Ron Kitchens serves as the Chief Executive Officer of Southwest Michigan First, as well as the Managing Partner of the Southwest Michigan First Life Science Fund. With more than 25 years of experience in economic development, he has been a businessman, city administrator, elected official and staff member to United States Senator John Danforth. Kitchens, who is a graduate of Missouri State University and the University of Oklahoma Economic Development Institute, is a certified economic developer and has been featured in the Wall Street Journal, the Economist, Fast Company and dozens of other regional and national media.
Daniel Gross, the long-time “Economic View” columnist for The New York Times and “Moneybox” columnist for Slate, has contributed to dozens of magazines and newspapers, including Fortune, New York, Wired and the Washington Post. His books include the best-selling Forbes Greatest Business Stories of All Time and Pop! Why Bubbles are Great for the Economy. Gross was educated at Cornell University and holds a masters degree from Harvard University.
As Vice President of Communications at Southwest Michigan First, Heather Smith focuses on aligning the organization’s communications strategy with the business and community environment. She is a graduate of Yale University with a Bachelor of Arts in History with honors, and worked previously at Accenture.