Meet Your Cohort!

Get to know your cohort and other classmates in the Small Giants Leadership Academy Class of 2022!

Cohort 1

Ryan Abel

Delivery Lead | Atomic Object

(616) 610-7923

ryan.abel@atomicobject.com

My name is Ryan Abel and I’m from West Michigan. I attended Grand Valley State University and received a B.S. in Computer Science. I started working at Atomic Object in 2012 as an intern as I finished my undergraduate degree. During my time at Atomic, I’ve worked on dozens of projects in various roles across multiple industries, including automotive, furniture, and health care.

Fun Fact:

In college I won tickets to March Madness’ Final Four and National Championship games through a Burger King Chicken Fries promotion.

Marc Alexander

President & CEO | Lite Tuition

(586) 819-0091

marc@litetuition.com

I am a Husband, an Author, an Entrepreneur, a Motivational Speaker and many more! My Personal Mission Statement is “To Love, Lead And Live A Successful Life in Every Aspect And To Help Those That I Encounter To Do The Same.” Most importantly I am Happy. We all have various leadership roles that we either hold or have held, but the joy that I continue to hold is what makes me who I am….. Marc D. Alexander.

Fun Fact:

Some years ago, I experienced what is known as spontaneous pneumothorax. This is when your lung collapses without notice even in healthy, active individuals. It is rare, but the experience made me appreciate EVERY BREATHE that God gave and continues to give me.

Michelle Anderson

COO | Good Cakes and Bakes

(313) 806-4659

michelle@goodcakesandbakes.com

I am, traditionally, trained as a social worker and received my MSW from the University of Michigan in 2001. I worked for 20 years as a medical case manager assisting those infected with HIV/AIDS. In 2013, when Good Cakes and Bakes opened I managed to assist with planning, authoring our menu, mission/sustainability statements and media responses, and other operational related duties. However, since I worked full time, as a social worker, I faced several time-related limitations that hindered my full attention to the bakery. in January of 2021, I was able to leave my job and started working at the bakery full-time. I carry the title of COO, which translates to managing our retail and shipping departments along with most of the daily operations of the Bakery.

Fun Fact:

I used to be a DJ-Hip Hop was my thing! I also love to drum (hand drums)

Paul Armstrong

CIO | WEBIT Services

(312) 307-2268

parmstrong@webitservices.com

I grew up in Southwest Michigan and moved to Chicago at 18 to start working for my brother’s tech company. I have been passionate about technology ever since and have worked my way from a technician into technology leadership.

Fun Fact:

While I have studied throughout my life, I do not have a college degree.

Angela Barbash

CEO | Revalue

(734) 260-3095

abarbash@revalueinvesting.com

Angela is a mom, anthropologist, entrepreneur, and an unabashed challenger of the status quo. She has dedicated 17 years in service as a values-driven financial advisor in the Metro Detroit region, the last 8 years of which has been as CEO of Revalue based in Ypsilanti. Angela was one of the first to obtain the Chartered Sustainable Responsible Impact Investing Counselor (CSRIC) designation in the U.S. and is a relentless advocate for the community impact investing movement. Angela has volunteered in nonprofit board service throughout much of her professional career and delights in blurring the lines between organizational silos. You will often find her educating on the topic of financial resiliency, impact investing, and conscious business management.

Fun Fact:

From ages 16-26 I was in the Metro Detroit heavy metal scene, running merch and hawking tickets to shows for my now husband’s band. It was my first entrepreneurial adventure. I still to this day will jam to Sepultura or Type O Negative while heads down busting out complex casework for a client.

Nichole Benge

VP Finance | Heritage Group, LLC

(515) 868-0842

nichole@heritagebldg.com

I’m a wife and mother of 3 girls. I graduated from NE Missouri State with a BS in Industrial Technology. Through life’s twists, I was tasked with teaching myself basic accounting by my employer, a couple years later I landed a job with a public accounting firm and expanded my accounting knowledge. Since leaving public accounting 18 years ago, have continued learning and using my accounting skills. I’ve been in the accounting field now over 27 years. I came to Heritage to again learn and spread my wings, 3 years ago. I’m being supported by a great boss and company that values continued learning and personal growth.

Fun Fact:

I have been on a historical fiction, WWII concentrate in my reading for the last 2 years. I find it fascinating.

Christopher Bishop

Chief Operating Officer | Lawn Science

(860) 608-4688

cbishop@lawnscience.com

My life has always been chaotic.

