Art Atkinson

Training and talent development expert Art Atkinson is Vice President of Express University at Express Employment Professionals, where he oversees various learning programs including sales, service, and leadership, as well as the online learning and certification programs.

He began his career with Express in 1983 and has since trained more than 6,000 new franchisees and staff members, as well as taught more than 3,000 small-business training seminars.  Atkinson has coached and led 30 area developers and a training staff of 10.  Under his leadership, Express University consistently receives a ranking of 98% to 99% satisfaction in the quality of franchisee training from the Franchise Research Institute.  Read more



Kristin Brighton

Kristin Brighton is one of the principals and founders of New Boston Creative Group LLC, an integrated marketing communications firm based in Manhattan.

As a consultant, she partners with businesses and nonprofits to build or revamp their brands using a complete spectrum of tools, from video production to digital marketing. She believes clients need to fully understand their audience for best results, and often conducts market research studies for clients to help identify the best messages and tactics for their marketing efforts.

Ms. Brighton is the past chair of the board for the Manhattan Area Chamber of Commerce and has been a leader in her local business community since joining her chamber’s board of directors in 2009. In 2017, she conducted a national research study exploring how chambers need to evolve to better meet the needs of today’s workforce.


Chancellor Douglas G. Girod

Douglas A. Girod began as the 18th chancellor of the University of Kansas in July 2017.

Before becoming chancellor, Dr. Girod served as executive vice chancellor at KU Medical Center, where he oversaw the educational, research, patient care and community engagement missions of the schools of Medicine, Nursing and Health Professions, with their total annual enrollment of more than 3,300 students; a workforce of more than 2,100 faculty and more than 4,000 staff; and research funding of nearly $100 million.

A head-and-neck surgeon, Girod first joined the KU Medical Center faculty in 1994 and quickly rose through the academic ranks becoming chair of the Otolaryngology department in 2002.  In that role, he was instrumental to the University of Kansas Health System being named in the U.S. News and World Report “Best Hospitals” national rankings.

Chancellor Girod earned his bachelor’s degree from the University of California at Davis and his medical degree from the University of California at San Francisco.

He served in the United State Navy Reserve from 1982 until 1997, rising to the rank of Lieutenant Commander and earning the Meritorious Service Medal.  READ MORE


Michele C. Hammann, CPA, CVA

Michele C. Hammann, CPA, CVA is a shareholder and Chief Operating Officer of SS&C Solutions and Summers, Spencer & Company, P.A.  She rejoined the firm in 2005 after four years with PricewaterhouseCoopers in Kansas City, Missouri.  She earned the designation of Certified Valuation Analyst from the National Association of Certified Valuations Analysts.  Her audit experience is concentrated in not-nor-profit, manufacturing and distributing, construction, health care, and employee benefit plans.

In addition to leading a growing and forward-thinking regional financial services firm, Michele serves her community through community presentations in partnership with the Douglas Count Community Foundation and United Wat around fiduciary responsibilities and board governance.  She has used this same expertise in her current role ad Chairman of the Board of The Chamber of Lawrence Kansas.

Michele lives in Lawrence with her husband, Jerry, and two children, Elyse and Jacob.  She enjoys travel and golf.


Stephen Illardi

Ph.D., 1995, Duke University
Dr. Ilardi’s research focuses on the etiology and treatment of depression.   Over the past decade his clinical research team has worked to develop the Therapeutic Lifestyle Change (TLC) treatment protocol based on several modifiable lifestyle factors (e.g., physical activity, omega-3 intake, light exposure, social connection) with demonstrated antidepressent benefit.

Education: Ph.D., Clinical Psychology (APA Accredited), Duke University, Department of Psychology: Social & Health Sciences; M.A., Psychology: Social & Health Sciences, Duke University; B.A., Mathematics and Economics, Emory University



Will Katz, MBA, CVA, ABPA

Will has served as a trusted advisor to more than 1200 businesses throughout the region.  Born with a lifelong desire to learn and constant drive to find the context behind the facts, he has connected effectively with a wide variety of business owners in many industries.

Will received his B.A. in Philosophy and Russian in 1993, and earned his KU MBA in 2001.  Will was awarded his CVB (Certified Valuation Analyst) credential in 2014.  He has performed more than 150 business valuations in the last three years.

Will has spent 20 years in the manufacturing/distribution operations, serving as Production Manager for a $25mm/year business and also as a people leader in Fortune 50 companies, General Motors and Target.  Will Katz currently works as the Regional Director of America’s SBDC Kansas at the University of Kansas.  KU-Kansas SBDC clients have started approximately 400 businesses and raised approximately $75 million in capital during his time in position.  Will also conducts business valuation consulting engagements for a wide variety of purposes and uses.


President Richard B. Myers

Retired U.S. Air Force Gen. Richard B. Myers has returned to his home state and alma mater to serve as Kansas State University President.  He graduated from the university in 1965 with a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering and joined the Air Force through K-State’s ROTC program.

The native Kansas from Merriam loyally served his country and retired as a four-star general.  From 2001-2005, he served as the 15th chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and was the principal military adviser to the U.S. president, secretary of defense, and the National Security Council.

As a command pilot, Myers logged more than 4,100 flying hours, including 600 combat hour.  His significant commands included North American Aerospace Defense Command; U.S. Space Command and Air Force Space Command at Peterson Air Force Base in Colorado; Pacifica Air Forces at Hickam Air Force Base, Hawaii; and the 5th Air Force at Yokota Air Base, Japan.  He was appointed Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff by President Clinton in 2000.  He has received numerous awards and decorations for his service, which include Legion of Merit, French Legion of Honor, and Presidential Medal of Freedom.  READ MORE


Lindsey Slater, Communications Director

Lindsey Slater is an experienced communications professional with a background in broadcoast journalism.  She spent 8 years at 6News Lawrence, a local cable news station that closed in 2017.  She started as the K-12 education reporter and anchor, then morphed into the 6 and 10p.m. news producer, and spent her last two years at the station as the news director.  Currently, Lindsey serves as the communications director for The Chamber of Lawrence Kansas, where she oversees anything having to do with words, graphics, or video.  She loves being able to promote Lawrence and its businesses.

She lives in Lawrence with her husband, George Diepenbrock, and her three-year-old son, Will, along with two cast and very furry dog.  She has a Bachelor’s degree in journalism from Northwestern University.

Interesting Fact:  I was adopted when I was three weeks old and I went to college in Evanston, IL, and walked by the Rotary International Headquarters often!