The Institute does not have any employees. All necessary work is currently being performed “pro-bono” by its board members who donate their time and resources in areas where they have expertise. Below is the list of the Institute’s board members with a description of their background:
Justin P. King, J.D.,CAE who is Chairman of the Board, earned his BA in 1964 from Willamette University (Salem, Oregon) and a J.D. in 1967 from the University of Oregon School of Law. Justin served as Executive Director of the Michigan Association of School Boards for 21 years, working closely with local boards of education and individual board members and superintendents.
He organized the Education Alliance of Michigan: 16 CEO’s of the major education related associations in K-12 education (including charter schools) and higher education. Mr. King also organized and served as President of the Michigan Foundation of Education Leadership, which annually sponsors The Governor’s Education Summit, chaired the National School Boards Association (NSBA) Executive Directors’ Liaison Committee, and served on the NSBA Board of Directors. He is an American Society of Association Executives Certified Association Executive (CAE), served on the Michigan Society of Association Executives Board of Directors, and was inducted into their Hall of Fame in 2006.
Mr. King was also Chairman of the Michigan Nonprofit Association (MNA) Board from 2000-02, and served as Chairman five times on the Michigan Council of Local Governments. He is currently Chairman of the Board of the Michigan Council on Economic Education (MCEE) and serves as President of the Education and Association Division of Global Behavior, Inc. where he fostered development of the All Students Must Graduate Program to decrease drop-out rates and increase student academic performance.
Ted Lakkides, CFP is the Founder and President of Cygnet Institute of Personal Financial Literacy. He is also the President of Cygnet Financial Freedom House, an independent fee-based Registered Investment Adviser, that provides comprehensive financial planning and fiduciary portfolio management services for individuals. Cygnet Financial Freedom House also specializes in serving as an ERISA §3(38) Investment Manager and ERISA §3(21) Participant Investment Advisor for corporate 401(k)-style retirement plans.
Since 2004, Mr. Lakkides has served as Director of the Community Services Division of the Michigan Council on Economic Education (MCEE), a non-profit organization that promotes economic and personal financial literacy. He is a founding member of the Michigan Jump$tart Coalition, a group that focuses on financial literacy for K12 students. Ted is also a member of the Money$mart Advisory Council of the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago – Detroit Branch, delivering multiple presentations to highlight the need for financial literacy during Michigan Money$mart Week every April.
Lakkides has served as a part-time member of the faculty at Eastern Michigan University (EMU) teaching personal finance courses and adjunct professor in the CFP® program at Walsh College in Troy, MI. Before entering the financial services field in 1979, he distinguished himself in various sales and marketing management positions with Lever Brothers, Arm & Hammer Company and ITT-Frozen Foods Division.
David Dieterle, Ph.D., is Chief Academic Officer of the Cygnet Institute. He is past president of the Michigan Council of Academic Education (“MCEE”), a highly-respected resource for the economic education of adults, teachers and students throughout Michigan. The MCEE is hosted at a number of colleges and universities throughout Michigan including University of Michigan-Flint, Eastern Michigan University, Northern Michigan University, Walsh College, and Kalamazoo College.
Dr. Dieterle has also served as President of the Nebraska and Illinois state councils, and with the Centers for Economic Education at Northern Illinois University and the University of Cincinnati. He is an Adjunct Associate Professor in the MBA and Economics Departments at Walsh College.
With additional graduate degrees in Economics, Educational Administration and Elementary Education Supervision, Dr. Dieterle has taught Economics at Central Michigan, Edgewood College, Northern Illinois, and the University of Cincinnati. Dr. Dieterle has authored numerous articles, reviews, and critiques on economics and education materials for a variety of publications and assessed educational programs for quality economics content and educational soundness.
He has also served the state departments of education for Michigan, Illinois, and Nebraska, most recently serving as Economics content specialist for Michigan Department of Education’s Content Review Committees to develop Grade Level (K-8) and High School (9-12) Content/Course Expectations.
Thomas H. Bergh a member of the Board of Directors is Partner at Varnum, Riddering, Schmidt & Howelett and serves as practice group leader for the Estate Planning, Tax and Benefits Group at Varnum. Tom has over 30 years of experience in helping clients efficiently and effectively define their estate planning goals and to arrange their affairs accordingly. Mr. Bergh received his B.S. degree from the University of Michigan in 1976, his J.D. from Wayne State University in 1980 and his LL.M. in Taxation in 1985 also from Wayne State University.
