Former Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull to speak at The Economic Club of Southwestern Michigan Speakers Series Mar. 18

On Wednesday, March 18, at 7:30 pm, The Economic Club of Southwestern Michigan Speakers Series, hosted by The Mendel Center at Lake Michigan College, welcomes former Australian Prime Minister, the Honorable Malcolm Turnbull. Tickets for the speaker event are on sale now to the public.

Turnbull possesses a unique and timely understanding of the current geopolitical moment. He has forged lasting connections with leaders around the world and speaks to the influence that their politics have on the world at large. During “An Evening with Malcolm Turnbull,” he will share his valuable insights into issues impacting our world today.

Turnbull’s career spans journalism, law, business, and politics. He was born in 1954 and grew up in Sydney, Australia. While studying at Sydney University, Turnbull worked as a journalist and continued doing so when he studied at Oxford on a Rhodes Scholarship. It was during that time at Oxford that Turnbull met and was hired by Harold Evans, the editor of London’s Sunday Times newspaper.

After his time at Oxford, where he married his wife Lucy, Turnbull returned to Australia and practiced law. He established a reputation as an effective advocate, most notably when he successfully defended former MI5 agent Peter Wright against the British Government in the “Spycatcher” trial.

Turnbull established an investment banking firm in 1987. He later co-founded the first big Australian Internet company, OzEmail Ltd, listing it on the NASDAQ in 1996 and selling it to Worldcom three years later. Turnbull joined Goldman Sachs in 1997, becoming a partner and heading its Australian business until he retired to pursue a political career.

He entered the Australian House of Representatives in 2004, then served as the 29th Prime Minister from 2015 to 2018. As Prime Minister, he delivered strong economic growth, record jobs growth, and reduced corporate and personal income taxes. He successfully negotiated with President Trump to maintain a refugee resettlement deal he had agreed to with President Obama and to ensure Australia was not hit with tariffs or quotas on its steel and aluminum exports to the US. When Trump pulled out of the Trans Pacific Partnership, Turnbull refused to allow that 12-nation free trade deal to fall by the wayside and rallied the remaining eleven countries to commit to a continuing TPP-11.

Throughout his political career, Turnbull has been a strong environmental advocate with focus on water management and renewable energy policy. Socially, his government legalized same-sex marriage and reformed federal schools funding. He opposed racism and division at every turn, ensuring that Australia remains the most successful multicultural society in the world. Additionally, he embarked on the largest peace time re-equipment of Australia’s defense forces, a center piece of which is a 54-ship naval shipbuilding program.

A pre-presentation Dinner & Discussion event will be held in newly renovated Grand Upton Hall. The buffet dinner begins at 5:30 pm. At 6:30 pm, a panel discussion titled “Global Issues and their Impact on Our Community” will be presented. Panelists will discuss the local effect of three global issues: climate change, poverty, and health care. They will explore locally observable dimensions of these issues and the actions each one of us can take to move our community forward in positive ways.

Panelists are:

Jamie Passon Brooks received her bachelor’s degree from The University of Michigan and law degree from the Detroit College of Law/MSU College of Law. She practiced corporate, banking, and real estate law for many years. In 2005 she became a Court Appointed Special Advocate Volunteer advocating for the needs of local foster children in the Detroit area. In 2007 she transitioned to CASA Program Director for Genesee County (Flint), Michigan where she supervised 100 volunteers and increased program advocacy from 4 to over 400 children during her 4-year tenure. Currently, Brooks serves as the Executive Director of CASA of Southwest Michigan serving Berrien and St. Joseph Counties where she supports over 30 advocates who serve the needs of 71 foster children in the region. She is also the Executive Director of Global Philanthropy Alliance, a global non-profit that develops young social entrepreneurs in Africa by funding youth-led or youth-engaged programs that provide opportunities through start-up grants for youth to advance the economic and social health of their families and communities.

Laura Goos is an elected City Commissioner and the Mayor Pro Tem of St. Joseph, Michigan. In addition to her elected position, Goos has worked at Whirlpool Corporation since 2005 in Human Resources, currently serving as Global Senior Manager, Talent Acquisition. Whirlpool is an avid supporter of Inclusion and Diversity as well as community service. Goos has also been active in local non-profits serving on the Board of the Box Factory for the Arts from 2014 – 2018 as well as the Safe Shelter for Domestic Violence victims from 2008 – 2009. Goos’s passion for climate-related issues started in her early career as a Safety & Environmental Services Manager for Cascade Engineering in Grand Rapids. It was there that she learned about sustainability and climate. In 2007, Goos organized a community event in St. Joseph for education on carbon footprint. She was a founding member of the Whirlpool Green Initiative. Finally, pursuing her passion in this area, Goos received certification from the Climate Reality Leadership Corps in July 2019.  

Dr. Katherine Kwon is a partner at Lake Michigan Nephrology, specializing in hypertension and kidney disease. She graduated from Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York City and completed her residency and fellowship training at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville. She joined Lake Michigan Nephrology in 2007. Dr Kwon serves on the American Society of Nephrology’s Professional Development Committee and on the Renal Physicians Association’s Governmental Affairs Committee.

Dr. Amy Scrima is the chair of Social Sciences, Humanities, and Education at Lake Michigan College. She is also psychology faculty and director of the Honors program. Scrima has a PhD in Behavioral Science from Western Michigan University and did her undergraduate work at Purdue University in Psychology and English. She has worked in business and industry in training development, instructional design, and organizational management but found her passion in teaching and has been committed to improving her students’ educational opportunities at LMC for over 10 years. Scrima is on the board of the League of Women Voters and volunteers in her community of Southwest Michigan where she lives with her family.

Following dinner, ticket holders for Turnbull’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 Honor Credit Union.

About The Economic Club of Southwestern Michigan Speakers Series

Established in 1943, the Economic Club of Southwestern Michigan has brought more than 430 world leaders, policy makers, experts, and other newsmakers to the region. Its goal is to provide unique opportunities for personal and community growth. By presenting national and international speakers from a wide range of fields and expertise, this non-partisan series is dedicated to the discussion of social, economic, and public policy questions important in today’s complex society.

About The Mendel Center at Lake Michigan College

The Mendel Center raised the curtain on its first Mainstage season performance in the fall of 1992. Since that time, it has presented Mainstage season performances to more than half a million patrons in the 1,559-seat Mendel Center Mainstage Theatre. Newly renovated Grand Upton Hall, first opened in 1979, is a 14,400-square-foot venue serving the community as the host site for meetings, banquets, trade shows, weddings, and other celebrations. The 250-seat Hanson Theatre is home to the Lake Michigan College Visual & Performing Arts Departments as well as a variety of Mendel Center and community events.

The Mendel Center is 30 minutes from Niles and 40 minutes from the Kalamazoo and South Bend areas. It is located on the Lake Michigan College campus at 2755 E. Napier Avenue, Benton Harbor, Michigan, one mile east of I-94 (Exit 30) and one mile west of the US 31 Bypass (exit 24). Its GPS mapping address is 1100 Yore Avenue, Benton Harbor, MI.