Antoine GaribaldiChairman | Detroit Metro Convention & Visitors Bureau
President of the University of Detroit Mercy
Dr. Antoine M. Garibaldi is the 25th and first lay president of University of Detroit Mercy, a Catholic, Doctoral/Professional University sponsored by the Society of Jesus (Jesuits) and the Religious Sisters of Mercy.
Since June 2011, Dr. Garibaldi has led Detroit Mercy in accomplishing multiple strategic goals in enrollment and retention, academics, fundraising and community engagement. A tenured Professor of Education and nationally noted scholar, Dr. Garibaldi is the author of eleven books and more than 90 research articles and chapters. In 2015, he was selected among Crain’s Detroit Business “100 Most Connected People in Detroit;” and he was named one of metro Detroit and Michigan’s most powerful business leaders in “The Detroit 500” publication of DBusiness magazine in 2018, 2019 and 2020.
A recognized leader in national higher education, he currently serves on the boards of the Association of Jesuit Colleges and Universities (AJCU); Conference for Mercy Higher Education (CMHE); Georgetown University; Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA); Horizon League Athletic Conference, which he previously chaired; and the Michigan Independent Colleges & Universities (MICU) Executive Committee. In the local civic community, he is a member of the boards of Brother Rice High School; Detroit Institute of Arts (DIA); Detroit Metro Convention & Visitors Bureau, where he serves as Chairman; Detroit Police Chief’s Community Advisory Board; Invest Detroit; Live6 Alliance; and New Detroit, Inc.
Dr. Garibaldi is a member of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. and Sigma Pi Phi Fraternity, also known as the Boulé. In August 2020, he was elected Grand Sire Archon-Elect (president-elect) of Sigma Pi Phi Fraternity, the oldest African American fraternity in the country founded in 1904, and will serve as Grand Sire Archon (president) from August 2022 – 2024. He chaired the Grand Committee on Historically Black Colleges and Universities and Postsecondary Education Access from 2018 to 2020; was a member of the fraternity’s Commission on Young African American Males from 2012 to 2014 and the Education Commission from 2010 to 2012; and served as Chairman of the Grand Social Action Committee of Sigma Pi Phi Fraternity in 2006-08 and as Vice Chairman in 2008-10.
He has received numerous honors, including four honorary doctorates from Our Lady of Holy Cross College (LA), Seton Hall University, Gannon University and University of Saint Thomas (MN); the Outstanding Achievement Award from the University of Minnesota; the Howard University Alumni Award for Distinguished Postgraduate Achievement in the field of education; the Papal honor of Knight of St. Gregory the Great; the National Service Award from the International Salute to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.; “Person of the Year Award” from the University of Notre Dame Club of Erie; and the Michigan Chronicle’s 2013 Men of Excellence Award.
A native of New Orleans, he received his undergraduate degree magna cum laude in Sociology from Howard University and his Ph.D. in Educational Psychology from the University of Minnesota.
Mel TuckerHead Football Coach | Michigan State University
Mel Tucker, a 25-year coaching veteran with championship experience, was named Michigan State University’s 25th head football coach on Feb. 12, 2020
In just his second year in East Lansing in 2021, Tucker led MSU to an 11-2 record and a win in the New Year’s Six with a victory over ACC Champion and No. 12 Pittsburgh in the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl. Tucker was named a finalist for National Coach of the Year by multiple organizations, including the American Football Coaches Association, the Paul Bear Bryant Awards, the Football Writers Association of America and the Maxwell Football Club. He was also named the Big Ten Coach of the Year by both the coaches and media and the AFCA Region 3 Coach of the Year. Going from two wins in 2020 to 11 wins in 2021, MSU completed the biggest turnaround in school history (previous: seven-game improvement from 2016 to 2017). Tucker is the earliest Spartan coach to win double-figure games in a season (previous: Mark Dantonio with 11 wins in his fourth season at MSU in 2010).
Tucker garnered national coach of the week accolades by the Dodd Trophy and The Athletic following Michigan State’s 37-33 victory over No. 6 Michigan on Oct. 30, as he became the first Spartan coach to win his first two games against the Wolverines (27-24 victory at No. 13 Michigan on Oct. 31, 2020).
Tucker’s resume, which began as a graduate assistant at Michigan State under Nick Saban, has an impressive track record of success. The journey that has led him back to East Lansing includes a head coaching position at Colorado (2019), five seasons as a defensive coach in the Southeastern Conference (2000; 2015-18), 10 seasons in the NFL (2005-14), and four seasons at Ohio State (2001-04). He was a defensive coordinator in the NFL for seven seasons and 11 seasons overall in his coaching career.
In 162 games as a full-time coach in the FBS, Tucker’s teams have collected a 119-43 (.735) record, including 11 postseason bowl/playoff games (2000 Peach, 2002 Outback, 2003 Fiesta/BCS National Championship, 2004 Fiesta, 2004 Alamo, 2015 Cotton/CFP Semifinal, 2016 CFP/National Championship, 2016 Liberty, 2018 Rose/CFP Semifinal, 2018 CFP/National Championship, 2021 Peach), three conference championships, three national championship games and two national championships (2002 with Ohio State, 2015 with Alabama). Tucker also coached 160 games in the National Football League (64 with Cleveland, 64 with Jacksonville, 32 with Chicago).
The 50-year-old Tucker is nationally recognized as a top recruiter and developer of talent, working with numerous NFL Draft selections, including 13 first-rounders, and multiple All-Americans and Pro Bowlers.
