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2022 Speakers

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Mr. Mike Bell

Mike is the former Mayor of Toledo 2010-2013, former State Fire Marshall - State of Ohio, former Toledo Fire Chief and first African American, as well as the youngest person ever to lead the department. He has served multiple community-related civic organizations, volunteering his time and serving on such boards as the Boys & Girls Club, Red Cross, American Cancer Society, Boy Scouts of America, and Salvation Army just to mention a few.

JoAnn Chávez

JoAnn Chávez is senior vice president and chief legal officer for DTE Energy. Chávez has responsibility for the management and strategic direction of DTE’s office of the general counsel and advises DTE’s board of directors and senior management on legal and related matters.  Chávez also has responsibility for the oversight of ethics and compliance, corporate security, corporate emergency management, and tax.


Prior to joining DTE in 2007, Chávez served as an international tax partner for KPMG LLP with experience serving large multinational clients. Chávez earned a Bachelor of Business Administration and a Juris Doctor from the University of Notre Dame.


Chávez is a strong advocate for young people and is the founder of the Michigan Hispanic Collaborative (MiHC), a Michigan non-profit, that focuses on economic equity and provides opportunities for first-generation Hispanic students to graduate from college. MiHC delivers culturally relevant programming for both students and parents to help bring coherence to the chaos of college access. Chávez sits on the Boards of DTE Energy Foundation, the Cristo Rey Network, Invest Detroit, and the Community Foundation for Southeastern Michigan.  She currently chairs the governance committee for the Cristo Rey Network and is the past chair of the Michigan Hispanic Chamber of Commerce board of directors.  She also sits on the Notre Dame Law School and the University of Michigan School of Education Advisory Councils.  


DTE Energy (NYSE: DTE) is a Detroit-based diversified energy company involved in the development and management of energy-related businesses and services nationwide. Its operating units include an electric company serving 2.2 million customers in Southeast Michigan and a natural gas company serving 1.3 million customers in Michigan. The DTE portfolio includes energy businesses focused on power and industrial projects; renewable natural gas; natural gas pipelines, gathering and storage; and energy marketing and trading. As an environmental leader, DTE utility operations will reduce carbon dioxide and methane emissions by more than 80 percent by 2040 to produce cleaner energy while keeping it safe, reliable and affordable. DTE Electric aspires to achieve net zero carbon emissions by 2050. DTE is committed to serving with its energy through volunteerism, education and employment initiatives, philanthropy and economic progress. Information about DTE is available at,, and

Tony Melendez

Originally from Rivas, Nicaragua, born without arms and a clubbed foot due to the drug, Thalidomide. Tony's mother was prescribed this drug for morning sickness by her doctor and had no idea how it would affect her unborn son. At the age of one Tony's family immigrated to the USA so Tony could have corrective surgery on his left foot in order for him to walk.
Tony grew up in a home where mom protected and cared greatly for him and at the same time had a father who encouraged and pushed him to do things on his own. As he had no arms Tony had to learn to do almost everything with his feet and at the age of sixteen taught himself how to play the guitar with his toes. As he grew proficient at his guitar playing he also matured as a singer and composer, in 1987 he was asked by the youth of  Los Angeles to be their gift to Pope John Paul II. It was this internationally broadcast event that set Tony's career in to high gear, now more than 31 years later Tony has traveled to all fifty states and more than 44 foreign countries. In May of 2020 Tony will add his 45th country when he heads to Africa, Rwanda and possibly Ghana! Our mission to these countries will include visits to Our lady of Kibeho, orphanages and schools! As well as a few concerts in 2 major cities!  
Tony has been on shows such as Good Morning America, Hour Of Power with Robert Schuller, Arsenio Hall, 700 Club, Jerry Lewis Telethons, and prime time network specials for Variety Clubs and Very Special Arts.
Tony travels with his brother Jose and together they share with young and old their message of hope, encouragement, and faith. Tony's message and story are presented with music and his personal life stories. As they continue to travel they focus on young people by going into elementary,  Jr. high schools, high schools, colleges and universities. Tony presents himself as a victim of drugs and the harm they can cause. Tony and Jose also include in their program how important self esteem is to young people and incorporate how any kind of substance abuse is dangerous. They also talk about how they deal with issues such as Disability Awareness, Cultural Awareness and Family Support. Todays most troubling issue is bullying and both Tony and Jose share their stories of overcoming this issue through changes in attitude and discipline.
Tony has recorded 6 albums, Never Be The Same, Ways of The Wise, El Muro se Callo, Cup Of Life, Hands In Heaven and Hope/Esperanza! He also has his autobiography, A Gift Of Hope, published by Harper and Row! 
Tony is the recipient of numerous awards and honors, including special commendations from President Reagan, State of California, The City of Los Angeles, and countless other civic and charitable organizations, as well as the first annual Inspirational Hero Award from the NFL Alumni Association at Super Bowl XXIII in Miami.
Tony moved from California and now resides in Branson with his wife Lynn and two kids, Marisa and Andres. Despite all the travel over the last 31 years, Tony continues to resist the siren song of stardom, hoping only to develop his musical career and share his God given gifts. " I don't feel like a celebrity," he says with a smile, " I just feel like me!"

