BENTON HARBOR, Mich. —The Economic Club of Southwestern Michigan announced its 2016-2017 Speakers Series today. Club President Mike Cook said that Mitt Romney, former presidential candidate and Massachusetts governor, will kick off the season Oct. 18. Others in the series include Dana Perino, co-host ofFox’s “The Five” and former White House press secretary; Capt. Scott Kelly, a history-making NASA astronaut and retired U.S. Navy captain; Michio Kaku, world-renowned physicist, futurist and best-selling author; and Anderson Cooper, broadcast journalist and Anchor of CNN’s “Anderson Cooper 360o.”

“We are pleased to offer, for the first time ever, a chance for the public to see these world-famous speakers in person at The Mendel Center,” said Cook. Because of a new arrangement, individuals can sign up for memberships or buy single meeting tickets to see their favorite speakers through The Mendel Center Box Office.

“We urge members to join now before individual meeting tickets go on sale Sept. 11,” said Cook. “This will guarantee members a place at all five meetings at the lowest per-meeting cost.” The Club anticipates once ticket sales go public, seats will fill up rapidly.

The Club offers two membership levels: Upton Hall and Mainstage. Ticket holders in Upton Hall will see thespeaker in person during the main presentation. In Mainstage, ticket holders will see the speaker in person during a question-and-answer session and then watch a live broadcast of the main presentation on a large screen in the Mainstage Theater. An Upton Hall Membership is $195 with the choice of ordering a dinner ticket for $23 per meeting or a speeaker-only ticket at no additional cost. A Mainstage Membership is $150 and includes all five meeting tickets. Individual meeting tickets for non-members are: Upton Hall dinner ticket, $88 (includes a full meal and the talk), Upton Hall speaker-only ticket, $65, and Mainstage ticket, $50.

This year’s first meeting will bring Romney, the Republican presidential nominee in 2012, to Southwestern Michigan. His candidacy followed serving as governor of Massachusetts in 2002-2007 when he dramatically brought about economic expansion and health care reform in the state. Prior to that, he was president and CEO of the 2002 Winter Olympic Games in Salt Lake City, Utah, eradicating a $379 million deficit. As a businessman, he also founded Bain Capital, one of the nation’s most successful venture capital companies. Today, he serves as director of Marriott International and as an advisor for a private equity firm.

During his visit, days before the presidential election, Romney will candidly look at “The Future of America/The Politics of Today.”

The second speaker in the series, Perino, will join The Club Nov. 14. As co-host on Fox News Channel’s The Five, she has been called the “voice of reason” on the fifth most-watched program on cable. Undaunted by complex issues and tough questions, Perino previously served as the voice of the White House. She was the first Republican woman in U.S. history to serve as press secretary and was widely respected in George W. Bush’s administration. Bush said she made sure he was never surprised by a question.

Speaking to The Club a week after the presidential election, Perino’s commentary will clarify and challenge her audience’s thinking on “Politics Right Now.”

The Club will return in the spring to see Kelly on March 22. This retired NASA astronaut made history whenhe recently completed his record-breaking year in space. While on the International Space Station, he became a celebrity, captivating the world with his live interviews and never-before-seen photos from space. It earned him a cover on Time, interviews on NBC’s “Today”and features in Forbesand on CNN. By the time he returned to Earth, his Twitter following exceeded one million. Based on this extraordinary adventure, Kelly will speak about “The Sky Is Not the Limit: Lessons from a Year in Space.”

Next in the lineup is Kaku who is one of the most widely recognized scientists in the world. He will speak April 20. His futurist knowledge is reflected in his three The New York Times best sellers, Physics of the Future, Physics of the Impossible and his latest book, The Future of the Mind,which reveals life-changing scientific discoveries. A frequent guest on international radio and television shows, the Emmy-nominated Kaku has appeared in many major science specials. During his visit to Southwestern Michigan, audiences willlearn astonishing research in his talk, “The Future of the Mind.”

Closing out the series will be Cooper on May 17. Renowned for his fresh and fearless account of front-page headlines he is anchor and host for CNN’s Anderson Cooper 360o. For 25 years, Cooper has covered most of the major events in the world, providing a new breed of broadcast journalism that unveils the human-side ofeach story. A best-selling author, his most recent book shares the correspondence between him and his mother, Gloria Vanderbilt. During the last meeting of the series, ticket holders should be prepared for the unexpected as Cooper delivers his “ 360o Look at World Events.”

Cook said membership renewals, new memberships and tickets can be ordered through The Mendel Center Box Office either via phone, online or in person. Details are at or 269-927-1221.

Anyone needing more information about this year’s speakers or The Club may visit


Press Images

Mitt Romney
Dana Perino
Capt. Scott Kelly
Michio Kaku
Anderson Cooper