ORGANIZING TEAM

Meet The Team

Our Executive Team was hand selected to curate a memorable event. Combining their professional talents and experience with their love of the Magic City, learn more about each member.

D'Vaughn Hayes

Licensee | Sponsorship Director

D’Vaughn Hayes is a man born and raised in Billings who is passionate about his community. As the TEDxBillings Licensee/Curator, he has revived the event and influential platform locally to help to raise others up.

He is the Billings area Marketing Director for a national company and Chief Influence Officer of his own brand. He chooses to surround himself with people who have passion for serving others while helping them develop their own talents. In his free time, D’Vaughn serves on the Billings NextGEN Leadership Team, The Billings Chamber DEI Advisory Board, Chamber Ambassadors Team and coaches his children’s sports teams.

When you ask him, “Why revive TEDxBillings?” His answer is:

“Billings may have had a reputation as that scrappy industrial town in the south-central part of Montana. However, there’s an undercurrent of momentum that is shifting, building, and changing Billings – not just the town but it’s people too.” By bringing TEDx to Billings, he aims to harness that momentum and energy, draw out those incredible thinkers in our city, and provide a platform to share their ideas with the community, the country, and the world.

TEDxBillings is a conduit of ideas to stimulate connection, foster community, and ultimately grow the economy while shining a spotlight on the great things we have going on here.

Everyone out there has a powerful imagination.

Everyone has a big dream that is tucked away inside them.

Being a part of the TEDxBillings community is how we find the inspiration to organize them into Ideas Worth Sharing. Because when ideas are shared, that’s when innovation and exploration can happen.

With an eye for details and a lifelong learner, Janese Carstens is dedicated to serving the Billings community as our Executive Producer and Operations Manager.

Janese combines her love of creativity, theater, and education with organizing spreadsheets and schedules. We’re not sure how they exist within the same person but we’re grateful they do as she keeps the processes on task, on budget, and on time.

Even though her extended family has lived in Billings for most of her life and she grew up as a farmer’s daughter in North Dakota, she has had the opportunity to live in multiple US coastal cities, Asia and Australia. And just like a boomerang, she keeps being drawn back to Billings. She has worked in adult education within multiple local industries – healthcare, higher education, nonprofits, and international communications. The opportunities in Billings are as vast as the big sky that surrounds it and bringing the world to Billings through a TEDx event interweaves her life experience thus far together.

Janese Carstens

Executive Producer | Operations Director

Genia Castro Waller

Marketing, Communications, & Editorial Director

With a passion for lifelong learning and a self-proclaimed Billings hype girl, Genia joined the TEDxBillings team as our Marketing, Communications, and Editorial Director to help spread innovation, spark ideas, and start conversations in our community!

Genia Castro Waller is the Project Coordinator and Co-Owner of Graphic Finesse, a boutique branding and creative agency here in Billings. Genia currently serves as the Chair of the Board of Directors for Head Start Inc. and she’s also on the planning committee for The Billings Chamber Leadership Billings Alumni Network. Recognized with a 40 Under 40 Award by the Billings Gazette in 2020, Genia’s passion for helping build Billings can be seen in her work as well as numerous volunteer commitments.

When she’s not working or busy with community events Genia enjoys spending time with her husband and young son. Preferably in the mountains or on a backroad somewhere in Montana.

Combining her professional talents and experience with her love of community, Ryann has joined the TEDxBillings team as our Social Media Manager!

Ryann works at Kinetic Marketing & Creative as a Digital Marketing Specialist. She has a strong foundation and impressive experience in SEO, email marketing, and website optimization while at the same time having a real eye for design. Ryann also has served on a Mission trip to Manitoba Canada for the past 11 years. When she is outside the office you can find her baking, spending time with her family and friends, and traveling!

She joined our team to spread creative content on the TEDxBillings social media platforms and showcase their activities! She thrives in helping others put their best foot forward and hopes to encourage and bring awareness to the TEDxBillings community while helping to spark conversations in the Billings area.

Ryann Reeves

Social Media Manager

Cody Reitz

Event Manager

Cody brings his knowledge and expertise as the Main Event Manager for TEDxBillings.

With over six years of experience, Cody Reitz serves Billings as the Assistant General Manager for MetraPark/ MontanaFair. Additionally, he is on the Leadership team for Billing’s Chamber’s NextGen Program. He is the past Chair for the Rocky Mountain Young Professionals and was named one of Billings Gazette’s 40 Under 40 in 2022.

Cody is married to Allison Reitz and has an eight-year-old son named Riley. Cody and his wife have both been involved with coaching sports in the Billing’s community for the past 5 years. Cody was born and raised in Billings and takes great pride in making positive change in the community.

