2015 SPEAKERS

speaker
Jennifer Fleiss
Co-Founder & Head of Business Development, Rent the Runway

KEYNOTE

Jennifer Hyman and Jennifer Fleiss founded Rent the Runway in 2009 to give women a chance to wear designer garb without the huge price tag. These days, the company has expanded to a nationwide storefront presence. The company even has stylists on-hand to answer questions via phone, email and live chat. Rent the Runway received $54 million in venture capital in March 2013, and since then, has grown to accommodate more than 4 million customers, 250 employees and 200 designer partners. 
—Inc. Magazine, “15 Entrepreneurs to Watch in 2015,” December 2014 Jennifer Fleiss is the Co-Founder and Head of Business Development at Rent the Runway, a business that has transformed the retail industry by making designer dress and accessory rentals a convenient and accessible luxury experience for millions of women. Rent the Runway is pioneering an apparel business in the new sharing economy with the overall mission to democratize luxury for women everywhere. Jenny has been honored with Inc.’s “30 Under 30” and “15 Entrepreneurs to Watch in 2015″; Fortune Magazine’s“40 Under 40” and “Most Powerful Women Entrepreneurs”; Forbes “12 Most Disruptive Names in Business” andFast Company’s “Most Influential Women in Technology.” She was also named a finalist for Ernst & Young’s Entrepreneur of the Year. Rent the Runway was named to the CNBC “Disruptor 50″ list and Fast Company’s “Top 10 Most Innovative Companies of 2015 In Style.”


speaker
Jennifer Hyman
Chief Executive Officer & Co-Founder, Rent the Runway

KEYNOTE

Jennifer Hyman and Jennifer Fleiss founded Rent the Runway in 2009 to give women a chance to wear designer garb without the huge price tag. These days, the company has expanded to a nationwide storefront presence. The company even has stylists on-hand to answer questions via phone, email and live chat. Rent the Runway received $54 million in venture capital in March 2013, and since then, has grown to accommodate more than 4 million customers, 250 employees and 200 designer partners. 
—Inc. Magazine, “15 Entrepreneurs to Watch in 2015,”December 2014 Jennifer Hyman is the Chief Executive Officer and Co-Founder of Rent the Runway, a business that has transformed the retail industry by making designer dress and accessory rentals a convenient and accessible luxury experience for millions of women. Since Rent the Runway’s launch in November 2009, Jennifer has managed all areas of the business including technology, fashion, sales, marketing, operations, customer service and team management, while also serving as a company spokesperson. Most well-known within the entrepreneurial and fashion communities for her unmatched marketing abilities, Jennifer was named as the Chief Marketing Officer of Fortune magazine’s “Executive Dream Team.”

speaker
Mary Heidler
Entrepreneurship Instructor & Operations Manager, Entrepreneurship & Business Innovation, Kent State University

PITCH COACH

Mary R. Heidler, MBA, is currently an entrepreneurship instructor and the operations manager for the Center for Entrepreneurship and Business Innovation at Kent State University. Mary received her BS in Finance from Towson University in Baltimore, Maryland and her MBA with a concentration in Entrepreneurship and Marketing from The American University in Washington, D.C. Mary spent several years as a Small Business Contract Specialist with the Department of Defense. She provided small businesses, interested in obtaining DoD contracts, guidance through systems planning, negotiation, price and cost analysis, implementation , acquisition policy and post award negotiations. In 2002, she moved to Hudson, Ohio and put her expertise in small business development to work as General Manager, opening several retail locations of the Life is Good clothing brand under the name Green Roots Collection. The success of the first two locations in Hudson and Rocky River, Ohio led to the creation of the first retail store to open inside the Cleveland Clinic main campus. Mary brings retail startup experience and business development skills to her Introduction to Entrepreneurship, Practicum and First Year Experience classes.

speaker
Mike Beder
Owner/Partner, Taproot Catering, Tree City Coffee & Pastry, Venice Cafe

