online brand that is authentic through transparent and empowering content.

DEI: The Value of Certification
Breakout Session: Elise Linborg, CEO and business development, Brand|Pride; Kathy Cheng, President, WS & Co. and founder of Redwood Classics Apparel; Heather Cox, president Certify My Company; and Rhoda Hassad, supplier diversity manager, MGM Resorts International

“I have been certified since 2014, and I can sincerely credit my personal and professional growth to my certification,” Cheng told PPAI Media in July. “I am not the same business leader I was eight years ago.”

Customers will ask about your certification status, and your answer may be a deciding factor. This panel of experts from the supplier and distributor side – as well as someone who does the certifying – will go through the steps of the process and explain who can benefit and how.

Click here for the full lineup of breakout sessions and keynotes at The PPAI Expo Conference.