Speaker Series

In the Speaker Series, successful entrepreneurs talk about the paths they took on their way to starting, running, and growing their businesses, including lessons learned about things they wished they had known when they were starting out. At other times we invite thought leaders in entrepreneurship from academia or industry to share their insights with the audience. Videos of these talks are available in most cases by clicking on the title of the talk. All Speaker Series events are free and open to the public. 

2013-14 Speakers:

Lessons Learned: Success Stories

Ron Lalli ’61/G’67, Entrepreneur
EBTEC, Texcel, Belt Technologies, Energy Beam Sciences, PTI Industries, Litron, Overhaul Support Services
Former Trustee, Western New England University
September 12, 2013, 12:30-1:30 p.m. in Sleith Hall, Room 100

        Ron Lalli is the consummate serial entrepreneur. His entrepreneurial spirit first emerged as a Mechanical Engineering student when he cofounded Park EnterprisesLLC,which produced dances and concerts for college students throughout New England. He went on to be the cofounder and executive vice president/treasurer of his own company, EBTEC (1963-86) while earning his MBA in 1967. EBTEC was one of the first electron beam welding and laser sub-contracting facilities in the country. Belt Technologies Inc., a spinoff of EBTEC, manufactures metal tapes and belts used a wide range of industries. Another EBTEC outgrowth is Energy Beam Sciences, Inc., manufacturer of filaments and apertures used in the electron beam microscope industry. 

Jeff Birnn '72, Copresident, Birnn Chocolates
Tuesday October 29, 5:00-6:30 p.m., Law School Common

               The love of the confections is a family affair for entrepreneur Jeff Birnn, who, along with his brother, Bill, head Birnn Chocolates of Vermont, an exclusive manufacturer of premium wholesale truffles.

Jeff always enjoyed the challenges of confection production and saw a niche opportunity for his family candy business, Birnn Candy, to capitalize. In the 1980s, the family transitioned the business from a retail manufacturer of candy products to a wholesale manufacturer of European style truffles. This culminated in their relocation in 1991 to South Burlington, VT, where the business is today.

Lawrence Hott L'76, Owner, Florentine Films/Hott Productions, Inc.
Tuesday, November 5, 12:30-2:00 p.m. Law School Common

         Lawrence R. Hott  has been producing documentary films since 1978, when he left the practice of law to join Florentine Films. His awards include an Emmy, two Academy Award nominations, a George Foster Peabody Award, the duPont-Columbia Journalism Award, the Erik Barnouw Award, five American Film Festival Blue Ribbons, Fourteen CINE Golden Eagles, screenings at Telluride, and first-place awards from the San Francisco, Chicago, National Educational, and New England Film Festivals. He is a member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences and the Director’s Guild of America.

         His recent films for national PBS broadcast include Through Deaf Eyes, American Masters John James Audubon: Drawn From Nature, Niagara Falls, The Return of the Cuyahoga, Imagining Robert and The War of 1812.  He is now producing Frederick Law Olmsted: Designing America and Rising Voices/ Hóthaninpi: The Revitalization of the Lakota Language.

2012-2013 Speakers

Entrepreneurship in Pharmacy
Andrew Robinson, Owner & Director of Operations, SpecialtyScripts Pharmacy
April 11, 2013

Lawyer As Entrepreneur
Joseph Kershenbaum,
Executive Vice President & CFO of Salute Homecare LLC
Jayson Falcone of the Law Offices of Jayson J. Falcone
March 5, 2013
Entrepreneurship in Creative Communications
Tina Stevens
, Principal & Creative Director, Stevens 470
Robert C. Andrews Jr., President & CEO, Digital Media Ventures (DMV) Entertainment Group
Janine Fondon, President & CEO,
Jan. 29, 2013

Computer Scientist as Entrepreneur
Jackie Fallon ’82, Owner, FIT Solutions
November 8, 2012

Brewer as Entrepreneur
Gary Bogoff,
Cofounder, Berkshire Brewing Company
October 16, 2012

