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January 27, 2017- Ed Girrbach

Ed Girrbach

I am a husband, father of two sons and grandfather of three lovable grandchildren. I have always been somewhat of an entrepreneur. I had my first business when I was 21. Dropped out of college to become a commercial pilot, spent several years as a sales manager for Cessna Aircraft and went into the financial services industry in 1976 where I spent 28 years with Merrill Lynch working primarily with small businessmen.

In 2004 I left the financial business and started my own video production company. Next came a restaurant in downtown TC and finally Great Lakes Potato Chips. I was a certified financial manager and a founding member of the Oakland University Center for Family Business where we helped family businesses move past the third generation. I am a current member of the Travers City chapter of SCORE, helping to mentor start-up entrepreneurs. I also serve on the Finance committee of PEACE Ranch, a local non-profit organization.


November 11, 2016- David Ramaker


David B. Ramaker was born in Detroit, Michigan in 1955.  His educational achievements include receipt of a Bachelor of Business Administration degree, majoring in finance with an accounting minor, from Southern Methodist University, Dallas, Texas in 1977; graduate with honors from the Intermediate School of Banking, Southern Methodist University (1981), graduate of the American Bankers Association Commercial Lending School (1982), and graduate of the Southwestern Graduate School of Banking (1986).


Beginning his banking career at Bank of Dallas, Dallas, Texas, in 1978, he returned to Michigan in 1989 to join Chemical Bank as vice president and lending officer.  Following a series of promotions, David was named Chairman, CEO & President of Chemical Financial Corporation and Chairman, CEO & President of Chemical Bank in 2006.  On September 1, 2016, he relinquished the title of Chairman of Chemical Financial Corporation.  Locally, David serves as Director of Midland Tomorrow and Director of Midland County EDC.  Additionally, he serves the State of Michigan as a member of the Bank Advisory Council and a director of Business Leaders for Michigan.


David married Cady (Catherine) in 1978 and they have three daughters: Megan (Ramaker) Dumas, Erin (Ramaker) Kitchell & Sarah Ramaker.  David believes strongly in the value of community service and its impact on improving quality of life.  His commitment of his talents and time are his single greatest charitable contribution. To that end, he enjoys focusing his attention on endeavors that continually improve the economic environment and quality of life, in the State of Michigan and specifically in the Great Lakes Bay region.

October 21, 2016

 Dr. David E. Cole, Center for Automotive Research- Chairman Emeritus

David E. Cole is the Chairman Emeritus of the Center for Automotive Research (CAR) in Ann Arbor, Michigan, Chairman of AutoHarvest and Building America’s Tomorrow.  He was formerly Director of the Office for the Study of Automotive Transportation (OSAT) at the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute and an engineering professor at the University of Michigan.  He has worked extensively on internal combustion engines, vehicle design, and overall automotive industry trends.

Dr. Cole’s recent research has focused on strategic issues related to the restructuring of the International Auto industry and trends in globalization, leadership, technology, market factors, and human resource requirements. He is chairman of AutoHarvest, a new organization created to facilitate the flow of intellectual property in and out of the auto industry and within the industry. He is also chairman of Building America’s Tomorrow, an organization aimed at increasing the number of K-12 students considering careers related to manufacturing. He was formerly a member of the Energy Engineering Board of the National Research Council, the U.S.-Canada Free Trade Pact Select Panel, the NASA subcommittee on Energy and the Michigan Strategic Economic Investment and Commercialization Board.   He is also director of three automotive related companies.  Dr. Cole was formerly a member of the Executive Committee of the Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC) and the Michigan Renewable Fuels Commission. He was formerly co-chair of Detroit Renaissance’s “Road to Renaissance” Project in the fall of 2006.  At the University of Michigan he is a member of the Mechanical Engineering External Advisory Board and the Biological Station Advisory Committee. He is a member of the Denso Foundation Board and the Executive Committee of the Ohio State Center for Automotive Research. He was formerly a member of the Business Development Committee of Ann Arbor Spark. He is currently a member of the Prof. Sam Wu Manufacturing Leadership award committee.  Dr. Cole was formerly a director of the Automotive Hall of Fame, the Original Equipment Suppliers Association and a member of the Board of Trustees of Hope College.

