Quicken Loans closed more than $25 billion in home loan volume in 2009. The company employs nearly 3,000 people nationally and has been ranked in the top-30 of FORTUNE Magazine's "100 Best Companies to Work For" the past seven years (ranking as high as #2). The company also has been ranked as one of Computerworld Magazine's "100 Best Places to Work in Technology" the past five years, ranking #1 in 2005, 2006 and 2007.

Dan founded Rock Financial in 1985. Rock Financial grew into one of the largest independent mortgage lenders in the country. In the late 1990s, Rock launched its Internet strategy and quickly positioned itself as the fastest growing online direct mortgage lender on the Internet.

In January 2000, software maker Inuit purchased Rock Financial and the national online lending business was renamed "Quicken Loans." With Dan as CEO, Quicken Loans became the leading national provider of home loans on the Internet. QuickenLoans.com has gone on to earn "Best of the Web" accolades from Forbes, Money and PC Magazine. In 2002, Dan and a small group of private investors purchased Quicken Loans Inc. from Intuit.

Dan became majority owner of the Cleveland Cavaliers in March 2005, and immediately undertook a complete overhaul of the front office, coaching staff, player personnel and game presentation. Dan is also majority owner of the American Hockey League’s Lake Erie Monsters, and is the operator of the Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, Ohio.

In 2007, Dan launched Bizdom U in Detroit. The non-profit academy trains, mentors and finances young entrepreneurs and their start-up businesses in the city of Detroit. Bizdom U’s mission is to create successful businesses, jobs, growth and wealth in large urban cities.

Gilbert serves on the boards of Cleveland Clinic, Children’s National Medical Center in Washington, D.C. and Children’s Tumor Foundation in New York City. He is a former president of JARC, based in suburban Detroit.

Dan has been the keynote speaker at the Harvard Business School, The University of Michigan and the NAACP annual convention, among other organizations.

Gilbert earned his bachelor’s degree from Michigan State University and his law degree from Wayne State University. He has received the “Entrepreneur of the Year” award from Ernst & Young and has been inducted into the Junior Achievement Hall of Fame.

Dan Gilbert
Dan Gilbert is chairman and founder of Quicken Loans Inc., the nation’s largest online home lender. The company employs nearly 3,000 people and has been ranked in the Top 30 of FORTUNE Magazine’s “100 Best Companies to Work For” the past seven years (ranking as high as #2).
Raymond Leach
Ray Leach brings to JumpStart Inc., one of the most active and innovative venture development organizations in the United States, his energy and leadership experiences from founding five high-growth entrepreneurial and intrapreneurial endeavors over the last twenty years 

JumpStart is a nationally recognized venture development organization that helps Northeast Ohio's entrepreneurs succeed in rapidly growing their early-stage companies into large ventures. As part of its robust public-private partnership model, JumpStart recognizes the integral support of the Ohio Third Frontier program, the state's largest-ever commitment to expanding Ohio's high-tech research, innovation, commercialization and company formation activities, which are increasing opportunities for all Ohioans. 

Ray's career began at IBM and has been principally focused on information technology companies previous to creating and leading JumpStart in 2003. Ray is a Sloan Fellow and earned an MBA from the MIT Sloan School of Management. He also earned a bachelor of arts  in finance from the University of Akron. Ray serves on the boards of the Council of Competitiveness in Washington DC, Red Cross Blood Services of Northern Ohio and is the Chairman of the Invent Now Kids board of the National Inventors Hall of Fame and Museum. 
Jackie B. Peterson
Jackie B. has been an entrepreneur and teacher and creative for more than 30 years. Jackie began her entrepreneurial life with a CPA firm that served small businesses and many creative clients. Later her practice morphed into a small business consulting firm that continues today as Babicky Performance Partners.

Jackie is also a teacher. She currently teaches business skills and entrepreneurship skills for hundreds of small business at the Small Business Development Center of Portland Community College. She has also been a corporate trainer for numerous organizations that wanted to learn how to communicate, work in teams, develop problem-solving skills and become more financially successful.

