Get To Know Us – The Dame Leadership Team

John Dame

Owner & Managing Partner

JD received a B.S. in marketing from Pennsylvania State University in 1973. He pursued a career in radio broadcasting for 32 years. His time spent in broadcasting was leveraged as a rich learning platform for his evolution as a business strategist.

JD’s reputation for insightful evaluation, planning, and a passion for driving results has grown his involvement with companies and organizations internationally. He has a fine-tuned understanding of the risks, challenges, and opportunities facing both seasoned and emerging CEOs allowing him to specialize in executive team coaching and strategic planning. His approach to strategic planning is simple and allows an organization to quickly execute better and drive results. He offers a step-by-step guide of the process in his book, Fast Track Strategic Planning.

JD is affiliated with Vistage International, the world’s largest CEO membership organization (based on revenue), as a Group Chair and the Best Practice Chair for South Central Pennsylvania. Vistage comprises 13,000 members in 15 countries with members generating nearly $300 billion in annual revenue and employing more than 2.1 million people. JD’s clients produce $5 billion in annual revenue and employ over 5,000 people.

His current focus has turned toward the role of purpose in the business environment, the new challenge of transitioning to a millennial-based workforce, and growing leadership teams within his client companies. Currently, in the sixth year, the Evolution Leadership Conference series is designed to help leaders move from the old “command and control” leadership style to a more Purposeful leadership style. In 2019 over 500 leaders and executives attended the conference.

Ed Dame

President

Ed is President of Dame Leadership where his focus is on helping people become better and more purposeful leaders. He is a graduate of Penn State University with a degree in Information Science & Technology. This blend of business and technology was not new to Ed when he started down this path. Starting in the mid-1990s, Ed began developing websites for bands that he loved. This eventually led him to develop the website for the rock band, Foo Fighters and assisting for other bands like Beastie Boys, Beck, and Jimmy Eat World. Despite his brush with rock stardom, Ed moved towards a career in leadership versus coding.

Ed has held leadership positions in Software Development, Information Technology Services, and Healthcare Information Firms prior to joining Dame Management Strategies in 2019. Throughout this time, he focused on operational excellence, process improvement, data security, leadership development & coaching, and enterprise software implementation and deployment. Ed has expertise with the following tools:

CultureWise – Helping Companies build a high-performing culture.
⦁ Entrepreneurial Operating System (EOS) – a framework for running your business.
Various Assessments (DISC, Kolbe, Outmatch, APQ)

At Dame Leadership, Ed has worked to develop products around the intellectual property that his father and business partner John, has developed since founding the company in 2002. This includes the Planning with Purpose Strategic Planning process, an executive coaching framework, and the forthcoming Evolution Leadership Labs which launched in 2021. Additionally, Ed has partnered and organized the Evolution Leadership Conference which has been bringing world-class speakers and leadership experts to the Central Pennsylvania region since 2015.

In his spare time, Ed spends the majority of his time with his family. He has quite a busy household where he and his wife wrangle 4 kids, 2 dogs, and 1 cat. He volunteers with his church and with the Boy Scouts. Music, Photography, and Running are other passions.

Ira Wolfe

Senior Consultant

 

Described as a “Millennial trapped in a Baby Boomer body, a “hire authority,” and “certified prophet” of workforce trends, Ira S. Wolfe has emerged as one of HR’s most visionary thinkers. Ira personifies the passion and mindset required to manage the convergence of the tired, the wired, and technology. His enthusiasm and engaging approach inspires his audience to challenge preconceptions about what it takes to attract, select, manage, and retain top talent and take the initiative to make change for them.

Ira is an accomplished speaker/author and President of Success Performance Solutions. He has presented on the prestigious red carpet of TEDx and on the stage of DisruptHR. His first book The Perfect Labor Storm launched him into national prominence. This was followed by Geeks, Geezers, and Googlization. His 2016 TEDx Talk Make Change Work for You became the inspiration for his latest book Recruiting in the Age of Googlization: When the Shift Hits Your Plan.

Wolfe is also a prolific business writer, podcaster, and blogger, contributing to CornerstoneOnDemand’s ReWork, Forbes, Huffington Post, Lehigh Valley Business Journal Business2BusinessMagazine, and numerous industry and business publications. He’s been featured in INC Magazine, Fast Company, Business Week, American Express OPEN, NFIB, Inc., Intuit Small Business and Fox Business.

Chris Edwards

Leadership Consultant

Chris serves as a leadership consultant for Dame Leadership helping leaders improve through executive coaching, peer groups, strategic planning and the facilitation of assessments to identify potential areas of personal and organizational improvement.

