Dr. Mark Drabenstott


Dr. Mark Drabenstott is a widely recognized expert on economics and digital commerce, known for his pithy analysis and comic candor.  He currently serves as Executive Chairman of MarketSquare, a global company delivering the the first-of-its-kind Smart Food Chain.  This seamless digital Platform delivers better choices and better prices to everyone in the food chain—farmers, food companies and consumers.



As the former Secretary General of GCEL, Dr. Drabenstott was the global ambassador responsible for leading an initiative to drive down the cost of trade and maximize its economic benefits.  In that role, he negotiated strategic agreements with major regional economic organizations around the world, including the Organization of American States, theAfrican Union, the Arab League and others. A global thought leader and statesman on economic issues and regional development, Dr. Drabenstott served from 2006 to 2010 as chairman of the world’s premier forum on regional policy—the Organization for Economic Co-Operation and Development’s (OECD) Regional Policy Committee (TDPC), leading the advance of a new paradigm for regional economic development. He previously served as the director of the Rural Policy Research Institute’s Center for Regional Competitiveness and a faculty member at the Truman School of Public Affairs at the University of Missouri. Prior to these appointments, Dr. Drabenstott spent 25 years at the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City, where as Vice President he led the creation of the Fed’s Center for the Study of Rural America and provided monetary policy advice to the Federal Open Market Committee.

He has been a prolific researcher on leading economic and policy issues, writing more than 165 articles and 11 books. His research activities have taken him around the world—he has conducted studies in more than a score of countries on five continents. Dr. Drabenstott has shared his economic and policy insights widely over his career, giving more than 1,200 presentations to audiences throughout the United States and beyond. He has shared his policy insights with Congress on more than 20 occasions. He has advised the World Bank and served on the boards of many leading policy and research organizations, including the National Bureau of Economic Research, the National Policy Association, and the Farm Foundation.

Dr. Drabenstott received his B.A. in Economics from Earlham College, and his M.S. and Ph.D. in Economics from Iowa State University.  He lives in Kansas City, the heart of America.


Digital Food

A Braver and Brighter Future for Farmers

Digital Food has arrived.  Your smartphone can now tell you what foods to eat for a long and happy life.  It buys those foods instantly, tracking them to your doorstep.  This is the bold world of personalized nutrition—and an exciting new norm for consumers.  Digital Food creates enormous upside for farmers, most of whom are still locked in a long marriage to commodities.  But growing food by the square mile and making it up on volume has peaked, as a deep, four-year slump in farm income already suggests.  The braver and far brighter future for farmers is going digital—connecting with all those smartphone food purchases.  Wider profit margins and rapid sales gains await.  This is easier said than done, though.  Commodities still dominate markets, government programs and the countryside infrastructure.  How can farmers make the smart switch to digital food?  This presentation focuses on three keys to success: digital markets, authenticated value chains and a powerful new cloud of information to make better decisions.  A farm boy at heart, Dr. Mark Drabenstott spent 25 years leading the Fed’s center of excellence on agricultural research and the past five years building a company that helps farms and consumers make the most of Digital Food.

Top 10 Ways to Grow Your Rural Region

A recent front-page story in The Wall Street Journal confirms the challenge now confronting rural leaders: Rural America is the New Inner City.  Vacant stores on Main Street, the grandkids now working in faraway metro areas and a burgeoning opioid crisis are just a few of the signs that Rural America badly needs a new direction.  How can Rural America get back its economic mojo?  The answer will not come from the usual places.  Farm programs and industrial parks are not fueling growth—nor keeping the kids down on the farm.  Rural regions can boost their growth, however, often dramatically.  This presentation shows how in 10 key steps, including acting regionally, connecting to better markets and aligning and targeting investment.  Dr. Mark Drabenstott is a global thought leader on the rural economy.  He has chaired the world’s premier forum on regional development at the OECD, created and led the Fed’s only center on rural research and has helped regions all over the world reinvent their economies.

