Mercantile Bank of Michigan Breakfast Speaker Series

Mercantile Bank of MichiganSponsored by Mercantile Bank of Michigan, this series provides an opportunity for the local community to hear top business leaders and Western Michigan University faculty, alumni and friends of the Haworth College of Business discuss current business-related topics. Please join us for any or all events. RSVP at (269) 387-5964 or at

2019-20 speakers

  • September 27: Luke Kujacznski, executive director, Urban Alliance
  • October 25: Kimberly Earnshaw, executive director, American Heart Association 
  • November 22: Dr. Alan Rea, professor of business information systems, Western Michigan University
  • January 31: Connor Field, CEO, and Sam Field, CFO, Helios Solar
  • February 28: Bjorn Green, president and CEO, TowerPinkster
  • March 27: Matt Neale, principal, Miller Canfield
  • April 24: Mary Lynn Foster, regional CEO, American Red Cross
  • May 15: Mike Longenecker, executive director, Great Lakes Burn Camp

2018-19 Speakers 

  • September 28: Satish Deshpande, Ph.D., dean, Haworth College of Business, Western Michigan University
    Topic: "The Future of Business Education: Strategic Implications for the Haworth College of Business"
  • October 26: Jeff Getting, prosecutor, Kalamazoo County Government
    Topic: "What You Didn't Know About the Kalamazoo County Prosecutor's Office"
  • November 30: Dr. L. Marshall Washington, president, Kalamazoo Valley Community College
    Topic: "An Update: Kalamazoo Valley Community College's Bronson Healthy Living Campus"
  • January 25: Chris Burns, senior fixed income analyst, Greenleaf Trust
    Topic: "The Long and the Short of It—A Historical Perspective on Investing"
  • February 22: Joe Cekola, president and owner, Imperial Beverage
    Topic: "How to Grow a Family Business"
  • March 29: Judy Paget, executive director, Hospital Hospitality House
    Topic: "Hospital Hospitality House"
  • April 26: Greg Dobson, chief operating officer, AVB
    Topic: "The AVB Way: A Case Study"
  • May 17: Dr. Larry Beer, president, licensed psychologist and licensed professional counselor, Child and Family Psychological Services
    Topic: "Common Mental Health Issues and How to Manage Them"

2017-18 Speakers

  • September 29: Dr. Doug Lepisto, assistant professor of management, Western Michigan University
    Topic: "Leading Institutions in Unsettled Times"
  • October 27: Aaron Zeigler, president and CEO, Zeigler Auto Group
    Topic: "Transforming the Motorsports Business"
  • November 17: Kevin Brozovich, founder and chief people officer, and Jacob Bradley, people advisor, HRM Innovations
    Topic: "Generational Differences at Work"
  • January 26: Peter Gistelinck, president and CEO, Kalamazoo Symphony Orchestra
    Topic: " The Kalamazoo Symphony Orchestra's Strategic Plan and 100th Anniversary"
  • February 23: Tim Lester, football head coach, Western Michigan University 
    Topic: "WMU Football: Culture Wins"
  • March 30: Chris Burns, senior fixed income analyst, Greenleaf Trust 
    Topic: "Feeling Vertigo? An Update on Financial Markets and the Economy"
  • April 27: Jim Ritsema, Kalamazoo city manager
    Topic: "Kalamazoo's Foundation for Excellence"
  • May 18: Dr. Edward Montgomery, president, Western Michigan University
    Topic: "WMU: Higher Education at the Crossroads"

2016-17 speakers

  • September 30: Mike Larson, president and CEO
    Topic: "United Way of the Battle Creek and Kalamazoo Region" (September 30 video)
  • October 28: Toni Daniels, director of sales
    Topic: "Kalamazoo Wings ... The Rebirth of a Franchise" (October 28 video)
  • November 18: Tim Terrentine, vice president for development and alumni relations, Western Michigan University
    Topic: "For This Time: An Exciting Moment in WMU History" (November 18 video)
  • January 27: Amy Kuchta, executive director
    Topic: "Big Brothers/Big Sisters" (January 27 video)
  • February 24: Sheriff Rick Fuller
    Topic: "Together We Can" (February 24 video)
  • March 31: Belinda Tate, executive director, Kalamazoo Institute of Arts
    Topic: "Building Community Through the Arts" (March 31 video)
  • April 28: Don Cooney, vice mayor
    Topic: "The Foundation for Excellence: The City of Promise Moves Forward" (April 28 video)
  • May 19: Kathy Beauregard, director of athletics
    Topic: "WMU Athletics"

