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October 20, 2017- Walt Breitinger

Walter G. Breitinger

Over four decades of experience, along with a perpetual love of commodities trading, has earned Walt Breitinger the role as our October speaker.  His Focus on the Future will cover both financial and agricultural markets.

Walt began trading soybeans and silver in 1970 while completing his education at Valparaiso University.  He gained considerable insight and experience as a licensed broker for 40 years working directly under Harold Heinold in the 1970’s, as a floor trader at the Chicago Board of Trade, and as Vice President of Commodity Investments at A. G. Edwards and Sons from 1982 – 2009.

For over 18 years, Walt taught his method of options on futures trading at Purdue University Calumet, Indiana University Northwest, and for multiple farm groups and conventions.  His comments on the markets have been featured on radio, television, and scores of newspapers including Barron’s, the Wall Street Journal, and USA Today.  When Walt isn’t watching the markets, he enjoys kayaking, soccer, and volunteering for conservation groups.



September 22- Martha Teichner

Martha Teichner

CBS News

Martha Teichner has been a correspondent for “CBS Sunday Morning” since December 1993, where she’s equally adept at covering major breaking national and international breaking news stories as she is handling in-depth cultural and arts topics.

Since joining CBS News in 1977, Teichner has earned multiple national awards for her original reporting, including ten Emmy Awards and five James Beard Foundation Awards. Teichner was also part of the team coverage of the Newtown, Conn., elementary school shooting which earned CBS News a 2014 duPont-Columbia Award.

As a correspondent for CBS News, Teichner has reported on the some of the largest national and international stories of this era, including the 9/11 terrorist attacks, the run-up to the war in Iraq, the death of Princess Diana and the life and death of Nelson Mandela. She’s interviewed world leaders and other newsmakers, including then-first lady Hillary Rodham Clinton twice for “CBS Sunday Morning” in 1995 and 1997.

Now based in New York, Teichner spent more than a dozen years as a foreign correspondent covering major international news. Teichner was twice assigned to the CBS News London bureau (1980-1984, 1989-1994), where she not only covered Britain’s royal wedding of Prince Charles to Lady Diana Spencer, but many wars as one of only a handful of female war correspondents. Teichner also covered the Maze Prison Hunger Strike in Northern Ireland, the Lebanon War, the 1st Intifada in 1988 in Israel and the West Bank, and the conflicts associated with the collapse of Yugoslavia (Slovenia, Croatia and Bosnia). She reported on the fall of Communism in Central and Eastern Europe and the Romanian revolution. Teichner also spent several weeks in the Bolivian jungle covering undercover operations with the Drug Enforcement Agency. In addition to covering Beirut, Teichner also spent time covering Damascus.

During the Persian Gulf War, she was one of a small group of journalists allowed by the military to accompany U.S. troops. She spent nearly six weeks with the 1st Armored Division in the Saudi desert, but also covered the conflict from Iraq, Kuwait, Jordan and Israel.

Between her two London assignments, Teichner was based in Johannesburg (1987-1989) during the final dangerous years of the struggle to end apartheid in South Africa. She returned to report on Nelson Mandela’s release from prison and in 1994 she covered his election as the first black President of a post-apartheid South Africa.

Also between London assignments, Teichner spent three years in the Dallas bureau (1984-1987), where she covered numerous stories in Latin America, among them the Mexico City earthquake.

She began her CBS News career as a correspondent based in the Atlanta bureau (1977-1980), where her assignments included the Cuban boatlift to the United States, the war in El Salvador and the exile of the Shah of Iran to Panama. While in Atlanta, Teichner covered a three-month strike by the coal miners in 1978 and numerous natural disasters. She was also recognized with a Robert F. Kennedy Journalism Award for her reporting on the exodus of Haitian and Cuban refugees to the U.S. in the CBS Radio special, “Exodus: The Freedom Flotilla.”

Teichner began her journalism career at WJEF Radio and WZZM-TV in Grand Rapids, Mich. She then became a general assignment reporter for WTVJ-TV Miami and for WMAQ-TV Chicago.

She has narrated seven “Biography” programs for A&E. Teichner is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations, the Daughters of the American Revolution (Walter Hines Page chapter of London), the Reform Club in London, the Wellesley Club of New York, and both the New York and Charleston chapters of Les Dames d’Escoffier. Since 1995 she has served as moderator of “Conversations With …” an interview series from the Spoleto Festival USA, the summer arts celebration in Charleston, S.C.

Teichner was born in Traverse City, Mich. She was graduated from Wellesley College in 1969 with a bachelor’s degree in economics. She attended the University of Chicago’s Graduate School of Business Administration. Teichner resides in New York City.