Engineer as Entrepreneur
Stanley Kowalski III
'92, Chairman of the Board FloDesign, Inc.;
Founder, FloDesign Wind Turbine, FloDesign Water Turbine, FloDesign Sonics, SK3 Realty
September 18, 2012

2011-2012 Speakers

Everything I Know About Business I Learned From the Grateful Dead
Barry Barnes
, Professor of Management, Nova Southeastern University H. Wayne Huizenga School of Business and Entrepreneurship
April 5, 2012

Undocumented Entrepreneurs: Business Structure and Immigration Compliance
David P. Weber
Assistant Professor of Law, Creighton University School of Law
January 24, 2012

Educating Entrepreneurs Through Immersion in the Ecosystem
Marc Meyer
Professor of Business, Northeastern University College of Business
November 17, 2011

Anatomy of a Meltdown: The Continuing Small Business Impact
Michael Malloy - Professor of Management, McGeorge School of Law, University of the Pacific
September 29, 2011 

2010-2011 Speakers

Over-confident and Unambitious Entrepreneur
Karl Okamoto
- Associate Professor of Law and Director of the Business and Entrepreneurship Law Concentration, Earle Mack School of Law at Drexel University
April 13, 2011

Educating Entrepreneurs Through Immersion in the Ecosystem
Peter Russo
- Director, Entrepreneurship Programs, Boston University School of Management Institute for Technology Entrepreneurship & Commercialization
February 22, 2011 (photos)

What's In Your Dash?
Harold Epps G’84,
President and CEO, PRWT Services, Inc.
November 9, 2010 (photos)

The African American Entrepreneur Then and Now
W. Sherman Rogers,
Professor of Law, Howard University School of Law
September 23, 2010

Debt as Venture Capital
Darian Ibrahim, Assistant Professor at the University of Wisconsin Law School
September 22, 2010

2009-2010 Speakers

Leading a Business in Anxious Times
Katharine G. Baker, Principal, Family Therapy and Consulting Associates
April 15, 2010  (photos)

Striking Out on Their Own: Self-employed and Financial Distress
Robert Lawless, Professor of Law and the Galowich-Huzienga Faculty Scholar, University of Illinois College of Law
January 26, 2010

Effectively Leveraging New Media For Profitable Business Development
David Bullock
, President & Managing Director of White Bullock Group and coauthor of Barack 2.0
November 5, 2009 (photos)

2008-2009 Speakers

Reflections on a Life in Banking -- The Long Road Behind and the Long Road Ahead
Dorothy Bridges
, Vice President, American Bankers Association & President & CEO, City First Bank, Washington DC
April 14, 2009

Race and Entrepreneurial Success
Robert Fairlie,
Professor of Economics at the University of California, Santa Cruz
November 25, 2008

Promoting Economic Justice Through Community-centered Lawyering
Laurie Hauber, Assistant Professor of the Practice of Law, Vanderbilt University Law School
November 6, 2008

2007-2008 Speakers

Financial Services for the Poor: Evidence from the Detroit Area Study
Michael Barr
, Professor of Law at the University of Michigan Law School
April 8, 2008

Innovation & Diversity: Lessons from The Real Pepsi Challenge
Stephanie Capparell
, journalist, author, and filmmaker
January 29, 2008

Student Entrepreneurship
Fran Harris
, former WNBA player, business consultant, and inspirational speaker
November 13, 2007

Race and Entrepreneurship
Robert Suggs
, Professor of Law at the University of Maryland School of Law
October 25, 2007 

2006-2007 Speakers

Speaker Series:

Steven Hobbs, Tom Bevill Chairholder of Law at the University of Alabama School of Law
March 7, 2007

D. Gordon Smith
, Professor of Law at the University of Wisconsin Law School
January 25, 2007

Humera Fasihuddin, President, CEO, & Cofounder of Edical May
October 25, 2006

Nadine Thompson, Cofounder, Warm Spirit
September 12, 2006 

Success Stories Series:

John and Stephen Davis, businessmen, entrepreneurs, and philanthropists
April 10, 2007

Fletcher Wiley, President and COO of PRWT Holdings and "Of Counsel" for Bingham McCutchen LLP
February 27, 2007

John Reed L'42/H'01, CEO Mestek, Inc.
September 21, 2006

2005-2006 Speakers

Building Business from a Base of Strength
Laura Gordon
, CPA, founder and owner of Gordon & Associates
April 25, 2006

Minority Oppression and the Limited Liability Company: Learning (or Not) From Close Corporation History
Douglas Moll
, Beirne, Maynard & Parsons Law Center Professor of Law at the University of Houston Law Center
March 7, 2006

Achieving the Double Bottom Line: A Framework for Corporations Seeking to Deliver Profits and Public Services
Lisa Fairfax
, Associate Professor of Law at the University of Maryland Law School
February 9, 2006

Building Enterprise to Empower Community
Bill Strickland
, President & CEO of the Manchester Craftsmen's Guild and Bidwell Training Center, Inc.
January 25, 2006

Events 2013-14

Spring 2014


Tuesday, February 25, 
5:00-7:00 p.m., Blake Law Center, Law School Common Room 3
123s of Financial Literacy for Small Businesses
Cost-Effective Marketing
Presenters: Dr. Lanny Spotts, Western New England University College of Business, Karen Utgoff, Principal, Karen Lauter Utgoff Consulting, Market-Oriented Strategy, Megan Lynch, CEO/President, Six-Point Creative Works 

Thursday, February 27, 2014
12:30-2:00 p.m., Sleith Hall, Room 100
Speaker Series
Bill Bither, Software Entrepreneur


Monday, March 24, 2014
5:00-6:30 p.m., College of Science and Pharmacy, Room 400
Speaker Series
Michael Semanie Jr., Director of Pharmacy (Retired)
Big Y Food Pharmacy and Wellness Center

Tuesday, March 25, 2014
5:00-7:00 p.m., Blake Law Center, Law School Common Room 3
123s of Financial Literacy for Small Businesses
Managing Credit and Banking Relationships
Presenters: Leslie Ross Lawrence, Senior Vice President, Chief Credit Officer, NUVO Bank & Trust Company, Sharon Czarnecki, Assistant Vice President, Westfield Bank


Tuesday, April 8, 2014
12:30-2:00 p.m., Sleith Hall, Room 100
Speaker Series
“One Man’s Vision for XLERATING Success”

Denis Gagnon G’76
President, Excel Dryer, Inc.
Trustee, Western New England University

Tuesday, April 22, 2014
5:00-7:00 p.m., Blake Law Center, Law School Common Room 3

123s of Financial Literacy for Small Businesses
Insurance: Risk-Management Techniques for Small Businesses
Presenter: Bill Trudeau, President and CEO, the Insurance Center of New England



Thursday, September 12, 2013
Speaker Series
Ron Lalli ’61/G’67, Entrepreneur
EBTEC, Texcel, Belt Technologies, Energy Beam Sciences, PTI Industries, Litron, Overhaul Support Services Former Trustee, Western New England University
Watch a video of the talk

Tuesday, September 24, 2013
123s of Financial Literacy for Small Businesses
Basics of Financial & Business Planning – Presenters; Dr. Jim McKeon & Dr. Lynn Walter, School of Business


Tuesday, October 22, 2013
123s of Financial Literacy for Small Businesses
Accounting Basics-Understanding Financial Statements
Presenter; Jay O’Brien '74, President, JM O’Brien & Company PC

Tuesday, October 29, 2013
Speaker Series
Mr. Jeff Birnn '72, Copresident
Birnn Chocolates of Vermont


Tuesday, November 5, 2013
Speaker Series
Larry Hott L'76, Owner, Florentine Films / Hott Productions, Inc. 

Tuesday, November 19, 2013
123s of Financial Literacy for Small Businesses
Introduction to Tax Issues for Small Business
Presenters: Paul Mancinone L'92, CPA, and Dean Gouvin