Jackie is well known in the Portland area by hundreds of entrepreneurs, particularly those with creative endeavors; photographers, artists, graphic designers, fashion designers, potters and fine and performing artists. Jackie has helped many of them find their focus and become financially independent.
Entrepreneur Panelists
Ned Parks
As an entrepreneur, author and radio-talk show host, as well as a community leader and outdoor enthusiast, Ned Parks pulls from a wealth of experiences to deliver an upbeat and highly interactive program. His vast experiences include being a police officer and an Army helicopter pilot; Ned also operated his own aviation business. Keynote speeches, outdoor adventure workshops and professional development training sessions to bring working teams together for maximum performance are his passions. Ned’s mission is “…to inspire you and your organization to invest in yourself with grace, invest in others with humility and improve with dignity.”
Owner of Coon Restoration & Sealants Inc., Steve Coon also owns and operates two other companies: Northmark Properties and Historic Development. Steve is a passionate about the historic preservation of and downtown historic development in cities across Ohio. Steve is on the board of directors for the Special Improvement District in Canton, the Downtown Canton Land Bank, Louisville Community Foundation, Heritage Ohio and many other development boards and committees.
Steve Coon
Rose Ann DaRe
Rose Ann became president/owner of Hydro Dyne Inc. in 1990. Hydro Dyne Inc. is an ASME code shop which designs, engineers, and manufactures heat transfer equipment for the power generation industry including fossil and nuclear plants as well as the process/chemical industry. The 120,000 square feet facility is located in Massillon, OH.  Prior to becoming president and owner of Hydro Dyne Inc., Rose Ann was employed for eight years as an LPN in the emergency room at Massillon Community Hospital, Currently, Rose Ann serves as the chairperson of The Heat Exchange Institute’s Executive Committee of the Closed Feedwater Heater Section, on the Board of Trustees for Affinity Medical Center and on the KeyBank Advisory Board.  

Merle D. Griff, Ph.D., is the founder and CEO of SarahCare Adult Day Care Centers.  She has led SarahCare® to its current position as one of the fastest growing platforms in this new and rapidly growing industry. Griff is the immediate past chair of National Adult Day Services Association (NADSA). She is the author of the book, LinkAges, and has written numerous book chapters and articles. Griff has substantial business expertise having apprenticed in a family business and having assisted in the turnaround and redevelopment of a multi-use property in Canton, Ohio, prior to founding SarahCare®.
Dr. Merle Griff
Geoff Karcher
Geoff Karcher founded the Karcher Group, a company that offers a full suite of services including web design, e-commerce solutions and nationally recognized natural and paid search engine marketing strategies. While overseeing a staff of thirty-five associates and boasting a global clientele, Geoff’s primary focus remains committed “…to strengthening the Web presence of businesses right here in our area and is proud to have worked with such area companies as the Akron-Canton Airport, Stark County District Library and the YMCA of Stark County.
Randall C. Hunt
Randall Hunt is a director and shareholder of the law firm of Krugliak, Wilkins, Griffiths and Dougherty Company, L.P.A., concentrating in the business specialty of mergers and acquisitions.  As a result of his specialty, Randy represents various investment groups which make acquisitions and participate in other tax-free reorganizations.  Typical of Randy's entrepreneurial work was his successful asset acquisition of the former Eaton Ring Division in Massillon, Ohio, where he lead and formed an investment group with management and outside investors to save this Stark County business. Randy is an honor graduate of Mount Union College and Case Western Reserve University School of Law.  Locally, he serves or has served on such boards as the Stark Development Board, the Pro Football Hall of Fame, Mount Union College, the Canton Regional Chamber of Commerce, Alliance Community Hospital and Stark State College, just to name a few.
Theodore F. Savastano
Ted Savastano is president and founder of Detectron Inc., Canton, Ohio, a company in the water filtration industry. Ted is also president of T.S. Partners LLC, Canton, Ohio, advisors to private companies on acquisitions, divestitures, turnarounds and corrective actions. In addition to these companies, Ted founded several other companies, including Waterlink Inc., Summit Environmental Group Inc., Hunter Environmental Services and Private Investment Group - all located in Canton, Ohio. Ted holds a bachelor of arts degree in economics from Syracuse University and a master of business administration from Northeastern University.


Tuesday, March 22, 2011    “Experiences as an Entrepreneur”
                  Andre Thornton, President and CEO, ASW Global

Mr. Thornton is the CEO of ASW Global, a supply chain management company and has more than 20 years of experience in entrepreneurial ventures. Prior to ASW Global, he served as one of the principles in Apple Partners, leading a highly successful restaurant management group that was sold to Applebee’s International. Mr. Thornton also founded a successful consulting and sports management company and continues to speak nationally on executive leadership, organizational change and diversity. Andre, nicknamed “Thunder Thornton,” is also a Cleveland baseball legend who played professional baseball for 21 years, including 10 years with the Cleveland Indians

Wednesday, March 30, 2011  “The Genesis of Bizdom U”
       Ross Sanders, CEO, Bizdom U   

