The Idaho Business Review hosts five panel discussions throughout the year featuring five or six experts covering timely, relevant business issues.
All Breakfast Series events feature a continental breakfast and are held at the Grove Hotel in Downtown Boise, 245 S. Capitol Boulevard. Each session begins at 8 a.m. with the discussion starting at 8:30 a.m. and lasting roughly one hour.
A story summarizing each Breakfast Series discussion appears in the Idaho Business Review.
2023 Breakfast Series Schedule
February 28, 2023: Workforce
April 6, 2023: Keeping It Local
June 6, 2023: Transportation
August 3, 2023: Community Planning
October 3, 2023: Manufacturing
2022 Breakfast Series
October 6, 2022: Tech Trends
Leaders are touting technology as not only an in-demand and growing industry for Idaho, but an essential one as well, whether through services like broadband and cybersecurity or more tangible products such as those created at small or large firms. Grocery stores, aviation companies and many others are integrating new technology into their operations. What does the business community need to know about best tech practices and what Idaho has to offer? Panelists have ideas.
Bradlee Frazer, partner, Hawley Troxell
Bradlee Frazer is a partner with Hawley Troxell, where he chairs the firm’s internet and intellectual property practice group. In addition to emphasizing and focusing on all facets of internet law, intellectual property law and information technology law, Frazer also helps clients with related transactional work and litigation. He is a frequent speaker on internet, intellectual property and computer law topics and is a regular guest lecturer at Boise State University on those subjects. He received his Juris Doctor from University of California Hastings College of Law, his Master of Business Administration from University of Utah and His bachelor’s degree from Brigham Young University (Provo). Today, he specializes in areas such as cybersecurity, cloud, apps, social media, software-as-a-service (SaaS), licensing, copyrights, patent counseling and tech transfer. He is an affiliated member with the U.S. Court of Appeals Ninth Circuit, Intellectual Property Law Sections of the American Bar and Idaho State Bar, and has been a member of the Idaho State Bar since 1988.
Vlad Dzhidzhiyeshvili, CEO, Ventive
Vlad Dzhidzhiyeshvili immigrated to Ontario, Oregon with his family as a teenager from Georgia — the country that is. He spent his youth dismantling his parents’ computers, which he turned into a successful career in tech. For the last 17 years, he’s been instrumental in launching countless web applications, mobile applications and data integration projects. Currently, Dzhidzhiyeshvili is the CEO at Ventive, which has been named one of the fastest-growing private companies in the United States as an Inc. 5,000 honoree for the last five years, and Dzhidzhiyeshvili has been there every step of the way. Dzhidzhiyeshvili actively leads the growing Ventive development agency of engineers, designers and marketers providing world-class strategic services to businesses looking to transform.
Jay Larsen, founder, CEO and president, Idaho Technology Council
Jay Larsen is the founder and CEO/president of the Idaho Technology Council, an organization focused on developing an innovative ecosystem in Idaho and helping technology start, grow and thrive. Telecommunication has been the industry where Larsen has spent 22 years of his career, including leading teams with US West Cellular, AirTouch Cellular, Qwest Communication and Verizon Wireless in Idaho and the region. Larsen led teams that pioneered and implemented new wireless technologies. Larsen’s key areas of focus are organizational development, marketing, networks, innovation and leadership. He has served on several boards, including Idaho Workforce Development Council, Idaho Strategic Energy Alliance, Boise State University CS Industry Advisory Board, and INBRE Advisory Board.
Mindy Ngo, head of operations, Bridgetower Capital
Mindy Ngo holds a master’s degree in applied statistics at CSUEB and is a Gates Millennium alumnus. Additionally, Ngo is skilled in artificial intelligence, data science and algorithm development, having more than 12 years’ experience in data analytics. Prior to BridgeTower, Ngo built three AI algorithms for travel, health and the fin-tech industries and cofounded a blockchain company that led to successful exit. With that combination and a deep background in developing Blockchain technology, particularly proof of stake (PoS) and decentralized finance (DeFi), commercial real estate and technology-focused companies, Ngo is integral to the technological development and implementation as head of operations at BridgeTower Capital.
Christopher Rowlison (CR), CEO and board director, MCX Technologies Corp.