Rita Mansour

Named by Barron’s Investment News Magazine as one of the Top 100 Female Advisors in the United States, Rita advises clients in the U.S. and around the world. Fluent in three languages, her correspondent relationships allow her access to global markets and a vast client list including professionals, business owners, retirees, foundations, endowments and institutions involved in various areas of commerce. Rita’s combination of worldwide clientele, keen sense of entrepreneurship, and attention to detail provide her clients with a unique perspective.


As Senior Managing Director, Rita and her team are focused on comprehensive wealth management and work closely with attorneys, CPAs and other experts to help assure each client receives complete professional counsel. Quoted often in local and financial media, she has been consistently recognized as a member of the Forbes/Shook Best in State Wealth Advisor Ranking, which ranks the top advisors in America. This award is given to advisors based on assets under management, ethical and moral standards and client satisfaction.


Rita has recently received many additional awards, including her alma mater Notre Dame Academy’s Hall of Fame Award, Toledo’s 20 under 40 Award, and Arab American of the Year. She also was named Outstanding Alumni of the Year of The University of Toledo College of Business and Innovation and received the prestigious YWCA Milestone Award for Business. Recently, she was nominated to receive the Jefferson Award.


As a registered representative of FINRA, Rita holds Series 7, 9/10, 31, 63 and 65 licenses. She is also a licensed insurance agent in the areas of life and health. Further, Rita earned the Certified Private Wealth Advisor® (CPWA®) certification, administered by Investment Management Consultants Association® (IMCA®) and taught in conjunction with The University of Chicago Booth School of Business.


A Toledo native, Rita earned her Bachelor of Business Administration degree from The University of Toledo, where she developed and maintained a successful promotional products company. The company’s success, largely due to Rita’s marketing and business acumen, led the University of Toledo’s College of Business to ultimately award her the Edwin R. Hodge Memorial Entrepreneurship Award as a student in college.

Rita passionately believes that giving back to her community is an important responsibility. She is actively involved in many civic and philanthropic organizations and serves as a Board Member of the Toledo Museum of Art, Lourdes University, and the Advisory Council of the Sisters of Notre Dame. Rita is also on the Grants Committee of the Greater Toledo Community Foundation. She also currently serves as the Co-Chair of Momentum, a 3-day regional celebration of the arts and cultural assets of the surrounding communities She is also an Honorary Board Member of the Arts Commission.

Ben Kowalski
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Ben Kowalski is a proud St. Francis de Sales High School alumnus. After graduating as part of the SFS class of 2009, Ben attended The Ohio State University and obtained his Bachelors and Masters of Science degrees in Mechanical Engineering in 2013 and 2014 respectively. Thereafter, Ben started a career in research and development, and product development that has spanned across Owens Corning and most recently Therma-Tru after moving back to his hometown in Toledo. Currently he is the Engineering Manager for New Product Development on the wholesale side of the business and leads a team of 5 engineers and 2 co-op students to develop products in the entry door, system component and finish and materials space. He is an active licensed Professional Engineer in the state of Ohio and is active in many professional activities. Most recently Ben has been supporting the Ohio State freshman engineering program by being an industry mentor to freshman engineering project teams for several semesters.