Bizdom U, created to develop entrepreneurial businesses in Detroit, is a program that assists entrepreneurs in launching businesses. Mr. Sanders will thoroughly explain how the program provides comprehensive, real-world training, mentorship and support for entrepreneurs who have a burning passion and determination to build their own growth-oriented businesses. During Bizdom U’s intense and challenging four-month business development program, talented entrepreneurs with business ideas are provided the guidance, feedback, training and support necessary to put these ideas to work and create successful businesses. Moreover, entrepreneurs are provided with practical business knowledge taught by seasoned business professionals. Those who complete this program and develop a business plan approved by the Bizdom fund receive funding for the business and continuous guidance in launching the business. All of these services are provided at no cost to those who are accepted into the program and a living stipends may also provided. Bizdom U can be replicated.  Mr. Sanders told us why

                                                Tuesday, April 5, 2011 
Panel of Entrepreneurs - Moderated by Ned Parks…and “Brought to you by AultCare.” 

Sue Grabowski, President, Grabowski and Company; 
Marvin Montgomery, Author/ Trainer/Speaker, 
Sales Consultant, ERC Services; 
Christina Pastore-Bucher, CEO, Park Farms; 
Todd Pugh, Founder and CEO, Enviroscapes;
Ted Swaldo, Founder, ASC Industries and Gervasi Vineyard and Italian Bistro; and
Barbara Fausnight-Winston, CEO, Executive Insurance Group

Wednesday, April 6, 2011   Student Entrepreneurs Competition
Presentation Subject – “Develop a Business Plan for the Creation of Jobs in Stark County for Graduating College and University Students” 

Participants – Students from five colleges and universities in Stark County
Continental breakfast provided.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011   Students Day Kick-Off 

Students from five colleges and universities in Stark County presented business plans for the creation of jobs in Stark County for graduating college and university students.  Scholarships of $2000, $1500, $1000 and $500 were awarded. The scholarships were made possible through a grant from Stark Community Foundation.

Inspirational Breakfast Speaker:  John Dearborn, President, JumpStart, Inc.

Third Annual Junior Achievement Business Challenge
11th and 12th Grade High School Students from Stark, Tuscarawas and Carroll Counties

Announcement of Winners of College and University Student Entrepreneurs Competition

John brought 25 years experience in software, Internet and mobile technologies, along with senior management experience leading entrepreneurial companies to JumpStart. Most recently, John was the CEO and a board member of 3Guppies, Inc., a mobile social networking company in Seattle, Washington. Since returning to Cleveland, John has been acting as board adviser to several startups in the areas of strategy development, fundraising and product development. Prior to 3Guppies, John was the Senior Vice President and General Manager for New Ventures in the Interactive Division for American Greetings, where he was an Entrepreneur-in-Residence. In that role, he led new product and business development activities, partnering with leading companies, including MSN, to develop content offerings aimed specifically at the mobile and instant messaging audiences. John also started a self-funded company that developed the first image editor for the PC, which was later sold to a NASDAQ-traded company, Micrografx. In addition, John has held senior management positions for a variety of venture-backed, public and privately-held companies, leading marketing, operations, business development, and sales organizations. John holds a BA in Administration from the University of New Hampshire, Durham.

Thursday, April 14, 2011   The Green Economy and a Clean Energy Future”
Jerome Ringo

Kent State University at Stark Featured Speaker Series

Jerome Ringo’s 20 years of experience working in Louisiana’s petrochemical industry, including drilling and offshore production in the Gulf of Mexico, compelled him to educate communities on how to stop chemical discharge in their neighborhoods through environmental activism. A member of Green Group and Newsweek’s Environment and Leadership Council, he is a passionate advocate for alternative clean-energy sources and energy-efficient technology and jobs, in addition to expanding minority participation in green businesses.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011   
Entrepreneurial Conspiracy: A Seminar on Management Focus and Discipline
Chuck Violand, Facilitator

What’s holding you back? If you are not achieving the things you want with your business, it may be because you are conspiring against yourself unconsciously. Most small business problems aren’t caused by a poor economy, tight money or slow sales. Generally, these problems are the result of the behaviors business owners bring to their companies. In order for any business to be successful, owners must be “Focused and Disciplined.” 

Chuck Violand has more than 20 years of experience working with small business owners. In this presentation, he illustrates the impact mastering “Focus and Discipline” has on small businesses. He also identifies six other behaviors that act as an early warning system to let you know when “Focus and Discipline” are starting to falter.

The Small Business Development Center of Ohio (SBDC) program is funded in part through a cooperative agreement with the U.S. Small Business Administration.  The SBDC
 program is also funded in part by the Ohio Department of Development. All opinions, conclusions or recommendations expressed are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the SBA.  Reasonable accommodations for persons with disabilities will be made if requested at least two weeks in advance. Contact the North Canton SBDC at 330-244-3290.

