Program- Speakers
Investors Education

Jay Barnes
Synergy Properties LLC

Jay Barnes is Co-Founder and CEO of Synergy Properties, a subsidiary of Pohlman-Barnes Commercial Investment. Jay brings over 17 years of commercial and investment real estate expertise from site selection, acquisitions, project funding and entitlements to construction management, leasing and dispositions. Jay has developed real estate for many of the world’s largest retail companies including Wal-Mart, Kohl’s, Menard’s, Office Max, TJX Companies, Gap, Inc. and many others. For the past three years, he has focused on acquiring discounted note sale and lender-owned investment real estate opportunities. Native to West Michigan, Jay resides and works in Grand Rapids.


Paul Brown
Michigan Economic Development Corporation

Paul Brown is the Vice President of the Capital Markets group of the Michigan Economic Development Corporation. Paul’s group focuses on increasing the availability of capital to businesses in Michigan. Paul manages the majority of the State’s $2 billion 21st Century Jobs Fund, which consists of venture capital, private equity, and mezzanine fund investments. Paul also developed and manages programs to enhance and streamline bank loans to businesses and many of the state’s tax incentive programs targeted at investors. He is considered a national expert in public-private finance, and has testified before Congress and several State House and Senate committees.


Kevin Cusack
Oppenheimer & Co. Inc.


Kevin Cusack leads a Team of 14 investment professionals at Oppenheimer & Co. Inc. With over 25 years experience, Kevin advises approximately $500 million for high net worth individuals, corporations, and foundations. In addition his Team advises 43 retirement plans totaling over $1.6 billion. Kevin is a graduate of Grand Valley State University. A member of the Profit Sharing Council of America, Kevin is also Chairman of the Michigan Family Forum. He serves on the board of directors of World Magazine and Project Rwanda. He also advises the Mackinac Center for Public Policy and is a trustee of the Grand Valley State University Foundation.

Tom Groos
City Light Capital

Tom Groos is a partner at City Light Capital, an early stage venture capital firm based in New York City. After attending Hastings High School, Tom received a B.A. from Cornell University and an M.B.A. from the Columbia Business School.  He worked for WR Grace in New York and Boston before returning to West Michigan for a 26 year career at Tyden Group. Tom is a member of the Board of the Salvation Army of West Michigan, the Board of Directors of the National Fire Protection Association, and is a member of Cornell University Council

John Kerschen
Michigan Accelerator Fund-1

John Kerschen is Managing Director of Michigan Accelerator Fund-1. He has more than 20 years of financial experience in commercial banking, merger and acquisition advisory, and private capital investment. Since joining The Charter Group in 1996, he has been responsible for more than 60 acquisition transactions. As a member of the Michigan Pre-Seed Investment Fund Investment Review Committee, he is responsible for vetting business plans for investment by the Fund. John is a National Board Member for the Association for Corporate Growth (ACG) and a board member for three private companies. He holds a B.A. from Michigan State University and an M.B.A. from DePaul University.

Colin Kraay

Colin Kraay
Colliers International

Colin Kraay is an Investment Advisor at Colliers International. Colin is involved with cash flow properties of all types including stabilized net lease investments as well as value-ad transactions. Colin has guided clients through large transactions, assisting with due diligence, financing hurdles, management solutions, valuation analysis, exchanges, and transaction closings. Since 2002, he has been involved in over $425 Million of real estate transactions. He has represented owners involved with office, industrial, retail, and multi-housing properties and he has done significant work with vacant land sales and development. He also holds a B.A. in Business Administration and Communications from Calvin College.


J. Kevin McCurren
GVSU Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation

J. Kevin McCurren is the Executive Director for the Center for Entrepreneurship & Innovation at Grand Valley State University. He has over 25 years of combined corporate and entrepreneurial experience. As an entrepreneur he has been involved in the start-up of a medical management company, a dental laboratory company and several biomedical companies. As an investor, Kevin has been involved in several angel investment groups and recently served on the Executive Committee of the Venture Club of Louisville. Kevin holds a Bachelor’s in Psychology and Master’s in Public Health and Health Services Management from the University of Missouri.


Kevin McLeod
Michigan Medical Device Accelerator; Southwest Michigan First

Kevin McLeod is the Managing Director of the Michigan Medical Device Accelerator, a medical device idea accelerator that is focused on early stage investments. Previously, he worked as the Senior Director of Global Strategic Development for Stryker Corporation. In this position, he was responsible for the development of its strategic plan, portfolio expansion, and geographical market development. During his career, Kevin led the due diligence investigation on over 100 potential pipeline targets, guided business development activity, and launched more than 30 major product platforms to achieve greater than $250 million in annual sales and a U.S. Compound Annual Growth Rate of 19%.


Mike Mraz
Rockford Construction

Michael Mraz is the Vice President of Development for Rockford’s Development Group. His responsibilities include all aspects of the real estate development process including financial forecasting, financing, leasing, project management, and owner’s representation. He has over 8 years’ experience in the real estate industry, with many high profile projects completed in the greater Grand Rapids area. Prior to joining Rockford, Mike served as Director of Properties for a locally-owned real estate investment company. Mike came to Grand Rapids in 2003 after graduating with honors from Cornell University. He is personally and professionally involved within the Grand Rapids community and many non-profit organizations.