Ben is proudly married to his wife Kristy (NDA 09') of 7 years, and has two children, Graham (3) and Ruby (1). In his spare time he loves to play golf, cheer on the football buckeyes, play music and enjoy time with family!

Vince DiPofi
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Vince joined SSOE in 2000 and has more than 40 years of professional experience. He was hired as the business leader for SSOE’s food group, which eventually rose to a #2 ENR national ranking, and was instrumental in developing engineering alliance relationships with several of SSOE’s Top 10 clients. He spearheaded the Value Promise program, which has now documented more than $1 billion in savings for clients initiated by SSOE. Named a Principal in 2006, Vince has been influential in fostering a culture of business development within SSOE and has held previous roles as Director of Business Development, Chief Strategy Officer, and along with international experience, managing operations in China and organically starting a new office in Leon, MX, now SSOE’s 3rd largest office. He became CEO in 2019 and has led SSOE through one of its largest growth phases in the company’s history.


Vince holds a Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering from The University of Toledo and a proud 1978 graduate of St. Francis de Sales High School. He is a licensed professional engineer in both Ohio and Michigan. In 2022 he was named Engineer of the Year by the Toledo Society of Professional Engineers. In 2019, Vince was named The University of Toledo’s College of Engineering Distinguished Alumni. Vince gives back to the community as a member of the Dean’s Advisory Board for The University of Toledo College of Engineering, board director for the United Way of Greater Toledo, and Chair of the board for the American Heart Association of NW Ohio

George Kral

Date of Hire: 12/14/1990


Promoted to Chief of Police in January 2015

Education & Certifications

  • Master of Science in Justice Administration 2012

  • Bachelor of Science – Management 

  • Associate of Science – Criminal Justice  

  • Graduate of the F.B.I.’s National Executive Institute (NEI)

  • Graduate of the Senior Management Institute for Police (SMIP)

  • Certified Law Enforcement Executive (CLEE) Class XX

  • Police Executive Leadership College (PELC) Class #56 


Professional Development – Committee Memberships

  • President of the Ohio Association of Chiefs of Police

  • State of Ohio Steering Committee Member for the Juvenile Detention Alternative Initiative

  • Ohio Peace Officer Training Council Bard Member

  • Criminal Justice Coordinating Council Board Member

  • Justice Advisory Council Member

  • Trained CALEA Accreditation Manager

  • Lucas County Data and Evaluation Network Member

  • Reentry Coalition of Northwest Ohio Member

  • University of Toledo Criminal Justice Advisory Board Member

  • Ohio Association of Chiefs of Police – Legislative Committee Member

  • Ohio Association of Chiefs of Police – Law Enforcement Foundation Member

  • Lucas County DMC Workgroup Member

Professional Memberships

  • Member – International Association of Chiefs of Police

  • President – Ohio Association of Chiefs of Police

  • Life Member – Police Executive Leadership College

  • Alpha Phi Sigma – National Criminal Justice Honor Society

  • Law Enforcement Leaders to Reduce Crime and Incarceration 


Married for 33 years to Teresa, and have twin 30 year-old sons, George and Jordan (Both SFS grads)

Sara Best

Sara Best is a people and team development champion with 25 years of experience serving global, national, and regional organizations of all sizes and scope in both the for-profit and nonprofit sectors. She co-founded Real Good Ventures, LLC, a talent optimization consultancy focused on helping organizations solve their business problems- which are always people problems. Sara is a seasoned Emotional Intelligence, Performance, and Executive Coach who specializes in leadership team dynamics and building cohesive and high-performing teams. She is a certified Talent Optimization Consultant, a certified practitioner of The Predictive Index, and a certified EQ-i2.0/EQ 360 Assessment Administrator. 


Best has facilitated powerful break-outs and delivered keynotes on Leadership, Emotional Intelligence, Dynamic Teams, Change, and Performance. She also co-hosts The Bosshole® Chronicle’s Podcast which has over 10,000 downloads. 


