Southwest Michigan First Catalyst University - Creativity - Innovation - Leadership


Catalyst 2013 will put global thought leaders who inspire personal and community greatness front and center stage, live.  Leaving no stone unturned, we look for our speakers both on the other side of the world and right out our back door to ignite a spark.

Carefully selected for their ability to encourage positive change and innovative thought, our Catalyst 2013 leaders are ....

Speaker notes from Catalyst 2013 are now available at the bottom of each leader's individual bio.


Denise Lee Yohn


What great brands do
Denise Lee Yohn

Great brands grab your attention! They make you want to buy them, wear them, use them.  Maybe you're even one of "those people" who'll wait in line all night long just to be the first to get "one." All great brands do it, but how?

Mayor Cory Booker


How to change the world with your bare hands
Mayor Cory Booker

Have a passion for social change? Take responsibility and help our great nation live up to its promise.  America's call to action for civic responsibility is about to be heard.

John Baldoni


Lead with purpose
John Baldoni

All great leaders understand their organization's purpose: the reason why they exist. Their ability to execute is multiplied exponentially when they truly believe that purpose. Develop clarity for yourself and your team so you can lead with purpose.


What if?
Jon Acuff

Ever sat in your office, closed your eyes and imagined yourself taking charge of a situation and doing "the impossible." What if you decided to make the impossible possible?  What if you challenged yourself today?

Resonate: Presenting visual stories that transform remote audiences
Nancy Duarte

Are you ready to be glued to your seat? Captivation is a powerful tool when speaking to an audience. Through words, actions, stories and visuals, the art of persuasion can be at your fingertips.

Chef Tre Wilcox   mastery
Always something extra
Chef Tre Wilcox

Blueberries, cherries, corn flakes, pickles and potatoes. Southwest Michigan’s contributions to our nation’s food chain go on and on. Chef Tre Wilcox, a Top Chef contestant and true culinary artist, will raid our region’s pantry and share his treasure.

Sandy Baruah  

Detroit: Hype or Hysteria
Sandy Baruah

Where does Michigan's largest city really stand? Is its Renaissance rocking or rolling downhill?

 Mary Ellen Sheets  

Moving perceptions
Mary Ellen Sheets

Behind every "truck" there's a great woman! The next time you call for a mover, keep in mind that at the end of moving day, you'll have more than the "two men and a truck" to thank. Get ready to meet one of Michigan's great legacy leaders.

 Dave Zilko   ingenuity
Spice it up!
Dave Zilko

Described as the quality of being clever, original and inventive, ingenuity is simply the process of applying ideas to solve problems or meet challenges. Find out how a little zip turned a tomato into North America's number one salsa brand.

 Veronika Scott   empowerment
The empowerment plan
Veronika Scott

Establishing trust and communication with individuals deemed unreachable by Detroit's shelters, Veronika Scott has "fashioned" an empowerment plan to help those trapped in the vicious cycle of homelessness. With her coat design, she is transforming much more than a cold night.


Improvising creativity
Keith Hall

While many think of acting, singing or playing musical instruments when it comes to improvisation, it can be a powerful tool used in problem solving for new methods or products in any industry. Get ready to experience the power of creativity.

Ron Kitchens   genesis
Ron Kitchens

There comes a time when a bud on the tip of a plant carefully formed by nature gets ready to explode. Much like that bud with so much promise, your time has come to bloom.