About the Richard G. Staley ’62 Visionary Entrepreneur Speaker Series
The Center for Entrepreneurship + Innovation’s Richard G. Staley ’62 Visionary Entrepreneur Speaker Series brings experienced entrepreneurs to campus to share their insights and wisdom. Each semester, the Center, which strives to promote an entrepreneurial culture across the College, hosts successful business men and women whose compelling stories of success and failure have inspired and enlightened our audiences and provoked thought and stimulated conversation.
This series was endowed in 2013 by Richard G. Staley ’62 to enable the Center for Entrepreneurship + Innovation to bring guest speakers to campus to explore topics related to entrepreneurship and innovation. Mr. Staley founded Flavor House, Inc., a leading developer and manufacturer of unique flavors used by many well-recognized brands. He received the Jack Kennedy Memorial Alumni Achievement Award in 2019, an award presented annually since 1964 to alumni who have had distinctive success in their fields.
Our History of Speakers
Chick-fil-A Panel: Nuggets of Wisdom
November 13, 2019 – Sticht Lecture Hall at 7 PM
Six owner/operators of area Chick-fil-A restaurants, all GCC alumni, share their stories and insights about working at this highly-successful chain, followed by an audience Q&A.
Karen (Dutka) Bolumen ’96
Chick-fil-A Owner in Columbus, OH
Shawn Filby ’89
Chick-fil-A Owner in Reading, PA
Jay Yanak ’08
Chick-fil-A Owner in Pittsburgh, PA
Jay Yanak ’08 majored in Business Management at GCC where he participated in ICO Guatemala, varsity football, and the Epsilon Pi fraternity. He received a Master of Divinity degree at Reformed Presbyterian Theological Seminary in 2011. He is the Owner/Operator of the Chick-fil-A at The Mall at Robinson in Pittsburgh, PA. The aspects of the business that Jay enjoys the most are leadership, creativity, the ability to build lasting relationships with team members and guests, and helping team members set and achieve personal and professional goals. Outside of work, Jay likes to fill his time with sports, biblical studies, traveling, and adventuring outdoors with his wife and two dogs (Oliver and Hero!) He and his wife, Lissa (Swanson ‘10) are coming up on their 10 year wedding anniversary.
Kory Kaye ’09
Chick-fil-A Owner in Washington, PA
Ryan ’07 and Sarah (Gehman) Rutt ’07
Chick-fil-A Owners in Bridgeport, WV
Ryan Rutt ’07 (B.S. in Accounting) worked for 10 years at a regional CPA firm in Lancaster, PA, specializing in tax compliance. After a decade of working for a public accounting firm, he was ready to start running his own business. He has a passion for using the gifts and abilities that God has given him and a desire to use business as a tool to impact those around him–employees, customers, community, and beyond! Chick-fil-A aligned with everything that he wanted to accomplish with a business, so he began an extensive interview process with them. He and his wife, Sarah (Gehman) ’07 are of Owner/Operators of Chick-fil-A Meadowbrook Mall in Bridgeport, WV. They have four energetic children (ages six and under)–Paxton, Kaylin, Jasmine, and Fletcher.
Sarah (Gehman) Rutt ’07 (B.S. in Finance) spent the first 11 years of her career in a variety of finance and strategy related roles with HOPE International, an organization dedicated to investing in the dreams of the families in the world’s under-served communities while proclaiming and living the Gospel. Last year, Sarah joined Ryan in leading the Chick-fil-A at Meadowbrook Mall in order to pursue their joint vision of serving and nourishing employees and the community well.
Sarah and Ryan have 4 energetic children–Paxton, Kaylin, Jasmine, and Fletcher (all ages 6 and under).
Blaine Hurst, President & CEO of Panera Bread
April 8, 2019 – Lessons in Transformative Leadership
Blaine Hurst is Chief Executive Officer and President of Panera, LLC. Blaine was named Chief Executive Officer of Panera effective January 1, 2018 after serving as its President since December 2016.
