Speaker Date Topic
Haley Stevens Mar 26, 2018
Running for Congress
Running for Congress

Haley Stevens has dedicated her career to saving and growing good-paying jobs in Michigan. During the Great Recession, Haley served as chief of staff on the Auto Task Force inside of the U.S. Treasury Department, the team responsible for returning the auto industry to financial stability and saving 211,000 Michigan jobs.

Most recently she led a national workforce development program and created the country’s first online training program for digital manufacturing, which is already changing lives. She has led innovation programs across the country, helping small and medium sized manufacturers grow. Haley is a frequent speaker on job creation by way of harnessing new technology. She launched a STEM education program which has exposed over 200 middle and high school students to digital manufacturing concepts and processes with hands-on teaching.

Earlier in her career, Haley played a key role in setting up two federal offices critical in creating new Michigan jobs: The Office of Recovery for Automotive Communities and Workers and the White House Office of Manufacturing Policy. She also served as a policy advisor in the Economic Development Administration, where she helped create advanced manufacturing job opportunities located around southeastern Michigan.

Haley was born and raised in Oakland County where she graduated from Seaholm High School. She earned a master’s degree in social policy and philosophy and a bachelor’s degree in political science from American University.


Lynne Golodner - Founder & CEO Apr 16, 2018
One Earth Writing
One Earth Writing

Fulbright Specialist Lynne Golodner is the author of thousands of magazine and newspaper articles and eight books. A long-time entrepreneur and teacher of writing, Lynne has a passion for telling stories of how people find meaning in the mundane. In 2016, Lynne created One Earth Writing, a 501c3 public charity that brings teens from different races, faiths and socioeconomic origins together in writing workshops where they explore the commonalities all humans have. As a Fulbright Specialist appointed by the U.S. State Department, Lynne speaks widely about how to make meaning, find purpose, and build a more peaceful world. She also speaks about how to find one’s passion and purpose in life. Her speaking engagements often focus on the three key elements of her PR approach – storytelling + relationships + higher purpose = success. Before she created her boutique public relations firm, Your People LLC, in 2007, Lynne was the Detroit News Homefinder columnist and a frequent contributor to Meredith Corporation publications about home and housing. She has written about faith, food, family and shelter in her journalistic career. A 2006 article in Tango Magazine about Orthodox Jewish sex continues to receive wide acclaim, and her daily blog generates passionate comments among a global readership.

With an MFA in Poetry from Goddard College and a Communications/English BA from the University of Michigan, Lynne has taught writing as adjunct faculty at a variety of universities, including University of Detroit and Wayne State University. She teaches writing to adults through private online programs, writing workshops, and retreats to beautiful destinations.

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Mary Lou Cole - The Freedom & Justice Foundation Apr 30, 2018
Not in My Backyard: A Spotlight on Human Trafficking
Not in My Backyard: A Spotlight on Human Trafficking

Human Trafficking is often referred to as a crime “hidden in plain sight.” This presentation will explore the crime of human trafficking, its global scope, its prevalence right here in Michigan, and past and present responses by the State of Michigan. It will assist attendees in understanding the risk factors for being trafficked, the signs of a trafficking victim, and the tactics used by traffickers. Attendees will also learn what to do if they suspect that someone is being trafficked and will discover ways to get involved and be part of the solution to end this modern-day slavery.

When Mary Lou discovered that human beings, including children, were being bought, sold, exploited, and enslaved in the black-market industry of human trafficking, something gripped her heart.

With a strong passion for all people to experience true freedom, justice, and human dignity, she founded The Freedom & Justice Foundation. The foundation’s mission is “to help eradicate human trafficking and restore the dignity of survivors.” One of the main initiatives of the foundation is to bring human trafficking awareness to the education system. 

Mary Lou also serves on the Steering Committee for Michigan Abolitionist Project’s Freedom Coalition, an anti-trafficking coalition in southeast Michigan. 

In 2014, she served on Michigan State Senator Judy Emmons’ Citizens Advisory Board for Human Trafficking and participated in several successful human trafficking awareness and advocacy efforts on the state level when significant bi-partisan, victim-centered legislation was being passed in the State of Michigan.

Mary Lou’s direct work with human trafficking survivors has given her personal insight into the depths of the issue and the multitude of challenges faced by those it affects.  Her genuine love and support for survivors is undeniable.

She is an ordained minister and serves as a member of the senior leadership board at Embassy Covenant Church International in Troy, MI.  She led Embassy’s Human Trafficking Task Force for two years which, in affiliation with other local organizations, helped organize several significant community awareness events. 

Mary Lou is a former president of Troy Families for SAFE HOMES, a Michigan non-profit organization whose mission is to “promote substance abuse awareness and prevention in the community.”

She received a Bachelor of Science Degree from Oakland University in Rochester, MI. She and her husband David Cole reside in Troy, MI and have three sons: Nathan, Brian, and Matthew.  

Seun Phillips - Director May 21, 2018
Planet M, an initiative of the Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC)
Planet M, an initiative of the Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC)

Seun Phillips is the Director of Planet M, an initiative of the Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC). Phillips joined MEDC in 2017 as the Director, where he is responsible for growing operations, partnerships and development within Michigan’s connected autonomous vehicle industry. 

Prior to joining MEDC, Phillips served as the Vice President of Education and Engagement at the Michigan Science Center in Detroit, MI. Phillips was responsible for programming and developing partnerships between corporations, schools, foundations and community organizations.

Phillips started his professional career as a Senior Electrical Engineer at Motorola Mobile Devices, where he focused on audio circuitry and accessory compatibility. Phillips went on to co-found the Chicago-based non-profit, Project SYNCERE, with the mission to increase the number of underrepresented and disadvantaged K-12th grade students pursuing science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). 

Phillips also founded STEMNETICS with the mission to prepare students with 21st Century Skills through the utilization of hands-on STEM activities throughout Michigan. Phillips is responsible for securing contracts, grant funding and strategic partnerships for schools and non-profit organizations.

Phillips graduated from the University of Michigan with a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering and a minor in mathematics. Phillips received the Five Under Ten from his alma mater to recognize his professional achievements and contributions to the community-at-large. He also received the Conversations Awards, which highlighted Chicago’s most dynamic movers and shakers within Entrepreneurship, Medicine and Non-Profit businesses. Phillips serves on the Board of Directors for Project SYNCERE and the Folu Phillips Foundation.

Dr. Annis Pratt, Professor Emerita Jun 11, 2018
How did a serious academic scholar wind up writing adventure novels?
How did a serious academic scholar wind up writing adventure novels?

I was born in New York City but moved to Birmingham with my late husband, Dr. Henry Pratt, whose parents Martha and Edmund Pratt were longtime Birmingham residents. In my career as a Professor of English I taught at Emory University and Spelman College in Atlanta before completing my career at the University of Wisconsin. As Henry was a professor at Wayne State we had a commuting marriage. My daughter Faith Hopp is also a professor at Wayne State and my daughter Lorien is CEO of a computer business. I have four grandchildren.
    My three academic books are about how authors use mythology in literature, but when I retired I decided to write novels myself. The result was The Infinite Games series which will be the topic of my talk today.