Meet the 2020 Entrepreneurial Awards Judges
The Greater Lansing Entrepreneurial Award judges are a key component in making each year’s event a successful one. The judges panel spends countless hours reviewing nominee submissions and discussing how local entrepreneurs are positively impacting our region. The esteemed panel of judges are committed to finding those who play a pivotal role in the growth of Lansing. Here’s a look at the 2020 panel who had to make those weighty decisions.
A compassionate and visionary leader, Jeffrey Benson is responsible for overseeing all aspects of CASE Credit Union, ensuring that each part of the organization works together to serve the community and help members achieve financial success.
Benson has been president and CEO of CASE Credit Union since 2010. In that time, Benson’s vision for CASE Credit Union has always been to help every member and future member achieve the financial success that they aspire to by offering innovative products and services to individuals who may otherwise not have been given the opportunity at another financial institution.
Under Benson’s leadership CASE Credit Union has received numerous regional, state and national awards, including state and national recognition by the Detroit Free Press’ “Top Workplaces” and the Credit Union Journal’s “Best Credit Union to Work For.”
Additional awards under Benson’s leadership include the Credit Union National Association’s Technology Council “Excellence in Technology,” the CUNA CFO Council’s “Excellence in Finance,” the Community Development Credit Union Designation, the National Dora Maxwell “Social Responsibility/Community Development,” the National Alphonse Desjardins Youth Financial Education Award and the BIZKID$ Financial Education Grant.
Chris Buck serves as the senior managing director and chief operating officer for Martin Commercial Properties in East Lansing. Buck spent nearly 25 years serving multiple roles with Enterprise Holdings (Enterprise, Alamo and National Car Rental), including regional vice president for Michigan for nine years. As regional vice president, he earned national accolades for excellence in profit growth, operations, corporate account development, human resources, talent acquisition, accounting and risk management.
In 2013, Buck established C.J. Buck Consulting and, at the same time, he began volunteering for the Meridian Township Economic Development Corp., where he served the board chair from 2015 to 2017. In September 2017, Buck was hired as the first economic development director for Meridian Township, where he successfully courted business development projects meant to drive vibrancy in the region.
Buck hosts a podcast — Michigan Reimagined — to highlight people and organizations driving passion and economic sustainability throughout Michigan. In his role at Martin Commercial Properties, his mission is to drive new tenants into empty buildings to make Lansing a better place to live. Buck lives in Okemos with his wife, Martha, and two sons, Evan and Phill.
Michael J. Debri is the Lansing community president and mid-Michigan business banking market manager at Huntington National Bank. Debri has served as the Lansing community president since November 2009 and has held the position as business banking market manager since February 2014.
Debri began his banking career in 1997 as a credit analyst, after graduating from Michigan State University with a bachelor’s degree in finance. In 1999, he transitioned into a commercial relationship officer. He has spent his entire career serving existing and developing new commercial banking clients. In 2005, Debri became team lead of investment commercial real estate in the Jackson and Lansing markets at Fifth Third Bank. He joined Huntington Bank, formerly Citizens Bank, in 2007 as the senior commercial relationship officer in Lansing.
Some of Debri’s current and past board positions have been held with Lansing Downtown YMCA, Great Lakes Capital Fund Art of Leadership, Junior Achievement, Mid-Michigan Entrepreneur Institute and the Mid-Michigan Alumni Association.
Debri has been married to Erin since 2001 and has two sons, Andrew and Bryce.
Tom Hamp is a business transformation and leadership coach with 34 years of experience with companies such as IBM, Kodak and Kyocera. His clients say that he consistently holds them accountable, pushes them to set specific measurable goals, returns their focus to plans that are in place and uncovers the true value drivers of their business. In addition, he coaches teams as well, helping them to understand the fundamentals of working together and how important their culture is. Hamp has expertise and success in a wide range of areas including sales and marketing, pricing, product management, strategic planning, business development, leadership development, human resource management, and public speaking and facilitation. Hamp has dedicated himself to creating a powerful transformational journey for his clients.
Of particular passion is the unique aspects of a family business. Hamp has guided many family businesses through difficult decisions and dynamics specific to family members operating a business.
Hamp is a certified value builder adviser as well as a C-IQ enhanced skills coach.
Hamp is married to his wife, Julie, of 22 years and has partnered with her in raising their four children: Kelsey, Nate, Evan and Derek as well as their dog, Denver. The Hamps attend church Sunday mornings. When Hamp finds himself with spare time, he enjoys playing basketball, golf and cooking.
Jessica Starks is the president of Transworld Business Advisors of Lansing. Transworld Business Advisors is the world leader in the confidential marketing and sales of businesses and franchises.
“From business brokerage to mergers and acquisitions, we are the business sale specialists,” said Starks.
Starks received her bachelor’s degree from Grand Valley State University in business administration with an emphasis in accounting and finance. Before starting her own business, Starks gained experience at a public accounting firm and sales with a payroll company, followed by 10 years in business banking. Toward the end of her banking career, Starks was financing buyers acquiring businesses.
Realizing that there was a need in the market, Starks wanted to help business owners exit their business. She found that baby boomers did not know where to turn when wanting to retire. Although she thought of mostly baby boomers, she realized that other business owners wanted to exit their business as well. They had built something great, reinvested a lot of their money back into the business, and cared about their customers and employees. Starks wanted to give them an outlet to sell what they have worked so hard to create while leaving a legacy.
Starks is married to Brad and has two sons, Carter and Grant. You are likely to find them at a football field, basketball court or baseball field.
Jeff Jackson currently serves as the chief lending officer of Michigan State University Federal Credit Union. He joined the credit union in 1997 and has experience leading the business and consumer lending, payment systems, support services, member services, and adjustments teams.