Blaine joined Panera in late 2010 to begin the Panera 2.0 initiative, an enhanced guest experience enabled by technology but rooted in operational integrity. In 2014, he launched Panera’s Delivery initiative. Today, considered by many to be a digital leader, Panera currently processes more than 28% of its orders digitally, with digital sales reaching nearly $1.2B in 2017. The company has more than 33mm members in its loyalty program, representing more than one-half of Panera’s transactions. And its omni-channel approach has led the industry, from industry leading catering sales and sales growth to smaller order delivery available in more than half of Panera restaurants.
Working with Panera’s founder, Blaine has helped Panera transform itself into the leading fast casual restaurant in America. The powerful themes of Panera’s transformation: integrated digital, wellness, loyalty, omni-channel experience, and new restaurant formats adapted to the ways consumers eat today, are reshaping the restaurant industry.
Blaine has been named by Fast Casual Magazine as one of their Movers and Shakers for the last 3 years and is the author of four published patents. A frequently requested speaker, Blaine has shared his thoughts on innovation and company and personal transformation with thousands. Fast Company named Panera the No. 1 Most Innovative Company in Food in 2015 and 27th overall as a result of Panera’s 2.0 work. Panera was named as the number one brand of the year by Fast Casual Magazine in 2015, and Panera was named a Marketer of the Year by Ad Age magazine in 2017. Blaine has been driving Panera’s commitment to 100% Clean Food, revamping the menu to deliver “craveable wellness” and redesigning cafes and brand voice to align with Panera’s commitment to Food as it Should Be.
Prior to joining Panera, Hurst was an entrepreneur and consultant, assisting numerous restaurant, retail and distribution companies in their development and growth, including the development of Panera’s strategic information systems plan. Hurst previously served as President, Restaurant Technology Solutions, LLC, a division of eMac Digital. Prior to eMac, Hurst was Vice Chairman and President of Papa John’s International Inc., after having held the roles Executive Vice President, Chief Administrative Officer and Vice President, Information Services. As the company’s first CIO, he led the development and rollout of the restaurant industry’s first nationwide online ordering system. Earlier in his career, before joining Boston Chicken as its Vice President, Information Services, Hurst was a consulting division Partner with Ernst & Young, founding the firm’s Center for Information Technology Planning and Development.
Blaine earned a Bachelor of Arts with High Distinction in Computer Science from Indiana University. He is also a proud Kentucky Colonel.
November 7, 2018
Entrepreneurial Freedom: How I Created Multiple Income Streams While Living in a Different City Every Three Months
Dave Schools ’12 is the founding editor of Entrepreneur’s Handbook, a Medium.com publication with 70,000+ followers dedicated to helping entrepreneurs succeed. As a messaging consultant and freelance writer, his writing has been published in Inc. Magazine, Forbes, Axios, CNBC, Business Insider, Quartz, Thought Catalog, and others. He interviews entrepreneurs including Daymond John from Shark Tank, the CEO of Jersey Mike’s Subs, and the CEO of Orangetheory Fitness. Dave is the CEO of Party Qs, Inc., a conversation starter app company, and the author of the novel Runaway Millionaire. Originally from New York, Dave graduated with a degree in Entrepreneurship from Grove City College in 2012 and married his college sweetheart, Stephanie. Together, they travel around the country with their two cats and a newborn on the way.
April 5, 2018
“How to Find Your Purpose in Record Time”
Gret Glyer ’12 is the Founder of DonorSee, an app that lets you help the world’s poorest people seconds after downloading and then proves it with raw video updates. From 2013 to 2016, Gret lived with the world’s poorest people in Africa, where he built more than 100 houses for the homeless, and famously crowdfunded $100,000 to build a girls’ school in rural Malawi. Gret has been featured in USA Today, National Review and the Huffington Post. He speaks regularly on charity, poverty alleviation, and the third-world. For more information, visit his website at www.gretglyer.com.
