About Our Speakers

Adele Abrams

Attorney and Occupational Safety Professional, Law Office of Adele L. Abrams PC
Adele is an attorney, safety professional and trainer who is president of the Law Office of Adele L. Abrams P.C. in Beltsville, MD, Charleston, WV, and Denver, CO, a multi-attorney firm focusing on safety, health and employment law nationwide. Adele is a Certified Mine Safety Professional and she also provides consultation, safety audits and training services to MSHA and OSHA regulated companies.  Adele is on the faculty of University of Colorado and the Catholic University of America, where she instructs on employment, labor and safety law. She is a regular columnist on legal, employment, mine and occupational safety/health issues, and is co-author of several books related to mining, construction, employment law, and occupational safety and health. She is a member of the Maryland, DC and Pennsylvania Bars, the U.S. District Courts of Maryland, DC and Tennessee, the U.S. Court of Appeals, DC, 3rd and 4th Circuits, and the United States Supreme Court. She is a graduate of the George Washington University’s National Law Center, and earned her B.S. in Journalism from the University of Maryland, College Park.  Her professional memberships include the American Society of Safety Professionals, National Safety Council, the National Stone, Sand & Gravel Association, SME, the Industrial Minerals Association-North America, and the American Bar Association. In 2017, she received the NSC’s Distinguished Service to Safety Award. She is a multiple recipient of the ASSP SPY award at the chapter, practice specialty and regional level. 

Armand Kilijian

President, O'Brien Mechanical, Inc. II | President of MCAA
Armand Kilijian became President of the Mechanical Contractors Association of America at the association’s Virtual Education Conference in March 2020. Armand is the President of O'Brien Mechanical, Inc. II, a family-owned, full-service plumbing/piping/HVAC contractor headquartered in San Francisco, CA. The company self-performs a wide range of plumbing and piping installation work for commercial projects throughout the Greater Bay Area. His thirst for professional knowledge brought him to the Northern California MCA where he held leadership positions including the offices of president, vice president and treasurer. In addition, he was a member of the organization’s board of directors, as well as a member of the Budget and Nominating Committees. He co-chairs the Northern California MCA Local 38 Negotiating Committee and is a trustee of the UA Local 38 Trust Fund. Armand’s first experience with MCAA was at an annual convention. He went on to chair the Plumbing Contractors of America (PCA) and serve on the Education, Construction Technology, and Management Methods Committees. He was elected to the MCAA Board of Directors in 2012. On a personal note, Armand enjoys spending time with his wife, Tamar, and their three children, Shant, Talar, and Aram. The family keeps busy with the kids’ sporting events, as well as volunteering as coaches and scouting assistants within the Armenian community. The family enjoys traveling, snow skiing, and just hanging out in San Francisco whenever they get a chance.  

Captain Richard Phillips

Former Captain of Maersk Alabama | Public Speaker
Captain Richard Phillips is the author of A Captain’s Duty: Somali Pirates, Navy SEALs, and Dangerous Days at Sea, about his experience during the hijacking of the Maersk Alabama and his remarkable rescue. This dramatic story was also transformed into an Academy-Award and Golden-Globe nominated film, Captain Phillips, which hit the big screens in fall of 2013.  Captain Phillips is a graduate of the Massachusetts Maritime Academy a member of the International Organization of Masters, Mates & Pilots Union, and a licensed American merchant mariner. He became Captain of the MV Maersk Alabama in 2009. Captain Phillips married Andrea Coggio in 1987. They have two children, Mariah and Danny and reside in Underhill, Vermont. 

Corey Rimmer, ARM, CRIS, RRE

Assistant Vice President of Risk Control Construction Segment, CNA
Corey serves as Assistant Vice President of Risk Control Construction Segment for CNA.  In this role he is responsible for leading the direction, management and oversight of the Risk Control function within the Construction segment business. He ensures effective implementation of strategic and operational objectives and policies for Risk Control, in accordance with the company’s strategic plans.  Corey has been in the Insurance Industry for over 30 years and with CNA Insurance for 18 years. Corey holds a bachelor’s degree in Risk Management and Insurance from Temple University.  He also holds an Associate in Risk Management designation, a Construction Risk Insurance Specialist designation from IRMI and is a Recognized Risk Engineer through UL.    

Don Thompson

Director of Engineered Systems, Guardian Fall Protection (ESG)
Don Thompson is the head of the Engineered Systems team at Guardian Fall Protection (ESG). The ESG team specializes in the design and manufacturing of custom fall arrest and facade maintenance systems and installs upwards of 400 systems every year. Don has been working in the fall protection industry holding various roles over the past 11 years. Don and his team specialize in designing and implementing solutions to difficult and often overlooked fall protection challenges. Prior to working at Guardian Don worked in residential and commercial construction where he spent a significant amount of time in the field seeing firsthand the common issues facing workers attempting to safely perform work at heights. 

Gary Lumsden

Instructor, UA Local 250
Gary Lumsden graduated from Cal State Los Angeles University with a double major in Special Major HVACR Management/ Electronics. He also attended Washtenaw College for Technical Teaching. He has been teaching High Voltage Electrical Safety/NFPA 70E and Customer Relations for UA Local 250 for 32 years. Gary was also a past UA Instructor Trainer for 3 years. He finished his UA Local 250's 5 year apprentice program and has worked in the HVAC/Refrigeration industry for 38 years. In that time he has been a journeyman, foreman and service manager. Gary is a FED OSHA 10 & 30 hour Outreach Trainer, a CPR/AED FA Instructor and Trainer Instructor, and an AVERT Active Shooter and Bleeding Control Instructor and Trainer Instructor. He has been an ARCA/MCA board member for 3 years. Gary won the 2019 Commitment to Excellence Award at the UA Local 250. A fun fact about Gary is he lived in Scotland for 2 years.

Jeff Hixon, CRM, ALCM

Vice President, Loss Control
Jeff has been providing consultative loss prevention services to clients in the Baltimore/Washington area since 1986.  Jeff was a double major in Chemistry and Economics, holding a Bachelor of Science degree.  He holds an Associate in Loss Control Management and Certified Risk Management Designations.  Jeff is active in a number of associations and is currently an Executive Board member of the Chesapeake Region Safety Council.  He is also a founding member of the Mid Atlantic Construction Safety Conference.   

Keith Wheeler

President & CHRO, HR Resources of the Carolinas, LLC
Keith Wheeler brings over 25 years of human resource management and leadership experience with a strong concentration as a HR Generalist. Prior to starting HR Resources of the Carolinas, LLC in 2016, he served as the head of HR Consulting for Benefit Controls Companies since 2005. Keith has also served as head of human resources for a foodservice franchisee with over 1,000 employees in multiple states. His additional experiences include serving as VP of HR Operations for a national healthcare alliance organization with over 1,500 employees; experience in the entertainment industry as Sr. Director of HR & Labor Relations in New York City for an internationally known venue; and in the retail industry as Director of HR for a national retailer with 475 locations, multiple distribution centers, and over 4,000 employees. He is an honor graduate of Winthrop University and holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration. Keith is a certified Senior Professional in Human Resources (SPHR) by the Human Resources Certification Institute and, a SHRM Senior Certified Professional (SHRM-SCP) through the Society of Human Resource Management. He is a frequent speaker and presenter on a variety of human resource topics important to employers for various industries, associations, and organizations.