He is active in SAE, including serving two terms on the Board of Directors.  In February 1986, he was named a fellow of SAE.  He is also active in the Engineering Society of Detroit and was elected to fellow status in 1990.  In 2000, he received the Engineering Society’s highest award, the Horace H. Rackham medal. He is also a member of the Society of Manufacturing Engineers and was elected to fellow grade in 2009.  In 1993, he received the National Automobile Dealers Association Foundation’s International Freedom of Mobility Award.  In 1994, Design News selected Dr. Cole as one of eight engineering leaders, and he was also selected to receive Sweden’s Order of the Polar Star.  He is currently a member of the editorial advisory board of Popular Mechanics and is listed in Marquis’ Who’s Who in America and the World. In the summer of 2013 Dr. Cole was inducted into the Automotive Hall of Fame, the industry’s highest honor.


In the fall of 1998, Dr. Cole was named as the Marketing Educator of the Year by the Society of Marketing Executives.  Additionally, he received the 1998 Rene Dubos Environmental Award for his contributions to the industrial ecology of the automobile and in 1999 received the Chevalier of the National Order of Merit from France.  In addition, he received the 2008 Mechanical Engineering Distinguished Alumni Award from the University of Michigan.

Dr. Cole also has been and is actively involved in the start-up of nine different Ann Arbor-based companies. His technical and policy consulting experience includes a variety of assignments for industry, labor, and government and he has spoken to more than 1000 different groups on automotive issues. He has been a judge at the Concourse d’Elegance in Michigan and in 2014 was a judge in the E & Y Michigan Entrepreneur of the Year Competition.

Dr. Cole received his B.S.M.E. and Mathematics, M.S.M.E. and Ph.D. from the University of Michigan and an honorary doctorate from Cleary University.


August 26, 2016, Dr. Lawrence Yun

Lawrence Yun is Chief Economist and Senior Vice President of Research at the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS.  He oversees and is responsible for a wide range of research activity for the association including NAR’s Existing Home Sales statistics, Affordability Index, and Home Buyers and Sellers Profile Report.  He regularly provides commentary on real estate market trends for its 1 million REALTOR members.

Dr. Yun creates NAR’s forecasts and participates in many economic forecasting panels, among them the Blue Chip Council and the Harvard University Industrial Economist Council. He appears regularly on financial news outlets, is a frequent speaker at real estate conferences throughout the United States, and has testified before Congress. Dr. Yun appears often as a guest on CSPAN’s Washington Journal and is a regular guest columnist on the Forbes website.

Dr. Yun received his undergraduate degree from Purdue University and earned his Ph.D. from the University of Maryland at College Park.


September 23, 2016- Speaker Casey Cowell


Casey Cowell was born and raised in Detroit, Michigan.  He graduated from the University of Chicago receiving an A.B. degree in Economics.  In 1976, at the age of 23, he co-founded U.S. Robotics, Inc.  He served as Chairman and CEO throughout the company’s history culminating in its merger into 3COM Corporation in 1997, the second largest merger ever in High Tech at that time.  Initially a $200 post-college start-up, U.S. Robotics, Inc. became the world’s largest manufacturer of modems and related products that connected computers to the global telephone network.  USR was the leading player in every major form factor globally.  Its technologies and products included desktop modems, internal PC cards, OEM products for PC manufacturers and massive rack-mount systems connecting  online providers including America Online, Prodigy and IBM Global Networks.  In addition to a broad array of other products and technologies, USR also brought to market the Palm Pilot, the first highly successful handheld organizer.

Cowell has received numerous industry honors including being named one of the 25 Top Managers in the world by Business Week in 1995 and Executive of the Year in 1996 by Crain’s Chicago Business.

Today Cowell is an active investor, advisor and board member in a broad range of companies with an emphasis on start-ups and early stage companies in the areas of technology, the internet, social media and healthcare.

