Don’t miss these 10 L&D influencers at the ATD International Conference

The ATD International Conference & Expo is a huge event. HUGE. Oprah is the lead keynote. What’s bigger than Oprah?!?!

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Besides Oprah, this year’s conference (May 19 – 22 in Washington DC) includes 400+ speakers, 300+ education sessions and an expo hall the size of two football fields. There’s so much to do that it can become overwhelming very quickly.  Where should you start? What should be on the top of your list? What are the NOT TO MISS activities?

As a ten-year veteran of this event, I’ve picked up a few tips and tricks along the way (and made plenty of mistakes), So, I created the Axonify Guide to the ATD International Conference & Expo to help newbies and veterans alike get the most out of the conference experience. It also includes a section for L&D pros who are not attending the event so they can benefit from the resources shared via the conference backchannel.

Education sessions are a big part of the conference experience. You definitely need to plan ahead to make sure you can get into the sessions you really want to see. With 10,000+ attendees, the popular sessions fill up fast. When building your agenda, it’s important to look past the title and company logo. You should dig into the speaker’s background to understand their expertise in the subject. After all, if they haven’t shared anything on this topic before the event, what suddenly makes them worth listening to?

Here are 10 proven industry experts that you definitely shouldn’t miss at the ATD International Conference & Expo this May.


Shannon Tipton

  • Website:
  • Session: Microlearning on the GO! | Tuesday, May 21 @ 4:30pm
  • Why is Shannon a must-see?
    • Shannon is the unofficial L&D overlord of microlearning. If you’re still trying to figure out what microlearning is and how you can make it work in your organization, Shannon has your answers. Plus, who doesn’t want to be a Learning Rebel? 🙂


Elaine Biech


Melissa Milloway

  • Expertise:
  • Website:
  • Session: Changing the Face of UI Design for E-Learning | Monday, May 20 @ 4:30pm
  • Why is Mel a must-see?
    • Mel is the most generous person in the industry. I have no idea where she finds the time or energy, but she is non-stop sharing her design work online. If you are a builder and want to improve your digital content, you should become friends with Mel.


Julie Dirksen


Karl Kapp


David Kelly

  • Website:
  • Session: The Now and Next of Learning Technology in 2019 | Tuesday, May 21 @ 3pm
  • Why is David a must-see?
    • David is the big dawg (spelled purposefully) at the eLearning Guild. That puts him right in the middle of the discussion around emerging technologies in workplace learning. If you’re looking for a practical perspective on topics like AR and VR, talk to David.


Rebecca Sinclair

  • Session: How Axonify Blends AI with Microlearning to Drive Business Results | Monday, May 20 @ 3pm
  • Why is Rebecca a must-see?
    • Rebecca has been there and done that. She’s the most experienced talent development executive on this list, having held senior positions at Southeastern Grocers, Clear Channel Media, Starbucks, Victoria’s Secret and now American Tire Distributors (the other ATD). If you want an executive’s perspective on modern workplace learning, seek out Rebecca.


Chad Udell


Connie Malamed

  • Website:
  • Session: Crash Course in Visual Design | Sunday, May 19 @ 10:45am
  • Why is Connie a must-see?
    • Want to escape boring bullet points and cheesy templates? Connie is a master of visual design and can provide the basic concepts and resources to get you started. She also hosts a great podcast.


Nick Floro

  • Website:
  • Session: Today’s Trends in Digital Learning Experiences | Sunday, May 19 @ 1:30pm
  • Why is Nick a must-see?
    • This guy knows EVERYTHING about design tools. I’m not overstating. He’s one of the few people who speaks faster than I do, but everything he says is worthwhile (😜). If you’re looking for new tools to up the quality of your design work, chase down Nick.


If their expertise and session topics sound helpful, you should definitely put these experts at the top of your agenda. I also recommend buying them a refreshing (adult) beverage if you have the chance.

It felt way too egotistical to put myself on my own expert list, but I will also be speaking at the conference on the topics of data, AI and personalized learning.

You can also stop by the Axonify 627 booth in the expo to chat with me or any member of my team.

JD Dillon became an expert on frontline training and enablement over two decades working in operations and talent development with dynamic organizations, including Disney, Kaplan and AMC. A respected author and speaker in the workplace learning community, JD also continues to apply his passion for helping frontline employees around the world do their best work every day in his role as Axonify's Chief Learning Architect.

Let’s work together to drive frontline performance in all the right ways.