Chris’ relationship with John began during a chance meeting at a local business expo in 2008 and the result has been a nearly 15-year business relationship and friendship. Chris was an original member of one of John’s first Vistage groups and over the years John has served as a much-valued coach and mentor.

Growing up, Chris’ parents owned and operated a convenience store franchise, and from the time he was 10 years old, he was exposed to the inner workings of running the business. It was the inescapable daily discussion around the dinner table. While not recognized at the time, all those years of listening, working at the store and witnessing the highs and lows of running a family business have taught countless life lessons that Chris still applies to business today.

Over his 35-year career, he has held various executive leadership roles in a wide range of industries including media, entertainment, software, technology, and marketing. His clients have ranged from small closely held companies to multinational Fortune 500 corporations and included sectors such as manufacturing, construction, education, healthcare, finance, and entertainment.

“I’m grateful for having the good fortune of encountering so many wonderful people over the course of my career that have taught me so much about business, management, and leadership. Working with our Dame Leadership clients gives me the opportunity to honor them and pass along their legacy to those that will carry it forward.” 

 

Krista Beljan

Leadership Consultant

Krista is a driven professional with more than 25 years of experience in leadership development activities that include operational assessment and strategic improvements, and most recently, training and coaching.

 

She has served in various regional and national-level leadership roles in her career that spans industries in human services, manufacturing, and the arts, as well as more than five years in workforce development in a higher education setting.  Krista’s passion to engage and grow others has led to a successful strategic realignment of processes, purpose, and collaborative efforts.

 

Krista earned a Bachelor of Science Degree in Business Administration from Capella University and a Master of Science Degree in Organizational Development and Leadership from Shippensburg University.  As a lifelong learner, her professional development has also included a Cornell University certificate, and certification as a DiSC Trainer through Wiley, Senior Professional in Human Resources (SPHR) from HRCI, and Certified Interpretive Guide (NAI CIG) from the National Association of Interpreters.

 

Creativity and integrity are key to who Krista is at her core.  She strives to incorporate unique experiences and interchanges that allow others to explore new perspectives, celebrate strengths and interests, and also challenge barriers.  When she isn’t creating on the job, Krista has various active projects in art, photography, landscape elements, and even construction at their house near Gifford Pinchot State Park.  She is dedicated to her family life with her husband, Joe Beljan, and her two sons, Daegan and Jackson.  Krista balances herself through immersion in the natural environment including yoga, hiking, water sports, gardening, and competing in observed trials events.

 

Krista joined Dame Leadership as a leadership consultant in 2022.

AR Smith

Strategic Partner

AR is a proven executive with over 30 years of career providing leadership within the mortgage banking and banking industry. In this time, she has held multiple c-suite leadership positions and co-founded two successful lending institutions. Both organizations gained industry recognition for their fast-paced growth and innovative technology solutions that enabled their success.

After accomplishing the build and sell of two mortgage companies, AR went into the consulting arena to lend her expertise to financial institutions, new business start-ups, and high-growth organizations. She provides expertise on the application of workflow management, technology, training, and implementation of mortgage loan technology platforms. Clients have retained her services to lead them through practical and complex solutions as all as the integration of third-party services to allow best practices in implementation, operational efficiencies, compliance, and automation.

AR is passionate about providing strategic and practical solutions to complex situations and challenges. Working in tandem with executive leadership to grow and execute their strategic and business plans by driving systematic change through all levels of an organization. She provides invaluable coaching to individual and leadership teams focusing on profitability optimization.
AR joined Dame Leadership as a strategic partner and launched a Vistage Executive Peer Group in 2020.

Rob Vowler

Strategic Partner

Robert Vowler is a business advisor and experienced board member based in Hershey, Pennsylvania. He is the former CEO of Hershey Trust Company, the parent company of Milton S. Hershey’s business enterprises. The Trust administers the estate and philanthropies of Mr. Hershey and provides trust and investment management services to individuals.
For 12 years, Vowler spearheaded operations at Hershey Trust Company, overseeing investments totaling $10 billion. He led the oversight of The Hershey Company, Hershey Entertainment and Resorts, and the M.S. Hershey Foundation. He served as the primary trustee of the controlling interest in the titular Fortune 500 company and served as a board member of several Hershey entities as well.

Prior to being named CEO, he was the CFO of The Hershey Trust for ten years. Vowler also served as president of The M.S. Hershey Foundation for twenty years. He served as Audit Committee Chair and Executive Compensation Committee chair of The Hershey Entertainment Company for many years as well. He began his career as a CPA at various firms and is qualified as a Sarbanes-Oxley financial expert.

