SPEAKERS

Chris Bosio

International Trade Manager; MEDC


Chris Bosio is the International Trade Development Manager for the Northern Lower Peninsula and the Upper Peninsula of Michigan for the Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC). His role is to assist small and medium sized businesses expand their exporting success and help companies get started with exporting. He has held a number of leadership positions in a variety of industries and brings an entrepreneurial focus to his position at the MEDC. He holds a Bachelor of Science in Marketing from Northern Michigan University and a Juris Doctorate from the University of Cincinnati.

Rob Dickinson

Regional Export Network Program Manager; Networks Northwest


Rob Dickinson is the Northwest Michigan Works! Regional Export Network Program Manager at Networks Northwest. It has been 11 years with the organization first starting out as a Community Resource Specialist in our Offender Success program. He then joined the Michigan Works team and moved through the organization until his current position as the Regional Export Network Program Manager and Business Services Regional Director. Rob has worked with hundreds of local businesses and too many job seekers to count to connect them with whatever resources they need to succeed and prosper in our region. He continues this mission today by helping connect those businesses in need of export expertise. Working with a statewide network of individuals and agencies who offer connections for businesses that want to diversify their company’s market outreach through exporting is just one way we continue the mission. Rob is a certified Business Solutions Professional with 10+ years working with local employers throughout our region. Let’s see what he can do for you.

Cathy Fairbanks

Regional Director, Northwest Michigan PTAC; Networks Northwest


Cathy Fairbanks is the Northwest Michigan Procurement Technical Assistance Center (PTAC) Regional Director covering the entire Upper Peninsula and the 10 counties of northwest Lower Peninsula. Cathy has been with the PTAC, a program of Networks Northwest, for eight years. She is a Certified Federal Contract Manager and has her Master Certificate in Contract Management. Cathy provides counseling and training to businesses who want to sell their products/services to the government (federal, state, and local) and government primes. In addition, she provides direction and oversight for the program’s operations and budget for multiple locations. Cathy is on the Board of Directors of the statewide organization ‘Procurement Technical Assistance Centers of Michigan’ and services as the Vice President. In 2018, she was recognized for her work with the defense industry and received the 2018 Women in Defense Michigan Chapter Horizon Industry Award. Cathy started her career in Business Information Systems. She has her BBA in Business and Technology and her MS in Career and Technical Education. Cathy has over 20 years as a small business owner in agriculture, construction, and retail combined, as well as extensive experience in software development and education.

Nick Gandhi

Economic Analyst – Bureau of Labor Market, Information and Strategic Initiatives. Department of Technology, Management, and Budget; State of Michigan


Nick Gandhi is an economic analyst for the Bureau of Labor Market Information and Strategic Initiatives within the Michigan Department of Technology, Management and Budget. Since joining the bureau in 2018, Nick has produced innovative research on a number of topics related to the Michigan labor market including registered apprenticeship, mobility, and veterans. Nick has previously held a position in the Michigan Department of Treasury and holds a bachelor’s degree in economics from Michigan State University.

Michael L. Gay

MBA, CFP®, BCA®, CEPA®, MI-SBDC Business Growth Consultant; Grand Valley State University


Mike specializes in financial and strategic management for Stage 2 companies, providing assistance in areas such as financial modeling, capital procurement, transition planning, business valuation, and lead developer of the SBDC’s exclusive Focus Four Small Business Management System. An expert in value-based management and business valuation, Mike has several decades’ experience in both corporate finance and personal financial planning, developing and executing growth strategies, managing turn-around situations, securing significant bank loans, and creating & implementing a successful exit strategy when the time is right. He is an author, an entrepreneur, and a frequent speaker at various events. “Know Your Numbers” & “Breaking the Million Dollar Barrier” are two of Mike’s top-40 hits. Mike earned his MBA with Distinction from The University of Michigan, is a Certified Financial Planner ™ , a certified business valuation analyst, and a Certified Exit Planning Advisor.

Christina Luckey-Nelson

Regional Director of Adult Education; Northwest Michigan Works! Learning Labs


Christy Nelson is the Regional Director of the TBAISD Adult Education program overseeing the programming for the Northwest Michigan Works! Learning Labs. She has worked in Adult Education for over 30 years, beginning as an ABE instructor and moving to a Learning Lab Specialist for Northwest Michigan Works! helping to guide the programming of Adult Education in a new delivery process. In 2003, she was selected to lead the adult education program as Regional Director. She has served on the State Adult Education Advisory Group and also acted as the Facilitator for the state Practitioner’s Curriculum Task Force. Christy was selected to represent Adult Education on the Adult Learning Work Group – convened by Michigan’s Low-Wage Worker Advancement Committee of the Council for Labor & Economic Growth. Their task was to examine and provide recommendations for transformation of Michigan’s approach to basic skills development, in order to better meet the needs of adult learners, employers, and the state in an ever-changing economy. She represented Northwest Michigan on the Transformation Taskforce, a group of Adult Educators from around the state charged with operationalizing the CLEG report. Originally, from Texas, Ms. Nelson graduated from Texas Tech University with a BA in Education and later attended Central Michigan University to work on a Master’s degree in Educational Administration.