PITCH COACH

Mike Beder is a ’00 graduate of Kent State University who served as Executive Director of Undergraduate Student Government during his final year of college. Shortly after graduation he opened what is now Water Street Tavern in downtown Kent. Mike is also an owner/ partner of Taproot Catering, Tree City Coffee & Pastry and the Venice Cafe. Mike remains active in the Kent community via his involvement with the Crooked River Arts Council, Main Street Kent, and the Kent Area Chamber Of Commerce. Additionally, Mike coaches and mentors entrepreneurship students, and also connects them to local and regional entrepreneurial resources, in his role as an Entrepreneur-in-Residence for the Kent State University College of Business Administration.

speaker
Brian Bowles
CEO, Blackwolf Tactical; Kent State University’s Student Start-up Mentor

PITCH COACH

As Student Start-up Mentor, Brian helps Kent State University students actualize their entrepreneurial dreams by providing practical advice on how to properly set up and operate a new business venture. He also coaches students regarding how to properly pitch their ideas and how to successfully obtain new venture funding. In addition, Brian has mentored many students participating in local high school entrepreneurship classes. Brian, a recent winner of a funding award from the GLIDE Innovation Fund, is currently busy working on his second start up, Blackwolf Tactical. Blackwolf Tactical has developed the Darkhorse Training Platform, the only police training system available that couples the physicality of reality based training with the analytics of simulated training. Brian has successfully pitched to Bizdom and at multiple other pitch competitions, both locally and regionally. When not working on growing Blackwolf Tactical or mentoring others, Brian is busy helping build the regional entrepreneurial community as a student manager for the Kent State University College of Business Administration chapter of the Northeast Ohio Student Venture Fund (NEOSVF).

speaker
Denise Easterling
Founder, Launch In a Day, LLC

PITCH COACH

Denise M. Easterling, CPA, has been an entrepreneur for 20 years and is currently part of the entrepreneurship faculty at Kent State University. Denise, who grew up in the Canton, Ohio area, graduated Summa Cum Laude with a B.S. in Accounting from The University of Akron and later earned her M.B.A. from Ashland University. Denise has been the co-founder of five start-up companies. Denise worked for seven years as a CPA, first for the Akron-based office of Ernst & Young, and then for the Akron-based accounting firm Spector & Saulino. During her years as a public accountant, Denise specialized in audit, corporate taxation and business valuation. It was while working as a CPA that Denise discovered an opportunity to start selling medical capital equipment such as hospital stretchers and surgical tables; hence, the birth of her first company, North Coast Medical Products, Inc. (NCMP) in 1993. NCMP first functioned as a manufacturer’s representative company. Later, the company became a dealer of medical capital equipment purchased at a discount from a variety of manufacturers. At NCMP’s peak, it sold product in the five state region including Ohio, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Indiana and West Virginia. American Table Manufacturing, Inc. (ATM), Denise’s second company, was also in the medical space. Started in 1998, ATM designed, developed and manufactured eleven different high-tech surgical tables, of which certain components and accessories were eventually patented. ATM was sold to Steris Corporation in 2001. Denise’s next two companies, EastCoy Technologies, Inc. and Imperial Luxury Home Builders were in the construction industry. EastCoy Technologies successfully developed a new variation on an old style of construction equipment, but failed to get the new equipment to market. Imperial Luxury Home Builders (ILHB) built $1M+ custom luxury homes in the Northeast Ohio region. Denise sold her interest in ILHB to a private buyer in early 2007. Denise’s most recent company, Launch In a Day, LLC, started as an internet-based guide that walked nascent entrepreneurs through the practical and necessary steps to start and operate a new business venture. Topics addressed included Protecting and Pitching Your Idea, Registering Your Business, Operating and Partnership Agreements, Building and Marketing Your Business’ Website, and Accounting and Tax Issues. Denise is currently developing the content from LaunchInaDay.com into a textbook on Entrepreneurial Finance. Denise brings “real world” experience and practical application of theory to the entrepreneurship classes she teaches at Kent State University. Such classes include Introduction to Entrepreneurship, Entrepreneurial Tools, Entrepreneurial Marketing, Entrepreneurial Finance, and Entrepreneurial Experience I & II. Denise is particularly proud to have won Kent State University’s 2011 College of Business Administration Teaching Excellence Award and to have been nominated for the same award in 2014. Beyond just teaching, Denise is also Coordinator of the Undergraduate Entrepreneurship Curriculum at Kent State University and Co-Faculty Advisor for the Kent State University Chapter of the Collegiate Entrepreneurs’ Organization. Denise has two teenage sons, is a member of the National Association of Women Business Owners, and is an avid runner who has successfully completed a half marathon.

