Rising Leaders

MSAE's Rising Leaders program honors young professionals who are doing outstanding work in Michigan associations and in companies serving the association market. This year's 9 emerging professionals may be newer to the field, but they are innovative, driven, and bound for great things. A detailed profile for each Rising Leader will be released in the July/August edition of Association IMPACT magazine.

 Meet this year's recipients:

Jared Burkhart

Executive Director
Michigan Council of Charter School Authorizers

As the Executive Director of the MCCSA, Jared is the sole employee.  He has led many key projects to help his members in their role as charter school authorizers in Michigan. His leadership in the areas of facilitation and communication have greatly contributed to the members of the Council as well as for school choice.

One of his goals is to develop his own professional skills and help others become more effective in their professions. In addition to participating in many MSAE events, he currently serves as a member of the MSAE Board of Directors and Emerging Committee Advisory Task Force.

John Dulmes

Executive Director
Michigan Chemistry Council

John has been with MCC since 2014, and as Executive Director, is the sole employee. During his tenure, he's created higher visibility for the association through numerous published articles, position papers and social media.  His overall leadership has resulted in an improved financial performance, and he has paved the way for membership growth and obtaining voluntary commitments from member company representatives to help deliver MCC's overall goals.

John serves on the Kent County GOP Executive Committee, Hillside Community Church Care Circles and has participated with the Council on International Educational Exchange as a student host family. He also currently serves on MSAE's Emerging Professionals Advisory Task Force.


Aaron Keel

Assistant Director, Government Relations
Michigan Association of School Boards

In less than 2 years at MASB, Aaron has strongly established himself not with just legislators in Lansing, but with his colleagues.  He was named the chair of a coalition of over 20 school management lobbyists in 2016, helping to stop a tax shift proposal that would have diverted more than $400 million from the School Aid Fund during the 2016 Lame Duck session, among other accomplishments. 

He currently serves on the Delta Township Parks, Recreation and Cemeteries Commission, and volunteers for the Red Cross Flint Water Emergency Relief Effort, as well as in Flint Public School classrooms. He completed MSAE's Government Affairs Academy in 2017.

Tori Martin

Human Resources Specialist
Michigan Health and Hospital Associatio

After working with MHA as an intern and then a Fellow while completing her studies at MSU, she became a regular employee in 2015. During her first year on staff, she passed the SHRM Certified Professional exam with the highest possible score. She's also pursuing her Masters Degree in Administration with a concentration in Human Resources.  

She is active member of the Society for Human Resource Management, and is an officer with the local Greater Lansing chapter.  She participates as a mentor in mock interviews with high school seniors through the local chapter, helping students to build job seeking skills. She is also active with the Grand River Connection and the MSU Alumni Association, and coordinates MHA's annual volunteer day of service.

Lauren Mentz

Director of Event Services
American Concrete Institute

Lauren has been with ACI since 2007, and was promoted to Director in 2016.  She manages a staff of 6 event planners to plan over 150 conventions, seminars, meetings and other events per year.  Her recent notable accomplishments include the roll-out of a new staff-driven model for ACI's Spring Convention, and re-branding the 110-year old convention into the "The ACI Concrete Convention and Exposition", with a new emphasis on expanding exhibits and sponsorships. She also helped design a new multi-purpose training and meeting facility at ACI's headquarters.

Lauren is an active member of the Professional Convention Managers Association and is a Certified Meeting Professional.

Drew Murray

Executive Director
Michigan Primary Care Consortium

Drew served as the Director of Innovation & Impact at MHC for 5 years and was responsible for helping MHC identify and advance programs and services that support their vision and mission. In 2016, he became Executive Director of the Primary Care Consortium, through a management services agreement between MHC and MPCC.  He immediately interviewed 70 of the 85 member organizations to find out what they needed from MPCC, and using that information helped MPCC align their work, and under his leadership, significantly increased board member participation as well as membership engagement.

In 2016, Drew was accepted into the Michigan Nonprofit Association's Leadership with a Purpose Program. He is a trained interpersonal education facilitator and volunteers with a local hospice program. He was accepted as a volunteer with MSU's Fame Program (Fostering Academics Mentoring Excellence Program), and later this year will begin mentoring youth, particularly those in the child welfare system, to help them achieve academic and personal success.  He's also active in his local faith community.

Amari Myles

Corporate Sales Manager
Flint & Genesee Convention and Visitors Bureau

Amari joined the Flint & Genesee CVB in 2016 with a target market that includes education, associations and government.  She came to the CVB team with a tremendous love for the hospitality and tourism industry and her extensive background in hospitality within the region has proved invaluable.  Throughout the industry, she's become known for her outgoing personality and constantly wearing her community pride as a badge of honor.

She serves on the board of the YWCA of Greater Flint, is an active member of Kingdom of Heaven Ministry's Royal Diadem Lifestyle Institute, and a member of the Flint & Genesee Chamber of Commerce Young Professionals.  She also serves as a member of MSAE's Emerging Professionals Advisory Task Force, and is an active participant of the joint MSAE/CVB partnership meetings. In 2016, she was selected by MSAE to join fellow emerging professionals to serve as a panelist to provide insight on how to create workplace friendly environments.

Peter Spadafore

Associate Executive for Government Relations
Michigan Association of School Administrators

Peter joined MASA in 2016.  Because of his extensive background, reputation and involvement in education, his hiring brought instant credibility to his position and immediately increased MASA's credibility.  He continually demonstrates extraordinary vision, passion, work ethic, and appropriate high level political skills.  He possesses a strong level of competency as well as an understanding of what it takes to be a quality leader.  

He served on the Lansing School District Board of Education for several years, holding the position of Board President for 2 years.  He's served on the YMCA of Lansing Board of Directors, and has been a board member of Communities in Schools, Lansing Chapter.  He was also a member of the MSAE Board of Directors in 2012, and is currently a candidate for a Ph.D. degree at MSU.

Emily Thomas

Assistant Director and Membership Manager
Association of Outdoor Recreation and Education

Emily is the first association professional that AORE has employed, previously relying on part-time or administration staff.  Since the start of her tenure in 2015, She has taken all national operations and improved them to better serve the members.  AORE member experience, national office operations, conference attendees and administration have all greatly improved during her time. She is an innovative and collaborative professional, and consistently demonstrates the values when identifying a rising leader:  someone with unique drive and endless potential to make a lasting imprint on the initiatives with which she has the opportunity to both support and manage.

She holds a certification in Wilderness First Aid (WWFA) by the Wilderness Medicine Training Center, a course she took to better orient herself to the needs and experience of the outdoor recreation and education industry. She's also a 2015 graduate of the Team USA Elite Leadership Program.


Rising Leader program aims to spotlight aspiring leaders for their skills today, and promise for tomorrow. Up to 15 recipients are selected each year by a panel of industry professionals. They are recognized during ORGPRO, MSAE's annual convention and featured in Association IMPACT magazine


Additionally, only past and current Rising Leaders will be considered for the Emerging Leader Diamond Award. This year the recipient will be to be announced at our annual Diamond Awards Ceremony in September 2017.



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