2019 Keynote Speakers & Entertainment
Keynote speakers for 2019 will be announced soon. Check back for more information.
2018 Keynote Speakers & Entertainment
Jay Ashcroft, Secretary of State
Jay Ashcroft is Missouri’s 40th Secretary of State, serving areas such as business, investor protection, operating the State Library and State Archives, and as the State’s Chief Elections Official.
Secretary Ashcroft earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees in engineering management from Missouri University of Science and Technology, and is a graduate of St. Louis University School of Law. He holds multiple certifications in the challenging arena of citizen privacy and data protection, essential to securing our state’s elections. Secretary Ashcroft’s vision includes rebuilding confidence in our elections, restoring relationships with local election authorities, and working to streamline our business laws and reduce government red tape to attract new jobs in Missouri.
Jay and his wife Katie have four children, three sons and one daughter.
Jay will be a Friday morning keynote speaker.
Bishop James V. Johnston, Jr., D.D., J.C.L.
Bishop James V. Johnston, Jr., was born on October 16, 1959, in Knoxville, Tennessee. He is the oldest of the four children of Vann and Patricia (Huber) Johnston. Bishop Johnston attended the University of Tennessee in Knoxville, and obtained a B.S. degree in Electrical Engineering in 1982. From 1982-1985, he worked in Houston, Texas, for an engineering consulting firm and for an electric utility. In 1985, he left his occupation to pursue a call to the priesthood.
Bishop Johnston attended St. Meinrad School of Theology in Indiana where he obtained his Master of Divinity degree and was ordained a priest of the Diocese of Knoxville on June 9, 1990. Bishop Johnston pursued graduate studies at the Catholic University of America, where he obtained a Licentiate in Canon Law (1996). He served as Chancellor and Moderator of the Curia for the Diocese of Knoxville, as well as in parish ministry. On March 31, 2008, he was ordained the sixth bishop of the Diocese of Springfield-Cape Girardeau.
Pope Francis appointed Bishop Johnston to lead the Kansas City – St. Joseph Diocese on September 15, 2015 and on November 4, 2015 he was installed as Seventh Bishop of the Diocese of Kansas City – St. Joseph.
Bishop Johnston is a fourth degree Knight of Columbus, and a member of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem. He has served on the USCCB Committee for Child and Youth Protection, and served as the Bishops’ liaison to the National Council of Catholic Women. He is the Vice-Chair of the Board of Regents for Conception Seminary College and a member of the Board of Trustees for Kenrick-Glennon Seminary. He is an Eagle Scout. In 2005, Bishop Johnston and two other priests were awarded the Citizens Award for Bravery by the U.S. Department of the Interior for helping to save a family in danger of plunging over a waterfall in Glacier National Park.
In November, 2015, Bishop Johnston was elected to serve on the Board of Catholic Relief Services.
Bishop Johnston will be a Friday morning keynote speaker.
Singamabob, the Renowned Barbershop Quartet
Bass Willard Yoder is a retired dairy farmer who lives about 40 miles southeast of Kansas City in Cass County; he and Velma keep up with six grandchildren in three states. Willard and Jim sang together in the Society’s 1986 international quartet champion Rural Route 4, who won their gold medals in Salt Lake City. Willard also runs his own kettle corn business.
Singamabob will perform during Friday’s general session.
Phil S. Dixon, Author/Historian
For more than thirty-five years, author/historian Phil S. Dixon has recorded African-American baseball with a vast array of creativity and historical accuracy. He has written numerous books on baseball and is widely regarded for his expertise on baseball history. He won the prestigious Casey Award for the Best Baseball Book of 1992 and later received a SABR (Society of American Baseball Researchers) MacMillan Award for his excellence as a researcher along with a host of other honors and awards. His contributions to baseball can be found on the backs of baseball cards, in award winning books and nationally recognized documentaries. He has appeared on PBS History Detectives, C-span, BET, Fox Sports, National Public Radio, the Canadian Broadcasting System, SiriusXM Radio and other national broadcast media.
In his hometown community Dixon served as an inner city baseball coach for over twenty-five years, and as an advisor to Kansas City’s RBI (Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities) youth baseball program. He is a co-founder and current board member for the Negro League Baseball Museum in Kansas City where he served as the museum’s first Public Relations officer. In professional sports, Dixon formerly worked in the Public Relations office of the American League Kansas City Royals – he is a walking encyclopedia of baseball history in general, and most knowledgeable about African-Americans in baseball. In addition to these activities, he is an excellent speaker who routinely presents at Colleges, Universities, civic events, corporations and educational activities.
Among active speakers on the History of the Negro Leagues/baseball he is prolific. In January of 2014, Mr. Dixon began a tour of 90 cities where the once famous Kansas City Monarchs and other African-American teams and players barnstormed. His goal was to spread goodwill and heal racial relationships through baseball history in the places where it actually occurred. In 2014-2015 alone, Dixon visited 13 states, which included an international visit to Saskatchewan Canada, presented in 98 cities and logged over 35,000 miles by car – he refuses to fly to any destination. He completed the 90 city tour; but demand for his presentation continued. The tour has now surpassed 150 cities. Dixon is seeking a total of 200 cities visited in four years before it ends in 2017. His presentation is titled, “The Kansas City Monarchs in our Hometown.”
Dixon is currently featured in two award winning documentaries “First Boys of Spring” released in 2015 and “Kansas Town Teams, Bigger Than Baseball,” released in 2016. He is a speaker for the Kansas Humanities Council and the Missouri Humanities Council. Dixon is a graduate of the University of Missouri at Kansas City and lives outside of Kansas City, Missouri with wife Dr. Kerry Dixon and children.
Dixon will be the Saturday morning keynote speaker.
Lester “Duck” Warner
Lester Warner, affectionately known as Duck, is a quiet, soft-spoken man who transforms himself into a spectacular entertainer when he takes the stage. His voice is a rich baritone with a beautiful full falsetto that has been compared to Nat “King” Cole. He is a gifted instrumentalist who plays trumpet, flugelhorn and trombone. Duck has headlined Japan’s first International Jazz Festival, Kansas City’s Spirit Festival, and The Kansas City Blues and Jazz Festival. He was voted Kansas City’s best male vocalist three years in a row, 2000-2003. Duck has been recognized by the International Trumpet Guild as a veteran of the revered “old school” associated with the special brand of Kansas City “Swing” music. Benny Powell, trombonist with the Count Basie Band, calls Duck a “premiere entertainer.”
The band consists of WT Williams on drums and vocals, Allen Monroe keys and vocals and Tom DeMasters guitar and vocals.
Lester will perform during Saturday’s general session.