Speaker Bios2019-08-26T23:03:38-05:00


Breakfast, Networking & Panel | Automotive Disruption – The Mobility Revolution

The automotive industry is experiencing a massive transformation.  For companies that embrace the new realities, there are opportunities to position themselves innovatively so that they excel in the market of the future.  Our expert panel will discuss the mobility revolution, Michigan’s mobility ecosystem, the future outlook and M&A’s role within the space.  Each of our panelists offer a distinct perspective from their unique roles within the mobility sector.   

Jessica Robinson, Executive Director, Michigan Mobility Institute

Jessica Robinson is Executive Director of the Michigan Mobility Institute where she works to accelerate the development of talent for the growing mobility industry. Starting in 2021, the Michigan Mobility Institute will offer the first-of-its-kind Master of Mobility program. The Institute is the first initiative of the Detroit Mobility Lab which she co-founded to focus on building the mobility talent infrastructure necessary to shape the sector’s future within the City of Detroit.

Jessica previously led the development of next-generation mobility efforts at Ford Smart Mobility where she was Director, City Solutions and at Zipcar where she held roles in growth, operations, and marketing across North America. Jessica’s background in technology and innovation includes prior work launching startup accelerator programs at Techstars with industry-leading corporate partners. She is an active startup mentor and micro lender who invests in women entrepreneurs and business owners in Detroit.

Chris Thomas, Co-Founder & President, Detroit Mobility Institute

Chris Thomas is a Co-Founder of the Detroit Mobility Lab, an entity dedicated to helping Detroit become one of the world’s foremost future mobility ecosystems. Prior to the Detroit Mobility Lab he co-founded Fontinalis Partners and worked to build it into one of the premier investment firms in next-generation mobility. While at Fontinalis Chris served as a Board Member for nuTonomy (acquired by Aptiv in October 2017) and Karamba Security and as a Board Observer at Ouster, Life360, and SmartKargo. Prior to Fontinalis Chris served in the U.S. Army as a Communications Officer in the U.S. and Iraq. Before joining the military, Chris worked as an Investment Banker at UBS within its Technology and Energy groups in New York and San Francisco.

Additionally, Chris advises a number of mobility startups around the globe, serves as an Executive in Residence for Mobility at the Quicken Loans Community Fund, acts as a Senior Advisor to the COMMIT Foundation, and is a member of the Global Cleantech 100 expert panel. He is also a Co-Owner of Buddy’s Pizza, the birthplace of original Detroit-style pizza, and an avid angel investor. Chris has previously served as the Chairman of Read to a Child, a national children’s literacy and mentoring nonprofit, and as a member of the World Economic Forum’s Global Agenda Council on Personal Transportation Systems.

Chris earned his Master’s degree in Business Administration from the Yale School of Management. While at Yale he served on the Honor Committee and graduated with distinction in former Prime Minister Tony Blair’s seminar on Faith and Globalization. He holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in both Economics and International Relations from Michigan State University. Chris is a resident of the City of Detroit where he lives with his wife and sons. He is a staunch advocate of connected communities, early childhood literacy, and the doctrine of the strenuous life.

Marc Weiser, Founder and Managing Director, RPM Ventures

Mr. Weiser is Founder and Managing Director of RPM Ventures, a seed and early stage venture firm where he focuses on investing in Mobility and Financial Technology startups.  Over the last 20 years he has served on the board of more than 20 startups.

Prior to forming RPM, Mr. Weiser was an internet and software entrepreneur. He co-founded QuantumShift and was an early employee at MessageMedia where he pioneered some of the original methods for e-commerce and helped lead the company’s IPO. 

In addition to his board roles for RPM, Mr. Weiser serves on NASA’s National Advisory Council Science Committee, the Board of Trustees of the James Beard Foundation, and  as Vice-Chair of McKinley, Inc..  Previously he was the founding member of the Board for the Center for Entrepreneurship (CFE) and Wolverine Venture Fund at the University of Michigan, where he was adjunct professor. He is the recipient of the University of Michigan College of Engineering Alumni Distinguished Service Award for his efforts in founding the CFE, the TechArb (student accelerator), and the Masters in Entrepreneurship (a joint program between the College of Engineering and Ross School of Business). Additionally, he and his wife led the creation of the Mary H. Weiser Food Allergy Center at the University of Michigan. This Center provides national leadership in food allergy research and a path to a cure for those that suffer from food allergies.

Mr. Weiser graduated cum laude from the University of Michigan with a BSE in aerospace engineering and an MBA with highest honors.

Ellen Clark, Managing Director, Greenwich Capital Group [Moderator]

Ellen Clark is a Managing Director of Greenwich Capital Group focused on mergers & acquisitions (M&A), capital raising and financial advisory. Ellen has 20+ years of experience in investment banking, having advised numerous public and private companies in various industries including automotive, industrial, specialty chemical, software and marketing services.

Ellen was previously a Managing Director of Deloitte Corporate Finance LLC where she led the U.S. Automotive group and was the lead Managing Director of the Detroit office. Ellen has a tremendous amount of experience in corporate carve-outs and divestitures, cross border transactions and executing deals with global investors. In total, Ellen has completed more than 90 transactions during her investment banking career.