speaker
Craig Zamary
Entrepreneurship Faculty, Kent State University

PITCH COACH

Craig Zamary is a serial entrepreneur, on his 4th company, and has started and sold 3 of the 4 startups. Craig is an Entrepreneurship Faculty member at Kent State University where he teaches and helps students with their startup companies and serves as an advisor to numerous startups. In addition, Craig is a Partner at US Wine Exports Company, Ltd. Craig has appeared in the following television and online media outlets, and recognized by: Huffington Post, Cisco Entrepreneur Institute, Kauffman Foundation, Inc.com, Fast Company, Fox News, Cnet, HI Velocity Media, Inside Business, Reuters, Ohio Means Business, Forbes.com, and Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year Nominee.

speaker
Kipp Krukowski
Founder and Managing Director, Equipment Appraisal Services

PITCH COACH

Kipp Krukowski is a faculty member of the Kent State University in the Department of Marketing and Entrepreneurship where he has taught both brick and mortar and online Introduction to Entrepreneurship courses and mentors students about new venture creation. Kipp is also the Founder and Managing Director of Equipment Appraisal Services (EquipmentAppraisal.com). The company is a nationwide provider of certified USPAP compliant machinery and equipment appraisals for litigation, collateral, and financial reporting. Through its EquipmentAuction.com website, the company also provides online auctions for machinery and equipment. Kipp is also the Managing Director of Business Valuation Specialists (BusinessValuations.net), a company that specializes in business valuations for privately held companies under $20M in revenue. Kipp previously founded a business brokerage company, Confidential Business Sale, which he grew to three offices and sold. During his ownership, the company successfully completed over 100 business transactions. The company was responsible for the valuing, marketing, negotiating, and deal structuring of a business sale transaction. Kipp Krukowski is an Accredited Senior Appraiser (ASA) in Machinery & Technical Specialties (MTS), a designation awarded by the American Society of Appraisers (ASA). He provides expert witness reports and testimony for litigation related to machinery and equipment valuation. Kipp also holds the Certified Valuation Analyst (CVA) designation awarded by the National Association of Certified Valuators and Analysts (NACVA). He has a Bachelor of Engineering in Mechanical Engineering degree from Youngstown State University and a Master of Business Administration degree from Carnegie Mellon University.

speaker
Dr. Rachel Talton
CEO, Synergy Marketing Strategy & Research, Inc.

Dr. Rachel Talton is CEO of the award-winning firm Synergy Marketing Strategy & Research, Inc. Synergy’s purpose is to help organizations inspire, connect, and engage their employees and customers to flourish and grow. Synergy uses a unique combination of expertise in research, leadership, and business strategy to better understand consumer and employee behaviors and leverage opportunities for growth. In addition to Dr. Talton’s success as an entrepreneur, she is an award-winning published scholar and keynote speaker in the areas of brand trust, consumer loyalty, and employee engagement. Dr. Talton is also CTO (Chief Transformation Officer) and lead Executive Coach of Flourish Leadership, LLC and the Flourish Conference for Women in Leadership, which provides high-achieving female executives with executive coaching, masterminding cohorts, and the company’s signature offering: Transformation Immersion™. These retreats are scalable strategic leadership events. The sessions provide in-depth analysis and mentoring to help executive women flourish in both their professional careers, and personal lives. In early 2009, Dr. Talton co-founded TRUST, LLC alongside several established Northeast-Ohio CEOs working in the marketing discipline. To support its mission, Dr. Talton designed “Women in Business Pay It Forward.” Today, Synergy still donates marketing services to one burgeoning company each year. The most recent recipient of in-kind services is S. Rose, a fast-growing company offering consumer hard-goods. Synergy’s BloomPrintTM for Brands allowed S. Rose to take the next step in their growth plan. Building on Synergy’s successes, in 2010 Dr. Talton and her team focused their energies on improving the economic and social development of historically-disadvantaged groups throughout the Cleveland Plus region with the design and implementation of the Northeast Ohio Economic Inclusion Forum Series. The four-event series, and its associated action plan, has sparked active participation from hundreds of policy-makers and executives across the public, private, and not-for-profit sectors. Dr. Talton serves on the Board of Directors and Executive Committee of Positively Cleveland, where she chairs the Marketing Committee. In addition, she serves on the Board of Directors of the Cuyahoga Community College Foundation, as well as JumpStart Inc. Dr. Talton is a member of the Cleveland Bridge Builders Class of 2002, as well as the Leadership Cleveland Class of 2005. Her local social activities are complemented by her work with the Entrepreneurs Organization (EO). EO is an organization focused on developing Global entrepreneurial talent through the leadership of its members, all of whom are founders of organizations with annual revenues of $1M+.

