Mitch Albom to speak at The Economic Club of Southwestern Michigan Speakers Series Dec. 2

The Economic Club of Southwestern Michigan Speakers Series, hosted by The Mendel Center at Lake Michigan College in Benton Harbor, Michigan, welcomes best-selling author, philanthropist, columnist, sports reporter, and radio host Mitch Albom on Monday, December 2, at 7:30 pm.

Albom is an inspiration around the world. His books have sold over 39 million copies and have been translated into 45 languages. While nationally recognized for his sports writing, Albom is perhaps best known for the themes of hope and kindness woven through his books, plays, and films. His breakthrough book, Tuesdays with Morrie, became an international phenomenon with over 14 million copies sold. Now in its twentieth year, Tuesdays remains one of the top-selling memoirs of all time, and was adapted into an Emmy Award-winning TV movie produced by Oprah Winfrey, starring Jack Lemmon and Hank Azaria.

Albom has founded 10 charities, including nine in the Detroit area, such as S.A.Y. Detroit, which operates a family health clinic; A Time to Help, a volunteer organization; and A Hole in the Roof Foundation, which repairs faith-based homeless shelters. He also directs the Have Faith Haiti Mission in Port Au Prince, which helps impoverished children and orphans, as well as the Chika Fund, which provides life-saving medical costs and health care.

A columnist for The Detroit Free Press since 1985 and a panelist on The Sports Reporters podcast, Albom has been named the #1 Sports Columnist in the Nation by the Associated Press Sports Editors (APSE) 13 times. In June 2010, he received the APSE Red Smith Award for lifetime achievement, the biggest prize in sports journalism. In June 2013, he was inducted into the Sportswriters Hall of Fame.

He is the author of eight bestselling books, with five debuting at #1 on the New York Times Best Seller List, including The First Phone Call from HeavenHave A Little FaithThe Five People You Meet in Heaven, and its sequel, The Next Person You Meet in Heaven. Albom’s next work, Finding Chika: A Little Girl, an Earthquake, and the Making of a Family, is the true story of a young Haitian orphan whose short life would forever change Albom’s heart.

Albom hosts two radio shows on WJR-AM and has appeared on The Today ShowOprah, and CBS Sunday Morning. His articles have been featured in The New York TimesGQ, and Sports Illustrated. Currently, he is developing an hour-long TV show for TNT.

In his presentation Why Every Life Matters,” Albom will speak about how we are all connected and we all have influence, so it is our responsibility to do whatever we can, wherever we are, to make the world a better place.

Following his presentation, Albom will be available to sign copies of his book Finding Chika: A Little Girl, an Earthquake, and the Making of a Family, which will be available for purchase.

A pre-presentation buffet dinner will be served in newly renovated Grand Upton Hall. Dinner begins at 5:30 pm and includes mixed greens salad, stuffed pork loin, Swiss steak, mashed potatoes, green beans, rolls and butter, Mississippi mud pie in coup champagne glass.

As part of the dinner at 6:30 pm, the Campus for Creative Aging will present a 30-minute panel discussion titled “Why Every Life – and every age – Matters.” We each have something of value to contribute to our community no matter what our stage of life. Building on the themes of Albom’s presentation, a panel of experts gives perspectives on the value of every age and engages the audience in a discussion on the value of intergenerational and interdependent communities. Each of us has a unique and singular contribution we can make to better our community. Panelists include:

Mamie YarbroughBerrien County Commissioner and President of the Benton Harbor Public Library Board, Benton Harbor Homecoming, Inc., and the Coming Home Coming Together Concert Committee – Yarbrough is a life-long resident of Berrien County, attended Benton Harbor High School, Western Michigan University, and has several certifications in the field of Housing Management, a field in which she was employed for 30 years in varied administrative, management, and consulting roles. A known leader in the community, she has been tapped for multiple leadership roles and has infectious passion for her community, always willing to consider new possibilities.

Dr. Toni Woolfork-Barnes, Director of The Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at Western Michigan University –The Osher Foundation was founded in 1977 to improve quality of life through support for higher education and the arts. The lifelong learning programs it supports can be found in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. WMU has been the home of an Osher Lifelong Learning Institute and part of the foundation’s national network of similar entities since April 2014. Woolfork-Barnes brings more than 30 years of experience in leading various student-focused programs at WMU prior to taking leadership of OLLI last spring. She is excited about continuing the mission of offering courses and trips designed for learners age 50 and above.

Orion Bell, President and Chief Executive Officer at the Cleveland-based Benjamin Rose Institute on Aging – Bell brings more than 30 years of leadership experience in the field of aging and persons with disabilities. Benjamin Rose Institute on Aging is a nationally recognized nonprofit whose work includes deepening the understanding of the evolving needs of older adults in a changing society; promoting effective public policies; and developing innovative, high-quality solutions. Bell previously served as President and Chief Executive Officer at CICOA Aging and In-Home Solutions in Indianapolis, preceded by a long career with the American Red Cross. Bell is a member of the American Society on Aging, the Gerontological Society of America and past board member of the National Association of Area Agencies on Aging.

Panel moderator Lynn Kellogg, CEO of Region IV Area Agency on Aging (AAA) based in St. Joseph, Michigan and serving Berrien, Cass and Van Buren counties – Kellogg is a regular newspaper columnist. She has been in the field of aging over 40 years, is well-known nationally as an innovator and speaker, and is a champion for business development in the field and the richness of intergenerational, interdependent communities. Region IV Area Agency on Aging recently received a National Innovations Award for its Campus for Creative Aging, a virtual campus concept launching an all-inclusive movement to laud age as a time of creativity, purpose, growth, and learning.

Following dinner, ticket holders for Albom’s presentation will take a short walk through The Mendel Center to their reserved seats in the Mainstage. Dinner and presentation tickets are sold separately. Reserved presentation seats ($50 – $80) and dinner tickets ($35) are on sale now at, by calling 269-927-8700, option 1, or by visiting The Mendel Center Box Office in person. The box office, located in the Grand Upton Hall Lobby, is open weekdays from 10 am to 6 pm.

This Economic Club of Southwestern Michigan Speakers Series event is sponsored by Campus for Creative Aging.