 Malone University $2000 Scholarship              $1500 Scholarship Kent State University
        $1,000 Scholarship Stark State College                      Walsh University $500 Scholarship
Thank You Sponsors!
Contributing Sponsors
Media Sponsor
Participation Sponsors
.       September 25, 2012
.Our keynote speaker during lunch
was Jennifer Downey, President of Ambiance,The Store for Lovers.  
Jennifer spoke of their award winning, world class customer service program, TLC or Think Like our Customer.

In our morning session, acclaimed author, Monica Cornetti, led an engaging seminar entitled, "Let's Talk! - The Secret of Powerful Communication Skills for Women".
Jennifer Downey
Monica Cornetti
In the afternoon participants learned ways to modify behavior to achieve different results as Monica presented, "Your Face Isn't Finished Until Your Lipstick Is On...Rules of the Women's Success Game."  Participants received Monica's book of the same name.
Both Monica and Jennifer provided sizeable donations to the SBDC Scholarship Fund.  The staff of the SBDC and future scholarship recipients thank them for their generosity.
            Victor Pavona          Monica Cornetti
Jennifer Downey
April 10, 2013

What Is the Color of Opportunity?:
The New Realities of Business and Race
Melvin Gravely II, Ph.D.
On April 10th, area entrepreneurs and businesspeople were privileged to hear Dr. Melvin Gravely II speak at Kent State University at Stark. Each received a copy of his book, "What is the Color of Opportunity:  The New Realities of Business and Race." Dr. Gravely is a Canton native and entrepreneur who has experienced the world beyond our City.  He explained how large business commitment to minority firms has changed in scope and methodology and how best to compete in the marketplace today.  
Dr. Melvin Gravely
After Dr. Gravely's engaging presentation, he graciously presented a $5,000 donation to the Small Business Development Center's scholarship fund for student entrepreneurs and stayed to sign copies of his book.  

June 24, 2014
Morley Winograd, Keynote Speaker
How a new generation is remaking America

Morley Winograd is a consultant, author, speaker and on-air pundit delivering candid, informed insights on engaging Millennials. His predictions and often pithy analyses have appeared in (or on) The New York Times, The Today Show, CNN, USA Today, PBS NewsHour, NPR, Barron’s, Forbes, Reuters and Univision.

Co-author with Michael Hais of three highly acclaimed books, Millennial Majority (2013), Millennial Momentum (2011) and Millennial Makeover (2008), Morley is a senior fellow at the University of Southern California’s Annenberg School’s Center on Communication Leadership and Policy. Based in Los Angeles, he is a regular contributor to several nationalpublications, including: The Christian Science Monitor, The National Journal, New Geography and PolicyMic.

HomeContact UsAbout UsMeet the StaffHelpful LinksEntrepreneur Experience
Past EventsStudent Scholarship 

October 6, 2015

Barbara Stankoskwi, Keynote Speaker
Captain, U,S, Navy (Retired), Owner: President and CEO of AMTIS Inc.​

​Organizational Culture

Barbara founded AMTIS in 2007 with the goal of creating an “Organizational Culture” different from those she had experienced during her 28 years of Navy experience and while working in other small businesses. During her presentation, Barbara will discuss the challenge of creating an “Organizational Culture” through the startup, initial growth phase and other challenges faced by AMTIS as they grew to over 160 employees in 15 different locations across the country. In addition, she will address the changing and challenging role of the today’s business leader while diversifying a company’s services and customer base as
well as simultaneously creating an environment that fosters employee engagement.

After retiring from a 28-year career in the U.S. Navy, Stankowski worked for several woman- owned, small businesses as a training and education consultant and facilitator, supporting government and industry clients. In 2007, she became owner, president and CEO of AMTIS Inc., a company that provides services to federal and state agencies and industry clients.
AMTIS was selected as one of the top 50 performing small companies in Florida for 2012; awarded CEO Nexus Cup in collaboration with Rollins Center for Advanced Entrepreneurship, Florida High Tech Corridor and Grow Florida in 2013; awarded 2014 Business Owner of the Year by Orlando Business Journal; and recognized in 2012, 2013 and 2015 by Inc. 500/5000 as one of the nation’s fastest-growing companies.
Barbara provided a sizable donation to the SBDC Scholarship Fund. The staff of the SBDC and future scholarship recipients are thankful for her generosity.
Contributing Sponsors                                                                   Participating Sponsors