The Economic Club of Southwestern Michigan Speakers Series announces its 75th anniversary lineup

As it prepares to celebrate its 75th anniversary season, The Economic Club of Southwestern Michigan Speakers Series has announced its four-speaker lineup for the 2018-2019 season. The schedule features Vice President Joe Biden, CEO of Robin Hood, Army combat veteran, and best-selling author Wes Moore, NBC News political director and host ofMeet the Press and MTP Daily Chuck Todd, and Founder and CEO of Girls Who Code and author Reshma Saujani.

“Milestone anniversaries are always an opportunity to celebrate great moments and important accomplishments, but 75 years is something truly special,” stated Mike Nadolski, director of The Economic Club of Southwestern Michigan Speakers Series and executive director of The Mendel Center at Lake Michigan College. “Few organizations have had an impact on our region equal to that of The Economic Club. This year we continue that legacy with an outstanding lineup that touches on some of today’s most relevant topics.”

Vice President Joe Biden

47th Vice President of the United States

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Vice President Joe Biden represented Delaware in the United States Senate for 36 years before becoming the 47th Vice President of the United States. In the Senate, he was a leading architect of domestic policy including authoring both the landmark 1994 Crime Act and the Violence Against Women Act and playing a pivotal role in shaping U.S. foreign policy. As Vice President, he oversaw implementation of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, chaired the Middle-Class Task Force, and led the administration’s efforts to implement meaningful reforms to reduce gun violence. Since leaving the White House, Vice President Biden continues his legacy of expanding opportunity for all with the creation of the Biden Foundation, the University of Pennsylvania Biden Center for Diplomacy and Global Engagement, and the Biden Institute for Domestic Policy at the University of Delaware. He and his wife, Dr. Jill Biden, have also founded the Biden Cancer Initiative, and they continue their son Beau’s work protecting children from abuse with the Beau Biden Foundation for the Protection of Children. Vice President Biden is the author of the #1 New York Times Bestseller “Promise Me, Dad: A Year of Hope, Hardship, and Purpose,” a memoir released in 2017. Expect an evening of insightful perspectives that can only come from a lifetime dedicated to public service during An Evening with Vice President Joe Biden.

Wes Moore

CEO of Robin Hood, Army Combat Veteran, and Best-selling Author

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Acclaimed author and social entrepreneur Wes Moore is chief executive of Robin Hood, one of the nation’s largest foundations with a sole focus on alleviating poverty. He is the founder of BridgeEdu, an organization that provides support to students as they navigate higher education. Moore, who is a retired, decorated combat veteran and officer, served a tour of duty in the elite 82nd Airborne division of the United States Army in Afghanistan. His decade of military service inspired him to become a passionate voice for veterans, executive producing and hosting the PBS miniseries Coming Back with Wes Moore. Moore has authored four books including the New York Times bestseller The Work: My Search for a Life that Matters. His presentation “The Other Wes Moore: One Name, Two Fates” examines his life journey from wayward inner-city youth to decorated veteran, Rhodes Scholar, White House fellow, and business leader – a story that is the subject of the much-anticipated major motion picture The Other Wes Moore from Executive Producer Oprah Winfrey. This event is presented in conjunction with Benton Harbor Promise and First Tee of Benton Harbor.

Chuck Todd

NBC News Political Director, Host of Meet the Press and MTP Daily

Tuesday, March 26, 2019

Chuck Todd is one of the most recognizable faces in political reporting today. He helms the venerable Meet the Press – celebrating its 70th year on television – where he has solidified his reputation as a tireless political reporter who moves past talking points and gets to the heart of the matter. The success of his reign on Sundays inspired his 5 p.m. weekday show on MSNBC, MTP Daily. Both his cable show and his podcast, 1947: The Meet the Press Podcast, showcase Todd’s provocative interviewing style, expanding Meet the Press, the longest-running show in television history, into the modern age. As NBC News political director, Todd spearheads the network’s political coverage, offering his sharp analysis and translation of Beltway politics across all platforms. During “An Evening with Chuck Todd,” the audience will appreciate his sharp analysis of American public affairs, his encyclopedic knowledge of politics, and his even-handed assessment about the day’s most important topics.

