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Are you curious about how business leaders lead? How they navigate unforeseen challenges like a pandemic? What innovative processes they use to consistently grow their businesses and increase profits? How they know it’s time for a strategic pivot?

Join us for the CoB Business Insights Speaker Series!

Tune in each Tuesday at 12:15 p.m. for a glimpse inside the minds of some of JMU’s most successful titans of business. Bring your lunch and your questions, and gather with fellow JMU alums for these virtual TED style presentations.

Mike Busing - 2021
Moderated by Michael Busing

Dean; Betty Coe ('64) & Paul J. Cinquegrana Endowed Chair in Business Ethics & Leadership

Adapting for Competitive Advantage - March 23 - April 27, 2021

Presentations begin at 12:15 p.m. and conclude about 12:45 p.m.

  • Introduction by Dean Busing
  • Speaker Presentation
  • Q&A w/Speaker
  • Wrap-Up by the Dean

 March 23, 2021 - Playing Offense

Kristen Cavallo - 2021
Kristen Cavallo ('91)

CEO, The Martin Agency

Kristen never thought she’d be a CEO. She one hundred percent wanted to be that cool, swashbuckling momma taking her kids on international escapades around the globe. Luckily, she said yes to both. As CEO of The Martin Agency, she works with CCO Danny Robinson to create impactful ideas for clients like GEICO, OREO, CarMax, Old Navy, DoorDash, UPS and Buffalo Wild Wings. They are on a mission to fight invisibility - externally for clients as 84% of ads go unnoticed, and internally to build a culture of inclusivity.

In a short time they’ve eradicated the wage gap by race and gender, leveled the playing field for women in leadership and tied diversity to business goals. And their work has not gone unnoticed. In 2019 Kristen was named AdAge Exec of the Year and in 2020 Martin was named Agency of the Year by Adweek, after posting 30% growth during the pandemic. They believe in leading with heart, in overcoming fear, and that real creative magic lies somewhere in between.

 March 30, 2021 - Torchy’s Road to Resilience through the Pandemic

GJ Hart - 2021
G.J. Hart

CEO, Torchy's Tacos

G.J. Hart is CEO at Torchy’s Tacos, a craft fast-casual restaurant concept that serves Damn Good Tacos to guests in a fun, unique atmosphere at more than 80 locations in Texas, Oklahoma, Colorado, Arkansas, Louisiana, Missouri and Kansas. A highly respected industry leader with 36 years of foodservice operations and management experience, G.J. has a proven track record of growing casual and fast-casual dining concepts. Preceding Torchy’s, G.J. served as Executive Chairman and CEO of California Pizza Kitchen. Prior to CPK, he served as President and CEO of Texas Roadhouse, where he expanded the brand to more than 450 restaurants in 49 states and two international markets. G.J. was the initial inductee in JMU’s Hospitality School Hall of Fame in 2012. In 2015, he and his wife Heather Hart jointly announced a gift commitment to JMU resulting in the newly renamed Hart School of Hospitality, Sport and Recreation Management. The intention of this gift is to help young people to be successful in work that emphasizes the importance of serving the public through a career in hospitality.

 April 6, 2021 - Overcoming the Leadership Challenges of the Pandemic

Joe Russo
Joe Russo ('95)

Sr. VP Operations, Verizon

Joe is accountable for the security, performance and reliability of Verizon’s global networks. He leads a team of expert engineers that operate the best and most reliable wireless and wireline networks.

Previously, Joe has also led Verizon’s wireline customer service centers,
enterprise service delivery, wholesale operations and northeast field operations. Under Joe’s leadership in these positions, Verizon has seen significant improvements in delivering exceptional customer experiences and reduced operational expenses.

One of his key contributions to Verizon was his leadership in the development andsuccessful launch of FiOS.

Joe began his career with Verizon in 1996 as a data services operations supervisor for Bell Atlantic.
He earned a Bachelor of Business Administration degree from James Madison University, and a Masters of Business Administration from the Lubin School at Pace University.

Joe resides in New Jersey with his wife, Jennifer and their two sons.