She holds a bachelor’s degree in social work from The Ohio State University and a master’s degree in administration from Eastern Michigan University. Her mission is to help people find fulfillment and success in their work and in their lives. Sara (’85) attended Notre Dame Academy and is married to St. Francis de Sales alum, Tim Best (’84).  Her son Noah (’15) was also a Knight, and her daughters Maggie (’17) and Hannah (’20) attended St. Ursula Academy

Derick Gant

Derick is an Author, Speaker, Financial Expert, and Performance Coach with over 30 years of entrepreneurial experience. In 2019, he published The 24K Life Code: The Only Difference Between Mediocrity and Greatness. This book guides others step-by-step to achieve their best and get the results they seek.


In addition to his two companies, Gant Group, and The Studio NWO, Derick leads 24K Life. 24K Life is a community that provides high achievers and entrepreneurs with solutions and strategies to help them raise their standards. The communities goal is to help members deliver their best by eliminating limiting beliefs and habits that hold them back. We hope to create lifestyles that include mastery in all areas and empower them to become the best version of themselves.


As an expert coach and fitness professional, Derick takes complicated concepts and delivers them in understandable terms. His well-known mantra, “Master your mind, and you will always be free,” has enabled him to achieve mental, physical, and financial abundance in his own life.


Derick has been on CBS, NBC, ABC, and Fox News and has delivered two TEDx Talks sharing his tips with millions of people on making money, growing, and keeping it. Through his programs, books, and videos, Derick empowers others to break through barriers to have a bigger vision for themselves and live out their destiny.

Brad Rieger
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Brad Rieger is the chief executive officer at Cooper-Smith, a full-service marketing and advertising agency specializing in media planning, media buying, data analytics and branding. He also serves as the host of the leadership-based podcast, In the Arena – Conversations of a Lifetime. Prior to joining Cooper-Smith, Brad had a meaningful 31-year career in education. He served in a multitude of roles including special education teacher, principal, assistant superintendent and for the last 12 years of his educational run, superintendent of Sylvania Schools (2003-2015).

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Mr. James Starks

James Starks was born and raised right here in Toledo. He’s a 2004 graduate of St. Francis de Sales. He then went on to graduate from Capital University in Columbus and holds a Masters in Broadcast Journalism from Kent State University. While in college, James was a member of the football team where he excelled as a two-time All-American at defensive back. In 2008, he signed a free-agent contract with the Cincinnati Bengals. After an unfortunate injury, he continued to play football overseas in Italy.

James’ passion for journalism started at a young age watching ESPN’s Sports Center with Stuart Scott. It’s no wonder he started his career as a sports anchor before moving to the early hours of morning news. As a sports anchor, he’s covered events like NCAA bowl games, NBA playoffs, and the NFL Draft just to name a few. He’s incredibly excited to return to his hometown. He’s passionate about being actively involved in the community through volunteer work. In his spare time, he likes to hit the gym, cheer on Manchester United and spend time with his family

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Mike McCartney

Mike McCartney is an executive coach who helps successful people become better leaders. His background includes 28 years with The Andersons and 15 years with his coaching business. Clients range from Fortune 500s to family-owned companies and not-for-profit organizations.

Steve Schoembs
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Steve Schoembs is currently the CEO of Royal Paper, a manufacturer of high quality retail and commercial paper products.  Royal Paper is based in Phoenix, Arizona and has manufacturing operations nationwide in the US.  Royal Paper specializes in 100% recycled and sustainable paper products and manufacturers the largest brands in the category.

Prior to the last 4 years with Royal Paper, Steve worked for Procter & Gamble for 20 years.  At P&G he worked across many different businesses and brands including leading Sales for the two largest businesses of Family Care and Laundry.  Steve worked across the US and Globally for P&G – leading teams in Asia, across North America and Western Europe.  Steve has experience building partnerships and business with the largest retailers in the US and across the globe. 

Steve has broad expertise across general management, sales, marketing, manufacturing, operations and building high functioning teams.

Steve is currently based in Cincinnati, Ohio where he lives with his wife of 20 years and four children.  Steve and his wife met in undergrad at Miami University (Oxford) and continue to be involved to ensure youth have access to great educational opportunities for college and high schools such as St. Francis de Sales where he graduated in 1995.