Reshma Saujani

Founder and CEO of Girls Who Code and Author

Tuesday, April 9, 2019

Reshma Saujani is the Founder and CEO of Girls Who Code, a national non-profit organization working to close the gender gap in technology. Her TED talk, “Teach girls bravery, not perfection,” has more than four million views and has sparked a national conversation about how we are raising our girls. She is the author of three books, including the forthcoming Brave, Not PerfectNew York Times bestseller Girls Who Code: Learn to Code and Change the World, and Women Who Don’t Wait in Line – in which she advocates for a new model of female leadership focused on embracing risk and failure, promoting mentorship and sponsorship, and boldly charting your own course — personally and professionally. Among numerous honors, she’s been named one of Fortune’s World’s Greatest Leaders, Fortune’s 40 Under 40, and a WSJ Magazine Innovator of the Year. Saujani will share insights on the importance of achieving gender parity in computer science when she discusses “Closing the Gender Gap in Tech.”

General Membership

Members from the 2017-18 Speakers Series season have the first opportunity to purchase season memberships beginning July 18. Registration for new members begins August 1. Memberships will be available until October 16, or until all memberships are filled. Two general membership options are available:

Grand Upton Hall membership – In-person presentation

Membership includes:

  • Pre-sale, priority access to speaker tickets before they go on sale to the public.
  • Choice of dinner ticket or speaker-only ticket, on a speaker-by-speaker basis, with exclusive member-only pricing. There is an additional charge for dinner tickets. Speaker-only tickets are available at no extra charge. Grand Upton Hall members must purchase a dinner ticket or reserve a speaker-only ticket to guarantee a seat in the room.
  • General admission seating on a first-come, first-seated basis.
  • Typical meeting format of a live broadcast of the 20-minute Q&A session from Mainstage, followed by an in-person speaker’s presentation and Q&A session in Grand Upton Hall.

Mainstage memberships – In-person pre-speech Q&A, then HD broadcast of presentation

Membership includes:

  • One ticket to each of the season’s regularly scheduled speakers at no additional charge.
  • Pre-event cash bars and complimentary appetizers for networking and socializing.
  • General admission seating on a first-come, first-seated basis.
  • Typical meeting format of a 20-minute in-person Q&A session with the speaker, followed by a live broadcast on the Mainstage big screen of the speaker’s presentation and Q&A session from Grand Upton Hall.

All Economic Club memberships include Mendel Center Mainstage Performing Arts Series member benefits including ticket discounts and pre-sale opportunities.

Young Professionals Membership

For the first time, The Economic Club is offering a membership option specifically for young professionals. This membership for individuals under the age of 40 includes member ticket access to all four regular Economic Club speakers, full benefits of Grand Upton Hall or Mainstage, along with a special speaker event tailored to the interests of young professionals, and post-speaker Young Professionals networking events.

“By making The Economic Club of Southwestern Michigan Speaker Series more accessible to young professionals, we can help inspire the next generation of community and business leaders through these rare, first-hand experiences. Additionally, all members will benefit from new levels of engagement and interest in the Speakers Series,” stated Nadolski.

The special Young Professionals presentation scheduled for this season is:

Alex Banayan

Author, Venture Capitalist, and Thought Leader on Millennial Trends for Business

Tuesday, February 19, 2019

Alex Banayan is the author of the national bestseller The Third Door, which chronicles his five-year quest to track down Bill Gates, Lady Gaga, Warren Buffett, Maya Angelou, Steven Spielberg, and dozens more of the world’s most successful people to uncover how they broke through and launched their careers. Banayan has been named to Forbes’ 30 Under 30 list, Business Insider’s Most Powerful People Under 30, and been featured in major media including Fortune, Forbes, Businessweek, Billboard, Bloomberg TV, CNBC, Fox News, MSNBC, and CBS News. An acclaimed keynote speaker, Banayan has presented the Third Door framework to business conferences and corporate leadership teams around the world, including Apple, Google, Nike, IBM, Snapchat, Salesforce, Disney, Harvard, and countless others. A leader of the next generation of entrepreneurs and the focus of major media around the world, Banayan is a venture associate at Alsop Louie Partners, a high-tech venture capital firm based in San Francisco. Fortune magazine reported that Banayan was “the world’s youngest venture capitalist” and Business Insider named him one of the “Most Powerful People Under 30.” In this special young professionals’ presentation, Banayan will share his experiences in “How to Dream Bigger, Achieve Your Goals, and Take the Third Door.”

A ticket to this special presentation is included in the Young Professionals membership. Young Professional members may upgrade to a dinner ticket for an additional charge.

To purchase memberships or learn more about the speakers, visit or contact The Mendel Center Box Office at (269) 927-8700 option 1, Monday through Friday10 am to 6 pm.