 April 13, 2021 - Navigating Corporate Headwinds

Allison Manno Brown
Allison Manno Brown

Founder, Health e(fx)

Allison Brown is co-founder of Health e(fx), the most innovative management platform to assess the risk and determine eligibility and affordability for employers to ensure compliance under the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Listed by Employee Benefit Adviser as one of 2016’s 25 Most Influential Women in Benefit Advising, Allison is a recognized healthcare reform expert and HR thought leader.

In addition to more than 28 years of leadership expertise in human resources, employee health benefits, insurance, and finance, Allison has been a member of numerous governmental associations and involved in the ongoing review of legislative processes, federal agency guidance, and the Affordable Care Act legislation and its impacts on large employer compliance.

Prior to Health e(fx), Allison led international HR functions at a 55,000-employee public company and had direct responsibility for employee benefits, payroll, and annual operating budgets in excess of $50M.

Allison holds the CHRS designation and a B.B.A. in accounting and political science from James Madison University.

 April 20, 2021 - Leadership Lessons Learned During a Crisis

Tuesday, April 20, 2021
12:15 p.m.

Registration is required to attend. If you are affiliated with the university as a student, faculty or staff member, please use your JMU email when registering.


Live Zoom with Speaker (presentation portion pre-recorded)

Michael Donlan
Michael Donlan ('91)

CEDO/Founder, Donlan Ventures, LLC

Since graduating from JMU in 1991, Michael has spent 30+ years in the technology industry primarily at Oracle, Microsoft, and Apple.

Before retiring in November 2020, Michael was most recently responsible for Apple’s Education and Government business, leading both customers and the company through the COVID-19 pandemic.

Prior to Apple, Michael spent 15 years at Microsoft in multiple engineering and sales roles, both in the US and abroad. In different Vice President roles, he led Microsoft Asia Public Sector based in Singapore, lived in Seattle while running Worldwide Government and developing the cloud strategy for 0365 and Azure for Government and Education, and ran part of the US Government business in the US. In these roles, he was responsible for Microsoft’s global strategies to help Government and Education customers around the world harness the power of innovation to address societal challenges and enhance economic competitiveness.

Before joining Microsoft, Michael served as Managing Director of Managed Services/Outsourcing at BearingPoint and as Managing Technologist for Oracle Corporation’s Government, Education and Healthcare business unit. He also previously served as Chief Technology Officer for a U.S. Government financial regulator and founded the customer relationship management (CRM) technology firm Advenix Communications.

Michael served for 14 years on the College of Business Computer Information Systems Advisory Board and most recently joined the College of Business Management Advisory Board.

Since retiring, Michael has been an Adjunct Professor at JMU, an executive advisor to Mosyle Corporation, and a board member of Advanced Conservation Strategies.

Michael and his wife Jessica (also a JMU alumni) have lived in Northern Virginia, Singapore, and Seattle. They have three children (one who is currently a Junior at JMU). Michael enjoys coaching his sons’ sports teams, surfing, and fishing. He holds a bachelor’s degree in Computer Information Systems from JMU.

 April 27, 2021 - How to Scale your Business During a Crisis

Tuesday, April 27, 2021
12:15 p.m.

Registration is required to attend. If you are affiliated with the university as a student, faculty or staff member, please use your JMU email when registering.


Live Zoom with Speaker (presentation portion pre-recorded)

Russ Reeder - 2021
Russell Reeder ('94)

CEO, Infrascale

Russ is a 25+ year hi-tech, sales, product, and branding exec that has an outstanding track record of building organizational cultures that scale. Russ has managed high-growth, multi-billion-dollar global organizations that transform industries by consistently developing and leading diverse teams that revitalize organizations and deliver growth while increasing employee and customer satisfaction. His hi-tech background ranges from start-up ventures to Fortune 500 giants like Oracle and his first programming job at Mobil Oil. Leveraging his 20+ years of executive leadership and technical experience combined with his successful sales and cloud industry knowledge, Russ has the unique ability to drive global growth while maintaining a diverse, fun, and healthy work culture.

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