Keynote speakers, updates

Watch this page for updates on conference speakers and schedules.

Keynote speakers have been announced for the 2020 Michigan ACE Women’s Network conference, set for June 8-9 in Novi at the Suburban Showcase.

Mary Evans Sias (opening keynote speaker) serves as the director of the Millennium Leadership Initiative (MLI) and assistant to the president of the American Association of State Colleges and Universities.

A nationally known leader an advocate for students and higher education, and an involved community leader, Sias served as senior vice president for student affairs and external relations at the University of Texas at Dallas for 10 years. She was president of Kentucky State University from 2004-2014. As a university president, Sias brought a broad range of administrative experiences and valuable state and national perspectives on higher education issues and policies.

Sias earned a doctoral degree in sociology from the University of Wisconsin at Madison, an MBA from Abilene Christian University, master’s degree from University of Wisconsin at Madison, and a bachelor’s degree from Tougaloo College.

Eboni M. Zamani-Gallaher (luncheon keynote speaker) is professor of higher education and community college leadership at the University of Illinois. She is the director of the Office for Community College Research and Leadership.

Zamani-Gallaher previously served as associate head of the Department of Education Policy, Organization, and Leadership and associate dean of the Graduate College at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. She currently serves as the executive director of the Council for the Study of Community Colleges. She had taught at Eastern Michigan University for 13 years.

Zamani-Gallaher earned a doctoral degree in higher education administration from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

Philomena V. Mantella (presidential keynote speaker) is one of higher education’s leading entrepreneurs. She is a recognized leader in strategic thinking,market dynamics, and innovation in the way education is delivered. Her innovative drive comes from more than 30 years in higher education administration. She is the fifth president of Grand Valley State University, beginning her tenure in 2019.

Mantella has a doctoral degree in college and university administration from Michigan State University and master’s and bachelor’s degrees insocial work from Syracuse University. She spent the last 18 years at Northeastern University as senior vice president of Enrollment and Student Life and the chief executive officer of the Lifelong Learning Network.

Mantella is known as a change agent and has had an integral role in expanding global markets and lifelong learning efforts. She is a proven leader in innovation in digital learning and enrollment management.

Rodney Patterson (plenary speaker) is one of the nation’s most effective and engaging diversity and inclusion facilitators. Patterson is the CEO of The Learner’s Group, a consulting firm.

He served as the chief curriculum designer and lead facilitator for the Learner’s Group’s successful NCAA advanced diversity education programs. Patterson had served as assistant to the vice president for Multicultural Development and director of Racial Ethnic Student Affairs for Michigan State University.

Lisa Summerour (plenary speaker) is the senior vice president of consulting services for The Learner’s Group, a consulting firm. Summerour is a professionally trained life coach with specific training for facilitating groups.

Summerour co-authored “The 4-Tions: Your Guide to Developing Successful Job Search Strategies,” and “The What Went Well?” journal, to encourage individuals to be intentional about focusing on the good things. She earned a doctoral degree in ethical leadership from Olivet Nazarene University. Summerour is on the Board of Trustees at Villa Maria College in Buffalo, NY.

DeAnna Burt (closing speaker) is the vice president for Student and Academic Affairs at South Central College in Minnesota. Burt had served as vice president of academic affairs and other leadership roles for Baker College of Muskegon. She was also an executive board member for MI-ACE.

Burt earned a doctoral degree in educational leadership, research and technology from Western Michigan University, and bachelor’s and master’s degrees from WMU.

Burt is often characterized as a visionary leader and a relationship-builder. Burt studied in Mexico, has received awards and recognition, and speaks publicly in various personal and professional capacities.