Amputee Coalition is happy to present a stellar lineup of keynote speakers at its 2022 National Conference, themed “Growing Our Community to Shape the Future.” Each speaker will challenge our limb loss and limb difference community to continually grow and evolve to stay relevant and effective in a post-pandemic world. Read on for more details about the keynote speakers.
John Kriesel will keynote the Opening General Session on August 10, 2022.
In 2006, Kriesel was nearly blown to shreds by a 200-pound roadside bomb in the parched sands of Iraq, but battlefield angels in army uniforms kept him breathing long enough to reach a hospital. He died three times and was shocked back to life. Somehow, he survived through four hospitals, 35 surgeries and months of recovery. He lost both legs and suffered numerous other major injuries, but it was the loss of two close friends that hurt the most. The guy who wasn’t supposed to survive and was told he probably would be in a wheelchair the rest of his life walked out of Walter Reed Army Medical Center after nine months.
Four years after his near-death experience in Iraq, Kriesel became a civilian marketing employee with the Minnesota Army National Guard and in 2012, was named Director of Veterans Services for a county in Suburban Minneapolis, MN. He also is a part-time host on KFAN Sports Radio and former member of the Minnesota House of Representatives. He was elected to the House in 2010 after a vigorous campaign where he was told he could not win in his district. He personally visited several thousand homes in all weather conditions and literally wore out the socket in one of his prosthetic legs. He won. After tours of duty in Kosovo and Iraq and a lengthy medical recovery, Kriesel’s family wanted to spend more time with him and he chose not to run for re-election. Working with author Jim Kosmo, Kriesel reveals his motivational story in STILL STANDING: The Story of SSG John Kriesel, winner of eight national book awards. Learn more at johnmkriesel.com.
Jill Jacobs will keynote the General Session on August 11, 2022.
Jacobs was appointed to serve as the Commissioner of the Administration on Disabilities for the Administration of Community Living (ACL) on February 14, 2022. She has more than two decades of professional experience managing disability services organizations, analyzing policy, and working toward improved health and disability programs and services at local, state, and federal levels. She also has been an active grassroots organizer, leading campaigns to depict President Franklin D. Roosevelt seated in his wheelchair in the national monument in Washington, D.C. to ensure the inclusion of disabled children in schools, and to organize disaster response efforts for people with disabilities following Hurricanes Harvey and Maria, to name just a few of her accomplishments. In addition, Jacobs brings to the role the lived experience of her own disability and as the mother of two disabled adults
Before joining ACL, Jacobs served as the executive director of the ENDependence Center of Northern Virginia (ECNV), a center for independent living. Previously, Jacobs founded and served for 16 years as the CEO of Ability Unleashed, a coordination and facilitation agency for Medicaid home and community-based services. She has held executive positions at several nonprofit and government entities and served on the boards of several disability advocacy organizations, including the National Council on Independent Living and United Cerebral Palsy of Washington & Northern Virginia. For her work advancing rights and access of disabled military family members while she was an Army spouse, the United States Army awarded Jacobs the Dr. Mary E. Walker Medal of Honor. Jacobs is a graduate of Texas A&M at Central Texas and received social work training at Army Social Work Services at Fort Hood, Texas.
Christi Hoehn will be a featured speaker during the General Session on August 12, 2022.
Hoehn is a below-the-knee amputee and 11-year lung cancer survivor! She strives to be an inspiration by being her authentic self. She is known as “The Table Grilling Lady”, having developed a new way to cook and entertain. She is building her brand, “Talk of the Table Company,” and teaching people how to make meals more meaningful by cooking together at the table. Food & Beverage Magazine featured her in their March 2021 issue and again in April with a two-page feature! She has also spoken on The Moth LA stage and is active in Toastmaster. Over the last two years she has begun participating in 5k runs with a racing wheelchair. She was featured in a video series by T-Mobile and most recently a three-part docuseries with Ellen Degeneres’ digital network. The pilot series called “Next Chapter”, follows her journey to walking on prosthetics again after 16 years and training to become an inspirational speaker. An artist, mom, grandma, and happiness follower, she believes that the only limitations that we have are between our ears.
Stephanie Decker will keynote the Closing General Session on August 13, 2022.
In March 2012, a tornado ripped through the town of Henryville, Indiana. Stephanie Decker, a 37-year-old mother of three, found herself in a life-altering moment. As her house began to disintegrate around her, she shielded her two young children with her body. Her dream home fell in, crushing her legs, but because of her heroic actions, Decker’s children were amazingly unscathed. It was a miracle that she even survived and made it to the hospital. At that point, doctors determined that parts of both legs would need to be amputated.
Decker has become a true symbol of survival and overcoming adversity. Since the accident, she has been featured on The Today Show, The Ellen Degeneres Show, ABC World News Tonight as “Person of the Week”, USA Today, USA Weekend, and People Magazine.