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Breakout Sessions

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Connect Michigan offers multiple panels throughout the conference allowing attendees to delve into the topics and content that is most relevant to them.  There are three breakout sessions during the day and four panels in each breakout session (12 total).  Review the list and find your favorites.  Attendees will have the opportunity to select their breakout sessions closer to the conference.

Breakout SessionPanelists
Innovative Solutions for Rural Connectivity
Does your rural community feel like you are left on the fringes of technological innovations?
Learn more about how rural communities across Michigan are using new and innovative solutions to better connect their communities.
  • Ben Fineman, Pure Broadband
  • Bruce Moore, SpeedConnect
  • Tom Stephenson, Connect Michigan (Moderator)
  • Rudy Tober, Pulse Broadband
Ultra-High-Speed Connections in Michigan's Small Towns
Overcoming the Internet speed challenge in rural Michigan.
Small towns across Michigan are investing in ultra-high-speed connectivity or working closely with broadband providers to provide the resource to its residents.  During this panel, community and provider representatives will discuss next steps for communities interested in ultra-high-speed connections and what can be expected.
  • Dan Manning, Connect Michigan (Moderator)
  • Melanie McCoy, Sebewaing Light & Water
  • Kevin Schoen, ACD
  • Anthony Vissman, Winn Communications
Cyber Security Across Your Community
How to minimize your risk for cyber-attacks?
Everyday, news is reporting about another security breach impacting consumers across the country and Michigan.  Communities have the opportunity to be a resource to its residents interested in learning more about cyber security practices that improve their comfort-level with technology.  This panel will highlight community efforts to educate citizens about cyber security risks and protections.
  • Rod Davenport, State of Michigan, Chief Technology Officer
  • Tom Ferree, Connected Nation (Moderator)
  • Michelle Thren, Chemical Bank
  • Chief Randall Wright, City of Fremont Police Department
Technology in Tourism
Tourist expect connectivity and a Pure Michigan experience?
Michigan is known for its "freshwater coastline, lakes that feel like oceans, shimmering beaches, miles and miles of orchards, glorious sunrises and sunsets, daytime skies of the deepest blue, nighttime skies scattered with stars."  While the opportunities to enjoy Michigan abound, technology in these tourist locations often times can be lacking.  This panel discuss where tourism and technology meet.  How can your community improve its overall tourist experience with technology?
  • Lori Eschenburg, St. Clair County Metropolitan Planning Commission
  • Cheryl Fahrner, Keweenaw Chamber of Commerce
  • Colleen Lynema, River County Chamber of Commerce of Newaygo County
  • Amanda Oppe, Keweenaw Convention and Visitors Bureau
  • Tom Stephenson, Connect Michigan (Moderator)
Broadband 101
Need to know the basics of broadband? We have you covered.
Broadband technology is ever changing.  Connect Michigan is offering a Broadband 101 panel to provide the basics for  those new to the technology and those needing a refresher course.  This is a great opportunity to hear firsthand experience from communities making an effort to incorporate more technology resources for their residents.
  • Jenn Jenkins, Charter Business
  • Dan Manning, Connect Michigan (Moderator)
  • Aaron Shaver, US Signal
  • Todd Wells, Casair
Decreasing the Digital Divide Among Older Adults
Michigan communities are engaging senior adults with technology
Senior adults are an ideal group to take advantage of broadband technology and the resources it has to offer.  Whether it be healthcare, government, social media or workforce opportunities, senior adults are connecting to the Internet and the number online continues to grow.
  • Joel Ackerman, BeBloomin
  • Sheila Cotten, Michigan State University
  • Melissa Seifert, AARP
  • Lindsay Shanahan, Connected Nation (Moderator)
  • Dona Wishart, Otsego County Commission on Aging
Community-Driven Digital Literacy
Who is championing digital literacy in your community?
Digital literacy training provides the necessary technology education for all residents.  Communities have the opportunity to be leaders in digital literacy training.  Learn more about your community can take the lead the better educate your residents.


  • Lindsay Shanahan, Connected Nation (Moderator)
  • Rachel Smolinski, HARBOR, Inc.
  • Mike Tucker, Intel
  • Marcie Wolf, Abuzz Creative
Michigan's Mobile Industry - Driving Development
The mobile community continues to develop innovative technologies...
Mobile technology offers opportunities to simplify life, better connect us to others, and improve the quality of life.  Learn more about some of the exciting mobile technologies being developed in Michigan.  It might be the next big thing.

  • Linda Daichendt, Mobile Technology Association of Michigan (Moderator)
  • Elaina Farnsworth, Mobile Comply
Improving the Online Presence of Michigan's Small Businesses
How do you connect with your customers and clients?
More and more, Michigan small businesses are connecting with their clients through a commercial website or social media.  In some cases, the online presence has completely replaced the traditional brick and mortar locations.  This panel will highlight online efforts to improve Michigan small businesses.
  • Hanna Burmeister, Michigan Small Business Development Center
  • Nancy Johnson, Social Eyes on Business
  • Dan Manning, Connect Michigan (Moderator)
  • Caralee Swanburg, Lake Superior Community Partnership
Expanded Educational Workforce Opportunities via Technology
How to transform our workforce for 21st century jobs?
Educational opportunities abound online, but how do we know what opportunity is best? Learn more about different education opportunities available to Michigan communities to equip residents  with the educational resources they need to improve their lives.
  • Erine Adams, Kirtland Community College
  • Adam Dickinson, Ellucian
  • Wes Kerr, Connected Nation (Moderator)
The 21st Century Library
Michigan libraries are more than book stacks and quiet spaces...
Libraries offer endless resources to the community well beyond the books of yesteryear.   Today, patrons come to libraries for computer time, online research, digital training and interactive engagements.  This panel will highlight the day-to-day services of the library and how it has changed dramatically.
  • Sheryl Cormicle Knox, Capital Area District Library
  • Sheryl Mase, Mid-Michigan Library League (Moderator)
  • Scott Morey, Traverse Area District Library
  • Eric Smith, Mason County District Library

Talent Development and Workforce Opportunities Collide with Technology
How can Michigan transform its workforce for twenty-first century jobs?
Technology is revolutionizing education, workforce development, a talent retention. Hear from panelists working to forge the future of education on the cusp of advanced technology infrastructure.  Both urban and rural communities can work to take advantage of this revolution and improve local and regional economies.

  • Mark Hudson, Rocekt Fiber
  • Stu Johnson, Connected Nation
  • Tom Stephenson, Connect Michigan (Moderator)