speaker
Kristin T. Tull
President, PRADCO

Over the past 20 years, Dr. Tull has taken on significant challenges during her ascension to the Presidency of PRADCO. In addition to her account management and business development activities, she has been an industry leader in the creation and validation of the assessments instruments that constitute the backbone of PRADCO’s evaluation strategy. Thanks to Dr. Tull’s expertise and leadership, PRADCO now makes available over 15 on-line assessment products designed to select and develop talent in all types of jobs and organizations. While building and developing her own team of management consultants, she has worked extensively with high-level executives in some of PRADCO’s largest clients. She spearheads PRADCO’s investigative work into identifying differences among global cultures and demographic populations. Most recently Dr. Tull has focused her efforts on the creation and delivery of a dual-track coaching program, offering a structured, yet flexible approach to developing high-potential performers. The program is easily adaptable to the unique needs of male and female emerging leaders. Dr. Tull is a member of the American Psychological Association and The Northeast Ohio Human Resource Planning Society. She serves on the Board of Directors of NOHRPS as Secretary and on the Membership Committee. She is active on the Board of The Gathering Place, an organization providing support and service to anyone touched by cancer. She serves on the Advisory Board of the College of Business Administration at the University of Akron and is a member of the Cleveland chapter of Entrepreneurs’ Organization.

speaker
Lauren Rudman
Manager, Human Resources, ERICO International Corporation

A lifelong Clevelander, Lauren Rudman is the Manager of Human Resources at ERICO International Corporation, a global manufacturing company headquartered in Solon, Ohio. In this role, she is responsible for talent management, talent acquisition, performance management, compensation, and employee relations. Prior to ERICO, she spent 6 years with the Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority in various Human Resources roles and participated in the Authority’s first Management Development Program, a 20 month company- wide rotational program. Lauren graduated from Cleveland State University with a Master of Labor Relations and Human Resources and from Miami University with a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration with a focus in Human Resources. She is SPHR certified. Lauren serves as the President for the Cleveland Society for Human Resource Management, as well as a Board Trustee with Malachi House and a Board Trustee with Engage! Cleveland. She also serves as a member of the Governance Committee for the Susan G. Komen Northeast Ohio Affiliate.

speaker
Nancy Brown
President, Ladies and Gentlemen Salon and Spa

As Lake and Cuyahoga County business owner for over 38 years, Nancy is President of Ladies and Gentlemen Salon and Spa in Mentor, Legacy Village in Lyndhurst Ohio and downtown Chicago, Illinois. She is also president of Brown Aveda Institutes in Mentor and Rocky River Ohio, also co owner of the Aveda Store in the Summit Mall and most recently Casal Aveda Institute in Austintown. Nancy is a passionate supporter of environmentalism, programs to assist those in need and service to her community. She is committed to providing education for those interested in the Salon and Spa industry as a career. Graduates from Brown Aveda Institutes which began in 1997 now exceed 4000. When asked what has made this business grow over the past 37 years she replies “Our staff, partnership with my husband Ed Brown and the support of our family, friends and guests.”