As chief lending officer, Jackson guides the consumer and business lending divisions of the credit union, providing financial solutions for members to meet their lending and cash management needs.
Beyond his leadership at MSUFCU, Jackson is actively involved in the community. He was recently named to the board of directors for the Federal Home Loan Bank of Indianapolis, an independent regional cooperative bank. Jackson currently serves as a board member for the Michigan Credit Union Foundation, Child and Family Charities, and Sparrow Foundation, and he is a member of the CUNA Lending Council. Jackson holds a Bachelor of Business Administration degree in finance and accounting from the University of Michigan and a Master of Business Administration degree from Michigan State University.
Bo Garcia is dean of the community education and workforce development division at Lansing Community College. He manages corporate training, small-business development, community education, continuing education and extension centers.
Formerly, Garcia was executive director of the Business and Community Institute at LCC, where he was charged with creating business and workforce development initiatives between LCC and regional employers.
In his previous position as regional director of the Small Business Development Center, Garcia counseled over 2,000 business clients on areas ranging from startup to expansion and crisis management.
Garcia also authored “Business Matters” a weekly business column in the Lansing State Journal for over five years, he has been published in Entrepreneur Magazine and numerous other business publications, and presents on various business issues regionally.
He has also been adjunct faculty at the Davenport University College of Business Administration.
Garcia holds a Master of Business Administration degree from Northwood University, a Master of Public Administration degree from Western Michigan University and a Bachelor of Arts degree from Michigan State University.
He also has served on several boards including the Community Foundation, Lansing Metro YMCA, the National Council of Continuing Education and Training, and more.
Most importantly, Garcia has a daughter, Annie, who he adores and loves to spend time with.
Don McNabb is the CEO, principal scientist and co-founder of Triterra, a Lansing-based consulting firm that specializes in brownfield development, environmental consulting and natural resources management services.
McNabb has over 20 years of experience in the industry and is responsible for overseeing implementation of the company’s strategic direction, while continually promoting the firm’s core focus and values. He routinely assists clients with implementation of environmental due diligence and contaminant management strategies while keeping their best interests in mind.
McNabb has provided numerous practical, creative and effective solutions for real estate acquisition, brownfield redevelopment and contaminant investigation/remediation projects throughout Michigan and the Midwest.
McNabb has a great appreciation for the Michigan’s capital region and routinely devotes time and resources to help make communities better. He also currently serves on the Lansing Economic Area Partnership’s executive committee, chairs the Eaton Rapids Downtown Development Authority and Mainstreet Program, and is one of the directors for the Eaton Rapids Youth Soccer organization. McNabb is a resident of Eaton Rapids, where he resides with his wife, Erica, and their two children, Torin, and Marissa.
Scott Norman is the vice president of business development for Physicians Health Plan. PHP, a division of Sparrow Health System, is an award-winning health plan that provides insurance for thousands of employers and members across mid-Michigan. Norman is responsible for strategic planning, sales, marketing, and product and market development for PHP. He is playing a key role in leading the expansion of PHP into the Medicare market with the introduction of Sparrow Advantage, a new Medicare Advantage product being introduced to the mid-Michigan area.
Norman has over 20 years’ experience in health care insurance both as a health plan executive and as an agent working with employers to help them develop low-cost, effective employee benefit strategies. His most recent experience includes leading the operations and sales for a 4.5-star Medicare Advantage plan with over $1.2 billion in annual revenue that serves over 140,000 members across Michigan. In addition, Norman led the commercial sales team and agent distribution strategy for a health plan with over 7,000 employer clients and 400,000 enrolled members.
Norman is a Michigan State University graduate and has been a resident of East Lansing since 1997.
Debbie Petersmark is the vice president and general manager of WILX Media, a Gray Media Group station that operates WILX-TV 10 (NBC) in Lansing, along with WILX.com and several cable channels. WILX News 10 is dedicated to providing mid-Michigan families with local news, producing nearly 40 hours of news every week between WILX and WSYM Fox 47.
Petersmark joined the station in 2000, becoming general sales manager in 2014 and vice president and general manager in 2018. Prior to joining WILX, she spent 10 years at the Sparrow Foundation as the manager of the Children’s Miracle Network. She currently serves as a board member for the Michigan Association of Broadcasters, the American Red Cross Mid-Michigan Chapter and the Sparrow Foundation. Petersmark grew up in an entrepreneurial family, working alongside her grandfather, uncle and father at Holden Reid Clothiers from a young age.
At WILX, she has the opportunity to work with local business owners every day. She appreciates and understands the hard work, sacrifice and joy that come with being an entrepreneur and feels privileged to be part of the Entrepreneurial Awards judging panel. A lifelong resident of East Lansing, Petersmark holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from Indiana University. She and her husband, Mike, live in East Lansing and have three children, Andy, Megan and Owen.
Steve Piesko joined Maner Costerisan in 1999 and currently serves as the treasurer of the board of directors and chair of the education services niche. Piesko specializes in consulting and strategic business advisory services as well as auditing of closely held businesses, nonprofits and school districts.
Being part of the team running a firm of approximately 140 employees gives Piesko the ability to assist small businesses and analyze issues from an owner’s perspective by working closely with them on strategy, succession planning, leadership, software conversions, bonus systems, stock transactions and a variety of other issues to ensure the best outcome and success of the firm’s clients.
Piesko graduated from Michigan State University with a bachelor’s degree and a master’s degree in accounting and finance. He is a member of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants, the Michigan Association of Certified Public Accountants and is the past treasurer of the First Tee of Mid-Michigan. Piesko currently lives in Dewitt with his wife, Missy; daughter, Cate; and puppy, Murphy.
Tune in to this year’s awards Saturday, Nov. 14 at 7 p.m. on WILX.