Whether it was growing up as one of 3 kids to a single mother, in school always having a different way of processing information, playing multiple sports in the same season, going from a bachelor to married with 3 kids and 2 homes in 26 months, or helping this family business gather itself up, expand and grow into an industry leader.

I constantly want to “invent a new mouse trap” and question the status quo. I thrive when I am doubted because no one ever expected me to be anything. I sweat the small stuff to be calm about the large stuff.

Fun Fact:

I will do anything to support the people that support me, or someone who needs an opportunity to succeed.

Dana Dragon

Principal | Evergreen Devco, Inc.

(602) 999-7023

ddragon@evgre.com

Grew up in San Diego. UCLA grad in Communication Studies. Found my passion for real estate development early on and have enjoyed a long and happy career at Evergreen.

Fun Fact:

My childhood was in Texas and I can easily fall into a southern accent in the right crowd.

Regina Gaines

Owner | House of Pure Vin

(313) 530-2534

rgaines@houseofpurevin.com

I am Regina Gaines. I am the owner of House of Pure Vin. I have over 20 years of experience in the wine and spirit industry. My goal is to position my store to be the Starbucks of wine. I attended Clark Atlanta University for undergrad. I attended Michigan State University Law School for graduate school. I’m excited about the future and enjoying the process.

Fun Fact:

I am sports fanatic. I love all sports.

Tim Horst

Co-Founder | StaffNow

(860) 608-4688

thorst@staffnowjobs.com

I started in this industry fresh out of college after graduating with my Business Management Degree. I worked for a logistics company on their staffing division for 7 years before they sold it off. I started my own company a year later. Brought on a partner in 2018 and have grown ever since.

Fun Fact:

I enjoy my quiet time more as I get older. I’ve always been an extrovert but have valued my “me” time more.

Catherine Laganosky

Chief Financial Officer | Pioneer Title Agency, Inc.

(520) 439-6706

cathy.laganosky@ptaaz.com

Grew up in Louisville, KY. Attended 12 years of Catholic School. Participated in Student Council, Drama, Track and Junior Achievement (Accountant Group). Starting working in management position at age 16. Attended University of KY, worked full-time and tutored math and earned undergraduate degree in 1983 and married by husband, Vaughn of 38 years on July 21, 1983.Moved several times with my husband’s military career, living in Washington, Georgia, Kentucky and Arizona and we have 3 daughters, 2 son-in-laws and a grandson. Worked in various management and administrative positions before settling into Accounting field. Received my MBA from the University of Louisville-1998. Received my CPA in Arizona-2003. Worked as a controller, certified public accountant for several firms and opened my own public accounting firm in 2004. Sold my practice in 2007 and came to work for Pioneer as the Controller. Also worked as a Business Instructor and Business Dept. Chair at local community college during this time. Promoted to CFO in 2018.

Fun Fact:

I have climbed the Great Wall of China and hiked the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu.

Sarah Grace Mohr

Chief Operating Officer | Mackey

(859) 331-7755

grace@mackeyadvisors.com

Sarah Grace Mohr is Chief Operating Officer of MACKEY & The Prosperity People, two financial firms focused on creating prosperity from small business owners, their companies, and their communities. She oversees all strategic initiatives, brand management, employee & talent development, and financial results. When asked how long she has been with MACKEY, SG’s favorite response is, “since I developed fine motor skills”. Being the boss’ daughter means Sarah Grace grew up playing hide-and-seek in the file room, making confetti for New Year’s Eve out of old marketing materials, and insisting that Oregon Trail be installed on one of the very first office computers. It also means that she has a deep connection and innate sense of what it means to be a small business owner and what it takes to run one successfully. It was never Sarah Grace’s intention to work at MACKEY, but in her mid-20’s she fell head over heels for the place. Working alongside her mother & fellow team members to change the trajectory of a small businesses’ success is something she is honored & humbled to be a part of.

Fun Fact:

I am an excellent bartender. I worked in the service industry for many years and even kept a happy hour bartending shift as my “hobby” when I started my professional career.

Mark Omilian

Director of Construction – Multifamily | Evergree Devco, Inc.

(970) 331-5105

momilian@evgre.com

I am Evergreen’s Director of Construction for Multifamily in Colorado and responsible for construction operations, field staff, and overall project performance. I work closely with development, consultants, municipalities, field staff and subcontractors. I have more than 28 years of experience in construction and architecture. I hold a Bachelor of Science in Architecture from Lawrence Technological University in Southfield, Michigan

Fun Fact:

I am a huge fan of cars. Fast cars, working on cars, etc. Growing up my grandfather had a gas station in Detroit so I have been working on many aspects of cars since I was a kid.