speaker
Andrea Vecchio
Inspirational Speaker

Andrea Vecchio spent her professional days and nights as a television broadcaster. Andrea is an Emmy® nominated journalist who started her broadcast career working as a producer at the ABC affiliate, WEWS-TV, for Cleveland’s legendary morning talk show The Morning Exchange. After spending three years as a producer in Cleveland, Andrea traveled to Zanesville, Ohio to begin her job as a news reporter for WHIZ-TV. After one year in Zanesville, Andrea returned to Cleveland and started working as a producer and entertainment reporter for the NBC affiliate, WKYC-TV. It was here that Andrea traveled the world, interviewing hundreds of Hollywood’s elite. In 2005, Andrea began her dual job as a television host and senior producer when WKYC-TV launched a new, local talk show called Good Company. During her tenure at WKYC, Andrea shot a television special called, Broadway Series: Sneak Peek which brought her an Emmy nomination. Her passion for film led her to become a film critic and member of the Broadcast Film Critic’s Association. During her time with the BFCA, Andrea was a voting member for The Critic’s Choice Awards. And in 2011, while Marvel was filming The Avengers in Cleveland, Andrea was chosen by the movie studio to film a scene for the blockbuster movie (playing a news reporter). Andrea was also asked to guest star in the national tour of Chicago during its run in Cleveland. After 20 years in broadcasting, Andrea pursued her dream of a writing and speaking career. In 2014, Andrea published her first book, Live Your Playlist: How to Get Your S#&! Together One Song at a Time. After speaking to thousands of people through a camera lens every weekday, Andrea is now in high demand as an inspirational speaker and storyteller.

speaker
Michelle Rowley
Marketing Strategist

Michelle is a results oriented, senior marketing professional with over 25 years of experience developing and executing integrated marketing solutions for diverse products and markets – health systems, independent schools, non-profits and large corporate environments. From an early age, Michelle had a keen interest in journalism and politics, with the dream of one day being a political correspondent or a campaign manager. After a year cutting her teeth as a media intern for a state political party and a stint as a political reporter, Michelle found her dream to be more glamourous in concept than the reality of being in the trenches of state level campaign politics. While she gained valuable experience and had a crash course in constituent communications, Michelle quickly learned that she enjoyed the PR and marketing side of her role much more and soon transitioned out of politics and into corporate communications. Working at a frenzied pace in a Los Angeles public affairs office of a national health system to leading a start-up marketing division for community based health systems in rural Ohio, Michelle honed her skills in all things marketing and public relations. During her tenure with Kaiser Permanente LA, she gained a strong foundation in all marketing disciplines, as well as earned the accolades of the City of Los Angeles with a Proclamation of Appreciation for her work creating public-private partnership programs for at risk youth. After leaving LA and moving to Ohio, Michelle served in marketing leadership roles in regional community hospitals affiliated with the Cleveland Clinic, as well as University Hospital Health System, where she specialized in business development, strategic planning and data-driven, integrated marketing strategies. Her zeal for new challenges lead her to an industry change into secondary and collegiate education, yet, her real passion has always been serving on community, non-profit boards, and small business advisory teams, providing the expertise and guidance in creating realistic and attainable business strategies and marketing solutions. This passion and an “aha moment” in 2013 prompted Michelle to leave the corporate world behind, launching her own entrepreneurial venture – The Creative Edge Consultancy. With the goal of creating a better work-life balance and pursuing a more challenging and fulfilling professional endeavor, Michelle quickly built a thriving small business providing consultative services to small, mid-size and start-up businesses guiding them through the strategic business planning process, social media marketing strategy, as well as integrating marketing efforts to position the companies for long term growth. She’s also an adjunct professor of social media marketing at Lake Erie College.

speaker
Robert Hisrich
Director, Walker Center, Global Entrepreneurship, Thunderbird School of Global Management

