The Economic Club of Southwestern Michigan Announces 2014-2015 Speaker Series

Retired Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens Starts Season Sept. 23

BENTON HARBOR, Mich. — The Economic Club of Southwestern Michigan announced its 2014-2015 Speakers Series today. Club President Mike Cook said that retired U.S. Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens would address The Club at its first meeting Sept. 23. Other renowned guests in this year's lineup include Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder, comedian Jay Leno, former presidential candidate and Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney and retired general and former CIA Director David Petraeus.

Stevens, one of the longest-seated U.S. Supreme Court justices (1975-2010), will share his reflections about the people and life-altering events he's encountered over nearly a century. Nominated to the Supreme Court by President Gerald Ford, Stevens filled a vacancy for retiring Justice William O. Douglas. During his 34 years as justice, biographers have said Stevens' judicial approach never could be labeled conservative or liberal and that he simply ruled on each case based on its own merits, whether it impacted pregnant women or presidential election results.

On Oct. 28, Gov. Snyder will address The Club just days before the November gubernatorial election. When he became the state's 48th governor in January 2011, Snyder promised to reinvent Michigan. To turn Michigan around, the former president of Gateway Computers and founder of two venture capital funds took a business executive's approach. That led to eliminating Michigan's $1.5 billion structural deficit, producing three balanced budgets and taking the state's "rainy day" fund from nearly zero to more than $500 million. But Snyder admits that the state economy has not fully recovered and he will discuss with members how to continue bringing changes about.

After a winter hiatus, The Club will return on April 15 to hear Leno's humorous commentary about national and world news. A prolific stand-up comic, the retired NBC "Tonight Show" host is slated this fall to receive the country's top honor for comedians, the Mark Twain Prize for American Humor. Since leaving the late-night show slot, Leno has focused his entertainment energy on a new creation,, that's gained nearly a million subscribers on YouTube who share his obsession with cars. Cook said The Club booked Leno for Tax Day and his visit should lighten the mood in Southwestern Michigan.

Next in the lineup will be former presidential candidate and Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney on a date to be determined in May. The Michigan native has distinguished his career in the private and public sectors. Among his achievements, Romney founded and led Bain Capital, one of the most successful venture capital and investment firms. When the 2002 Salt Lake City Olympics were mired in controversy and debt, he took the helm and helped the games earn international accolades. Romney then entered politics, becoming governor of Massachusetts in 2003. However, he is best known as the 2012 Republican presidential nominee, a race he lost in a close finish to President Obama. As The Club's guest, Romney will delve into how America can regain its domestic and international course.

The Club's speaker series will conclude with Petraeus, one of the most decorated generals and prominent combat commanders in American history. This four-star general is widely credited with dramatically reducing violence in Iraq and halting the Taliban's momentum in Afghanistan when he led operations there. In his CIA post, he oversaw significant achievements in America's global counterterrorism campaign, pursuing an initiative to increase worldwide intelligence coverage and bringing about the new Economic Security Center. During his visit to Southwestern Michigan he will provide deeper insights into the global challenges facing the U.S. today.

The Economic Club meetings are open to members only. Cook said membership renewal is now open for Upton Hall and Mainstage Auditorium members until Sept. 18. A limited number of new memberships are available this year and interested people are encouraged to also sign up by Sept. 18 at

Anyone wishing more information about The Club may visit the website, email or call 269-982-6010.



Press Images

John Paul Stevens
Rick Snyder
Jay Leno
Mitt Romney
David Petraeus