Kenneth Perlman

Managing Principal | JBREC

kperlman@realestateconsulting.com

(858) 692-9153

I grew up in a real estate family and attended college as an urban planning major. I worked for a large land brokerage firm coming out of college and was ultimately hired by a large real estate advisory firm to help with consulting projects. Working for that firm I met John Burns and reconnected with him years later. I joined his company in 2010.

Fun Fact:

I love backpacking and the outdoors.

Stephanie Perry

Marketing Operations | Big Cartel

stephanie@bigcartel.com

(801) 597-1299

I’m Stephanie Perry, and oversee Marketing Operations at Big Cartel. After spending nearly 15 years in the manufacturing field as a Formulation Scientist and Project Manager, I embarked on a major career change in an effort to transfer my talents to a space where I can feel like I make a bigger difference- for my fellow coworkers and the community at large. I’m an extroverted-introvert who is motivated by crossing items off my to-do list, and thoroughly enjoy doing what I can to help others accomplish their goals. I love deep conversations, solving problems and celebrating wins, whether big or small. While I lived the first half of my life in the luscious forests and cooling waters of the Pacific Northwest, after nearly 20 years in Utah I’ve learned to love these towering mountains and awe-inspiring red rocks, and am happy to call this beautiful place my home.

Fun Fact:

In my call with your team I said that it was the fact that if I had no obligations and could do anything I wanted, I’d go volunteer with the National Park Service. I’ve had a little more time to think about this and I’d also like to add that I always wanted to be a singer in a band, but fear I REALLY don’t have the pipes for it haha

Nida Rizvi

Attorney | Taylor English Duma LLP

(347) 935-1108

nrizvi@taylorenglish.com

Pakistani-American Lawyer married to a British-Indian-Irani Dr by way of Bahrain, New York, London and Atlanta, with a 5 year old who thinks she’s a unicorn.

Fun Fact:

I like to cross stitch, and I like sky diving.

Cohort 2

Scott Adams

Project Manager | Zolman Restoration

(248) 309-7756

sadams@zolmanrestoration.com

My name is Scott Adams. I’m an experienced Project Manager and people leader. I’m very excited about the Small Giants program and the opportunity to improve my skills.

Fun Fact:

I’m an avid music/movie trivia buff.

Ana Armengod

Support | Big Cartel

(412) 419-6120

ana@bigcartel.com

I’m a multidisciplinary artist born in Mazatlan Sinaloa, Mexico, currently living in Braddock Pa.
I’ve lived in many cities/countries I feel like these places have given me a lot of perspective and allowed me to grow as an artist. I’m a musician, writer, filmmaker and illustrator, as well as a community organizer.

Fun Fact:

I’m shy despite seeming like an extrovert, and I’m an avid book collector/reader.

Lashawn Bridges

Owner/Director | Blessed Beginnings Learning Center

(313) 434-6669

blessedbeginningslc.1999@gmail.com

My name is Lashawn Bridges and I am a Early Childhood Specialist and Consultant. I received my Associate, Bachelor, and Master degree in Early Childhood Education. I am the owner and Director of Blessed Beginnings Learning Center which was established in 1999 in my home. We recently opened up our second location which is a brick and mortar both located on Detroit Eastside 48205 zip code. I believe in the power of education with social-emotional learning as the foundation.

I am a wife and a mother to twin girls and as a family we have always sought higher education as means to end a family cycle of lack of knowledge and poverty. I am very active with my family and with my church. The families of the daycare have become my extended families which I pretty much consider to be my “villiage” which core value is to make one another better.

Fun Fact:

I played basketball for my three years in middle school, I am a natural athlete.

Tracie Davis

Marketing Manager | Evergreen Devco

(602) 808-8600

tdavis@evgre.com

Tracie is Evergreen’s Marketing Manager. She manages our marketing, PR, social media and events efforts and develops and maintains our annual marketing strategy. She also manages and maintains the Evergreen websites and brand, and plays a valuable role in Evergreen’s culture development. Tracie’s 20 years in the real estate and marketing fields, and her experience running her own graphic design firm, give her a deep understanding of Evergreen’s marketing needs.

Fun Fact:

I’m a novice jeweler.

Kate Forster

Sales Manager | Bob’s Services

(907) 244-4601

kforster@bobsservices.com

I am a life long Alaskan and currently do not have any plans to move. I am the oldest of two, my sister lives in the lower 48. I have an 11 year old son who will be going into the 6th grade. I have been with my boyfriend for 6 years and enjoying every minute!