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Interesting Facts about Cuba

  • Cuba is the largest of all islands in the Caribbean.
  • From the air the island of Cuba resembles a crocodile or alligator and therefore, Cuba is often referred to in Spanish as “El Cocodrilo”.
  • Cuba has a population of 11 million people.
  • In a traditional Cuban meal the food is not served in courses, instead all the food is served at the same time on one plate.
  • The literacy rate in Cuba is 99.8% – one of the highest in the world.
  • Cuba is known for its music, bands play everywhere in the capital Havana.  The main musical form is called son, which is a combination of upbeat rhythms with classical guitar.  Son-style of music has also been the basis of many other musical styles such as:  mambo, cha-cha-cha and salsa music.
  • Cuban’s Medical Tourism sector caters to thousands of European, Latin American, Canadian, and American consumers every year.
  • No one can legally own a car today in Cuba.  Legal ownership of cars was discontinued by the government after 1959.  Today, all the cars are owned by the Cuban government.
  • Sugar from sugar cane is the main crop grown in Cuba, followed by tobacco which is used in the making of hand-crafted cigars that are famous for being the finest cigars in the world.
  • The world’s smallest frog and smallest hummingbird are found in Cuba.
  • Baseball is Cuba’s favorite sport.
  • Cuba has a dual currency system, whereby most wages and prices are set in Cuban Pesos (CUP), while the tourist economy operates with Convertible Pesos (CUC) set at par with the US dollar.
  • Cuba has the highest doctor-to-patient ratio in the world.  Due to this, many Cuban doctors are sent to countries where medical aid is required.
  • Cuba has tripled its market share of Caribbean tourism.  In 2003 1.9 million tourists visited Cuba with 2.7 international tourists visiting in 2011.
  • Recipes in Cuba are passed down from generation to generation.  They typically do not write down their recipes.
  • Cubans were not allowed to own cell phones until 2008.
  • Cuba has 250 museums.
  • Voting is Cuba is legally mandatory.
  • 90% of Cubans own their homes and pay no property taxes or mortgage interest.  Mortgage payments may not exceed 10% of a household’s combined income.
  • January is the coolest month, while August is the warmest.
  • It is tradition in Cuba to burn dolls at New Year’s Eve to symbolize the forgetting of bad times and look forward to a fresh start with the New Year.
  • In 2012 “Cubaenergia Company” announced the opening of Cuba’s first Solar Power Plant.  There was also a mention of 10 additional plants to be built in the future.
  • If you were employed in Cuba, you would get an average salary of 20 U.S. dollars per month.
  • In 1902, Cuba gained complete independence from the U.S., which held its temporary control from 1898 to 1902.
  • Americans visiting the island can bring home a total of $100 worth of cigars and rum.
  • The game of dominoes is extremely popular in Cuba.
  • As of 2013 Cuba has 9 sites on the UNESCO World Heritage list, 7 of these cultural sites and 2 of them natural.
  • On August 14, 2015 The U.S. Embassy reopened in Havana.

August 25, 2017- Ronald Staley

Vice President, Southeast Michigan Operations and Executive Director, Historic Preservation Group

Michigan Technical University, A.A.S., Civil Engineering Technology; B.S., Business Administration

Ron serves as principal in charge of both Christman’s Southeast Michigan business unit located in Detroit and the company’s historic preservation unit, having returned to Michigan after establishing Christman’s Washington, D.C. operations in 2003.

Joining Christman as a project manager in 1985, Ron was promoted to Christman vice president in 1990, and to Christman’s board of directors in 1995. In 1992, he founded Christman’s historic preservation group and has since led it to national prominence, directing multiple, highly visible preservation projects to national, state and local awards for teamwork, unique delivery methods and quality. He brings to all his projects a strong background in management systems, understanding of early project planning, pre-construction and design services, and successful construction delivery.

In 2000, Ron was honored by AIA Michigan as an Honorary Affiliate Member and in 2005, was appointed as Fellow with the Association of Preservation Technology International (APT). Ron was promoted to the position of senior vice president in 2008, and is a member of Christman’s board of directors.

July 21, 2017- Jonas Neihardt

Jonas Neihardt is Senior Vice President, Government Affairs for Hilton Worldwide.  In this role, Mr. Neihardt manages government relations for Hilton Worldwide’s portfolio of hotel brands encompassing over 4,700 hotels in over 100 countries.  These brands include Hilton, Doubletree, Conrad, Hampton Inn, Embassy Suites, Hilton Garden Inn, and the Waldorf-Astoria Collection.