Smart Business for a World on Edge

The world is on edge—a sharper edge than any time since the 1930s.  Terrorism spreads, nuclear threats abound and trade tensions mount around the world.  China and Russia pose bigger threats to political and economic stability.  Meanwhile, the great institutions created in the 20th century to grow the economy (the Fed, the WTO and many others) are fraying and far less able to deliver economic progress.  How can businesses smartly navigate all these troubled waters?  This presentation recaps the geopolitical economic landscape and then focuses on the best strategies for business to thrive in a world on edge.  Connecting directly with customers in reliable markets has never mattered more, while managing risk takes on a true world of new meaning.  Dr. Mark Drabenstott has circumnavigated the world 18 times, negotiating strategic agreements with the world’s leading economic organizations, including ASEAN, India’s largest chamber of commerce and the African Union.  Having worked closely with business and economic leaders around the world, he’s translated some of the biggest challenges of our time into fresh opportunity.



Dr. Lowell Catlett

Dr. Lowell Catlett - new

DR. LOWELL CATLETT, retired asRegents Professor in Agricultural Economics and Agricultural Business and Extension Economics and the Dean and Chief Administrative Officer of the College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences at New Mexico State University in July 2015.  He is an exciting futurist whose knowledge of technologies and their implications on the way we will live and work is addressed in his varied and upbeat presentations.  His vast knowledge astounds corporate and association audiences both nationally and internationally.  His presentations are thought- provoking and highly-entertaining.

Dr. Lowell Catlett is exclusively represented by Convention Connection.

Exclusive Speaker: Lowell Catlett

Dr. Lowell Catlett - newDr. Lowell Catlett is a Regent’s Professor/Dean and Chief Administrative Officer at New Mexico State University’s College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences. An exciting futurist, his knowledge of technologies and their implications on the way we will live and work is addressed in his varied and upbeat presentations. Dr. Catlett works on behalf of corporate and association audiences internationally, presenting his take on trends in healthcare, agriculture, the environment, education and more. His talks always address the current state of the economy, and what’s in store for businesses down the road.

Dr. Lowell Catlett is exclusively represented by Convention Connection.

To see Dr. Lowell Catlett’s full details and booking information, click here!

“I was lucky enough to talk with and hear Dr. Catlett speak at the 2014 Home Depot Provider Partnership meeting this past week. What a pleasure listening to his wisdom! Just wanted to say thank you for the inspiration.”

Brandi Hyde

HVAC/Water Heater Escalations Supervisor

Home Depot Customer Care

John Phipps

John PhippsSince 1994, John Phipps has been providing unique speaking and writing services to agriculture, agribusiness, and rural communities. From seminars and keynotes, to articles and commentary, John generates up-to-the-minute provocative presentations that stimulate interest and response. Interlaced with wit and perspective, John’s presentations can breathe life into tired meeting formats and touch deftly on areas of farm and rural living that trouble and excite us. His experiences in the trenches as a commercial grain farmer lend both credibility and empathy to his comments.

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Michael Boehlje

Michael BoehljeMichael Boehlje is a Distinguished Professor in the Department of Agricultural Economics and the Center for Food and Agricultural Business (CAB) at Purdue University. He previously held faculty and administrative positions at Iowa State University, University of Minnesota and Oklahoma State University.

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Rulon Gardner

Rulon GardnerBorn in Afton, Wyoming, Olympic Gold Medal Wrestler and Motivational Speaker Rulon Gardner is the
youngest of nine children born to Reed and Virginia Gardner. Raised on
a dairy farm, where they grew crops and milked cows twice a day, there
was never a shortage of work to be done, and Rulon was taught to work
hard at a young age.
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Bruce Vincent

Bruce VincentIn 1984, after completing college, Bruce moved his family back to Libby, Montana and joined Vincent Logging as business manager.  Vincent Logging, a small family owned business, was started by Bruce’s father in 1968. Bruce is a third generation logger- and he’s also a speaker on the environment and agriculture.

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Bob Treadway

Bob TreadwayThe true measure of a business forecaster is the combination of a depth of knowledge, keen foresight, and breadth of perspective. Bob Treadway possesses those attributes after nearly two decades of working with exceptional clients in a wide cross-section of industries and a personal regimen of staying broadly informed, deeply knowledgeable, and highly practiced in the fields of strategy and forecasting.

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Damian Mason

masondamian.pngDamian Mason has been a professional speaker, corporate event entertainer, and author since 1994.  Damian’s career in entertainment began in southern California, when he won a Halloween contest dressed as Bill Clinton.  Within months, he resigned his position as sales representative for Cooper Industries, a Fortune 500 company.






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