Lauren Sanders(moderator) | The Elevate Project Inc.
Lauren Sanders is a local Detroiter who moved through the ranks at WDIV Local 4 News as a writer and morning anchor. She’s appeared in hundreds of corporate communications and training films, hosted dozens of live simulcasts and puts guests at ease with her relatable interviews and engaging style.
Currently, Lauren is devoted to the Elevate Project, a boutique marketing and branding firm where she and her team create marketing and branding strategies, write scripts and direct video productions for corporations and individuals.
She’s the proud mother of three boys.
Peter PantusoPresident & CEO | American Bus Association
Peter J. Pantuso is President and CEO of the American Bus Association (ABA). As CEO he is responsible for the Association’s day-to-day operations, in addition to his role at ABA, he also serves as President of the National Bus Traffic Association and of the ABA Foundation.
Peter has 40 years of experience in association work, at all levels. Prior to joining ABA, Peter directed the government and regulatory affairs efforts at the Rubber Manufacturers Association and the National Confectioners Association and was a regional state lobbyist for the Glass Packaging Institute, all based in Washington. He began his career working in the Pennsylvania State Senate, then at Brockway Glass in Pennsylvania.
Under Peter’s leadership, the ABA has grown to become North America’s leading and largest motorcoach, tour and travel association, representing 3,800 members and 65 percent of all motorcoaches on the roads. In addition, he has also grown the ABA Foundation to a $8 million organization that provides needed research to the industry and has awarded more than $1 million in scholarships since its inception. He has also expanded the breadth and inclusiveness of the industry by bringing management services to other organizations, including Skal International – USA and the Florida Motorcoach Association and creating the Hispanic Motorcoach Council, Entertainer Motorcoach Council, Asian Motorcoach Council, School Bus Council and the Women in Buses Council.
Mr. Pantuso is a native of Bradford, PA. He holds a bachelor’s degree from the University of Pittsburgh and a master’s degree from George Washington University’s school of Business and Government.
He serves on the Boy Scouts of America – National Capital Area Council. He previously was appointed a position on the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Motor Carrier Safety Advisory Council and the National Advisory Committee of Travel and Tourism Infrastructure. He is also a 2016 recipient of the National Eagle Scout Association’s Outstanding Eagle Scout Award and a 2018 recipient of the Alumni Award of Distinction from the University of Pittsburgh – Bradford, PA Campus.
Patrick HigginsSenior Vice President of Industry Relations | Connect
Patrick Higgins, Senior Vice President at Connect, got his start in the tourim industry as a member of the Salt Lake Organizing Committee for the 2002 Winter Olympic Games. After which he spent over a decade in various CVB sales capacities in Reno-Tahoe, Palm Springs (California), and Salt Lake City. In 2009, he left the CVB world to assist organizations such as the Department of Defense, USA Volleyball, USA Fencing, and USA Triathlon with their meeting & events. In 2012 he joined the Connect executive team and in that time, Connect’s event portfolio has grown from 3 annual events to over 32. Connect events attract over 5,000 planners and 7,000 hoteliers, CVBs, and service providers annually. Each Connect event has been intentionally designed to provide unparalleled impact for its attendees in the areas of site selection, meeting placement, industry education, and more. In his current role, Higgins assists destination marketing organizations, hotel brands, and travel and tourism service providers in the successful design and implementation of business development strategies, planner focus groups, hospitality advocacy campaigns and more. In reaction to the recent COVID-19 pandemic, Higgins leads the Connect Back to Business DMO Task Force preparing DMOs and planners from around the country to lay foundations within their respective communities for a quick path to recovery and meetings & convention bounce back up to and including the planning and execution of Connect’s live event portfolio. He and his wife Ashley have been married for 16 years and call Reno-Tahoe home. Together, they have three children and he enjoys coaching baseball, playing basketball, and fly fishing the rivers and streams of the sierra Nevada mountains.
Anthony HolmanManaging Director of Championships & Alliances | National Collegiate Athletic Association
In his current role as Managing Director of Championships and Alliances, Operations, Playing Rules and Officiating at the NCAA. Anthony Holman is responsible for setting the strategic direction for 30 NCAA Championships, and global oversight for playing rules and officiating of all 90 NCAA Championships.
Anthony has been with the NCAA for twelve years, serving his entire tenure with the championships and alliances group. Prior to joining the NCAA, Anthony worked in professional sports for five years, including the NBA. He is the former executive director of the Quad Cities Sports Committee and prior to that spent nine years with the Illinois High School Association (IHSA). Anthony has been active in the Olympic movement, serving on the board for both USA Swimming and USA Wrestling.
A former basketball student-athlete at Augustana College, Anthony received his B.A. in Political Science and Economics. He has an M.S.S. in Sport Management, MSL and an M.B.A.
Anthony enjoys coaching his kids’ sports teams, playing golf, and spending time with friends and family.
LaDon K. Ford; Stellar and Grammy nominated songwriter has earned over 35 years of music experience and more than 30 years as an ordained preacher and motivational speaker. Ford has shared the stage with musical giants such as Fred Hammond, Kirk Franklin, Marvin Sapp, Vickie Winans, Stevie Wonder, Yolanda Adams and many others.
His experience also includes writing and producing songs, organizing National Choirs and working on the movie soundtracks of The Preacher’s Wife, The Prince of Egypt and a special music project entitled, A Tribute to Rosa Parks. He currently serves as a Worship Leader at Kingdom Apostolic Ministries in Detroit, Michigan and continues to impact lives across the county.