The Economic Club Of Southwestern Michigan Announces 2009-2010 Speaker Series

Former Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf Kicks Off 67th Season on Sept. 24

BENTON HARBOR, MICH. — The Economic Club of Southwestern Michigan President Michael Cook announced today the lineup for The Club’s 67th Speaker Series. Lecture guests for 2009-2010 include former Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf, Michigan State University (MSU) Head Basketball Coach Tom Izzo, former Vice President Dick Cheney, former First Lady Laura Bush and best-selling author and New York Times columnist Tom Friedman. Cook said The Club plans to invite former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin when she begins accepting speaking invitations in the near future.

Cook said each spring The Club asks members to suggest speakers for the next season. This year’s slate of guests represents the largest number of the very-highly requested speakers that The Club has been able to bring to Southwestern Michigan.

First on the slate is Pervez Musharraf who will address the member-only meeting at Lake Michigan College’s Mendel Center for Arts and Technology, Benton Township, Mich., on Sept. 24. Time magazine described President Musharraf as having “the most dangerous job in the world.” In his role in the war on terror, he survived two assassination attempts, rooted out militants in his own government, helped direct countless raids against Al Qaeda and tracked Osama Bin Laden with technical and human intelligence. In his seven years at the helm of Pakistan, Musharraf had a vision that his country could be transformed into a progressive, moderate, prosperous Islamic state. He will articulate his views of enlightened moderation and the role he feels his country can play in this politically volatile region.

On Oct. 12, MSU Head Basketball Coach Tom Izzo will share his win-focused philosophy with Club members. Entering his 15th year with the Spartans, Izzo’s career record stands at 336-137. He’s led his teams to win the 2000 NCAA National Championship, five regular-season Big Ten Championships, two Big Ten tournament titles, five Final Four appearances in 11 seasons and has personally earned four national coach-of-the-year awards. But he’s just as proud of his players’ off-the-court successes. Of his players who have completed their eligibility, 86 percent have graduated with a degree.

The fall session ends on Nov. 5 when former U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney comes to Southwestern Michigan. Cheney has served in the highest levels of the U.S. government and the private sector for more than 40 years. Widely acknowledged as one of the most powerful and influential vice presidents in U.S. history, Cheney transformed national security and intelligence policy. Domestically he was pivotal in reorganizing the government to defend the homeland. His zeal for building a strong America will provide members with a unique perspective on the economic and geopolitical challenges of our time.

Members will return in spring 2010 to hear former First Lady Laura Bush on March 16. Bush understood the influence she could have on the world as First Lady. She actively worked on several international and domestic fronts ranging from encouraging equal rights for women and men in Afghanistan’s fledgling democracy to launching the first National Book Festival that now attracts more than 100,000 book enthusiasts. As First Lady she was a confidante of the President, a hostess to hundreds of world leaders and mother to twin daughters who spent much of their lives in the White House. Club members will have a chance to hear Bush’s personal stories of being a wife, mother and leader in Washington, D.C., and beyond.

Then on April 12, The Club will welcome Tom Friedman, best-selling author and foreign affairs columnist for The New York Times. Friedman takes on topics others sidestep, cutting through the smoke screens of politics with reliable information that spurs his readers to dialogue. Friedman has won three Pulitzer prizes and topped the best-selling charts with titles such as “Hot, Flat and Crowded: Why We Need a Green Revolution – and How It Can Renew America” (2008), “The World is Flat,” “Longitudes and Attitudes: The World in the Age of Terrorism,” “The Lexus and the Olive Tree” and “From Beirut to Jerusalem.” He comes to engage our members in global issues that he believes can’t be ignored.

A sixth speaker will be added to the slate at a later date. Cook said The Club will invite former Governor of Alaska and G.O.P. Vice Presidential Candidate Sarah Palin when she begins to accept speaking invitations soon. Ideally The Club hopes to schedule her in May. Economic Club members will be informed of the speaker and date when details are finalized.

Attendance at the speaker series is limited to Economic Club members only. An invitation to last year’s members has been extended and renewals are required by 
Sept. 11. Individuals interested in joining The Club may add their names to a waiting list.