Before joining Hilton Worldwide, Mr. Neihardt spent a decade as Vice President for Federal Government Affairs for Qualcomm, a leading wireless technology company.  Mr. Neihardt joined the Federal service as a Presidential Management Intern in 1989 and served at the White House Office of Management and Budget as the Program Examiner for the Federal telecommunications agencies until 1996.

Mr. Neihardt holds a B.A. and a Master’s Degree in Public Policy from the University of Michigan and an M.B.A from the George Washington University.

In 2014, Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe appointed Mr. Neihardt to his Revenue Estimates Council.  In 2015, Mr. Neihardt was appointed as the Vice-Chairman for the World Economic Forum’s Global Agenda Council on New Models of Travel & Tourism, and in 2016 became Chairman.

In 2016, Mr. Neihardt was appointed to the Board of Directors of the US Travel Association.    Mr. Neihardt and his family reside in Alexandria, Virginia.

June 23, 2017- Christine Benz

Christine Benz is director of personal finance for Morningstar and senior columnist for Morningstar.com. She is author of 30-Minute Money Solutions: A Step-by-Step Guide to Managing Your Finances (Wiley, 2010).

Benz is also co-author of Morningstar® Guide to Mutual Funds: 5-Star Strategies for Success, a national bestseller published in 2003, and author of the book’s second edition, which was published in 2005. Before assuming her current role in 2008, Benz also served as Morningstar’s director of mutual fund analysis. She has served as editor of several of Morningstar’s publications over the years, including PracticalFinance, Morningstar® Mutual FundsTM, and Morningstar® FundInvestorTM. She has worked as an analyst and editor at Morningstar since 1993.

Benz holds a bachelor’s degree in political science and Russian/East European studies from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.




May 19- Carrie Hessler-Radelet

Carrie Hessler-Radelet served as the 19th Director of the Peace Corps and was sworn in on June 25, 2014. Prior to this, she served as the agency’s acting Director and deputy director from 2010–14. A member of a four-generation Peace Corps family, Hessler-Radelet began her career in international development as a Volunteer in Western Samoa (1981–83) teaching secondary school.

During her time at the Peace Corps, Hessler-Radelet led historic reforms to modernize and strengthen the agency to meet the challenges and opportunities of the 21st century. She spearheaded efforts to revitalize the Volunteer recruitment, application, and selection process, resulting in record-breaking application numbers in 2015. Hessler-Radelet has also been instrumental in forging strategic partnerships, such as Let Girls Learn, a whole-of-government collaboration with First Lady Michelle Obama to expand access to education for adolescent girls around the world, and the Global Health Service Partnership, which sends physicians and nurses to teach in developing countries.

During Hessler-Radelet’s tenure, she championed the health and safety of Volunteers, leading initiatives to improve Volunteer support and risk reduction, and overseeing the implementation of the 2011 Kate Puzey Peace Corps Volunteer Protection Act.

Previously, Hessler-Radelet was vice president of the Washington, D.C., office of John Snow Inc. She also served as a primary author of the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) first strategic plan.

Hessler-Radelet holds a Master of Science in health policy and management from the Harvard School of Public Health and a Bachelor of Arts in political science from Boston University


April 21, 2017- Captain Jerry Linenger

Captain Jerry Linenger is a retired United States Navy flight surgeon and NASA astronaut. A Naval Academy graduate, he holds doctorates in both medicine and research methodology, as well as dual master’s degrees in Policy and Systems Management. He has also been awarded three honorary doctorate degrees in science. Linenger was awarded the 2013 “Trailblazer Award” from WSU School of Medicine for his lifelong contributions to medical research and to the advancement of medicine.

During what has been reported to be one of the most dangerous and dramatic missions in space history, Linenger spent nearly five months aboard the Russian space station Mir. He faced numerous life-threatening events, including repeated failure of critical life-support systems, a near-collision between the space station and an incoming re-supply spacecraft and computer failures that sent the space station tumbling uncontrollably through space. As if these problems were not enough, he narrowly survived a raging out-of-control fire that was later described as the most severe fire ever aboard an orbiting spacecraft.

In spite of these challenges, Linenger and his two Russian crewmates accomplished all mission goals: shuttle docking, space walking, a Soyuz fly around and all 120 of the science experiments. In completing the mission, he logged 50 million miles, the equivalent distance of over 110 round trips to the moon, traveling at a speed of nearly 18,000 miles per hour. He was the first American ever to undock from a space station in a Russian Soyuz capsule and the first American to do a spacewalk in a Russian spacesuit. At mission completion, Linenger held the endurance record for the longest time in space for an American man. In 2008, NASA awarded Linenger the Distinguished Service Medal, the highest award conferred by NASA, citing his courage and outstanding service to our country.