His expertise includes facilitating the direction of a client-centered and directed strategy and then drafting clear and understandable legal documents to implement it, thereby protecting client wealth, closely-held businesses, and families from taxes, post-mortem chaos and expense, and unnecessary complexity. He has expertise and experience in dealing with the IRS in administrative hearings and litigation, developing creative tailored solutions for business succession planning, charitable trusts and private foundations, and IRA distribution planning. He is a frequent speaker and author on estate planning, employee benefits, charitable planning, and is the past chair of the Financial and Estate Planning Council of Metropolitan Detroit.
Mr. Bergh’s recognition includes being Listed in Michigan Super Lawyers since 2008; Selected as one of Best Lawyers® Lawyers of the Year since 2012; Five Star Wealth Manager, 2010 – 2012; Selected as a Top Rated Lawyers™ in Tax Law, 2013 and Martindale-Hubbell Rating, AV® Preeminent™
He is an Adjunct Professor of Law for Thomas Cooley Law School at the Oakland University Campus; Past President of The Financial and Estate Planning Council of Metropolitan Detroit; State Bar of Michigan: Probate and Estate Planning Law Section; Taxation Section; Business Law Section; also past Chair Taxation Committee of the Oakland County Bar Association Community Activities.
Mr. Bergh serves on the Planned Giving advisory boards for the Community Foundation of Southeastern Michigan, the Salvation Army, and Wayne State; as well as on the board of the Chamber Music Society of Detroit.
Julie Kowalski is an accomplished professional with unique experience blending leadership, operations and performance technologies. She has provided performance consulting services to more than 350 organizations of varying sizes and representing nearly every industry.
Her expertise is in designing, developing and facilitating innovative, high-impact performance solutions to radically improve retention, reduce OJT ramp-up time, and facilitate knowledge sharing with a strong success record in overcoming hard-to-solve design barriers, meeting needs of challenging audiences, and making complex materials manageable.
As the Founder, Principal, Performance Consultant and Facilitator of Creative Partnerships, Inc. She has managed marketing, sales, staff, budgets and operations in the design and development of 200+ training modules. This resulted in the training of approximately 8,000 participants and 3,500 trainers, as well as facilitating more than 85 strategic initiatives on teaming, process, change, service excellence, and start-up. List of clients includes numerous automotive companies and their suppliers, BCBSM, NBD, Alix Partners, DDI, Bayer, Pfizer, ACS, US Foodservice, , US DOD, American Management Association, Oakland University, AAA Michigan, Federal Reserve Bank, Macy’s, and Xerox.
With a Bachelor’s of Science degree in Human Resource Development, Employment and Training, Ms. Kowalski received from Development Dimensions International (DDI) her Master Training Certifications in Interaction Management, Targeted Selection, Service Plus, Job Analysis, and Profile Assessment Center.
Her experience in OD, Team Development and Change Leadership described below is a powerful display of professional history that make her a unique asset to the Board :
Designed and developed two multi-day courses for the American Management Association, while working on virtual teams. Designed and delivered train-the-trainer classes and continued as AMA faculty. One of the programs became a best seller year one.
Designed, developed, and launched a complex three-day business simulation (boot camp) for a professional services firm that included extensive hands-on mentoring. Reduced learning curve from an average of three to six months down to three days.
Designed, developed and delivered a leadership development training series for non-partner leaders at a CPA firm. The program continues as the core leadership curriculum.
Designed, developed, and launched a highly-interactive, hands-on training program to teach cost-center managers budgeting skills and facilitate cross-functional/divisional sharing knowledge. By the end of training, managers were able to complete simulation budgets.
Designed, developed and launched a “Disney style” employee orientation and customer service program for a progressive health care organization. Certified numerous internal staff as trainers, most of which had no previous training experience. Program continued to be delivered to 100% of new hires 10 years later.
Brian Lakkides is the Founder and Managing Director of Fiduciary Firewall Consulting, Inc. Since graduating from Kalamazoo College, Mr. Lakkides has focused his professional life on advocating for the fiduciary standard of care, serving as an independent professional ERISA fiduciary, and educating the sponsors and trustees of pension plans, trusts, and foundations and the professionals serving them. In 2007 Brian became one of the first two thousand professionals nationwide to receive the Accredited Investment Fiduciary® certification from the Center for Fiduciary Studies and fi360.
Reacting to conflicts of interest and the lack of fee and operational transparency he witnessed within corporate defined contribution (“401(k)”) retirement plans, Brian de-constructed the 401(k) business model in 2004 and began development of the multi-level and proactive fiduciary risk management process that later became known as the Fiduciary Firewall℠.