Fun Fact:

When I was 14 years old, my parents sold EVERYTHING and packed it all up. We toured the lower 48 for a full year.

Amanda Lloyd

Information Technology Services Operations Manager | STI

(501) 551-3597

alloyd@sibanking.com

I have been married for 24 years, I have a 22 year old daughter in college. I love working for STI where values play into the mission and vision of the company. It makes for a wonderful working family.

Fun Fact:

I love anything Harry Potter – so it was really hard for me not to select my contact method as Hedwig the Owl. Reading is a great escape and anything that promotes reading in young adults I am 100% a supporter of. Crocheting anything related to Harry Potter is my absolute favorite thing to do. I have often teased when I retire I will move to Orlando and work as one of the characters in the Harry Potter park at Universal Studios.

Jennifer Mahlum

Training/Education Coordinator | Pioneer Title Agency, Inc.

(928) 753-8288

jennifer.mahlum@pioneertitleagency.com

I have the best job in the world within an organization that supports my growth personally and professionally. I get to be a part of our new hire’s journey through onboarding and advocate for learning and training with those who need support growing their skills within the industry. I love teaching and making a difference in someone’s day for the better. I am a cheerleader of our company culture. If there was a company mascot, I would be it!

Fun Fact:

Growing up, not only did I want to be a teacher but I also imagined myself as a motivational speaker.

Felicia Maxwell

Owner & CEO  | Fit4Life Health and Fitness LLC

(313) 384-7820

felicia@fit4lifemichigan.com

I am a wife, mother, fitness trainer, nutrition coach, mentor, sought after speaxer, teacher, and the proud owner of Fit4Life Health and Fitness LLC. Prior to retiring to pursue my passion and dreams of helping people become physically, mentally and emotionally fit, I enjoyed a thirteen-year successful banking career as Vice President at Comerica Bank where I managed a portfolio of 25 large corporations with loans of $10 million and above. I have a Master’s in Business Administration with and emphases in Finance and have secured grants and funding for the gym, with a business plan . Through my Fit4Life gym experiences, speaking engagements, corporate accounts, senior living facility account, virtual classes, and social media, I share practical insight and wisdom on the importance of healthy eating and exercise as a lifestyle. My mission is to educate and help people understand the importance of being Fit4Life – spiritually, mentally (mind), emotionally (soul), and physically (body), to fulfill their purpose on this earth! Felicia is a fitness inspiration. Coming from a large family, I was the first of 76 grandchildren to receive an undergraduate and graduate degree. Like many families in my community, loved ones who ate unhealthy on a daily basis surrounded me. My family knew nothing about making “healthy choices.” I also made a bad relationship choice, which caused me to hit rock bottom, but I refused to stay there. I joined a gym, gave my life to God, and after taking personal inventory, I decided to focus on self-improvement, which transformed my life. Exercise became part of my emotional, physical and mental healing process. I soon learned making better food choices and exercising made me feel and look better. From there I became enthused by exercise and clean eating, and, thus, the passion began.
I later got married and quit my thirteen-year successful banking career to be a stay-at-home mom. I continued her fitness journey while teaching online business courses at various universities. I began to have a desire to learn about the anatomy, physiology, and psychology behind exercise and healthy eating. Franklin Athletic Club was interested in hiring me as an instructor, so they motivated me to get certified in “Group Fitness.” In addition, I started having classes in my basement for friends and other stay-at-home moms for “free,” but they insisted on paying me. I organically outgrew my basement space without ever advertising, applied for a Motor City Match grant, and was awarded $45,000 along with $60,000 from the Entrepreneurs of Color – Detroit Development Fund. Now I am the proud owner of Live Well With Maxwell at the Fit4Life Fitness Center in Detroit and various other locations.

Fun Fact:

I was in a hip-hop dance group up until 12 years of age, traveled, won trophies, monies and was featured on television

Janel Miller

Escrow Operations Manager | Pioneer Title Agency, Inc.

(520) 344-9930

janel.miller@ptaaz.com

I was born and raised in Nebraska, after graduating college I moved to Arizona in my early 20’s with my older sister. I lived in the mountains of Arizona for 35 years where I went to college again graduating with a Psychology and Criminal Justice degree and then Masters in Counseling, married, and raised three children. Once my kids finished college and married it was time for a new adventure for myself and my husband who retired from law enforcement. I took a promotion with my current company which moved us to southern Arizona. I still live in mountains however instead of ponderosa pine trees and temps in the 30’s in the winter, I live among saguaro cactus and temps in the 80s in the winter….not a bad trade.