November 30, 2017
Entrepreneurship: Vision + Reality
Kimberly Garrett ’12 (Co-Founder & President) Better Made Brands: Come and learn from a young entrepreneur who has already sold her first business, Rooted Beauty, to Seventh Generation (now Unilever) and is now on to her next venture!
Kim will share how in 2007, she met Jesus Christ and after praying for a specific vision, God inspired her to pursue Rooted Beauty. She will also talk about the reality of startup life and discuss how faith, persistence, and tenacity are required to survive. As evangelist and teacher Oswald Chambers so eloquently states: “God gives us a vision, and then He takes us down to the valley to batter us into the shape of that vision.”
Kim Garrett ’12
Kim Garrett graduated from Grove City College with a degree in Entrepreneurship in December 2011. In 2012, Kim partnered with fellow GCC alum, Sharon Seiter, to launch a natural skincare company called Rooted Beauty. Under Kim’s leadership the startup achieved retail distribution in over 500 retail outlets including Whole Foods Market, Target, Giant Eagle and Barnes and Noble College Bookstores. Through Rooted Beauty’s giveback initiative the Woman2Woman Project, 60 women from South Asia have been equipped to escape from extreme poverty. In 2016, Seventh Generation, Inc., the natural personal care industry leader, acquired Rooted Beauty. Following the acquisition, Kim worked for Seventh Generation, subsequently acquired by Unilever, as Rooted Beauty’s Brand Manager and as a Brand Manager for Seventh Generation’s Venture portfolio.
Kim currently serves on the board for Harvest Bridge, Rooted Beauty’s primary giveback partner, and is continuing to raise money for Women’s Empowerment projects. In May 2017, Kim started her next venture, a brand management and consulting company called Better Made Brands. Additionally, she is working on entrepreneurship initiatives with the Pittsburgh Fellows program and recently acquired a coffee company with plans to re-launch in early 2018.
In her spare time, she enjoys hanging out with her husband, playing co-ed basketball, riding bikes, playing tennis and studying the Bible.
November 9, 2017
The Nowait Story: Creating the World How it Ought to Be
Evan Addams ’10 (Nowait National Sales & Partnerships Lead at Yelp) and Sean Ammirati ’02 (Partner, Birchmere Labs & Birchmere Ventures): Come learn the story of Nowait, a startup that grew rapidly until it was acquired by Yelp in 2017 for $40 million dollars, from both the startup and investor perspectives.
Sean and Evan will talk through an important theme for entrepreneurs, to create the world how it ought to be, through the lens of the Nowait story. Evan was an original team member to Nowait and experienced all the highs and lows of the startup world, while Sean was an early Nowait advisor and leader of an initial round of funding. Their experiences in Nowait are an encouraging story of how hard work, a powerful team, and visionary leadership helped entrepreneurs create the world well.
Sean Ammirati ’02
Sean Ammirati joined Birchmere Ventures in 2012 a seed stage fund based in Pittsburgh and San Francisco. Previously, he spent 13 years founding, building and selling businesses in the media and software industries. Sean was Chief Operating Officer of ReadWriteWeb, one of the most influential sites about the future of technology and innovation. In December 2011, the company was acquired by SAY Media to strengthen its technology channel. Sean was previously co-founder and CEO of mSpoke, which was the first acquisition of LinkedIn.
Sean is currently an Adjunct Professor of Entrepreneurship at Carnegie Mellon University’s Tepper School of Business and Heinz College. He also was a founding advisor to Innovation Works’ AlphaLab accelerator. He holds a B.S. in computer information systems from Grove City College and was a research fellow at Carnegie Mellon’s Sloan Software Industry Center.
He recently completed his first book The Science of Growth, published by St Martin’s Press in April 2016.