John Pollock
LV2 Equity Partners

John Pollock joined LV2 Equity Partners in 2008 as a Managing Director and Member.  He is responsible for business development, investment opportunity procurement, screening, due diligence, capital structuring, and investor relations. LV2 Equity Partners is a private investment group focused on making control investments in small businesses in the Midwest. Prior to LV2, John spent 18 years in various commercial banking positions. He is a current board member for the West Michigan Chapter of the Association for Corporate Growth and past President and founding board member of the West Michigan Chapter of the Turnaround Management Association.


Mahendra Ramsinghani 
Invest Detroit- First Step Fund 

Dr. Mahendra Ramsinghani manages Invest Detroit - First Step Fund, a micro-investment fund that supports entrepreneurship in Detroit and Michigan. The Fund has invested in over 30 Michigan based entrepreneurs since March 2010. Previously, he served as the Director of Venture Capital Initiatives for the Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC). Mahendra developed strategies for the growth of the venture capital supply chain in Michigan. He led the legislation and development of the two programs which deploy $200+ million in Michigan as well as MEDC’s investment in four new seed stage venture funds. He is also the author of “The Business of Venture Capital.”


Ron Reed
Seneca Partners

Ron Reed is a Managing Partner at Seneca Partners. Reed’s positions as General Partner of Endeavor Capital Management, founding limited partner of Pennell Ventures Marathon Funds, and Founder and CEO of FullScope - a software development company sold to Microsoft Corporation - has contributed to more than 20 years of operating, transactions, and investment experience. Currently, he serves as the Chairman of the Eastern Michigan University Foundation and board member for Adesso Solutions, National Water & Power, 7th Online and EcoDuro. He previously served as the former Chairman of the Michigan Venture Capital Association. Reed received his B.S. in Physics-Engineering from Eastern Michigan University. 


Skip Simms 
Ann Arbor SPARK

Skip Simms works with early stage start-up technology companies as the Senior Vice President of Ann Arbor SPARK. He focuses on preparing start-ups for equity fund raising. Skip was successful in raising an $8 million Michigan Pre-Seed Capital Fund, the largest state 21st Century Jobs Fund program. He is currently the administrator of this fund and three other funds raised for the program totaling $25 million. Prior to his role at Ann Arbor SPARK, Skip was the Managing General Partner at the Ralph Wilson Equity Fund. Skip participates on both profit and non-profit boards, and was a founding member of the Michigan Venture Capital Association.


Martin Stein
Blackford Capital

Martin Stein is a Managing Director of Blackford Capital. With 15 years of private equity experience, he leads the firm's acquisition sourcing activities and serves on the boards of portfolio companies. Currently, he serves on the Board of Directors for Industrial Piping, Inc., Best Security Industries, and Source. Additionally, he is the Chairman of the Board of Amtech, Key Health, and Staging Concepts. Prior to founding Blackford Capital, Stein worked as a consultant with Mercer Management Consulting where he developed growth strategies for Fortune 500 clients such as Sears, Dow Chemicals, Searle Pharmaceuticals, Pfizer, and PacifiCare Health Systems. 


Tim Streit
Huron River Ventures

Tim Streit is a Co-Founder and Managing Director of Huron River Ventures, a Michigan-focused early-stage venture fund that invests in innovative "cleantech" companies. Tim graduated Summa Cum Laude with a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Michigan and received his M.B.A. with High Honors from the University of Chicago Booth, School of Business. Tim has over 11 years of operating, investing, and financing experience, including corporate venturing and as an “intrepreneur.” Before joining the venture community, Tim spent 5 years in capital markets and mergers & acquisitions at J.P. Morgan in Chicago, executing dozens of transactions valued in excess of $10 billion

Sri Sundaram

Sridhar Sundaram 
GVSU Seidman College of Business 

Dr. Sridhar Sundaram is an Associate Professor and Chair of the Finance Department at the Seidman College of Business, Grand Valley State University. His educational background includes a Master’s in Accounting, M.B.A., and Ph.D. in Finance from Southern Illinois University at Carbondale. He has received the Faculty Recognition Awards in teaching and research. His business experience involves several years of working with his family's retail business. He works closely with the Van Andel Global Trade Center (VAGTC) to assist the West Michigan business community on international issues. For the year 2004, he was awarded the VAGTC Trade Scholar Award.

Jody Vanderwel

Jody D. Vanderwel 
Grand Angels

Jody Vanderwel has served as President of the Grand Angels since February 2005. An attorney by trade, Vanderwel worked for a number of years in private legal practice before becoming Corporate Counsel and Vice-President of Corporate Giving at Herman Miller, Inc. She also managed a major donor stewardship program for Calvin College. Vanderwel has been active on numerous for-profit and non-profit boards, including Priority Health, Fuller Theological Seminary, West Michigan Science and Technology Initiative, Michigan Small Business Advocacy Board, and Michigan Venture Capital Association. Vanderwel holds a B.A. from the University of Colorado and a J.D. from Washington University in St. Louis.


H. James Williams, Dean 
GVSU Seidman College of Business

Dr. H. James Williams, Ph.D., C.P.A., C.M.A., J.D., L.L.M., serves as the Dean of the Seidman College of Business at Grand Valley State University. Williams earned a B.S. in Accounting at North Carolina Central University, M.B.A. in Accounting at the University of Wisconsin, Ph.D. in Accounting at the University of Georgia (Athens), and J.D. and LL.M. (Taxation) Degrees at Georgetown University Law Center. He is also a Certified Public Accountant and a Certified Management Accountant with a wealth of practical experiences, having worked in the public accounting profession and in the legal profession (as a corporate and tax attorney).



Page last modified December 13, 2011