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Entrepreneurial efforts are in full effect in the city of Grand Rapids and more importantly, here at Grand Valley State University. Please join the Center for Entrepreneurship at the Seidman College of Business for this educational conference geared towards women entrepreneurs and empowering them to move forward with their ideas. It will give them the opportunity to network and find a sense of community in a booming city full of entrepreneurial options. 


Tickets are $25.00 and include parking, breakfast and lunch. To RSVP and purchase your tickets for Find Your Voice: Empowering Women Entrepreneurs please click the link below.

Click Here.

7:30am - 8:30am

Networking and Light Breakfast

8:30am - 8:45am

Welcome and Introduction

Gayle Davis: Dr. Gayle Davis became Grand Valley State University's Provost and Vice President for Academic and Student Affairs in 2002.  Since then, she has served on the Huntington Bank Women’s Initiative Advisory Board, and the boards of directors of the Greater Grand Rapids Women’s History Council, the Art and Museum Commissioners, and Goodwill Industries.  She also served as chair of the Academic Officers of the President’s Council of the State Universities of Michigan.  She was named in 2006 by the Grand Rapids Business Journal as one of the 50 Most Influential Women in West Michigan, in 2008 she received the YWCA Tribute award for Professions, and in 2009 she was presented the Michigan American Council on Education (ACE) Distinguished Woman in Higher Education Leadership Award.

Dr. Davis earned her BA in French at Muskingum College in Ohio and her MA in art history and Ph.D. in American Studies from Michigan State University.

8:45am - 10:00am

Panel Discussion:


Bonnie Nawara (Moderator): Bonnie Nawara is the CEO of Grand Rapids Opportunities for Women (GROW), a Women’s Business Center (WBC) in Grand Rapids, MI.

Bonnie owned Sir Speedy printing center for fifteen years prior to joining GROW in 2010.  Bonnie has a wealth of knowledge in business, including start-up, finance, operational growth, human resource management, and marketing. She uses her knowledge of running a business to lead GROW in fostering the economic development and growth of our community’s women-owned businesses.

Stephanie Leonardos: Stephanie L. Leonardos is the president and CEO of Amerikam, Inc. a designer and manufacturer of patented flow control products for industries diverse as medical, aerospace and defense.  Throughout its 80 years in business, Amerikam’s technology has resulted in products that have made life easier for the handicapped, facilitated space travel, safeguarded our military troops and contributed to water conservation.

Under Leonardos ’leadership, Amerikam has grown its reputation as a highly technical company that gives freely of itself to this West Michigan community, highlighted by frequent partnerships with academic institutions, which provide opportunities for students of business, design and manufacturing engineering technology.


Jenn Schaub: For over eight years Jenn Schaub has focused interest in helping creative communities grow. After graduating with a BFA and MPA from Grand Valley State University she began working with community art collectives and currently oversees the Avenue for the Arts as part of the Dwelling Place Neighborhood Revitalization Department. 


Pam Turkin:  Pam is the owner and founder of Just Baked in South East Michigan. Just Baked is a cupcake shop and bakery with seventeen locations throughout Southeastern Michigan. Just Baked cupcakes are gourmet cupcakes baked fresh daily, using real butter, real eggs, and real milk. With over 40 different creatively indulgent flavor offerings daily, there is sure to be a flavor for everyone. Our goal is to get our delectable cupcakes in the mouths of people across the country, and allow them to enjoy the happiness of eating a just baked cupcake.



Laura Vaughn: Laura Vaughn is the CEO & Co-Founder of Sitting in a Tree, design-centric event software that couples use for their weddings. Grew to over 500 weddings in their first year.





 10:00am - 10:30am

Student Showcase and Networking

10:30am - 11:30am

Breakout Sessions 


Session 1: Leadership / Finding Your Voice

Jeanne Englehart: Jeanne Englehart has an extensive history as a business owner and entrepreneur. Most recently, she provided independent consulting servicees to West Michigan business owners in the areas of succession planning and valuation enhancement. Jeanne served as CEO/President of the Grand Rapids Area Chamber of Commerce for seven years, managing operations with an annual budget of more than $3 million. During her tenure, the Chamber was twice selected as Michigan’s Outstanding Chamber of the Year, and Jeanne was selected as one of 50 Most Influential Women in West Michigan by the Grand Rapids Business Journal.

Alaina Clarke: Alaina is currently the graduate assistant at GVSU’s Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation. She completed her undergraduate degree at Grand Valley with a Bachelor of Fine Arts with a concentration in metalsmithing and jewelry and is currently working on her Masters in Public Administration in Nonprofit Management and Leadership. She also designs her own jewelry line of up-cycled materials and began Grace Face Designs, LLC back in 2012. As a newly, self defined entrepreneur, Alaina is looking forward to expanding her jewelry line to incorporate more of her interest such as a ceramics, photography, and everyday inspirations.