2015-16 Speakers

  • September 25: Jim Thomas, vice president of development and alumni relations, and Renee Pearl, director of engagement, Western Michigan University
    Topic: "Heritage Hall: Our community's commitment to higher education" (September 25 video)
  • October 30: Marilyn Schlack, president, Kalamazoo Valley Community College
    Topic: "KVCC/Health Focused Campus" (October 30 video)
  • November 20: Dan Jaqua, Jaqua Realtors
    Topic: "Real Estate Update" (November 20 video)
  • January 29: Dr. Steven Bertman, professor of chemistry, Western Michigan University
    Topic: "Sustainable Craft Brewing Program" (January 29 video)
  • February 26: Colleen Munson, head coach women's volleyball, Western Michigan University
    Topic: "Western Michigan Volleyball: Equip and Empower" (February 26 video)
  • March 25: Lieutenant Colonel Decker B. Hains, chair of military science and leadership, Western Michigan University
    Topic: "Leadership in Action: WMU Army ROTC - Building Our Nation's Future Leaders" (March 25 video)
  • April 29: Jennifer Johnson, executive director, Kalamazoo Loaves & Fishes
    Topic: "Kalamazoo Loaves & Fishes" (April 29 video)
  • May 20: Diane Thompson, president and CEO, Binder Park Zoo
    Topic: "Binder Park Zoo" (May 20 video)

2014-15 Speakers

  • September 26: Laura Latiolais, director of community relations and development, Hospice Care of Southwest Michigan
    Topic: "Care at the End of Life: What Hospice Provides" (September 26 video)
  • October 31: Rob Harrison, assistant professor of marketing, WMU
    Topic: "Black Friday Shopping: Understanding and Managing Extreme Consumer Behavior" (October 31 video)
  • November 21: Bob Miller, WMU associate vice president for community outreach
    Topic: "The Western Michigan University Business Technology and Research Park: An update and a view to the future" (November 21 video)
  • January 30: Chris Harris, director of Seita Scholars Program, WMU Center for Fostering Success
    Topic: "Fostering success through the Seita Scholars Program." (January 30 video)
  • February 27: Jeana Koerber, clinical director, Residential Opportunities Inc. (February 27 video)
  • March 27: Ed Mayo, professor emeritus, marketing, and John Weitzel, master faculty specialist, marketing
    Topic: "Branding and the Baseball Fan Experience." (March 27 video)
  • April 24: Linda Maupin and Fred Colgren
    Topic: "The Gilmore Car Museum—America’s Signature Collection®" (April 24 video)
  • May 29: Martha Huckabee
    Topic: Doctors Without Borders (May 29 video)

2013-14 Speakers

  • Steve Glista, staff attorney, and Bea Swedlow, partner, Honigman Miller Schwartz and Cohn LLP, discussed the "Pitfalls of Social Media in Business" on May 30, 2014. (May 30 video)
  • Tracey Lawie, director of marketing and development, and Bethany Gauthier, assistant director of marketing, Miller Auditorium, presented "A Closer Look at Miller Auditorium" on April 25, 2014. (April 25 video)
  • President John M. Dunn, Western Michigan University, and Lawrence P. Nolan, chair, Thomas M. Cooley Law School Board of Directors, discussed "The WMU and Cooley Law School Affiliation" on March 28, 2014. (March 28 video)
  • Troy Thrash, president and CEO of the Air Zoo, discussed "Building a Museum's Value Proposition Toward a Thriving Community" on Feb. 28, 2014. (February 28 ideo)
  • Tamara Homnick, program director of Cheff Therapeutic Riding Center, presented "My Therapist Weighs 1,200 Pounds: A Look at Equine-Facilitated Activities and Therapies" on Jan. 31, 2014. (January 31 video)
  • Heather Ratliff, wellness coach and nurse, The Wellness RN, discussed "Dining Out: Finding a Healthy Place at the Table" on Nov. 22, 2013. (November 22 video)
  • Sam Field and Connor Field, owners of Helios Solar, discussed "The Economics of Solar Power" on Oct. 25, 2013. (October 25 video)
  • Andy Murray, WMU head hockey coach, discussed "WMU Hockey" on Sept. 27, 2013. (September 27 video)

2012-13 Speakers

  • Sharon Carlson, director of archives and regional history, WMU, discussed the "Legacy Collection Center" on June 28, 2013.
  • Bill Rose, president and CEO of the Kalamazoo Nature Center, discussed the "Kalamazoo Nature Center" on May 31, 2013. (May 31 video)
  • Dan Gaydou, president of MLive, discussed "Strategies That Win in a Disrupted World" on April 26, 2013. (April 26 video)
  • Lisa Garcia, director of WMU Business Connection office, discussed "WMU Business Connection" on March 22, 2013. (March 22 video)
  • Hal Jenson, M.D., founding dean, discussed "WMU School of Medicine" on Feb. 22, 2013. (February 22 video)
  • Jeanne Hess, Kalamazoo College volleyball coach, discussed "Sportuality" on Jan. 25, 2013. (January 25 video)
  • Laurie Montgomery, assistant superintendent of special education and Angela Telfer, director, WoodsEdge Learning Center, discussed "WoodsEdge Program/Kalamazoo Regional Educational Service Agency" on Nov. 30, 2012.
  • Janice Brown, executive director, Kalamazoo Promise, updated on the Kalamazoo Promise on Oct. 26, 2012. (October 26 video)
  • Dan Jaqua, owner, Jaqua Realtors, discussed "Setting the Pace in Today's Real Estate Market" on Sept. 21, 2012. (September 21 video)