Known for being a volunteer superstar, Akvilina Rieger loves a Billings community event and she’s the perfect person to be the Salon Event Coordinator.

Akvilina is a strong supporter of the Billings community. Whether it’s through her position as Marketing Executive for CB1 Inc. or as a contributor to Simply Billings magazine, Akvilina loves being part of what makes Billings great – its people. Although she is originally from Lithuania, Billings has been home ever since she came here through an International Business scholarship.

As a strong believer in bettering lives as a community, Akvilina has been hosting people and parties in Billings for the past 20 years. She is a member of the Junior League of Billings and the founder of the “United Nations of Billings” which is a gathering of women who are from around the world who all call Billings their home. When she’s not involved with events in Billings, she is an avid international traveler with her family and speaks at conferences covering subjects such as healthy finances and living the American dream.

Akvilina Rieger

Salon Events Coordinator

Cathy Cullen-Kuhr

Cathy Cullen-Kuhr

Volunteer Director

A community champion, Cathy contributes her vast experience and connections in fundraising for local charity events to the team.

Regional Director of Sales – Erck Hotels Billings. She was Co-Race Director of the Annual Run!Turkey!Run Thanksgiving Day Fundraising Event 2017 – 2020. These events raised over $200,000 for local charities dedicated to helping feel those in need in the Billings area.
 
She is passionate about Volunteerism & Community Support locally, as she is born and raised in Montana and loves the city of Billings, which makes her perfect for this role on the TEDxBillings Executive Team.
 
When she’s not working or busy with community events, she enjoys travel (especially to tropical destinations) and golf.

An SEO and tech whiz, Gary is an expert in all things internet based, designing our website and devoting his skills to grow our brand online.

Owner of 406 Web Solutions, a Web Design and SEO Firm here in Billings, Gary helps his clients grow their brand and web presence. He also owns Freakin’ Awesome DJ Service where he plays weddings and events in the Billings area.
 
Gary hosts 1 Million Cups, a national networking organization that plans local meet ups and presentations. He enjoys spending free time with his wife and dogs.

Gary Carson

Website Manager

Scott Sery

Copywriter

We’ve got to give Scott a chance to write all the new words for the website. Check back to see what he has to say. Scott does good words. You will be impressed.

Michelle began her work at the Billings Depot in March of 2018. With a professional background in strategy, communications, consumer trending, and brand management, Michelle is working to ensure the continued preservation of the Billings Depot and increase its presence and involvement in the Billings Community.
 
In her short time, she has launched many new community initiatives including a pocket park along Montana Avenue, the first experiential event for Billings, a new popup retail space, a children’s STEAM education event and many more.
 
Prior to the Depot, Michelle worked at AD Creative Group for 9 years as the firm’s strategy and business development director where she supported businesses across all industries including hospitality, energy, national parks, consumer products, and nonprofits.
 
Born in Philadelphia and a resident of Dallas, Texas for 12 years, Michelle moved to Billings in 2009 to embrace the Montana way of life.
 

MIchelle Williams

Master of Ceremonies

406 Memories

Photographers

Niko Cordero Gallegos & Kayla Cordero

You will be hard pressed to find another couple who are this fun, expressive and passionate about what they do together as a team. They are an explosion of joy! We love having them as our event photography team.

Niko was born in Ecuador and moved to America when he was 15. Before he met his fun loving wife, he knew from his first photography class in high school that photography was what he was born to do and since then he hasn’t put his camera down. As a soccer fanatic, he loves to annoy his wife by watching soccer highlights and pretending to commentate them…so the recent World Cup tournament was fun for her!

Kayla started doing photography about 4 years ago when she met her husband! Everything she knows in the photography world is because of him, and now it’s her passion in life too! Another huge passion of hers is to be a huge cheerleader in all women’s lives, by helping them on their journey of empowerment. Life is just too short to not love who you are…there is only one you, so love who you are!

Together, they are a memory-makin’, taco-lovin’, family-focused, music-jammin’, fun loving couple that makes the TEDxBillings team better by capturing impactful moments in the Billings community through their lens.

Mark is the founder and owner of King West Media Group, a full service video production company in Billings, Montana and specializes in multi-camera video. Multiple camera production at your event allows you the ability to live stream in real time, display locally to large and or multiple monitors at the venue, and simultaneously record full resolution video for your website or YouTube channel. Recorded video can then be used as footage to promote your next event.

Mark and his team are versatile to shoot in-studio in their new 2400 square foot facility on King Avenue West or on location. The high quality of their production is what makes TEDxBillings standout on YouTube. The professionalism and expertise of Mark’s team is incredible and we’re grateful they’re on our team.

Mark Donohue

Video & Sound Production Manager