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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 interview, 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

This event will be available via complementary live stream beginning at 9:00 a.m. on October 18. To be notified when the live stream starts, please submit your contact information by clicking the button below.
 

 


Please note: travel assistance or scholarships are not provided for this conference. Lodging is not included and must be arranged individually.

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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.

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.

Phil Sotok
Phil Sotok
DPMC North America

Founder

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.

Nathan Bond
Nathan Bond
Rifle Paper Co.

CEO

Nathan Bond is co-founder and CEO at Rifle Paper Co., and a member of Acton's Board of Directors. 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 Bond 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. He also serves on the board of The King's College, NYC.

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

Kris Mauren
Kris Alan Mauren
Acton Institute

Executive Director and Cofounder

Kris Alan Mauren is the co-founder and executive director of the Acton Institute. The Acton Institute publishes scholarship and film and organizes educational seminars around the world, promoting an understanding of the ethical dimensions of the free market economy. Kris serves as a director or board member for a number of institutions, and is widely recognized as a leader in non-profit management, consulting globally on best practices in governance, management, measurement, and fundraising in the not for profit sector.

 

John C. Kennedy III
John C. Kennedy
Autocam Medical

President and CEO

John C. Kennedy has served as the president and CEO of Autocam Corporation since 1988 when he purchased the company. Today, Autocam Corporation boasts more than $280 million in revenues from operations around the globe. John’s belief that all Autocam associates should share in the company’s success with exceptional wage and benefit programs has helped Autocam become an employer of choice at all of its operations.

The entrepreneurial success of Autocam has prompted John to become active in a number of educational organizations and institutes. He currently serves as a trustee of Grand Valley State University and an advisory board member of the University of Michigan Ross School of Business’ Samuel Zell and Robert H. Lurie Institute for Entrepreneurial Studies. Kennedy also is a board member of Lacks Enterprises, the Van Andel Institute and the Acton Institute. Additionally, he is a founding board member of Grand Rapids University Prep Academy.

Through this community involvement, Kennedy seeks to play a role in developing future entrepreneurs who will become the next generation of job creators, driving the country’s future success and ultimately building a stronger America.

Kennedy received his BA from the University of Detroit Mercy and his MBA from the University of Michigan. In 2002, he was inducted into the Junior Achievement West Michigan Business Hall of Fame and received the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award. The Economic Club of Grand Rapids also honored Kennedy with the Business Person of the Year in 2004. In 2006, he received the Grand Valley University Foundation Enrichment Award and is a past recipient of the Leadership Award of the Grand Valley University Foundation, Jaycees Distinguished Service Award and Michigan Jaycees Five Outstanding Young People of Michigan Award. In 2012, the Grand Rapids Community Foundation awarded John and his wife, Nancy, the Chaille Community Philanthropy Award. In 2013, John was selected to receive the John G. Thodis Michigan Manufacturer of the Year Award by the Michigan Manufacturers Association. 

James Meeks
James Meeks
Move Systems

CEO

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.

Stuart Ray
Stuart Ray
Guiding Light

Executive Director

Stuart Ray graduated from Deerfield Academy in 1969 and in 1973 from Hope College with a Biology and Chemistry degree.

During his time at Hope College, he went to 

work for a local Burger King franchisee, rising quickly through the management ranks. In the late 1980s, he purchased 19 units from the original franchisee and over the next twelve years grew the organization to 42 units, $60M in sales with 2,200 employees.

 

 

 

In addition to his work with Burger King, Stuart took an active interest in community development and human resource development. He founded two charter schools and a work-to-work program with Cascade Engineering which later evolved into The Source, focused on maximizing human potential.  

Stuart worked briefly for the last Richard Rockefeller in Portland Maine in a community economic development organization Richard had created, again focused on maximizing human potential.

He is currently employed at Guiding Light Mission as the Executive Director, taking his previous experience in resource development, to address homeless men and those with substance issues.

Stuart is married to Anne with three adult children and two grandchildren. He and his wife attend Westminster Presbyterian Church in Grand Rapids where Stuart is an Elder.

J.C. HUIZENGA
J.C. Huizenga
National Heritage Academies

Founder

J.C. Huizenga is an active member of the Grand Rapids business community and an Acton Institute board member. His passion for business, education, and philanthropy is influenced by a family history of entrepreneurship and service. J.C. owns manufacturing, financial, and educational businesses, most notably, National Heritage Academies.

J.C. has earned many awards throughout his career, including the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year, the Michigan Chamber of Commerce Distinguished Service and Leadership Award, and he has been inducted into the Dutch-American Heritage Foundation Hall of Fame. He continues to be committed to the GVSU community, serving both as a GVU Foundation Director, a Seidman School Advisory Board member and a board member of the Hauenstein Center for Presidential Studies. He has been instrumental in a number of campaigns for the university, including Shaping Our Future. The J.C. Huizenga Business Scholarship was established in his name and he initiated the J. Patrick Sandro Education Scholarship in honor of his friend, Pat Sandro. In 2001, he served on the Honorary Executive Cabinet for the Building for Life Campaign. In 2012, J.C. was a recipient of the Enrichment Award.

Conference Livestream (English Language)

Event Details

Start Date

End Date

Location

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

Length of Event
One Day
Schedule

8:00 a.m.     Registration & Continental Breakfast
9:00 a.m.     Welcome Address with Rev. Robert Sirico
9:30 a.m.     Panel: Meaningful Work with Missy Wallace and Phil Sotok
10:45 a.m.   The Good Society screening and live interview with Nathan Bond and Michael Miller
12:00 p.m.   Lunch: A conversation with John C. Kennedy and Rev. Robert Sirico
1:15 p.m.     Panel: The Moral Goods of Business
2:30 p.m.     End of Conference

Tickets

$50 full conference admission
$15 lunch lecture only
 

Parking

Directions to the Acton Institute

Metered street parking is available. Please bring sufficient change with you for meters or pay for parking with the Motu Parking app on your smartphone (iOS and Android). 

Paid parking lots are also available nearby. Please enter building off of Sheldon Blvd.

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