Conference Speakers/Special Guests

Keynote Speaker: Dr. Samuel Betances
Plenary Speaker: Mr. Tim Terrentine

Conference Speakers
President John M. Dunn, Western Michigan University
Mayor Bobby Hopewell, City of Kalamazoo
Mr. Von Washington Jr., Executive Director, Community Relations, The Kalamazoo Promise

Special Guests College/University Admissions Panel
LaJoyce Brown, Interim Senior Director, Undergraduate Admissions & Orientation Wayne State University
James William Cotter, Director of Admissions Michigan State University
Michael McCall, Director, Admissions, Registration and Records Kalamazoo Valley Community College
Erica Sanders, Managing Director Office of Undergraduate Admissions University of Michigan
Jason Smith, Director of Admissions Southwestern Michigan College
Eric Staab, Dean of Admission and Financial Aid Kalamazoo College
Christopher Tremblay, Ed.D. [Moderator] Interim Director of Admissions, Associate Provost for Enrollment Management, Western Michigan University


Dr. Samuel Betances

Souder, Betances and Associates, Inc.

Dr. Samuel Betances is a Senior Diversity Consultant. He is an outstanding motivational speaker and workshop facilitator. He works to inspire willing learners to excel. Dr. Betances is both entertaining and informative. His story from dropping out of school, growing up in violence and on welfare, to earning two graduate degrees from the Harvard Graduate School of Education is compelling. He also did post-doctoral work at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee on Urban Social Institutions.

He is passionate about social justice and increasing the cultural competencies of missiondriven teams for educating urban students from poverty to study and to graduate. He is a product of reading and promotes reading to excel, wherever he goes. His book Ten Steps to the Head of the Class: A Challenge for Students is in its fourth printing. His new book, Winning the Future through Education: One Step at a Time, is receiving excellent reviews from high school educators, principals, students, and parents. Higher education specialists of first generation students are especially glad for the book. The book serves as a roadmap on how to excel by turning bad study habits into good ones.

“Dr. B,” as his students liked to call him, taught Sociology at the former Chicago Teachers College (now, Northeastern Illinois University) for 25 years. He has worked, and conducted workshops for educators in over 956 school systems throughout the USA. Samuel Betances is also a very sought-after diversity consultant and commencement speaker. He delivers standing ovation, quality heritage event keynotes during Hispanic or Black History Month events. He is an effective workshop facilitator.

He is a teacher’s teacher. His workshops on how to plan and implement successful strategies for ensuring the success of all students are recognized as vital and presented in a way that do not cause injury across identity lines. He teaches the tough topics in ways that
create inclusion and networking, rather than conflict that tend to poison relationships. He continues to be an important faculty member of the Harvard Graduate School of Education’s Summer Academy for Senior Urban Educators.

Dr. B is a bilingual, biracial, bicultural professional who is passionate about assisting educators, parents, communities and leaders to make it possible for students to study and graduate. He conducts workshops in both English and Spanish. His work experience includes all U.S. states and territories and many countries including Japan, Korea, Costa Rica, Trinidad and Tobago, Venezuela, Mexico, Canada, Germany and England.


Tim Terrentine

Vice President, Southwest Michigan First
President, Kalamazoo Chamber of Commerce

On any given weekend evening, Tim Terrentine can be found rockin’ the house at a local jazz club. On any given day of the week, you can find Tim visiting Southwest Michigan’s small businesses striking a chord of economic growth and community action. From center stage to a business storefront, Tim Terrentine speaks directly to the heart leaving you captivated and moved to action.

While Tim spent much of his youth inspiring others from his church choir and the basketball court, today it is his expertise in strategic planning and communication that he finds most impactful in empowering individuals to change their quality of life through employment. At Southwest Michigan First, Tim's main role is serving as president of the Kalamazoo Regional Chamber of Commerce—a role focused on the support, education and growth of small businesses in the region. In addition, Tim’s passion for helping current and future leaders make the most of their potential helps accelerate the brand of the organization’s Catalyst Leadership Series, a program geared to empowering Michigan’s leaders to greatness.

Developing, training and empowering organizations are true strengths for Tim. Through another arm of the organization, Catalyst Partners Consulting, Tim strategizes with and provides consultation services to the executive leadership teams of companies large and small. From Fortune®100 to small businesses with five employees, Tim’s knack for change management, knowledge and experience developing talent, diversity and difference in the workplace, and team engagement experience have helped change the trajectory of many companies.

Tim’s enthusiasm for impactful leadership programs is recognized by the boards of organizations on which he serves including the Western Michigan University Medical School, Kalamazoo Ready 4’s, the Governor’s Office of Metropolitan and Urban Initiatives, Prevention Works and External Advisory Boards at his alumnus Western Michigan University. Outside of his professional responsibilities, Tim identifies his most important role of all to be spending time with wife Gretta and preparing his two children, Olivia and TJ, to be future leaders.


Von Washington Jr.

Executive Director, Community Relations, The Kalamazoo Promise

Von Washington Jr. certainly understands the value of an education. Growing up the son of a college professor and professional actress, Von has been exposed to his parents’ love for and expertise in written and verbal communications for as long as he can remember. As executive director of community relations for The Kalamazoo Promise, Von is tasked with being the spokesperson for The Kalamazoo Promise, which includes responsibilities to key community stakeholders, media relations, and promoting a system of communication and information around a common vision of becoming an education community.

The last year Von was an associate-vice president at Southwest Michigan First and concentrated his efforts on business development by partnering with existing regional companies on their job creation efforts. On behalf of the organization, he was also responsible for developing collaborations between educational institutions and businesses in order to best prepare the region’s future workforce.

Von arrived at Southwest Michigan First from the Kalamazoo Public Schools where he most recently served as principal of Kalamazoo Central High School from August 2007 to July 2012. While there, he enjoyed a visit from President Barack Obama who selected that school in 2010 at which to deliver the first ever presidential commencement speech at a high school for its winning entry in the “Race to the Top Commencement Competition”.

Von holds a bachelor’s degree from Western State University of Colorado and a master’s degree from Western Michigan University. Continuing his family’s tradition, Von and his wife wholeheartedly support their children in their educational pursuits and a variety of youth community initiatives.

Von Washington Jr. was an educator for over 20 years. He was inspired to go into education because of his love for coaching and his desire to help students succeed in life. He started his educational career with the Battle Creek Public Schools in Library Science. Aside from working as an educator, Mr. Washington has also served as a Head Men’s Basketball and Assistant Coach at Niles High School, Kalamazoo Central High School, and Holland West Ottawa, where he also served in the role of Assistant Principal and Assistant Athletic Director.

Mr. Washington also serves on various boards and committees, including the United Way, the Harold and Grace Upjohn Foundation, the Kalamazoo Civic Theater, UJIMA Enterprises, Kalamazoo Institute of Art, Bronson Health Foundation, and others.

He feels the most rewarding part of his job is when former students and players come back and tell him how well they are doing and how what they learned in school has served them in life.