During his time as CEO of the largest stakeholder in the Hershey Company, Robert Vowler grew the Hershey Trust asset base from $2.6 billion to $8+ billion, led a $1.5 billion diversification of assets, and increased the Private Wealth Division revenues fivefold.

In addition to the Hershey Trust ownership in the majority of Hershey Company stock, he oversaw the Trust’s widely diversified investments. He also attracted and recruited talent to lead Hershey’s entities, perhaps best exemplified by his full replacement of the Board of Directors of the Hershey Company in 2007, which refocused the company’s direction and improved operating results without any loss of stock value.

Vowler was also responsible for boosting Hershey entities’ community involvement. He is credited for some of the most significant enhancements to Hershey’s iconic physical assets — from developing the Biomedical Research Park to renovating downtown Hershey to adding 1,000+ acres to the Trust’s real-estate portfolio.

In 2008, Robert Vowler stepped down from his role as CEO at Hershey Trust Company. He began independently advising businesses or individuals and also served as an expert witness focused on fiduciary investments. He is currently Business Advisor to one hedge fund, and has successfully advised another hedge fund for five years; Rob joined Dame Leadership as a Strategic Partner in 2020 where he specializes in advisory services to family offices regarding planning, marketing, governance, executive coaching, and more. He also leads Milton Hershey’s Enduring Legacy Program.

Joseph Robinson, Jr.

Strategic Partner

From 2009 through Oct 2020, Mr. Robinson served as Executive Director of the South Central Pa. Sickle Cell Council, responsible for raising public awareness and resources for those affected by the disease in 26 PA Counties. He chaired the statewide PA Sickle Cell Provider Network and, nationally, served on the Leadership Council of the Sickle Cell Disease Association of America. He also serves the community as President of the Martin Luther King Jr. Leadership Development Institute, a local think tank and developer of community leaders trained in the tenets of Dr King.  Also, over 3,000 people have been trained in Robinson’s leadership model outlined in his book, 7 Leadership Imperatives from a Wild Man (Judson Press, 2008).  He retired from the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation with 26 years of service, last serving in a senior management position as Chief of the Performance Improvement and Metrics Division.

He serves on the Harrisburg Public Schools Foundation, NAACP Executive Committee, and New Birth of Freedom Boy Scout Council. In 2011 he was selected Pennsylvania Association of Alpha Chapters “Brother of the Year.” In 2012 he received the Omega Psi Phi Fraternity Inc’s “Citizen of the Year” Award. In 2013 he was named Commonwealth of Pennsylvania “Big Brother of the Year.” In 2015 he received the Central Baptist Laymen’s Association “Outstanding Community Service” Award. In 2017 he received the Greater Harrisburg Area NAACP “Presidential Award.” In 2018 he received the MLK Dream Showcase “Dream Servant Leader Award,” and the bcmPEACE “Peacemaker” Award. In 2019 he was awarded the Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority’s “Men of Rhoyalty Leadership Development Award,” the Breaking the Chainz, Inc. “Excellence Award,” and the Dauphin County District Attorney’s “Outstanding Service by a Citizen” award. He is an active member and past president of the Zeta Theta Lambda chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Incorporated, in Harrisburg, PA.

 

Because of his breadth of community involvement the Patriot News invited Robinson to serve as a monthly guest columnist from July through December 2011. He has appeared as a guest on PCN’s “Public Affairs Call-In Program,” WGAL Terry Madonna’s “Pennsylvania Newsmakers,” WITF Scott Lamar’s “Smart Talk” and Allentown, Pa talk show host Tony Ianelli’s “Business Matters.” In 2019 the Pennsylvania Cable Network (PCN) broadcast live, statewide, his presentation, Dr. MLK: The Man, the Myth, the Martyr.”

 

He earned his Bachelor of Arts Degree in English at the University of Virginia (UVA) and in 2016 was awarded an Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters for Community Service by Central Penn College. He has also served as a Central Penn College adjunct faculty member teaching African American History, and was invited to speak for the “Batten Hour” at UVA’s Frank Batten School of Leadership and Public Policy. He is a 2011 graduate of Leadership Harrisburg’s, 25th Anniversary class. He is an ordained elder deacon of The Greater Zion Missionary Baptist Church since 1986 and has served in many capacities, including the first Director of Ministries for 70 ministries of the church.

 

Married to Edna M. Robinson, their son Michael resides in Kuwait, with wife Seneca; daughter Brittany, graduate of Howard University, resides in Mt. Ranier, Md with husband, Rejinal Bernard and their son, Elijah Joseph Bernard, the Robinson’s first grandchild.