Hisrich, former Director of the Walker Center of Global Entrepreneurship at Thunderbird School of Global Management, received his B.A. in English and Science from DePauw University and his MBA and Ph.D. in Business Administration with a major in marketing from the University of Cincinnati. Hisrich also holds honorary doctorate degrees from Chuvash State University (Russia) and the University of Miskolc (Hungary). His global experience includes being a visiting and honorary professor at more than eight universities in six different countries. Dr. Hisrich has authored or co-authored 36 books, including International Entrepreneurship: Starting, Developing, and Managing a Global Venture (3rd edition) to be published in July by Sage Publications. His other books include Corporate Entrepreneurship, Technology Entrepreneurship: Value Creation, Protection, and Capture (2nd edition), Governpreneurship: Establishing a Thriving Entrepreneurial Spirit in Your Government, Entrepreneurship: Starting, Developing, and Managing a New Enterprise (translated into thirteen languages and now in its ninth edition), Entrepreneurial Finance: A Global Perspective and Marketing for Entrepreneurs and SMEs: An International Approach . Hisrich has written more than 300 articles on entrepreneurship, international business management, and marketing, which have appeared in such journals as The Academy of Management Review, Strategic Management Journal, American Psychologist, California Management Review, Journal of Business Venturing, Sloan Management Review, Journal of Marketing and Journal of Marketing Research. “Dr. Hisrich is a renowned global entrepreneurship scholar whose books have been translated for use in Europe, the Middle East and Asia,” said Deborah Spake, dean of the College of Business Administration. “In addition, his experience as President of H&B Associates, a consulting firm involved in the founding of several successful ventures brings the perfect mix of scholarship and practice to lead the College’s graduate and international programs. I am delighted that Bob will be joining the College as Associate Dean for Graduate and International Programs and Bridgestone Chair of International Marketing.” The addition of Hisrich comes after former Associate Dean for Graduate and International Programs, Donald R. Williams, Ph.D., accepted the position of Chair of the College of Business Administration’s Department of Economics. “I really look forward to joining the College of Business Administration at Kent State University and working with the faculty, administration and Dean Spake to make the College an internationally renowned, world class institution,” said Hisrich. As the Associate Dean for Graduate and International Programs, Hisrich will have direct oversight of the International Programs Office, Graduate Programs Office, and the Global Management Center. Hisrich will also be the Committee Chair for the College’s Graduate Council, MBA Subcommittee, Ph.D. Subcommittee and International Faculty Advisory Committee (ad hoc). Hisrich will be a member of the Graduate Educational Policies Council, Graduate Studies Academic Advisory Council and the College of Business Leadership Council.

speaker
Nichelle McCall
Speaker & Startup Strategist

Nichelle is a speaker and Startup Strategist. Since 2007, Nichelle has provided startup advice to hundreds of entrepreneurs and startup business owners. Many of them have gone on to raise millions in early-stage funding. She has been both a funder and a business owner (three-time startup founder), so is uniquely positioned to empathize and understand what entrepreneurs need at the start of their journey. Nichelle McCall understands the impact education and access to resources can have on a person, their family, and community. She grew up in Cleveland, Ohio where her local high school was designated failing. Her mother worked three jobs to send her to a college prep school, where she received the support and resources to help her attend college well-prepared. Many of her neighbors did not have access to those same resources and they have had very different outcomes in their lives. This is part of Nichelle’s driving force to provide others with the knowledge and resources to help them flourish in their businesses. Nichelle speaks and coaches aspiring and emerging entrepreneurs on how to create investment-ready tech or online startups. Out of all the venture-backed companies in the country, only 8% have women founders and 1% have African American founders. The stat is less than .2% for black women founders that have received venture funding. As a tech entrepreneur, Nichelle raised $500,000 for her own software company, BOLD Guidance, in a little over one year. She is also the creator of From Idea to $500,000 in 14 Months, an accessible, do-it-yourself program to getting early-stage investment for your startup. After working with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the Cleveland Foundation, National League of Cities, and Baldwin Wallace University, Nichelle decided to create her own company rather than leave her financial future in the hands of someone else. She has been an entrepreneur for many years and teaches other aspiring entrepreneurs how to overcome challenges to build their dream startup. Nichelle has appeared in INC Magazine, FORTUNE, ESSENCE, Crain’s, Huffington Post, Black Enterprise, and SXSW (South by Southwest). She has been recognized as a Black Woman Tech Founder to Watch, Young Woman Entrepreneur of the Year, and one of Forty Under 40 professionals.