Linenger is author of the books Off the Planet, which chronicles his time in space; and Letters from Mir: An Astronaut’s Letters to His Son. He collaborated with National Geographic Explorer on The Angel Effect, a documentary revealing how he was able to endure the solitary conditions of his mission and the science behind the “Third Man Factor.” He is a founding board member of the global freshwater think tank Circle of Blue and has been awarded the 2012 Royal Canadian Geographical Society’s Gold Medal in recognition of his remarkable achievements in space. He has appeared in numerous documentaries seen on Discovery, Nova, History Channel, PBS and National Geographic Television. As a space analyst, Linenger is seen frequently on NBC’s Today, Nightly News, as well as on various CBS, CNN, PBS and FOX news shows. He has also worked behind the scenes as scientific advisor to various futuristic voyages to Mars films.

In 2016, Linenger was prominently featured in Discovery’s eight-part series, Secret Space Escapes, and is presently narrating a National Geographic program focusing on Planet Earth. A full-feature movie based on his book and his life is also currently being filmed. 

In his free time, Linenger enjoys bicycling, ice hockey, swimming, and stand-up paddle-boarding. He now lives back on the planet in northern Michigan with his wife, Kathryn, and their four children.


March 17, 2017- Trevor Tkach

Trevor Tkach joined Traverse City Tourism, the convention and visitors bureau for the Grand Traverse Region, as its President and CEO, in September of 2016.   He made the natural transition into this new role following a successful ten year career with the National Cherry Festival where he served five years as the Executive Director.

 Trevor grew up in Traverse City, MI and attended Traverse City Central High School and Northwestern Michigan College before earning his bachelor’s degree at Eastern Michigan University. After graduating he joined the West Michigan Whitecaps Baseball Team in Grand Rapids, MI as an Account Executive and later Senior Account Executive.   In 2011 Trevor received his MBA from the University of Michigan at Flint.

Trevor is a board member of the TC Boom Boom Club, Traverse City Association of Realtors and committee member of the Michigan Tourism Strategic Plan Service Excellence Committee.   An active member of Rotary, Trevor is the chair of the Rotary Show ad sales and has been named to “40 Under 40” by the Traverse City Business News nine years in a row. Trevor and his wife Trisha love living in Traverse City with three children, Lauren, Camden and Carson.

February 24, 2017- Michael DeBruyn

Michael DeBruyn is President of Great Lakes Stainless, Inc. and Interline Casework, a family of companies founded on a principal of honesty and hard work, and growing through the combination of these principals and a genuine commitment to innovation and entrepreneurship. With a guiding mission of “Growth for Good,” Great Lakes Stainless is committed to long-term, sustainable growth for the good of the company, the customer, and the community. Michael grew up in Traverse City, moved to Grand Rapids to get his degree in elementary education from Calvin College, spent nearly 10 years in the real estate and banking industry. In 2006, Michael, his wife, and his son moved to Traverse City to join Great Lakes Stainless in a business development capacity, and were subsequently joined by 3 more children and a golden retriever. In 2012, Michael moved into the president’s role, and has been leading the company since. Founded in 1995 by the Traverse City Chamber of Commerce distinguished service award winner Terry Berden, Great Lakes Stainless has achieved growth through day-to-day operational innovation that EVERY company should be focused on, through the unique opportunity a diverse manufacturing company has to help bring new and unique products to market. Named the Business of the year by the Traverse City Chamber of Commerce in 2010, and named to the 2011 class of Top 50 Companies to Watch by the Edward Lowe Foundation, Great Lakes Stainless has worked to bring not only process innovations to bear on their growth goals by vastly expanding product lines from existing Fortune 500 customers , but put a deliberate structure in place to focus on helping those with “new knowledge” and “bright idea” innovations in order to bring those concepts to market. This structure has led Great Lakes Stainless to join as patent partners with Jerry Sheren to bring an innovative and truly energy saving HVAC product to market to save 40% + in energy savings in the K-12 education market with over 135 units installed; were instrumental in working with Chateau Grand Traverse founder Ed O’Keefe Jr. in the development of a unique and proprietary bulk wine dispensing unit; partnered with Springfield roofing as co-patent holders in innovative fall protection equipment; and are about to enter into production arrangements with a fourth company on a separate innovative “new-to-the-market” product. Innovation, entrepreneurship, and hard work are bedrock principles of the Great Lakes Stainless family of companies and are integral to past and future growth goals.

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