Annie Olds

MBA, Northwest MI-SBDC Regional Director; Networks Northwest


Annie Olds is the Northwest MI-SBDC Regional Director at Networks Northwest.  Going on 15 years at Networks Northwest, she joined the SBDC team in  2011 and has since worked with more than 600 start-up and existing businesses during her tenure.  Annie brings with her a background specializing in an array of areas: small and agribusiness development, business and market planning, value-added product development, family-owned business, event coordination, fiscal oversight, HR, succession planning, public speaking, and training development.  Annie earned an M.B.A. in Strategic Management (2006) and a B.A.S. in Management with specialties in Small Business Management and Human Resources (2003), both from Davenport University, as well as an A.A.S. in Business Administration/Marketing (2001) from Northwestern Michigan College.  In her spare time, Annie and her husband, along with their two young children, live in Kalkaska on a 126-acre farm where they operate a small custom grown beef and pork operation.

Tim Rehard

MI-SBDC Contract Business Consultant; Grand Valley State University


Tim joined the Northwest SBDC team as a CARES Act funded Contract Business Consultant after 13 years of working for a multinational entertainment company (i.e., Ticketmaster) in several strategic roles pertaining to product management, eCommerce, marketing, and strategy (to name a few), as well as starting several of his own agricultural businesses on the side. Tim was a client of SBDC and after learning of all of the great services he decided it would be a great organization to join. He is originally from Ohio but has lived in many cities around the country and has settled on farm life outside of Traverse City where he and his family have a small campground, make and sell soap and other body products, and offer horse boarding.

Gretchen Swanson

SPHR, SHRM-SCP, MI-SBDC Business Consultant; Networks Northwest


Gretchen is our newest Business Consultant at Networks Northwest bringing to the team her perspective as an experienced senior certified human resources professional both a SPHR & SHRM-SCP. Like many, she grew up working in her family’s small businesses and appreciates both the challenges and opportunities involved. Her own career path was fostered while serving in leadership with regionally respected family businesses, to include over thirteen years with Crystal Mountain Resort & Spa where she had served as the Director of HR. Guiding organizations through the complexity of the business growth cycle is of particular interest. Her business sector leadership experience ranges from hospitality to medical practice management. Areas of professional expertise include; HR Management, strategic planning, technology innovation, project management, training, compliance, family business dynamics, workforce development and organizational change management.

Evelyn Szpliet

Manager of Apprenticeships & Business Resource; Northwest Michigan Works!


Evelyn Szpliet is the Regional Director of Apprenticeship Services and a Certified Business Solutions Professional for Northwest Michigan Works! In addition, she serves as the State Apprenticeship Success Coordinator and Sponsor for Department of Labor Registered Apprenticeship Programs. Evelyn has worked with Northwest Michigan Works! for over five years and assists businesses of every size and industry develop, implement and manage customized apprenticeship programs. She works with employers to identify and fill workforce gaps while preparing for their futures by maximizing registered apprenticeship development including on the job training, educational programming and the coordination of valuable resources.

Jessica Willis

LMSW, Offender Success Regional Director; Networks Northwest


Jessica Willis has been with Networks Northwest since 2006 and has oversaw the Offender Success program for nearly 10 years. She received her bachelor’s degree in Sociology from the State University of New York at Buffalo and her Masters in Social Work from Grand Valley State University. Jessica is a licensed master’s social worker with the State of Michigan and specializes in administrative social work. She also serves on the board of Addiction Treatment Services. Originally from metro Detroit, she moved to the region in 2002 and lives in Traverse City with her husband and young son.

Angie Morgan

Founder; Lead Star


Angie Morgan is a dynamic, creative thought leader who knows how to unlock the capability and talent of leaders at all levels. After serving as a Marine Corps officer, Angie led in pharmaceutical sales for Merck and Pfizer. She’s been a special advisor to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff on diversity initiatives, and engages routinely with boards and organizations to drive performance. Angie is an avid athlete — her competitive nature and motivation to win shows up in every client engagement as she inspires others to be their best.