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2017-2018 Speaker Series

Spring Session

January 17, 2018: Max Schmidt @1701Bespoke

Max Schmidt is the founder of 1701 Bespoke, a custom menswear boutique based in Detroit. He’s been active in startups and entrepreneurship since graduating from Michigan State University with a BA in Advertising in 2009. He cut his teeth in entrepreneurship with a tech startup that operated out of Chicago’s 1871 startup incubator, growing the company from five recurring business subscriptions to 5,000, before leaving Chicago to come back to Detroit and creating 1701. Now, Schmidt is focused on developing the fashion and clothing manufacturing community in Detroit and has started his own clothing manufacturing company specializing in handmade ties and pocket squares.

January 30, 2018: Brad Epker @bepker

With over 28 years of experience in business development and sales, Brad is an exceptional leader with a record for opening new markets, driving revenues, and closing multi-million dollar accounts with Fortune 500 and Global 1000 organizations. Today, Brad is the Chief Revenue Officer for GISinc, leveraging his knowledge and experience in implementing new strategies, account turnarounds, and revenue optimization to expand GISinc’s year-over-year growth. As Chief Revenue Officer, Brad leads all sales organizations and marketing for GISinc. Brad received a BA in Advertising and Marketing from Michigan State University and later received his MBA from the University of Washington in Technology Management.

February 13, 2018: Ben Bator @benbator

Ben Bator is an entrepreneur. It started out as an accident and has since turned into a career. In 2009, he co-founded the website TextsFromLastNight.com (TFLN), which has grown into a media company with both followers and revenue in the millions. Today, he’s a founding partner of a soon-to-be-announced advertising agency headquartered in Detroit. He’s getting better at explaining what he does for a living. Ben graduated from Michigan State University in 2008 with a bachelor’s degree in Advertising.

February 27, 2018: Justin Kershaw

Justin Kershaw is the founder and owner of two companies, including Venia Medical—a medical device supplies company he started in 2011— and Hanga, a new startup venture focused on creative home goods he founded in 2016. Justin graduated from Michigan State University in 2008. While at Michigan State he played for the Spartan Football Team from 2004–08 and served as a team captain his senior year. Upon graduating from Michigan State University, he went to work for two different Fortune 500 companies: Stryker and 3M. Justin currently lives in his hometown of Columbus, Ohio with his wife Chaquerra and their two children.

March 21, 2018: Jennifer Estill @Redhead_Design

Jennifer Estill is the founder and creative director of Redhead Design Studio—a strategy, marketing and creative development shop in Old Town, Lansing. There, she helps build brands and advocacy campaigns that speak to audiences in meaningful ways. Jennifer has served a variety of clients in both the for-profit and non-profit sectors, such as the United Dairy Industry of Michigan, Michigan State University, and Natural Resources Defense Council. She routinely helps other entrepreneurs find their voice, developing everything from company names to visual brands to marketing plans. Her works have garnered numerous awards for creativity and excellence. Jen graduated from Michigan State University with a degree in journalism. She is also co-host of the SpeakEasy Podcast, which explores the intricacies of leadership in the creative industry.

April 18, 2018: Stephanie Morley

Stephanie L. Morley, DVM, is the Chief Operations Officer and Vice President of Product Development with Zomedica, a veterinary healthcare solutions company. In this role, she leads Zomedica’s innovation strategies, product development, research and development, and facilitates new business opportunities to ensure the delivery of affordable, high-quality veterinary products by aligning customer needs, translational technologies, and corporate objectives. A trained veterinarian with instinctive business acumen, Dr. Morley is known as a transformational leader, experienced in building high-growth startups, viable business units, and overseeing departments with 600 plus staff and annual budgets totaling $40 million in operating expenses. She has a passion for translating science to business and business to science, in efforts to fast-track innovations from discovery insight to market impact. Dr. Morley holds both a doctor of veterinary medicine and BA in hospitality business from Michigan State University.

Fall Session

September 20, 2017: Nick Stachurski @nickstach

Nick Stachurski is an independent film producer and founder of Eightfold Creative. His commitment to business and film production has allowed him to create a life powered by finding artists the resources to create and spread ideas, and businesses that need to capture an audience.

October 3, 2017: Dr. Kerry Ann Rockquemore

Kerry Ann Rockquemore, PhD, is the founder and CEO of the National Center for Faculty Development & Diversity. She launched the NCFDD in 2010 to help women navigate the publish-or-perish world of Academia.

October 18, 2017: Chad Jordan

Chad Jordan is the creator of Cravings Gourmet Popcorn. Chad has a retail background that spans back to 1989 in the grocery industry and has worked for the industries’ top retailers in a variety of leadership roles. He has a passion for his craft of creating addicting gourmet popcorn flavors, as well as marketing, branding, and promotion. Learn more about Cravings Gourmet Popcorn here.

November 2, 2017: Jill Marlan

Jill Marlan is a Board Certified licensed Physical Therapist and a Certified Orthopedic Manual Physical Therapist. She was appointed by the governor to serve on the State Board of Physical Therapy for eight years and has chaired the board for the last three years. Jill has worked with a wide variety of clientele including professional hockey and football players, Olympic and world-class gymnasts, collegiate and high school athletes from all sports.

November 8, 2017: Ryan Devlin

Ryan is a founder of one of the hottest and fastest growing social-impact brands in the nation, This Bar Saves Lives. He is also a well-known television actor and host, having starred on hit shows Are You The One, Jane the Virgin, and Grey’s Anatomy—to name a few.

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