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You see it in everything from political rhetoric to Hollywood films – business is the “bad guy”. But is this really true? From the smallest mom-and-pop shop to the largest e-commerce storefronts, businesses are an essential pillar to a free and flourishing society.

  • Businesses help people earn a living to care for themselves and their families.
  • Businesses bring growth and stability to communities.
  • Businesses provide goods and services people both need and want.

Without healthy, sustainable businesses, where would our society be?

In this one-day conference, Acton is pleased to bring together entrepreneurs and business leaders to explore the moral good that business does. Through panel discussions, interviews, and a luncheon lecture, we’ll look at topics such as:

  • The theological underpinnings of work
  • The meaning and dignity of work
  • The role of the entrepreneur
  • How innovation makes business better
  • How businesses help move people from poverty to prosperity


Missy Wallace
Missy Wallace
Nashville Institute for Faith + Work

Executive Director

Missy Wallace founded and leads the Nashville Institute for Faith and Work (NIFW). She became inspired to study faith and work in 2013 after working in Corporate America and then the nonprofit sector for over 10 years each and realizing that work can be a part of God’s unfolding story if we allow him to guide it rather than our false idols. She launched the Institute after some divinity study and an intensive with Katherine Alsdorf, David Kim, and their team at The Center for Faith and Work at New York’s Redeemer Presbyterian Church. Prior to launching NIFW, Missy worked at Bank of America in Charlotte, NC; The Boston Consulting Group in Chicago, Singapore, Bangkok and New York; Time Warner in New York, and most recently on the team that launched the high school division of Ensworth School where she worked in various roles over a decade in marketing, admissions, and college counseling. Her combination of corporate experience, advising capability, theological focus, and nonprofit development gives her the unique ability to help those in the trenches bridge the sacred secular divide. Missy holds a BA in economics from Vanderbilt and an MBA from the JL Kellogg Graduate School of Management at Northwestern.

James (Jim) Meeks
James Meeks
Move Systems


James (Jim) Meeks is the Chief Executive Officer of MOVE Systems. James has extensive leadership experience internationally and within military, non-profit, and private sectors. Prior to joining MOVE Systems, he was an Advisor to Aspiration Partners, where he guided several start-up and growth companies, as well as previously serving as the Senior Vice President for Operations at Swissport Americas, a 10,000-person global aviation logistics company operating in seven countries. James is a combat veteran, having served two tours in Iraq as an armor officer with the US Army, receiving a Purple Heart and Bronze Star. He is also the Co-founder and Chairman of an international non-profit, the 2Seeds Network, which deploys college graduates to lead economic development projects with subsistence farmers in East Africa. James graduated magna cum laude from Harvard University and received an MBA in global management from the Stanford Graduate School of Business.

Rev. Robert Sirico
Rev. Robert Sirico
Acton Institute

President and Cofounder

Rev. Robert A. Sirico received his Master of Divinity degree from the Catholic University of America following undergraduate study at the University of Southern California and the University of London.  During his studies and early ministry, he experienced a growing concern over the lack of training religious studies students receive in fundamental economic principles, leaving them poorly equipped to understand and address today's social problems.  As a result of these concerns, Fr. Sirico co-founded the Acton Institute with Kris Alan Mauren in 1990.

As president of the Acton Institute, Fr. Sirico lectures at colleges, universities, and business organizations throughout the U.S. and abroad.  His writings on religious, political, economic, and social matters are published in a variety of journals, including: the New York Times, the Wall Street JournalForbes, the London Financial Times, the Washington Times, the Detroit News, and National Review.  Fr. Sirico is often called upon by members of the broadcast media for statements regarding economics, civil rights, and issues of religious concern, and has provided commentary for CNNABC, the BBCNPR, and CBS' 60 Minutes, among others.

In April of 1999, Fr. Sirico was awarded an honorary doctorate in Christian Ethics from the Franciscan University of Steubenville, and in May of 2001, Universidad Francisco Marroquin awarded him an honorary doctorate in Social Sciences.  He is a member of the prestigious Mont Pèlerin Society, the American Academy of Religion, and the Philadelphia Society, and is on the Board of Advisors of the Civic Institute in Prague.  Father Sirico also served on the Michigan Civil Rights Commission from 1994 to 1998.  His pastoral ministry has included a chaplaincy to AIDS patients at the National Institutes of Health.  He is the Pastor of Sacred Heart of Jesus parish in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

The Acton Institute maintains a vigorous editorial outreach, especially through its president, Rev. Robert A. Sirico.  This site maintains an archive of many of his essays and reviews.

Father Sirico holds dual Italian and American citizenship.

Nathan Bond
Nathan Bond
Rifle Paper Co.


