Join us in celebrating the inaugural class of the American Academy of Entrepreneurs (AAE). As a group these second-stage business leaders embrace what Ed Lowe believed as a truism about running a business: “If we are to take advantage of opportunities, we must be ready to change.” Congratulations, inductees!

Join us in celebrating the inaugural class of the American Academy of Entrepreneurs (AAE). As a group these second-stage business leaders embrace what Ed Lowe believed as a truism about running a business: “If we are to take advantage of opportunities, we must be ready to change.” Congratulations, inductees!

The Inaugural American Academy of Entrepreneurs Class of 2021

Amjad Shamim
OZ Digital Consulting

Angie Ruff
Compass Blending

Barbara Stankowski
Stankowski Advanced Strategies

Ben Favret
Performance Excellence Development, LLC

Brian Hall
KonaDocks

Edwin Sosa
Embark Safety

Harold Boyett
Blue Streak Couriers

Jeff Rudd
ZipKord Solutions

Kaustubh Kale
Aventusoft LLC

Ken Pomella
RevStar Consulting

Leandro Neves
Rapid Genomics

Nancy Crews
Custom Manufacturing

Pauline Sevigny
Grace Aerospace

Pierre Goris
4 & Co Coworking Space

Rick Castillo
Castillo Engineering Services

Ted Bill
Wire Experts Group Inc

Wayne Robinson

Brandon Smith
Flexicrew Technical Services

Edna Turner
Bulldog Services LLP

Flynn Zaiger
Online Optimism LLC

Hilton Nicholson
CyberReef Solutions

Iviana Stewart
SolScapes LLC

Jaci Russo
brandRUSSO

Jennifer Simpson
Bespoke Experiences

Kristi Matthews
K-Belle Consultants LLC

Lakeisha Robichaux
Chief of Minds

Sandra Lovett-Tillman
aVeriFact LLC

Thomas Brown
E-Claim.com LLC

Tyler LeCompte
Confetti Momma

Leo J. Holzenthal Jr.
M S Benbow & Associates

Rob Wise
ITinspired

Rodney Greenup Jr.
Greenup Industries

Zach Raley
Utiliserve LLC

Adam McFarlin
Kalamazoo Candle Company

Ben Slocum
Beards Brewery

Bonnie Alfonso
Alfie

Cathy Koch
K-Tec Systems

Chris Straw
Team Quality Services

David Galbenski
Lumen Legal

Erick Stewart
Stewart Industries

Karen Scarpino
Green Giftz

Patti Eisenbraun
Brown Iron Brewhouse

Phil Roos
Great Lakes GrowthWorks

Ryan Roff
Bold Socks

Stacy Pillera
Olympus Fare

The American Academy of Entrepreneurs (AAE) celebrates its inaugural class of 45 inductees. Hailing from Florida, Louisiana and Michigan, 23 pairs of mentors and mentees began their journey together at a kick-off retreat. What followed were six monthly calls between each mentor-mentee pair before being officially inducted into the Academy. The culmination of their AAE experience is an annual conference, held at Big Rock Valley on the Edward Lowe Foundation property.

At the heart of AAE is experience and a giving spirit. Mentors are selected for a willingness to share their vast lessons learned from running their own businesses into and through second stage. Mentees are second-stage entrepreneurs themselves who are actively working through the challenges of growing their businesses.

With guidance from their mentors, each mentee identifies their barriers to growth. During the seven-month program, mentors serve as a sounding board, connector to resources and referrals, commiserator and cheerleader. In addition to the mentor-mentee dynamic, there is mutual respect as peers, and mentors often learn as much from their mentees as the mentees do from them.

Similar to other Edward Lowe Foundation programs, strategic partnerships are a key to the American Academy. Louisiana Economic Development, GrowFL Inc. and Michigan Economic Development Corp. collaborated with the foundation to provide the infrastructure and support for these entrepreneurs in their home states.

Ed Lowe’s own journey through second stage is the backbone of the AAE program. He often wished for a mentor to help him address the tough challenges of growing his business — and he even coined the AAE name. “America is built on the backs of entrepreneurs,” Ed wrote. “If successful entrepreneurs band together to work collectively, they will make a powerful investment in the future of America.”