Insightful Leadership, Speakers, and Networking

Nearly 1,000 business professionals and community leaders gathered Wednesday, January 25 and Thursday, January 26 at the Radisson Plaza Hotel to be inspired, energized, and focused at Catalyst University. And this year’s leadership conference did not disappoint! We heard from an incredible lineup of speakers as they shared magnetic leadership lessons from a wide variety of backgrounds, perspectives, and industries. The day was filled with ‘magnetic moments’ — a wonderful mix of inspiring stories, moments of reflection, and ways to challenge each other to make a difference in our personal lives, our work places, and our community — plus lots of networking opportunities that strengthen our connections and build relationships.

A conference highlight was the four very special Makers’ Mart finalists and the passion each has for their unique product. The decision was tough but Catalyst University attendees voted Toya Williams from Aunt Nay’s Cookies & Treats as their favorite maker! She earned $2,500 cash along with $7,500 worth of legal, accounting, and marketing services to invest in her business.

On behalf of everyone at Southwest Michigan First, we’d like to say a heartfelt thank you to our generous sponsors, without whom an event like this would simply not be possible.


Our Catalyst University 2023 speakers and emcees

Catalyst University 2023 | Mitch Albom

Mitch Albom is proudly sponsored by Aunalytics

Catalyst University 2023 | Natalie Nixon

Catalyst University 2023 | Damon West

Damon West is proudly sponsored by Greenleaf Hospitality Group

Catalyst University 2023 | Leigh-Kathryn Bonner

Catalyst University 2023 | Phil Gwoke

Phil Gwoke is proudly sponsored by PNC

Catalyst University 2023 | Leisha Pickering

Catalyst University 2023 | Dwayne Stephens

Dwayne Stephens is proudly sponsored by WMU Athletics

Catalyst University 2023 | Gretchen Slenk

Catalyst University 2023 | Clarence Lloyd


Thank You to Our 2023 Event Sponsors!