2011-12 Speakers

  • Steven H. Hilfinger, director, Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs, presented "Regulatory Reinvention in Michigan" on June 29, 2012.
  • Dr. Robert H. DeWit, president and CEO, Southwest Michigan Innovation Center, on May 25, 2012. 
  • Chris Tracy, attorney, Honigman Miller Schwartz and Cohn LLP, discussed "Kalamazoo River Valley Trail: Going Places" on April 27, 2012. 
  • Blaine Lam, owner, Lam and Associates; director, Kalamazoo Marathon, discussed the Kalamazoo Marathon on March 30, 2012.
  • Dr. Frank Gambino, director, WMU Food and Consumer Package Goods Marketing Program, discussed WMU's FMK program and annual conference on Feb. 24, 2012.Presentation Slides
  • John Shagonaby, chief executive officer, Gun Lake Tribal Gaming Authority, discussed the Gun Lake Casino in Wayland, Michigan on Jan. 27, 2012.
  • Steve Hawkins, head coach, presented "WMU Bronco Basketball" on Dec. 2, 2011. 
  • Hon. William Schma, president of the board of directors for the Drug Treatment Court Foundation of Kalamazoo County, discussed "Drug Treatment Course: Smarter Justice" on Oct. 28, 2011.
  • Bob Miller, WMU associate vice president for community outreach presented "An Update on East Campus" on Sept. 30, 2011.

2010-11 Speakers

  • Ron Kitchens, CEO, Southwest Michigan First, discussed "Local and State Economic Update" on May 27, 2011.
  • Greg Ayers, president, Kalamazoo County Convention and Visitors Bureau, discussed "Promoting Kalamazoo a a Visitor Destination on April 29, 2011. (April 29 video)
  • Ron Winter, an official with the National Football League, discussed "Inside the NFL's Third Team on the Field" on March 29, 2011. (March 29 video)
  • Tamara Davis, director of the Michigan Small Business and Technology Development Center for southwest Michigan, discussed "Tapping into Resources for the Entrepreneur" on Feb. 25, 2011.
  • Neil Bremer, executive director of the Kalamazoo Arts Council, discussed "Enough Already" on Jan. 28, 2011.
  • Dr. Jack Luderer, Western Michigan University's interim dean of the WMU School of Medicine, discussed "WMU's School of Medicine-Moving Forward" on Dec. 3, 2010.
  • Jason Kehrer, chief problem solver at The Image Group, discussed "Leveraging Social Media for Business" on Oct. 29, 2010.
  • Dr. Kay Palan, dean of Western Michigan University Haworth College of Business, discussed "Business Education: Moving Forward While Meeting Today's Challenges" on Sept. 24, 2010.

2009-10 Speakers

  • Tim Terrentine, executive director of Douglass Community Association, discussed "Empowering Community, One Partnership at a Time" on April 23, 2010.
  • Michael Newman, president/managing director of Michigan Aggregates Association and affiliated MAA Foundation, discussed "Transportation and Infrastructure Funding in Michigan – The Stimulus Impact and Future" on March 28, 2010.
  • Sheldon L. Stone, partner of Amherst Partners and a nationally known author and speaker on the economy, automotive industry and corporate restructuring, discussed "Strategic Corporate Restructuring: 2010 and Beyond" on Feb. 26, 2010.
  • Tim Welke, Major League Baseball umpire and crew chief, and Bill Welke, Major League Baseball umpire, discussed "The Business of Blue (Baseball Umpiring)" on Feb. 5, 2010.
  • Dawn VanderPloeg, director of adult day services at Oakland Centre, and Laura Latiolais, director of community relations and development, discussed "Helping the Community Care for its Elders: Adult Day Services at Oakland Centre" on Dec. 4, 2009.
  • John W. Allen, partner at Varnum LLP, discussed "Coming Soon to a Ballot Near You – The Michigan Constitution Convention: Opportunity in Reconstructure or Pandora's Box" on Oct. 30, 2009.
  • Dr. Timothy Greene, provost and vice president of academic affairs, discussed "WMU – Providing Higher Education Leadership" on Oct. 2, 2009.