Cowell has long-standing family ties to the Traverse City area.  In 1991 his family moved from the Chicago area to Elk Rapids (near Traverse City) to raise their pre-school age children in a smaller-community environment.  He is a long-time supporter of the Interlochen Center for the Arts.  He serves on the Board of Trustees of Traverse City based Munson Healthcare Network.  He is active in many civic and philanthropic organizations and activities.

July 22, 2016

Michael T. Townsend

Vice President, Legislative and Regulatory Affairs

Charles Schwab & Co., Inc.

Michael Townsend handles a number of legislative issues for Charles Schwab & Co., Inc., and is responsible for development and implementation of the firm’s public policy communications strategy and third-party ally development.

Townsend analyzes legislative and regulatory proposals to determine how they would affect individual investors, and develops and executes strategies to communicate their interests to lawmakers, the media, employees and clients. He specializes in tax issues, retirement savings, charitable giving issues, market structure issues and financial literacy. Townsend works closely with Charles Schwab in Schwab’s role as chairman of the President’s Advisory Council on Financial Literacy. He also speaks regularly to employee and client groups about how the political and policy environment in Washington affects investors.

Townsend joined Schwab in April of 2000 after nearly three years at Powell Tate, Inc., a Washington, D.C., public affairs firm, and previously worked for two U.S. senators from Maine. He earned his Bachelor of Arts degree in English from Bowdoin College and his Master of Arts degree in English from George Mason University.

June 24, Speaker Dr. David Lam- “How the World Survived the Population Bomb”

David Lam is Director of the Institute for Social Research, Professor in the Department of Economics, and Research Professor in the Population Studies Center at the University of Michigan. He is Honorary Professor of Economics at the University of Cape Town, South Africa. He received a M.A. in demography in 1982 and a Ph.D. in economics in 1983 from the University of California, Berkeley. Professor Lam’s research focuses on the interaction of economics and demography in developing countries, including analysis of the economics of population growth, fertility, marriage, and aging. He has worked extensively in Brazil and South Africa, where his research analyzes links between education, labor markets, and income inequality. He was a Fulbright visiting researcher at the Institute for Applied Economic Research in Rio de Janeiro in 1989-90. He was a visiting professor in the School of Economics at the University of Cape Town in 1997-98, 2004-06, and 2013-14. His collaborations with the University of Cape Town include the Cape Area Panel Study, a longitudinal survey of young people in Cape Town supported by the U.S. National Institutes of Health.
Professor Lam has been on the faculty at the University of Michigan since 1983. He served for many years as coordinator of the program in economic demography, a joint program between the Population Studies Center and the Department of Economics. He became director of the Institute for Social Research in July 2015. He previously served as chair of the Department of Economics, director of the Population Studies Center, and director of the Michigan Center on the Demography of Aging. He was elected president of the Population Association of America (PAA) for 2011 and previously served as a member of the PAA Board of Directors. He currently serves on the Council of the International Union for the Scientific Study of Population (IUSSP). He is Program Director of the DFID/IZA Program on Growth and Labor Markets in Low Income Countries. He was a member of the Committee on Population of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences, and has served as an advisor or consultant to the World Bank, the U.S. National Institutes of Health, the United Nations Population Division, the United Nations Development Program, and the South Africa Office of the Presidency. He is a Research Associate of the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER), a Fellow of the Bureau for Research and Economic Analysis of Development (BREAD), and a Research Fellow of the Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
Professor Lam has published widely in leading economics and demography journals. His publications include “The Dynamics of Population Growth, Differential Fertility, and Inequality,” American Economic Review, 1986; “Declining Inequality in Schooling in Brazil and Its Effect on Inequality in Earnings,” Journal of Development Economics,1992 (with Deborah Levison); Effects of Family Background on Earnings and Returns to Schooling: Evidence From Brazil,” Journal of Political Economy, 1993 (with Robert Schoeni); “Demographic Variables and Income Inequality,” in Handbook of Population and Family Economics, 1997; “Effects of Economic Shocks on Children’s Employment and Schooling in Brazil,” Journal of Development Economics, 2007 (with Suzanne Duryea and Deborah Levison); “Stages of the Demographic Transition from a Child’s Perspective: Family Size, Cohort Size, and Children’s Resources, Population and Development Review 2008 (with Leticia Marteleto); “Schooling as a Lottery: Racial Differences in Progress through School in Urban South Africa,” Journal of Development Economics, 2011 (with Cally Ardington and Murray Leibbrandt); “How the World Survived the Population Bomb: Lessons from Fifty Years of Extraordinary Demographic History, Demography 2011 (presidential address to the Population Association of America).