Nathan Bond is co-founder and CEO at Rifle Paper Co. Originally from Orlando, Nathan left college early to become a full-time musician and toured in a band for nearly five years before leaving to partner with Anna to develop her growing stationery business. Nathan’s role is key to cultivating business relationships, managing quality manufacturing, finances, and overseeing the operations of the company. He was recently named to Forbes magazine's 30 Under 30​ list of young game changers, movers and makers.

Phil Sotok
DPMC North America


Phil Sotok is the Founder of VentureSource Corporation, a global supplier of customized and specialized products to the automotive industry, with offices in MIchigan, China, Spain and Mexico. In 2017, Phil launched DPMC North America, a management consultancy offering methodologies in Mission driven Management and Virtuous Leadership.

Prior to these endeavors, he worked in various engineering, finance and international business development roles for Chrysler, Magna and Prince Corporation. He has his BS degree in Economics and Mathematics from Hope College and his MBA from the Thunderbird – American Graduate School of International Management. He speaks Spanish and Portuguese.

In addition to providing leadership and strategic direction to VentureSource and DPMC, Phil is also an investor and advisor in 2 start-ups. One, a learning agency in West Michigan, that provides on-line educational services to corporations, schools and non-profits. And the other, a social enterprise in Guatemala City, that offers local artisans the capability to access the global marketplace.

Kris Mauren
Kris Alan Mauren
Acton Institute

Executive Director and Cofounder

Kris Mauren is co-founder and executive director of Acton Institute, an international educational and public policy organization based in Grand Rapids, Michigan with international offices in Rome, Italy and Buenos Aires, Argentina.  The Institute publishes scholarship and film and organizes educational seminars around the world for current and future religious leaders across denominations promoting an understanding of the ethical dimensions of the free market economy.  The Institute also works with business leaders, helping them to embrace their work as a worthy calling and to encourage their positive moral defense of a free society characterized by individual liberty and personal moral responsibility.  Since its inception in 1990, The Acton Institute has experienced tremendous growth and today employs more than 50 people with an annual budget of $11,500,000.

Kris is a Seattle native and the youngest of 8 children.  After graduating with an economics and international relations degree from Johns Hopkins University, Kris settled in Grand Rapids to help found Acton Institute.  In his role as executive director, Kris has traveled the world, lecturing and consulting in dozens of countries.  He is widely recognized as a leader in non-profit management and consults regularly on best practices in governance, management, measurement and evaluation, and fundraising in the not for profit sector.  In 2010 he was presented with the Charles G. Koch Distinguished Alumnus Award from the Institute for Humane Studies, and was the 1999 recipient of the Liberty Executive Award for Outstanding Non-Profit Management.  Kris serves as a director or as an advisory board member for a number of institutions, including Donors Capital Fund, Foundation for Economic Education (FEE), John Templeton FoundationTempleton World Charity Foundation, and Templeton Religion Trust.  He also serves on the boards of Excel Charter Academy and Grand River Preparatory High School.  Kris is active in a number of community organizations including the Economics Club of Grand Rapids, Rotary International, and St. Thomas the Apostle Church.  Professional affiliations include membership in:  The Philadelphia Society.  Kris is married with four children.

Michael Matheson Miller
Michael Matheson Miller
Acton Institute

Research Fellow

Michael Matheson Miller is Research Fellow at the Acton Institute and the Director and Producer of the award winning documentary, Poverty, Inc.  With some ten years of international experience, Miller has lived and traveled in Europe, Asia, Africa, and Latin America.

Michael lectures internationally on such themes as political and social philosophy, economic development, ethics and entrepreneurship. He is a frequent guest on radio and has been published in the Washington Times, The Detroit News, The LA Daily News, The New York Post, Catholic World Report, and Real Clear Politics.

He is the Director and Host of the PovertyCure DVD Series and has appeared in various video curricula including Doing the Right Thing, a six part series on ethics, Effective Stewardship, and the Birth of Freedom.

Previously he was the Director of Media and the Director of Programs and International at the Acton Institute, and was the founding director of PovertyCure, which promotes entrepreneurial solutions to poverty in the developing world.

Before coming to Acton he taught philosophy and political science at Ave Maria College in Nicaragua and was the chair of the philosophy and theology department.

Miller studied English and philosophy at the University of Notre Dame and has graduate degrees from Nagoya University’s Graduate School of International Development (Japan), Franciscan University, and an M.B.A. in International Management from Thunderbird Graduate School of Global Business. He serves on the President’s Advisory Council of Aquinas College in Nashville,  as on the boards of Sacred Heart Classical Academy, the Dietrich von Hildebrand Legacy Project,  and the Michigan Ballet Academy

Event Details

Start Date


Mark Murray Auditorium | Acton Institute
98 E Fulton Street
Grand Rapids, MI 49503
United States

Length of Event
One Day

To be announced


$50 full conference admission
$15 lunch lecture only

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