Evan Addams ’12
Evan is the national partnerships lead for Nowait, acquired by Yelp. As an original team member at Nowait, Evan’s impact was creating and scaling each function of the client facing organization: inside sales, customer success, national sales, and strategic account management.
Outside of Nowait, Evan is an active real estate investor & startup sales coach. As a Grove City College Entrepreneurship Alumnus, class of 2010, his passion is to implement capital — money, time, experience, and network — in order to create a healthy economy, allowing the local community to flourish. On campus Evan was heavily involved in the Omicron Xi fraternity, Homecoming Committee, Crimson and White, Men’s Lacrosse, and the Entrepreneurship Club. Today you can catch Evan reading a book on a plane, playing piano with his newborn son, or eating lean protein.
November 10, 2016
Jake Loosararian ’13
Co-Founder & CEO, Gecko Robotics, Inc.
“Courage is Contagious”
Tens of billions of dollars are lost each year due to power plant outages. Gecko Robotics’ innovative wall-climbing robot inspects power plant boilers quickly and safely, cutting losses and saving human lives. Jake Loosararian ’13, serves as Co-Founder and CEO at Gecko Robotics, Inc. Gecko began as a Grove City College senior engineering project and quickly developed into a much larger business. Jake and his partners (Ian Miller ’13, Andrew Wilson ’13, and Orion Correa ’13), all Grove City College Electrical Engineering majors, participated in VentureLab during the 2012-13 school year. The startup was accepted to the 2016 class at Y Combinator, the world’s most powerful startup incubator, and TechCrunch listed Gecko Robotics as the #1 Top Startup from Y Combinator’s Winter ’16 Demo Day. They also took 3rd place in the 2016 Rice Business Plan Competition. Recently, Gecko added two more Grove City College alumni to the team: Finance major Troy Demmer ’11 (COO) and Mechanical Engineering major Josh Moore ’13.
For more information, visit their website at www.geckorobotics.com.
April 6, 2016
Sam Weber ’14
Founder & CEO, ProfilePasser
“Stop Talking…Start Doing!”
I love sports, startups, and seeing hard work pay off. In 2014, I graduated from Grove City College with a degree in English and concentrations in business and legal studies. I was also a member of the women’s soccer team and led my team in goals my sophomore and junior years while also helping the team make program history at the NCAA tournament in 2012. At 19, I had my first startup idea while visiting my sister (Founder & CEO of @Foodspotting) in San Francisco. Back then, I knew absolutely nothing about business — I was just an English major with a vision of what I wanted the college athletic recruiting process to look like. In 2014, my startup went on to be named to Inc. Magazine’s Top 4 list of Coolest College Startups in America. After graduation, I raised money to support my first non-fiction book, In a Hero’s Steps: A Sister’s Inspiring Journey. By day, I’m a Product Manager at Luvtap; and by night, I continue to work on ProfilePasser, keep up a personal blog, and play semi-professional soccer for the SF Nighthawks. In September 2014, I moved from Pittsburgh to San Francisco to jumpstart my tech career and explore the west coast.
March 7, 2016
Owner, New Horizons Mozambique
“Starting from Scratch: How Entrepreneurship & Chickens are Fighting Poverty in Mozambique”
- Mozambique is one of the world’s poorest countries with one of the fastest growing economies
- Spreading the Gospel and “linking with rural farmers in [their] communities to produce THE lowest cost chicken in the world.”
- Training people to be leaders in their communities by equipping them with business and agricultural skills
February 24, 2016
Wendy Sabados Mascio ’88
CEO, Workscape, Inc.
“You Might Be an Entrepreneur and Not Even Know It!”