speaker
Steve Millard
President & Executive Director, COSE

Steve Millard serves COSE’s members as the organization’s president and executive director. Steve leads the work of the staff to support COSE members’ efforts to succeed, advocates for the needs of small business owners and represents them with policy makers and the community and ensures COSE provides useful information, resources, and opportunities for small business owners that are otherwise unavailable to them. What is your best business advice?… Expect acceptance. Too often people don’t expect others to be interested in knowing about them and the work that they do and, as a result, they miss an opportunity they could have had. From the president of the United States to the CEO of a major company to a stranger at a local coffee shop, put out your hand and be confident that you have as much to contribute to their day as they do to yours. How do you help small businesses?… I try to stay on top of trends, information, resources and opportunities to provide our members an advantage with which to pursue their idea of success. Small business owners suffer from time poverty – anything we can do to make their efforts a little easier or more likely to succeed can be an advantage to them. What was your favorite career moment?… I am fortunate to have a lot of moments in my work that validate the importance of the work that COSE does. A significant moment in the last year or so was during a dinner meeting with Bill Jones – one of COSE’s founders and its first chairman of the board of directors. Bill noted that in more than 40 years of its work, while the people, the issues and the services COSE provides have changed a bit, the goal of helping small business owners get better at what they do and to provide the support they need has not changed. His pride in the organization was palpable and I was proud to be a part of what he and 12 other small business owners started in 1972. Why do you do what you do?… I get excited helping our members chase their idea of success. If we can help them accomplish what they set out to do, their success makes our region stronger. This also creates the kind of impact that changes the opportunity for every resident of our region. Even if they don’t accomplish all of the goals they set out to achieve, they always do more than anyone expects. Plus, working with small business owners is always a lot of fun!

speaker
Laura Bennett
CEO & Co-Founder

I hold an honors mathematics degree from the University of Western Ontario, am a life and health actuary (FSA), and hold the chartered financial analyst designation (CFA). I received my MBA, with a concentration in Strategic and Entrepreneurship Management, from the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School, where I graduated with several university and peer awards. I was also part of the team that won first prize in the Wharton Business Plan Competition in 2003 with a pet insurance company concept. Prior to my MBA, I worked for The Canada Life Assurance Company in Toronto, Canada, and Dublin, Ireland, in a number of leadership roles, including asset-liability management, strategic planning, and business development. After graduating with my MBA and co-founding Embrace, I became the first pet insurance actuary in the US, bringing an integrative actuarial approach to a complex and undervalued product. I am in my third term as Chairman of the Board of the North American Pet Health Insurance Association, promoting pet insurance awareness and education in the US, and a “Women in Insurance Leadership” winner in 2012 awarded by Insurance Networking News.

speaker
Stacy Feiner
Executive Coach

Stacy Feiner is an executive coach for the middle market and author of Talent Mindset: The Business Owner’s Guide to Building Bench Strength. Stacy brings psychological strategies to business owners that help them improve their performance and advance their organizations. Her methodology enhances complex dynamics within owner-operated companies, family businesses, boards, and management teams. Stacy is a licensed psychologist, coach, author and national speaker. Please contact Stacy Feiner at: www.stacyfeiner.com or stacy@stacyfeiner.com. To purchase a copy of Talent Mindset, visit here.

speaker
Katie Van Dyke
Entrepreneur Advisor

For the past 4 years, I have worked as an Entrepreneur Advisor providing assistance and advising to local businesses and aspiring entrepreneurs. I also strived to create entrepreneurial experiential opportunities and training. I have a passion for designing and facilitating exciting and engaging learning, both in the corporate and academic fields. I have developed curriculum in entrepreneurship, as well as taught business and marketing classes as an adjunct faculty member of the Business Division at LCCC (since 2002). I earned an MBA from Cleveland State University and got my start at Ernst & Young as an eLearning Consultant and Instructional Designer and new hire trainer.

speaker
Renée DeLuca Dolan
President, Contempo Communications; Publisher at CBC Magazine

8:55 A.M. | Sponsor Recognition and Intro to Wake-up Session

It’s only understandable that Renée “occasionally” finds herself arriving late to an appointment – after all, as a human perpetual motion machine, she’s constantly trying to fit an extra couple of hours of activity into a 24-hour day. But high energy is the necessary fuel for the type of entrepreneurial spirit that created CBC™ Magazine as well runs Contempo Communications, one of the most successful and fastest-growing communications firms in the region. If growing her businesses isn’t enough to fill the day, Renée works tirelessly for charitable causes, such as The Littlest Heroes, which helps NE Ohio families and children diagnosed with cancer. Renée and her husband, Mark, enjoy wine tasting, traveling, hiking and spending time with their families. Cooking, walking, shopping and spending time with friends fill what other precious leisure time this Kent State University graduate has—as she works toward her long-term goals of growing Contempo Communications into the premiere design firm in Cleveland, introducing a note card/paper product line and becoming involved in a gallery/winery venture.

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