2019 West Michigan World Trade Week Business Conference

Think Global

Wednesday, May 15, 2019 | GRAND RAPIDS, MI

Registration: 11:30 - Noon 

Luncheon Keynote: 12:00PM - 1:30PM 

Breakout Sessions: 1:30PM - 4:30PM 

VIP Reception: 4:30PM - 7:00PM 

Venue: Grand Valley State University's L. William Seidman Center, 50 Front Avenue SW, Grand Rapids, MI 49504

Keynote Presenter

KIM DABBS, Global Director, Corporate Social Innovation at Steelcase

Kim Dabbs is a social entrepreneur, advocate, and innovator who is leading Corporate Social Innovation for Steelcase. She has a passion for building a culture of opportunity and is leveraging that mindset as she partners with organizations leading transformational change projects around the world. She has scaled innovation and designed programs that showcased impact as she collaborated on the launch of the new Learning + Innovation Center that was built as a global hub in Munich.

Join us for Kim Dabbs' luncheon keynote presentation as she shares the importance of design thinking to global business. As the race for global business expansion calls for organizations to deliver bigger, faster & better innovations, design thinking is proving to be an important tool to help companies discover viable ideas in the creative process. Learn how thinking like a designer can transform your company's quest to develop global products, services, processes, and even strategy.


Keynote Speaker - Kim Dabbs

Breakout Session Round-tables


Tax reform has greatly affected both inbound and outbound companies doing business in the U.S. Discuss the benefits, added complexity and overall approach to operating under the new and sometimes uncertain regime. 

  • Joel Mitchell, Partner, International Tax Services, Plante Moran
  • Janice Roark Peters, Attorney, Kreis Enderle
  • Layna Buthker, CPA MST, Associate, International Tax Services, Plante Moran*

Taxes & Tariffs Image


Discuss strategies to protect your intellectual property; hear real-world stories about trademark disputes, tagline infringements, customs issues and more. Consider what it means to build an asset abroad; get some tips on basic strategies for protecting your brand globally, and ponder what it would look like to foster a work culture that promotes your global brand. 

  • Christopher Bolinger, Senior IP Counsel, Wolverine Worldwide
  • Mike Byam, President, Terryberry
  • Phil de Haan, Communications/Strategic Partnerships, The Mackinac Technology Company*

Brand Protections


Discover travel hacks used by experienced international travelers. Share your ideas for making life on the road and in the air more efficient and enjoyable. 

  • Dick Gauthier, Vice President, International Business Development, Universal Forest Products
  • Ruth Shira, Vice President – Operations, PRA Global*

Travel Tips & Tricks


Learn how to take a customer-centric and systemic approach to testing your business internationally. Leave this hands-on workshop with techniques to de-risk your quest to find new markets.

  • Elizabeth Blair, Bosch North America, Business Model Innovation Manager

Customer Centric Innovation

Breakout Session Panels


Are changes to trade policies and public negotiations of trade positions affecting your business? Have you reviewed your supply chain to ensure that you are classifying your imported and exported products correctly considering: China Section 301 threats? NAFTA to USMCA transition? Brexit effects on EU-UK trade? Panelists will share strategies and even explore potential opportunities for Michigan businesses in light of continued tariffs.

  • Aimee Jachym, Attorney and Counselor at Law, Miller Canfield
  • Sonja Johnson, Executive Director, GVSU’s Van Andel Global Trade Center
  • James Rayis, Shareholder, Giarmarco, Mullins & Horton, P.C.*

Think Global


This panel discussion will provide insights into the emerging issues and trends in the insurance marketplace for consumers, as well as, strategies businesses are employing to manage their risk tolerances. Come to understand what the trade winds of insurance are experiencing and the potential impact on your programs and profitability.

  • John Fitzgerald, Senior Account Executive, Gallagher
  • Lennie Morgan, The Corporate Protection Group, LLC
  • Scot Schwarting, Risk Manager, R1 RCM
  • Timothy Kaufmann, Attorney, Kaufmann Legal Services*

Risk Management


The United States, Mexico, and Canada have reached an agreement to rebalance and modernize the North American Free Trade Agreement. Learn about the key provisions in the trade agreement pertinent to Michigan companies and the anticipated road to implementation.

  • Jodi Heck, Import/Export Specialist, Fluid Connectors Group, Parker Hannifin
  • Dan Ujczo, Practice Group Chair-Canada-US, Dickinson Wright PLLC
  • Geri Word, Director, Western Hemisphere Office of North America, U.S. Department of Commerce
  • O’Neil Woelke, Customs and International Trade Law Attorney, Principal – Kozik Woelke PLC*


*designates panel moderators and roundtable facilitators

VIP Reception

2019 Host Organization

Cascade Engineering Logo

Featuring VIP Host Chair: Christina Keller, CEO, Cascade Engineering

Christina Keller is President/CEO of the Cascade Engineering Family of Companies, a position she has held since September 2018. Cascade Engineering based in Grand Rapids, Michigan is a global manufacturing company with ten business units supporting a diversity of strategic markets, including transportation, environmental services, office seating, material handling, polymer compounding, and RFID technology. CE employs 1,900 people located in 13 facilities throughout North America with additional operations in Budapest, Hungary.

Prior to becoming President and CEO, Christina held several senior leadership positions with the Cascade Engineering’s business units including President of Cascade Business Team, President of CK Technologies, and Business Unit Leader for Triple Quest. Her previous work experience includes consulting at Accenture and program management at Polaris Management Partners and ERT.

Christina’s holds an MBA from the Samuel Curtis Johnson Graduate School of Management at Cornell University, a BA from Boston College, certification in economics from American University and a certificate of achievement as a Lean Six Sigma Blackbelt from Villanova University. Time abroad includes graduating from High School in Switzerland, living in Central and South America and working in East Africa. Christina has delivered two TEDx talks in Michigan on entrepreneurship and sustainable business. She was ranked as one of West Michigan’s 40 under 40 and recognized as a rising star by Plastics News Magazine.


Grand Valley State University's L. William Seidman Center, 50 Front Avenue SW, Grand Rapids, MI 49504

Registration includes: 

Lunch, reference materials, and admittance to VIP Reception

Organized by: 

GVSU's Van Andel Global Trade Center and the U.S. Commercial Service of the U.S. Department of Commerce 

In partnership with:

The World Trade Week Planning Committee and the International Law Section of the State Bar of Michigan