Wendy Sabados Mascio serves as Chief Executive Officer for Workscape Inc., named one of Pittsburgh’s Top 100 Fastest Growing Companies. Workscape Inc. helps maximize an organization’s two greatest assets and cost centers: its people and its facilities. Workscape provides innovative interior solutions with its product lines that offer an organization rich design and sustainable solutions. Wendy also serves as Chairman of the Board for Medical Equipment Source, LLC a multi-million dollar medical equipment company that she co-founded. After experiencing domestic and international success, Wendy went on to co-found VIVO Worldwide Inc. to serve as a strategic partner to Medical Equipment Source, LLC to manage the growing international distribution channels as well as medical device development. Wendy’s passion for the entrepreneurial spirit has lead her to be active with business development/entrepreneurship programs at several universities and organizations- Chatham University “My Mentoring Board”, Duquesne University SBDC, University of Texas, University of Arizona not to mention her alma mater Grove City College. She is also an award winning sales professional with over a decade in Pharmaceutical sales and sales training experience. Wendy may seem like an unlikely entrepreneur coming from a BS in Biology, but her entrepreneurial journey is one that is achievable if you keep your mind open.
October 28, 2015
Panera Bread (Panera LLC)
Executive Vice President, Chief Transformation and Growth Officer
“Innovate or Die: Key Lessons Told Through the Panera 2.0 Journey”
Blaine E. Hurst serves as Executive Vice President, Chief Transformation and Growth Officer for Panera Bread, the first and largest fast casual restaurant company in North America, with more than 1,800 bakery-cafe locations across the U.S. and Canada. An established technology and restaurant leader, Blaine oversees Panera’s technology, digital strategy and e-commerce activities, as well as Panera To You, the company’s key growth initiatives of delivery and catering. Blaine has a storied career of innovation, founding Ernst &Young’s Center for Technology Planning and Development, and serving as the Vice Chairman and President of Papa John’s Pizza as well as its first CIO, where he led the development and rollout of the restaurant industry’s first nationwide online ordering system. Blaine joined Panera in 2011 to lead the team focused on the reinvention of the guest experience, known as Panera 2.0, and he was one of its chief architects. Panera 2.0 transforms the customer experience through the seamless integration of guest access, payment, production, and consumption enabled by technology and powered by operational integrity. Today, Panera is considered an innovation leader, named by Fast Company in February, 2015, as #1 in the food category and #27 overall on its list of The World’s 50 Most Innovative Companies.
October 22, 2015
Founder, Drive Capital
“Entremanureship – The Good, The Bad, and the Smelly!”
- Runs $250M Ohio-based VC fund; Largest between the coasts
- Former Partner at Sequoia Capital
- Former Chairman of FunnyorDie and Gild
- Former Director of Job Creation for Ohio Governor’s Office
- Avid race car driver with excellent crashing skills
Past Speakers include…
- Ben Midberry ’06
- Catherine Mott
- Bill Nix
- Ray Betler
- Nathan Bradley
- Jim Roddey
- Bill Strickland
- Lynn Swann
- Anne Beiler
- Ron Templeton
- David Gill
- Sean Ammirati ‘02
- Tom Freiling
- Jack Barry ’62
- Paul Puopolo
- Will Knecht
- Jack Roseman
- Robert Slee
- Robert Woodson
- Babs Carryer
- Debra Dinnocenzo
- Xela Batchelder
- Tom Jones ‘62
- Steve Robinson
- Michael Stubler
- Tim Habbershon ‘81
- Kelly Carrier ‘90
- Mark Miller
- Jane Dixon ‘85
- Mary Del Brady
- John Ladley ’78
- Norm Sonju
- Scott Sleyster
- Bryan Corbett ‘02
- James F. Sutman ‘94
- Megan Lindsey ‘03
- Tim Tobitsch ‘03
- Molly (Harrington) Ansett ’13
- Joel Ansett ’12
- Josh Kern ’13
- Micah List
- Sean Sullivan ’11
- Sharon Seiter ’12
- Kimberly (Peterson) Garrett ’12
- Evan Addams ’10
- Joshua Fischer ’13
- Blake Imeson ’10
- Brandon Jones ’13
- Gray MacKenzie ’11
- Andrew Dymski ’11