Benno C. Schmidt, Jr.Interim President and CEO of the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation. He is among the world’s leading innovators in primary, secondary and tertiary education. Chairman of Edison Schools since 1997, Schmidt served as Edison’s Chief Executive Officer from 1992 to 1998. Prior to joining Edison, Schmidt was President of Yale University from 1986 to 1992; under his leadership, Yale’s endowment grew at a higher rate than all other private universities. Schmidt developed a model public/private partnership between the University and the city of New Haven, led one of Yale’s largest building initiatives, and helped create several interdisciplinary programs in environmental sciences and policy, and in international studies. Prior to his term at Yale, Schmidt was dean of the Columbia University Law School. 

Dr. D. Bruce MerrifieldPresident and CEO of the Pridco Management Company.  He was formerly a Chaired Professor of Entrepreneurship at the Wharton School of Business from 1989 to 1994 and served as Distinguished Visiting Professor at Georgetown University from 1994 to 2000, teaching courses on entrepreneurship. During the Reagan Administration, he first served as Assistant Secretary of Productivity, Technology and Innovation, U.S. Department of Commerce, from 1981 to 1986 and given the additional responsibility of Undersecretary for Economic Affairs from 1986 to 1988. 

Mary Beth IzardProfessor Emeritus, author, entrepreneur and consultant. She has been a scholar-in-residence at the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation and consulted on various projects.  As a professor of entrepreneurship, Mary Beth developed and launched the national recognized Entrepreneurship Program at Johnson County Community College. She is the author of the college textbook, Opportunity Analysis, Business Ideas: Identification and Evaluation, and the book BoomerPreneurs, How Baby Boomers Can Start Their Own Business, Make Money and Enjoy Life. Mary Beth’s entrepreneurial experience includes consulting, light manufacturing and real estate. She consults with colleges and organizations on entrepreneurship curriculum and entrepreneurs in planning and launching their businesses.

Jerry KellyCEO and Co-founder of Silpada Designs, started Silpada Designs with
partners and company co-founders Bonnie Kelly (Jerry’s wife) and Teresa Walsh in 1997.
Silpada Designs is the world’s largest sterling silver jewelry home party company
with operations in the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom.
During the 18 years prior to starting Silpada Designs, Jerry owned, operated and
managed several consumer product mail order catalog companies. 

Danny O’NeillBean Baron at The Roasterie, a specialty coffee-roasting company that services espresso bars, coffeehouses, fine restaurants, high-end grocers, offices and retail accounts. Danny started The Roasterie in the basement of his Brookside home in November 1993. Since The Roasterie’s inception, Danny has become a sought-after expert in the ever-growing coffee industry. He has judged cupping and barista competitions all around the world since 1995. In April 2001, he was awarded Super Taster status on the Specialty Coffee Institute Sensory Aptitude Test. 

Alana Muller–President of Kauffman FastTrac, the nation’s leading provider of training to aspiring and existing entrepreneurs – giving them the tools, resources and networks to start and grow successful businesses. Kauffman FastTrac was created by the Kauffman Foundation, the largest foundation whose mission is to advance entrepreneurship as a key to growing economies and expanding human welfare.

Brande StittNetwork Builder for KCSourceLink, an organization connecting small businesses to the right resource at the right time.  Until recently, she served as the Director of Small Business & Entrepreneurship for the Greater Kansas City Chamber of Commerce. She began with The Chamber in June 2002 after completing her M.Ed. in community/agency counseling at the University of Missouri-Columbia.  

Breakout Leaders

Helen Dennis–nationally recognized leader on issues relating to aging, employment and retirement; consultant, author and speaker on aging issues; weekly columnist on Successful Aging reaching 1.3 million readers; co-author of Los Angeles Times bestseller Project Renewment: The First Retirement Model for Career Women

Elizabeth Isele–Director, Economic Opportunity Program, The Philanthropy Roundtable; currently developing new curriculum for colleges around the country on demographic change in America

Mary Beth Izard–President of Acheve Consulting Inc. in Kansas City, professor emeritus at Johnson Community College in Kansas City, former scholar-in-residence at Kauffman Foundation; author of BoomerPreneurs: How Baby Boomers Can Start Their Own Business

Greg Merrill–President & CEO of National Older Worker Career Center (NOWCC), former Chairman of NOWCC Board of Directors, extensive experience in non-profit management and advocating for older Americans; previously spent 19 years with AARP

Rick Moody–Director of Academic Affairs for AARP, also serves as Senior Associate with International Longevity Center–USA and as a Senior Fellow of Civic Ventures; author of over 100 articles and numerous books including Human Development Policies for an Aging Society; former Chairman of the Board, Elderhostel

Bill Zinke–President of Human Resource Services, Inc, a management consulting firm he founded in 1969, and organizer of the Center for Productive Longevity in 2006; speaker and author on topics relating to the utilization of workers 55+

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