Clint Longenecker

Clinton Oliver Longenecker, an award-winning educator, is one of “America’s leaders in creating high performance leaders and organizations” and is a Distinguished University Professor and the Director of The Center for Leadership and Organizational Excellence in The College of Business and Innovation at The University of Toledo. His teaching, research and consulting interests are in high performance leadership and creating great organizations. He has been the recipient of over sixty (60) outstanding teaching, service and research awards and numerous industry awards including the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year, Toastmasters International Leadership Award, The Jefferson Award for Outstanding Public Service,  and numerous “Best Professor” recognitions. In addition, he has also been recently recognized by The Economist as one of the Top Fifteen Business Professors in the World. In 2017, Clint was recognized as one of the top three University Professors in the USA as a Finalist for Baylor University’s Robert Foster Cherry Award for Great Teaching and as one of the top thirty (30) “transformational leaders” in America by The John Maxwell Organization.
He has published over 200 articles and papers in leading academic and professional journals including the Sloan Management Review, Industrial Management, Business Horizons, European Business Review, and Organizational Dynamics among others. He is a frequent media source and his research has been featured in the Wall Street Journal, Investor’s Business Daily, MSNBC, NPR, and a wide variety of media outlets. Clint is also a critically acclaimed professor in The Great Courses Critical Business Skills Series – Organizational Behavior Course released in 2015. His newest book, The Successful Career Survival Guide is a chronicle of best practices and key research findings designed to help readers improve their personal effectiveness and career trajectory. He is also the co-author of two best-selling leadership books, Getting Results: Five Absolutes for High Performance and Two-Minute Drill: Lessons for Rapid Organizational Improvement from America’s Greatest Game.
Clint is an active management consultant, educator, and executive coach whose clients include a wide variety of Fortune 500 firms and entrepreneurial organizations including: Harley-Davidson, ConAgra, SSOE, ProMedica Health Systems, Whirlpool, Eaton Corporation, Cooper Tire, Dana Corporation, Howard Hughes Medical Institute, and O-I Inc. among others. Clint has been described by Career Publications as, “one of the top motivational speakers in the U.S. who can blend cutting edge research, common sense, humor and conviction into a real and inspiring call for better performance that can help us all!” Dr. Longenecker has also served as a Visiting Lecturer at the University of the West Indies Barbados and has also lectured extensively in Poland, Hungary, and Russia. He holds a B.B.A. in marketing, an M.B.A. in management, both from the University of Toledo, and a Ph.D. in management from The Pennsylvania State University.
Clint is an active community servant, a committed member of the Christian and Missionary Alliance Church, and an active Bible study leader and Christian speaker. He has spent extensive time working in the country of Haiti managing missionary school and hospital construction projects. Clint is very happily married to the former Cindy Breese, and they have three children: Clinton Charles, Shannon Marie, and Stephen Lorenzo.

Christina Rodriguez
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Christina Rodriguez is the Executive Director of Mom’s House of Toledo. She has been with Mom’s House for 15 years. In that time the organization has flourished and exceeded many milestones including raising almost $7.5 million, developing several new programs, and developing a 5 Star Rated Childcare Center which puts them in the top 6% in the State of Ohio. In 2016, Christina endeavored to launch a mini capital campaign in celebration of 25th year anniversary for Mom’s House and raised $1 million. She has led the effort of positioning her organization as leaders in the local nonprofit sector.

Currently, Christina serves as a commissioner on a State of Ohio MLK Jr. Holiday Commission in which she was appointed by Governor DeWine. She also serves on the Lucas County Mental Health and Recovery Services Board and the Lucas County Fatherhood Coalition. Christina just finished a her term where she was appointed to the Human Relations Commission by the Mayor of Toledo and Toledo City Council as the co-chair for the Equality and Social Justice Committee.

Christina’s passion for mentoring and the underserved runs deep as she has mentored dozens of women and young professionals. Christina’s passion and no nonsense, raw approach brings tangible change into the lives she has volunteered for Boys & Girls Club, Big Brothers Big Sisters, Martin Luther King Kitchen for the Poor, Cherry Street Mission, her local church, and many more organizations.

Christina has worked in the nonprofit sector for 25 years and has a deep passion for the underserved and at-risk populations. Christina is the daughter of a teenage mother and a father who was a high-ranking gang member on the west side of Chicago.

Christina’s upbringing has driven her passion for young mothers and children and has ultimately helped her bring sustainable change and generational impact into the Toledo community.

Past Speakers
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