Prior to Deloitte, Ellen spent seven years as a Senior Vice President for McDonald Investments where she focused on M&A and capital raising. Ellen started her career at Comerica Bank where she spent three years in its Commercial Lending Department.


Panel Presentation | The Past, Present and Future of Family Offices

Over the past several decades, family offices have become more robust and noticeable in the M&A and business communities, especially as they increase their focus on alternative investments.  Our expert panel will discuss the evolution and drivers behind these trends, present day practices and challenges, and future investment strategies and predictions.  Each panelist offers a unique perspective given their different capital structures ranging from single family LP’s to independent sponsors and multi-family offices. 

McKeel Hagerty, CEO, Hagerty, General Partner and Co-Founder at Grand Ventures

McKeel began playing with cars as a boy and hasn’t stopped since, turning his family’s small, local insurance agency into the world’s biggest membership organization for people who love cars.

Since 1997, he has been the CEO of Hagerty, the world’s largest provider of specialty insurance and hobby support to the enthusiast vehicle market. During his tenure, the company also has evolved into a leading automotive media company and the hub of the biggest car club in America, Hagerty Driver’s Club, with more than a million members. 

From the beginning, McKeel has felt a responsibility to support organizations and initiatives that help ensure that classic vehicles and the driving lifestyle continue to thrive well into the future. The company’s youth programs have helped thousands of young drivers learn the nearly lost art of driving a manual transmission, and through a new partnership with Skip Barber Driving Academy, thousands more are upgrading their driving skills so they feel more confident behind the wheel. The company also supports the Historic Vehicle Association, which works on behalf of its nearly 600,000 members to protect and celebrate the automobile as a significant part of our culture, and the RPM Foundation, which provides restoration and preservation training programs for the next generation of automotive, motorcycle and marine craftsmen. Most recently, the company has doubled-down on its belief that cars are meant to be driven by acquiring MotorsportReg.com, which is used by millions of motorsports fans to find and register for motorsports events from track days and road rallies to vintage races and motocross. 

McKeel is the recent former Chairman of the Board for YPO, the premier global leadership organization with more than 27,000 chief executives in more than 130 countries. During his term, he traveled the world talking about leadership and success with world leaders and innovators, including Hillary Clinton, Justin Trudeau, London Mayor Sadiq Khan, author and philosopher Yuval Harari, and many others. Many of the lessons learned from those discussions are shared in McKeel’s upcoming first book, “Boundless: A Guide to a Flourishing Life in a Disoriented Age,” which will be published by ForbesBooks.  

Before choosing the family business, McKeel studied to be a Russian Orthodox priest (Saint Vladimir’s Orthodox Seminary) and then a philosophy professor (Boston College). He lives with his wife Soon Hagerty near Traverse City, Michigan, the cherry capital of the world, on a narrow peninsula that juts into Lake Michigan. They have three wonderful daughters, Olivia, Sophia and Ava.

To this day, McKeel’s fondest car memory is restoring with his dad a 1967 Porsche 911 S that they found in a snowbank.

He cherishes it and drives it to this day.


Jason Schroeder, Vice President , DNS Capital, LLC

Prior to joining DNS Capital in 2015, Jason was a member of Goldman Sachs’ Principal Investment Area in New York. His experience there included sourcing, analyzing and executing private equity and debt investments, with prior experience in the Technology, Media and Telecom investment banking group. Jason Graduated with Distinction from the University of Wisconsin – Madison with a B.B.A. in Finance, Investment and Banking.




Beth Rahn, Vice President & Head of Family Capital, McNally Capital, LLC

Beth Rahn is a Vice President and Head of Family Capital at McNally Capital. Beth joined McNally Capital in 2013. She manages the firm’s network of over 800 family offices, with a focus on harnessing the financial, intellectual and human capital of the family office ecosystem to support McNally’s Direct Investing and Merchant Banking efforts.

Prior to joining McNally Capital, Beth worked at Sterling Partners, a small and middle market private equity firm, in an investor relations role. While there, Beth managed relationships with institutional investors and family offices and executed fundraises for a $250 million small market and $1 billion mid market fund. 

Beth received an MBA from the Kellogg School of Management, as well as a BS in Finance and a BS in Business Administration with a concentration in Marketing (with highest honors) from the University of Illinois.

Kip Irle, Senior Vice President and Practice Leader of Private Equity and M&A, Hylant

Kip is the Private Equity and Mergers and Acquisitions Business Leader for Hylant. He has over 30 years experience focusing on alternative risk financing in the Risk Management and Insurance industry. Kip has led a variety of mergers, acquisitions, divestitures, bankruptcy restructuring and reorganization transactions involving privately-held, publicly traded and private equity led companies. 

Kip provides expertise and guidance in risk management and insurance due diligence and in using insurance risk capital as a substitute for capital in a transaction.

Kip has led the development of reverse termination fee risk transfer and the use of insurance as contingent capital.

Kip is a graduate of the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University. In his free time, he restores vintage Mustangs with his brother Chris, as they have been doing since they were 12. With his wife Ronna, he helps grow organic produce for the West Suburban Community Pantry and Hesed House in Aurora, IL.