May 20, Speaker Shale Lapping- “Emerging Markets- What are they? Why Should I Care?”


Shale P. Lapping, CFA, CIMA

Shale serves as President of IPEX – Investment Performance Evaluation Xperts. IPEX is a boutique investment consulting firm located in Plymouth, Michigan. IPEX specializes in working with nonprofit organizations.

Shale has worked in the investment consulting field since 1989.  Prior to entering the investment field, Shale practiced corporate law for six years, specializing in a broad range of legal and investment issues that impact various types of trust funds. Shale began working directly with the investment community in 1989, when he joined the firm that served as the predecessor to IPEX. Shale was vice-president of that firm for seven years and has been president of IPEX since its establishment in 1995.

Shale obtained his undergraduate degree from the University of Illinois where he graduated Phi Beta Kappa, his MBA from McGill University in Montreal and his law degree from the University of Chicago.

Shale is a Chartered Financial Analyst and he is a member of the CFA Institute as well as the CFA Society of Chicago. Shale is also a Certified Investment Management Analyst, a designation awarded by the Investment Management Consultants Association.

April 22, Speaker Jake Bright- “The Next Africa: An Emerging Continent Becomes a Global Powerhouse”

 Jake Bright is a writer, author, and Whitehead Fellow of the Foreign Policy Association with a focus on international business. He contributes as an editor and independently for publications including Fortune, The Financial Times This Is Africa, and U.S. News & World Report.

Bright is a frequent commentator to media outlets and his business reporting has received “Best Business Column” distinction by The Week magazine.

Bright’s first book The Next Africa: An Emerging Continent Becomes a Global Powerhouse was released with Macmillan Publishing. Book related events, media, and speaking have included spots with Bloomberg News, HuffPost Live, Fortune, World Affairs Council, C-SPAN, the White House Silicon Valley Africa Forum, Mic.ComTechCrunch, Kenya’s iHub innovation center, The Atlantic Council, and M&A Advisor.

Prior to his current activities, Bright spent a decade in international finance as an officer at The Bank of New York Mellon. Before that he served in the Clinton administration in The Department of Commerce and on White House staff as a speechwriter and chief aid to senior international economic advisers.

Mr. Bright earned his Bachelor of Arts degree in International Relations with a certificate in African Studies from Michigan State University. He also attended Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs, attaining a Master of International Affairs degree concentrated in international economics. Bright’s pastimes include open water distance swimming, aquathlon, and alpine ski racing. Jake was born and raised in Traverse City, Michigan.

March 18, Speaker Matt Davis- “Out of the Ashes”

Since the founding of Armor Express in 2005, Matt Davis has served as the Chief Executive Officer.  Matt has been instrumental to the company’s success by setting the vision, core values, and path of execution.  Through hands on leadership Matt developed the corporate identity, recruited the management team, and developed the sales force as well as many of the company’s products.  He has implemented a lean management system and has developed a culture focused on continuous improvement.  With deep family ties to the industry, Matt manages Armor Express with a passion beyond reproach.

Education:  Michigan State University, Eli Broad College of Business (B.A., Finance); The George Washington University, School of Business (Masters Certificate, Government Contracting)

Training:  Grand Valley State University (Global Finance); Michigan State University, Broad College of Business, Executive Development Programs (Pricing Strategies and Tactics / Strategic Sales Management), Northwestern Michigan College (Lean Champion)

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