2008-09 Speakers

  • Amy Knapp, president and owner of Calendar Systems USA, discussed "Advantages of Operating a Small Business During Difficult Economic Times" on May 29, 2009.
  • Bob Miller, WMU’s associate vice president for community outreach, "A Community Success Story" on April 24, 2009.
  • Cathy McNulty, chief executive officer of the Greater Kalamazoo Area Chapter of the American Red Cross, presented “Your American Red Cross Today" on March 27, 2009.
  • Rebecca Pierce, editor of the Kalamazoo Gazette, presented "For Those of You Who Can't Read" on Feb. 27, 2009.
  • Juan Olivarez, president and chief executive officer of the Kalamazoo Community Foundation, presented “Reach Higher, America; Reach Higher, Kalamazoo-Overcoming the literacy crisis” on Jan. 30, 2009.
  • Steve Taplin, president of Terra Contracting, discussed "Environmental Contracting – A Local and National View" on Oct. 31, 2008.
  • Cliff Moshoginis, director of the Kalamazoo/Battle Creek International Airport, discussed "The Current Happenings and Future Plans of the Kalamazoo/Battle Creek International Airport" on Sept. 26, 2008.

2007-08 Speakers

  • Dr. Christopher Korth, professor of finance and commercial law, Haworth College of Business, discussed "Sensible Tax Reform-Fair, Simple and Effective" on May 30, 2008.
  • Fran Denny, executive director, Catholic Family Services, Kalamazoo, presented "The Ark: Somewhere to Run" on April 25, 2008.
  • Dr. Michael F. Rice, superintendent of the Kalamazoo Public Schools, discussed "Kalamazoo Public Schools: The Transformation of an Urban Public School District" on March 28, 2008.
  • T. Jefferson (Jeff) Murphy, Mediation Services of Southwest Michigan, discussed "Mediation, Not Litigation: You mean, I don't have to go to court?" on Feb. 29, 2008.
  • Robert Jorth, executive administrator, Kalamazoo Promise, presented "Kalamazoo Promise: Where We Started, Where We Are" on Jan. 25, 2008.
  • Dale Shugars, executive officer of The Home Builders Association of Greater Kalamazoo, presented "Building Homes-Strengthening Communities" on Nov. 30, 2007.
  • Jill Hess, vice president for organization and program development, Heritage Community of Kalamazoo, presented "Got KNACK? A Workforce Development Initiative for Building a Culture of Excellence in Memory Care" on Oct. 26, 2007.
  • Dr. John Dunn, president, Western Michigan University, discussed "The Western Edge" on Sept. 21, 2007.

2006-07 Speakers

  • Ken Miller, chief operating officer, Havirco, presented "Process + Politics = Precedence" on May 25, 2007.
  • Frank J. Sardone, president and chief executive officer, Bronson Healthcare Group, presented "Achieving Business Excellence the Baldrige Way" on April 27, 2007.
  • Coleman Long, CFA, senior research analyst and vice president with Greenleaf Traust of Kalamazoo, presented "Is Socially Responsible Investing Right for You? The Risks and Rewards of Integrating Your Values into Your Wealth Management Plan" on March 30, 2007.
  • Jim Kneen, president and chief executive officer of Heritage Community of Kalamazoo, presented "Older and Better" on Feb. 23, 2007.
  • Thomas Beech, president and chief executive officer of the Fetzer Institute in Kalamazoo, presented "The Fetzer Institute's Work on Love and Forgiveness: Fluff or Substance" on Jan. 17, 2007.
  • Bob Miller, WMU associate vice president for community outreach, presented "The BTR Park and the Downtown Science Center... a Community Success Story and Vision for the Future" on Dec. 1, 2006.
  • Frank Weichlein, director of the Kalamazoo County Juvenile Home, presented "Our Community's Kids, A Juvenile Justice Perspective—Present and Future" on Oct. 27, 2006.
  • David Shields, dean of the Haworth College of Business, presented "A New Vision for the Haworth College of Business" on Sept. 29, 2006.

Previous speakers include-

    • Greg DeHaan, senior vice president of Allen Edwin Homes
    • Kalamazoo County Sheriff Michael J. Anderson
    • Dr. Randall W. Eberts, executive director of the W.E. Upjohn Institute for Employment Research
    • Maurice Hovious, president of Hov-Aire, Inc.
    • Robert L. Jansen, Jansen Valk Thompson Reahm P.C.
    • William Johnston, president, director and chair of Greenleaf Companies
    • Captain Wayne K. Kruger, deputy director and chief financial officer of the Kalamazoo Air Zoo
    • Joshua Weiner, chief executive officer of Meyer C. Weiner Company