Fun Fact:

I have a whiskey collection

Lisa Mueller

Human Resources Manager | ThermoFusion, Inc

(510) 782-7755 ext: 221

lmueller@thermo-fusion.com

I studied Physical Anthropology at the University of California, Davis, not knowing what I would ultimately do with the degree, but knowing that I loved it. After bartending for a few years after college, I had a son and needed a more stable career. I landed a job in accounts payable, and within a year and half, was promoted to Office Manager. After about 4 years in that role, I longed for the family-like feel of a smaller company. One where I could work closely with executives, share my unique perspective, and make a daily impact. I found exactly that with ThermoFusion, where I have been for over 10 years.

Fun Fact:

I grew up spending my summers on the beautiful island of Guam, where my father lived.  I haven’t been there since 1985, but I have so many fond memories of summers spent in a tropical paradise.

Brent Radcliff

Associate Attorney | Taylor English Duma LLP

(404) 458-9909

bradcliff@taylorenglish.com

Brent is a native New Orleanian. He moved to Washington, D.C. to attend Howard University, where he would meet his future wife while pursuing his studies in business. After college he went on to obtain his law degree from Howard University School of Law. Thereafter, he worked in public service for a number of years serving as an Attorney for both U.S. Customs and Border Protection and the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.

Shortly after marrying his college sweetheart, together, they moved to Atlanta, GA. Brent is actively involved in the community as well. He serves on several non-profit boards, is an active member of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc., along with several legal organizations.

Fun Fact:

I am very much a sports fanatic. I enjoy running and have already finished numerous half-marathons, 10-mile races, 10Ks and a variety of shorter races. I also am working on a bucket-list item of visiting every NFL stadium for a game. Slowly but surely I will reach that goal. It has been a fun journey thus far.

Jason Smith

General Manager | Janitorial Inc

(559) 348-7086

jsmith@janitorialinc.com

I’m married to my high school sweetheart and we have two children. I’ve been in management/leadership positions for most of my life and feel that I have a lot of knowledge in the field. I spent 16 years in Yellow Pages sales for the Central Valley in California managing a team of 65 premise and telephone salespeople. I’m currently the General Manager of a janitorial service and supply company and have been here for 2 1/2 years.

Fun Fact:

In High School, I was offered a scholarship to play football and Notre Dame. A blood clot in my lung and leg prevented that from becoming a reality.

Rebecca Stephen

Customer Support | Big Cartel

(617) 955-5712

rebecca@bigcartel.com

After declaring at age 8 that I was the family “hair dentist”, I studied cosmetology and have worked in various beauty settings where I’ve been able to express my self creatively while building skills that have helped me to transition into my Customer Support role with Big Cartel.

Fun Fact:

Most people don’t know that I am the youngest of 6 children.

Taylor Vanden Hoek

Software Consultant & Delivery Lead | Atomic Object

(616) 745-1650

taylor@atomicobject.com

Taylor Vanden Hoek is a creative with a passion for complex challenges. With experience in user research and human-centered design, she works to fold in the human side of technology into every solution. Her focus on systems thinking and strategy has led her to work with companies large and small as a maker, consultant, and entrepreneur.

Taylor now works as a Delivery Lead with Atomic Object, leading Product teams that seek to innovate and disrupt their industry. She combines leadership of development and design to marry technical craft with seamless user experiences. The result is software solutions that meet complex business needs and that people enjoy using.

Fun Fact:

I’m into Archery and Minimalism.

Latricia Wilder

Owner | Love YourSelf

(323) 309-2542

latriciawilder@loveyourselfllc.com

Latricia Wilder is an entrepreneur, investor, marketing and advertising expert, and public speaker, with a passion for spreading positive vibes globally. Through her company, Love Yourself LLC, her mission is to empower individuals to live their best lives by creating opportunities for them to have access to the tools, education, and resources needed to assist in achieving that goal. Her first major endeavor, Vibe Ride Detroit, has combined the upscale equipment, technology, benefits, and presentation of high-end boutique fitness facilities with a price point that enables everyday “working” class individuals to enjoy. In building a business that is empowering and inclusive, Latricia applies her experience and acumen to purpose, spreading the importance of health and wellness to areas that can, and have been overlooked in the past, and to individuals that deserve training, quality and excellence in addition to affordability.

Fun Fact:

My “what I wanted to be when I grew up” career was to direct and star in an ABC Television daytime soap opera. Preferably All my children :)