Keynote Speakers


Rick Snyder
Governor of Michigan

After graduating from Battle Creek Lakeview High School a semester early, Rick Snyder earned three degrees from the University of Michigan, all by the age of 23. He obtained his Bachelor’s degree with high distinction in 1977, his MBA with distinction in 1979 and a JD in 1982.

Following a successful career with Coopers & Lybrand (now PricewaterhouseCoopers), where he became a partner in six years, the Governor left his home state of Michigan to help manage Gateway computers. As the 763rd employee to join the company, he guided the growth of Gateway until it became a Fortune 500 company with over 10,000 employees. During these years of rapid growth, Rick Snyder was promoted to President and Chief Operating Officer of the company.

The Governor’s record of job creation didn’t stop when he left Gateway in 1997. After proving he can help build and run a multibillion dollar publicly traded company he chose to return to Michigan and focus his efforts on building new businesses from the ground up. He raised an unprecedented $200 million in venture capital funds to invest in building startup businesses, taking ideas and translating them into exciting companies including HealthMedia, Inc. and Esperion Therapeutics, which was later purchased by Pfizer.

In addition to creating new businesses, the Governor has been actively involved in economic development on a statewide and local level in Michigan. Governor Engler appointed Rick Snyder to serve as the first Chair of the Michigan Economic Development Corporation in 1999.

Under the Rick Snyder’s leadership, Michigan won the prestigious Governor’s Cup award from Site Selection magazine every year, the Michigan Life Sciences Corridor was launched, and the MEDC initiated legislative efforts for SmartZones to support technology startups. These programs contributed to the formation of new companies across the state.

In Washtenaw County, Rick Snyder expanded economic development opportunities through a variety of opportunities including SPARK—one of the most successful economic development programs in the country. The Governor and his family reside in Ann Arbor where their daughter attends school.



Mike Flanagan
State Superintendent of Public Instruction

A stalwart of education leadership and reform in Michigan, Mike pushes local, state, and federal policy to ReImagine instruction for all students. Mike has directed the Michigan Department of Education since May 2005, chairs the State Board of Education, and is Education Advisor to Governor Rick Snyder. With 30 years of leadership as a local, regional, and state superintendent, Mike brings decisive and practical vision to re-building a system that develops stronger educators and higher-achieving students.

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