Brian is a frequent speaker, educator, and contributing author for the Michigan Association of CPAs (MICPA) and other professional organizations on fiduciary matters. His public contributions include:
External reviewer and contributor to the revision of the Prudent Practices for Investment Advisors Handbook and Prudent Practices for Stewards Handbook published by fi360 and the Center for Fiduciary Studies
Co-Author: Service Provider Selection and Oversight – What Were You Thinking? (published, Journal of Pension Benefits, Issue 19, vol. 3)
Author: Revenue Sharing: A Fiduciary Danger Zone (published, MICPA 2007)
Author: Complying with and Leveraging the New 401(k) Fee Disclosure Regulations
Brian O’Connor is the award-winning personal finance columnist for The Detroit News, and author of “The $1,000 Challenge: How One Family Slashed Its Budget Without Moving Under a Bridge or Living on Government Cheese” from Portfolio-Penguin.
In addition to garnering rave reviews, “The $1,000 Challenge” was named Best Money Management Book of the Year by The Institute for Financial Literacy.
O’Connor’s nationally syndicated “Funny Money” column is a three-time winner of humor-writing awards from the National Society of Newspaper columnists. He has won three Best in Business awards for his column and news coverage from the Society of American Business Editors and Writers, is an awarded finalist in the Scripps Howard National Journalism Awards and winner of the Christopher J. Welles Memorial Prize from Columbia University. His work has been featured in The Christian Science Monitor, Martha Stewart Living and The Wall Street Journal.
O’Connor holds a bachelor’s degree in liberal arts from Sarah Lawrence College, and earned a master’s of science in journalism at Columbia University, where he was a 2001 Knight-Bagehot Fellow in Economics and Business. Before joining The News, O’Connor was the founding managing editor of Bankrate.com, the Web’s top personal finance site. A native of the Motor City and graduate of the Roeper School, he is married with one son and lives in Sylvan Lake.
For more of his work, visit www.funnymoneyblog.com.
Lisa Ross, Consumer Outreach Coordinator
Michigan Department of Insurance and Financial Services
Lisa Ross is the Consumer Outreach Coordinator for the Office of Consumer Services within the Department of Insurance and Financial Services (DIFS). As the Consumer Outreach Coordinator, Lisa has sole responsibility for the Consumer Outreach Program. In her position, she serves as the liaison between DIFS and Michigan’s communities with special emphasis on underserved areas of the state.
In this capacity, she also serves as the recognized resource who is responsible for planning and conducting statewide financial education forums which provide protection, assistance, and guidance to Michigan consumers who have questions or problems concerning financial services entities. These forums provide consumers with an opportunity to receive valuable information and guidance on financial and insurance matters that impact their daily lives.
The better educated consumers are the more informed decisions they can make concerning their financial transactions. By providing financial education, DIFS empowers consumers with the knowledge they need to make informed financial service decisions.
Lisa has been with the department for five years and has worked for the State of Michigan for approximately 14 years. Other positions Lisa has held at the State of Michigan include Human Resource Developer. Lisa holds a Bachelor of Arts in English from Michigan State University and a Master of Arts in Communication Studies from Wayne State University.
Keith is a leading member of the Audit and Assurance Department. He is also a leader of the firm’s industry group servicing petroleum marketers and member of the National Energy Practice.
- Assists companies with developing and implementing strategic plans to improve operating efficiencies, protect assets and increase profitability
- Consulted on numerous business transactions providing buy side and sell side advisory, business expansion transactions, due diligence, financial analysis, profitability and cost cutting analysis, tax strategies, IRS and state tax audits, and financing.
- Licensed CPA in the states of Michigan, Indiana and Kentucky
- British Standards Institute ISO/QS 9000 Certified Auditor
- Joined the firm in 1990
- B.S. in Accounting, Wayne State University
- Regular participant, UHY LLP Petroleum Briefing Webinar Series
- Editor and Contributor, UHY LLP Petroleum Insider newsletter
- “Key Elements of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act”, MLBMA Essential Framework publication
- Assisted the Michigan Department of Treasury to resolve issues with a new filing system
- Manufacturing and Distribution
ACTIVE & PRIOR PROFESSIONAL MEMBERSHIPS:
- Committee Member – Indiana Petroleum Marketers and Convenience Store Association
- Member – Michigan Lumber and Building Materials Association
- Member – Michigan Petroleum Association/Michigan Association of Convenience Stores
- Member – Michigan Propane and Gas Association
- Member – Michigan Association of Certified Public Accountants
- Member – American Institute of Certified Public Accountants
ACTIVE & PRIOR CIVIC MEMBERSHIPS:
- Member – Wayne State University Alumni Association
- Member – University of Michigan Club of Greater Detroit