Linda Otterbridge: Linda Otterbridge is the founder of Hook a Sista Up (HASU), which is a platform for women entrepreneurs and LMJ Strategic Coaching, an organizational and business consultant group in Grand Rapids, Mi. She is also a speaker, certified mediator and accountability coach. Linda has extensive history in starting businesses and coaching others to launch and sustain their businesses through accountability and support. She holds her Master’s Degree in Organizational Management from Spring Arbor University and also sits on a number on non-profit boards in the community. 

Session 2: How to Talk to VC’s, Angels and Other Investors

Linda Chamberlain: Dr. Chamberlain has led strategic business and product development at Fortune 200, mid-sized and start-up companies for more than 20 years, including Shell Chemical, Honeywell, and Johnson Controls. Currently Dr. Chamberlain is working as a Venture Fellow with the Michigan Accelerator Fund, an early-stage venture capital fund, and with the Charter Group, as Vice President of Business Transaction Management.  Before MAF and Charter, Dr. Chamberlain led global strategy and product commercialization for Global Forex Trading, helping to create corporate value, which led to a $108 million acquisition of the company.   Prior to this, Linda worked as Executive Director for the West Michigan Science and Technology Initiative, a business accelerator focused on commercialization of life science products and technologies, and as Executive Director for the Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation at Grand Valley State University.  She is owner and principle of InnoValuation®, a company that focuses on insuring companies have the processes and tools to extract the full value of their innovations.  Dr. Chamberlain received both her BS and PhD in Chemistry from Purdue University.  Dr. Chamberlain has served or is serving on the boards of MichBio, the Michigan Israel Business Bridge, Surge Medical, Clinxus, MetalFlow, Kidtelligent, and Frederik Meijer Gardens.  

Jody Vanderwel: Jody has served as Grand Angels President since 2005.  In that capacity, Jody oversees Grand Angels’ deal sourcing and represents the group at networking and educational events across West Michigan.  Jody worked several years in private practice career before joining Herman Miller as Corporate Counsel and then Vice President for Corporate Giving.  Jody is currently a member of the Michigan Venture Capital Association Board, the Michigan Accelerator Fund I Advisory Board, the Baker Publishing Group Board, the Fuller Theological Seminary Board, and was recently appointed to the Michigan Strategic Fund.  She also chairs the Board of Priority Health.  Past board service includes the Grand Rapids Symphony, Holland Symphony, and Young Life National Board. Jody holds a B.A. degree from the University of Colorado and a J.D. degree from Washington University in St. Louis.

Nancy Philippart: Nancy Philippart is General Partner and co-founder of BELLE Michigan, an early stage venture fund that invests in women owned, led or managed start-ups in Michigan and other underserved markets. She serves as the Executive in Residence for the Engineering Ventures program at Wayne State University and also teaches in both the MBA and Engineering Masters Management Program at the university.  She is a consultant to new business ventures and is currently on the advisory boards of several start-up companies in Southeastern Michigan. 

Nancy has been an engineer and global business executive for 30 years in the automobile industry.  She has extensive experience in international management and operations, product development, strategic planning and new venture start-ups.


Session 3: Glass Ceiling Gone?: Women Entrepreneurs Flourish in Finance

Brenda Kading-Payne: Brenda began her career at Edward Jones in 1999 as a Financial Advisor. She became a partner with Edward Jones in 2009. Brenda earned her Bachelor’s Degree in 1995 from Central Michigan University. In addition, she received the AAMS®, professional designation in 2003. She also serves as Chair for the Wyoming Community Foundation and is mother to two active boys and one golfing husband.


Lisa Rios: Lisa is a Financial Advisor and partner with Edward Jones. She has nearly 20 years experience in the Financial Services field. No stranger to hard work and the entrepreneurial spirit, Lisa successfully started from scratch a restaurant in her early 20's. By her late 20's, she once again heeded the call to start a business, this time with Edward Jones. Today Lisa runs a profitable office and has earned her Certified Financial Planner designation.


Laura Morrison: Laura became a financial advisor in 2010. Although her Bachelors Degree from Kendall College is not in finance, Edward Jones provided her the opportunity to start a rewarding career and not "just a job". Her hard work and energy has paid off and she was recently named the region's WINGS (Women's Initiative for New Growth Strategies) leader.  Laura also gives credit to Edward Jones for the opportunity to start a family, as she and her husband Andy just welcomed their first daughter Ella this past September.



11:45am - 1:00pm

Lunch / Keynote / Wrap Up / Awards


Keynote Address: Designing Opportunity 
Kim Dabbs, Executive Director - WMCAT

Kim Dabbs is a passionate, mission-driven leader with a distinguished history of achieving results in the nonprofit sector. Kim currently serves as the Executive Director of the West Michigan Center for Arts and Technology (WMCAT). Kim advances WMCAT's mission to provide a culture of opportunity for people to make social and economic progress in their lives and community. Prior to joining WMCAT, Kim led Michigan Youth Arts, where she oversaw programs for 250,000 high school students, built a coalition of 16 statewide organizations focused on advocacy for youth arts education.   Kim sits on a number of nonprofit boards and leadership councils. She holds a Master of Public Administration, Nonprofit Management from the University of Michigan and a Bachelor of Science in Art History from Kendall College of Art and Design.

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Page last modified March 20, 2014