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The art of operations

by Colleen Killen-Roberts

Divisional Vice President of Entrepreneurship

Dave Galbenski: One of a kind

Earlier this year we presented David Galbenski with the Edward Lowe Foundation Founders Award. This honor recognizes individuals and organizations who demonstrate above-and-beyond leadership in promoting second-stage companies, working with them and collaborating with us.

A serial entrepreneur, Dave founded Lumen Legal, a Michigan-based legal staffing company in 1993. Together with his wife, Lynn, Dave scaled Lumen Legal to a national presence before successfully selling it in 2020. He quickly launched The Global School of Entrepreneurship, a digital education startup that provides accredited MBA programs for entrepreneurs. What’s more, he and Lynn created the Living Liver Foundation to advance awareness and advocate legislation to protect living donors.

No stranger to Big Rock Valley, Dave has been a friend of the foundation and user of our programs for almost 20 years. Most recently he has piloted our Entrepreneur Emeritus (E2) initiative, in which we collaborate directly with highly experienced entrepreneurs to enhance existing programs and explore new opportunities. Peer learning has been integral to our programs, and E2 elevates it to a new level because it’s about delivering programs for entrepreneurs by entrepreneurs.

E2 has been important to the evolution of our programs — and I think Dave is the only person who could have launched this initiative. Because he’s an entrepreneur himself, he acts as a bridge between our programs team and the entrepreneurs we serve.

As our inaugural E2, Dave has served in a variety of capacities, from sitting in on retreats to facilitating roundtables to meeting with our programs team. He also spearheaded our new E2 Fund, which is a vehicle for individuals who wish to contribute to our endowment and support Mr. Lowe’s dream that the foundation would go on forever.

Yet much of what makes Dave so outstanding are his intangible qualities:

  • Pure positivity — Dave is one of the most positive people I’ve ever met, and his energy is infectious. In fact, I feel like I’m a better person just by sitting in a room with him and breathing the same air. He sees the potential in everyone.

  • Versatile player — Not only is Dave a visionary, but he has operational savvy. For example, he created a manual of standard operating procedures for the E2 program, covering everything from who is best suited to be an E2 to how to scale the initiative.

  • Follow-through — When we first started discussing the E2, it was early in 2022, and I remember thinking there was a 75% chance the idea would go nowhere. Now, less than two years later, E2 is a smashing success. We have added two other entrepreneurs in this role and plan to onboard more in 2024.

  • Insta-macy — Shorthand for instant intimacy, this is a word that Dave coined to describe “an immediate connection and the ability to have an authentic conversation with someone you’ve just met.” I believe that it captures his own innate gift for being transparent and enabling others to feel immediately at ease. When he’s talking with you, he doesn’t listen just with his ears, but with his mind, heart and spirit.

  • Humility — Dave operates at an extraordinary level, and yet he is always ready to give credit to others. In fact, at the beginning of the Founders Award presentation, Dave didn’t even realize that he was the recipient — until he saw Lynn, who we sneaked into the building as a surprise.

Dave is tireless in his passion to make a difference. I could go on and on. But perhaps the best way to sum it up is to say that Dave is one of a kind. His zest for life is infectious to others, and his criteria for success is having a 10X impact. Yet I think he has at least a 20X impact — especially in the work we do together.

Congratulations, Dave! Thank you for all you do for us at the Edward Lowe Foundation and to support your fellow entrepreneurs!