David Black

Strategic Partner

Dave Black brings over 40 years of experience in leadership, not-for profit and government management, strategic planning, economic development, political insight, and navigation skills to Dame Leadership.

Retiring in June of 2021 from the Harrisburg Regional Chamber & CREDC after serving as the organization’s President & CEO for 20 years of executing “all other duties and responsibilities as needed,” which included economic development projects, managing membership representing over 5,000 employees and inspiring and coordinating with two large Boards, a professional staff, monitoring and weighing in on government policy issues at the Federal, State and Local levels and managing the organization with successful results.

Prior to the Chamber & CREDC, he served with distinction in leadership roles in the administration of Governor Tom Ridge as Deputy Secretary at the Department of Community & Economic Development, Acting Secretary at the former Department of Community Affairs and Chief Operating Officer at Team Pennsylvania.  He served as a Clarion County (PA) Commissioner, as well as a County Row Officer and has work experience in sales and public finance.

Whether serving as a leader in the merging two Departments of State Government, working to create innovative programs in Pennsylvania, reshaping a state-wide not-for-profit to better serve Pennsylvania, guiding and growing a combined Chamber of Commerce/not-for-profit Economic Development Corporation through challenging times while positioning for the future, or helping to bring fresh perspective, technology and best governing practices to a rural Pennsylvania County, Dave’s general philosophy over the years has been create a shared vision, to think what opportunities lie ahead, make a positive impact in the present, leaving things better than when he arrived.

Dave has been a client and friend with Dame Leadership over the last nearly 20 years and credits them with helping bring success to organizations he has led or has been involved with, as well as providing him professional guidance to become a better manager and leader.  Dave is a believer in the power of organizational cultures, building, creating, and evolving a positive environment and team spirit to both for-profit and not-for-profit organizations.

Dave is a graduate of Westminster College and nearly completed his Masters in Public Administration from Slippery Rock University. He and his wife Shirley live in the Harrisburg area and are parents to 2 children and proud grandparents of 3 grandchildren.

Deborah Port

Operations Manager

Deb serves as the operations manager for Dame Leadership. Her background working as a nonprofit leader for over a decade instilled a high-priority focus on client relationships while also instilling skills in systems implementation, day-to-day operations management, and planning with a growth mindset. She also has experience working with start-up companies and projects in the areas of social media management, marketing, and team management. As a coordinator of many moving parts, Deb uses all her talents at Dame Leadership to help ensure the best experience for you, the customer, as you benefit from the exceptional services offered by our team.

Deb began her academic career at Harrisburg Area Community College. She graduated Magna Cum Laude from the University of Pennsylvania in 2010 with a B.A. in Jewish Studies and continued her learning adventure at Evangelical Seminary where she graduated with awards in 2017 with an M.Div. She also completed a 5Q leadership cohort in 2020 preparing her to work with churches and individuals in areas of personal gifting, team dynamics, and organizational change.

Besides working with churches and nonprofits in her free time, Deb stays busy with family life with her husband Nic, their four children, and a dog.

Breeann Webster

Executive Assistant

Breeann is a marketing professional with a majority of her career in an agency environment. Her well-rounded experience includes project and account management, customer relationship management, strategic planning, brand management, digital marketing, creative development, event coordination, executive administration, and office management.

She is attentive in taking projects from concept to completion while focusing on achieving optimal business performance.

Victoria Holiday

Executive Assistant

Victoria (Vicki) Holiday serves as the Executive Assistant at Dame Leadership. Victoria brings to Dame Leadership over 14 years of experience working in both corporate and private America in various capacities supporting C-Level Executives. Vicki has a proven track record of high-level performance having consistently prioritized executives’ business objectives. She effortlessly manages extensive, ever-changing calendars along with coordinating complex domestic and international travel. Victoria comes with a comprehensive toolbox of administrative knowledge coupled with critical thinking and problem-solving ability. Victoria’s receptivity to working across various industries has been the catalyst to her having an impactful skill set that helps her to consistently achieve maximum operational efficiency.

Born and raised in the East Flatbush section of Brooklyn, New York, Victoria’s academic studies began at St. Joseph’s College, located in the Clinton Hill section of Brooklyn. Vicki prides herself in her ability to maintain stellar communication and represent her organization and clients with unparalleled service. During the pandemic, Victoria put her skillset to paper and penned a Virtual Assistant e-book “The Virtual Assistant’s Sacred Grail” as a way to help other passionate Executive Assistants efficiently bridge the gap of the “new way of working.”

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