The second annual Ithaca Branch Professional Development Day was held on June 16, 2016 at the Hotel Ithaca in downtown Ithaca. It was a great day with four speakers who taught us business strategy and getting the most important things to the top of our lists, leadership in our teams and communications, and technical tools to help us overcome resistence to change.

Our speakers included:

Session 1 - The Pace is Fast: Choose Your Path (and Tasks) Wisely with Jess Cisco

JESS CISCO has several values that drive how he lives his life and how he approaches each project: namely, advancement, connectedness, freedom, and passion.  Advancement (i.e., growth) is critical for Jess and for those with whom he interacts: each day, Jess seeks to grow, to be better (mentally, physically, and/or spiritually), and his hope is that his efforts help others to also grow each day, to help others reach their potential.  Connection (i.e., meaningful relationships) are equally important: Jess wants to know what others really value, what is truly exciting (or challenging) in their lives and work, and how he might contribute to others’ lives.  Freedom means many things to him: freedom of thought, experience, autonomy.  And finally, passion flows through Jess’ life: as he lives a values-based life, he is able to share his passion with others and finds that those with whom he interacts also fuel his passion.

Beyond those values, Jess has had many experiences (and people) that have shaped him into who he is today--and he seeks to have many more opportunities to learn.

Jess sees his life's work in this way: to inspire individuals and leaders to be the best version of themselves--i.e., to reach their potential.  To that end, he is working in two complementary capacities.

  1. He founded a company called ActiveLeading's mission is to create an environment that invites leaders to challenge themselves, to learn from other leaders, and to ultimately begin or continue on a path to realize their leadership potential.  Our vision is that ActiveLeading will help organizations throughout the world to develop high-potential team members into great leaders who will, in turn, create and enhance financially-profitable and meaningful environments for all members of their organization(s).

  2. Jess also serves as a full-time senior HR consultant for Cornell University, supporting the senior leadership in University Relations, Human Resources, and the Office of Budget and Planning.


Session 2 - The Five Dysfunctions of a Team with Jeff Manhardt, PMP

JEFF MANHARDT is a strategic technology leader with over 18 years of a proven track record achieving project & program management objectives while utilizing situational leadership to manage global teams. He has managed dozens of projects & programs for Buffalo‐based top 20 M&T Bank and is a bank acquisition specialist. Jeff’s experience, skill‐set and thought leadership propelled him into managing the Technology Program Management Office in July 2014 responsible for program managers, project/program support personnel & business requirement analysts and a portfolio of over 100 projects & programs.

Over the last 10 years, Jeff’s results oriented, process driven leadership approach has culminated with projects & programs completing within 10% of time and cost earning him an award for Best Technology Project Manager in 2014.

Jeff has also served as Adjunct professor at Canisius College Center for Professional Development and spoken at conferences such as Finance Transformation Summit, Recession Proof PDUs and at multiple PMI chapters in the Northeast and internationally.

Jeff received his PMP® certification in May 2005 and has served on the PMI Buffalo chapter Board since 2007 in the positions of VP of Programs, VP of Professional Development and currently as VP of Technology & Business Services.

Jeff has also served on the boards of the Buffalo Chapter of the IIBA, BA/PMWorld Toronto Board of Advisors & the Graycliff Conservancy.

He holds a BS degree in Business Management from D'Youville College and is the principal owner of the Dramjam Consulting organization.



Session 3 - Unsucking Powerpoint: Crafting Engaging Presentations with Stacy Munechika, PMP, MBA, MS. ATD Master Trainer

STACY MUNECHIKA is employed at Eastman Kodak where he has held a variety of positions from Research Scientist to Engineering Manager. He has over 15 years of experience leading technical and dispersed teams in developing innovative solutions for digital printing products. Before joining Kodak, Stacy was an Officer in the US Air Force.

Stacy is a big believer in learning from failure (hence, he’s a project manager!). He is passionate about communication and its role in effective decision making, engaging stakeholders, and project success.

He is recognized by others as an informative and engaging speaker. He has been invited to speak at various PMI Rochester PDD and chapter events. Stacy has also taught Project Management Professional® (PMP®) Boot Camp classes for The Project Solvers of America, Inc. He is a credentialed Master Trainer from the Association for Talent Development (ATD).

He graduated from Purdue University with a BS in Electrical Engineering. He has an MBA from New Mexico Highlands University and an MS in Optical Sciences from the University of Arizona. Stacy earned his Project Management Professional® (PMP®) certification in 2004.

Stacy is currently serving as the PMI Rochester Vice President of Outreach. In this role, he is committed to helping our members engage and network with outside organizations to promote and realize the value of project management and the profession.

Stacy’s varied background in product development, project management, and training provided the perfect foundation for the PDD seminar on crafting engaging and effective presentations.

Session 4 - Change Management: Expect Resistance, but Don't Let it Defeat You! with Dawn White, PMP, Prosci Change Management Professional, PEx Black Belt

DAWN WHITE is employed at Corning Incorporated in the Finance-Shared Services group and has over 20 years of experience delivering results across the healthcare, automotive, and technology industries.

While at Corning, Dawn has led change several initiatives as either the project manager or change management leader.  Some change initiatives include deployment of a payroll and time & attendance system in China and a new travel & expense management system across NAFTA. A few of her project leader initiatives include a division relocation, development and deployment of a quality training curriculum, and the transformation of the corporate United Way program.  She regularly contributes her change management and process improvement expertise to others through formal coaching and facilitation. 

Dawn is passionate about teaching, coaching, and mentoring project teams and business leaders on change management because she knows firsthand, the difference that a structured change management approach can make on a project or organizational change initiative.

Dawn believes in giving back, so she has held several leadership roles within company-sponsored employee resource groups and local civic organizations. Dawn just recently signed on as PMI’s Rochester-Ithaca branch’s Director of Communication and is looking forward to growing the PMI presence in the Southern Tier.

Dawn received her certification as a Change Management Professional from Prosci and is a member of the Association of Change Management Professionals (ACMP).  She is a Performance Excellence Black Belt and Lean Improvement Belt, and just recently completed her PMP®certification.  Dawn earned a Bachelor of Science Degree in Business Administration from Elmira College and an MBA from Ithaca College.