Christopher Rowlison (CR) thought his dream was to always be in the automotive business, working at one of the prestigious manufacturing companies and selling the dream of independence via four wheels and a v8 engine. It seemed appropriate since he went to a university purpose-built to excel in the automotive business. CR started gravitating toward technology during the firestorm of Web 1.0. He was hooked. His technology journey started at Hewlett-Packard when it topped the lists for the best company to work for and most admired. The experience was nothing short of spectacular, however, with an itching entrepreneurial spirit and a significant shift on the horizon in technology, CR was determined to seize the opportunity: Wire Stone took flight. After 15 years of sweat, success, leanings and lifetime friendships, Accenture acquired the company. For CR, the next big thing is here, and if the bets are correct, Web 3.0 will have the most significant impact on society in a very long time. He is all in if it means helping people, companies and communities grow and move forward.
Edward Vasko, director, Institute of Pervasive Cybersecurity
Edward Vasko, CISSP, is the director of Boise State University’s Institute of Pervasive Cybersecurity. He is a cybersecurity leader and entrepreneur with over 30 years of experience in the cybersecurity industry. Prior to joining Boise State University, Vasko established and was a senior vice president at Avertium, a leading national managed security and consulting provider. Vasko’s other passion is tackling the challenge of cybersecurity workforce development. He has served on over 20 education advisory boards providing expertise around cybersecurity industry needs. He was appointed by Gov. Brad Little to the Idaho Cybersecurity Task Force.
Idaho Business Review is committed to bringing business professionals together to recognize leaders and build business relationships, and we are also committed to achieving this in a safe environment. We will continue to follow CDC regulations for all in-person events.
August 4, 2022: Keeping Idaho healthy – How are businesses ensuring employee well-being?
Health is top of mind for most likely everyone as COVID-19 has affected not just the health care industry but every business as well, such as through evolving regulations and increased need for remote work. How are trends and regulations related to health care impacting the business community today? Panelists will explore that question and more about mental health, nutrition, public health and an individual’s well-being.
Susan Olson, COO/CFO, Hawley Troxell
As the Chief Operating/Chief Financial Officer, Susan Olson provides leadership on firm finances, operations, growth and business initiatives. She joined the firm in 2001 after spending time in the health care and finance industries. Guided by the firm’s objectives, culture and the ethical requirements of the legal profession, Olson is responsible for all financial and operational functions of the 75+ attorney law firm. She is at the forefront of the firm’s mergers and acquisitions strategies. It is her duty to ensure the firm meets its financial goals and objectives and has the proper operational controls and people systems in place to achieve the firm’s business objective — exceptional client service. She provides constant attention to the improvement of the organization to ensure financial strength and operating efficiencies of the business of law. Olson is a Certified Legal Manager.
Mary Biddle-Newberry, Director, YMCA Healthy Living Center
Serving as the director of the YMCA Healthy Living Center (Y-HLC) for the Treasure Valley Family YMCA in Boise, Mary Biddle-Newberry oversees disease prevention and management programs that focus on promoting wellbeing, reducing the risk of disease and reclaiming health by helping individuals adopt healthier lifestyles and make a significant and positive impact on quality of life, reducing incidence of chronic disease and the cost of health care. Working alongside community partners, Biddle-Newberry focuses on delivering accessible, evidence-based programs that demonstrate both an improvement in Treasure Valley residents’ health and a savings in health care costs. She has created and implemented a variety of programs, supporting and addressing the many diverse needs of chronic disease in the pursuit of an individual’s better health and well-being. She holds a bachelor’s and Master of Science degree, is a certified medical exercise specialist and holds multiple nationally recognized certifications in numerous modalities of exercise.
Patrick Fithen, CEO, A Body & Mind Health Services
Growing up, Patrick Fithen knew he wanted a career where he could help people. Fithen graduated from Boise State University in 2008 with a degree in social science and criminal justice, and after 15 years in the mental health sector, he saw a void that needed to be filled. So in 2019, along with his best friend from high school, Fithen decided to launch A Body & Mind Health Services with a mission of helping both clients and employees. Fithen’s company combines mental health care with physical fitness, nutrition and healthy social circles. Fithen also strives to bring awareness to mental health, and to remove the stigma that’s often attached to discussing mental health with others. He’s also an advocate for getting people to be more active and enjoy the outdoors.
Rex Force, Vice President for Health Sciences & Senior Vice Provost, Idaho State University
As vice president for health sciences — named to the role in 2016 — and senior vice provost, Rex Force, PharmD, has been praised for his contributions in leading the health care education mission of the Kasiska Division of Health Sciences at ISU and in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. He joined the university in 1993 as a faculty member and later directed the Family Medicine Clinical Research Center before serving as the associate dean for clinical research in the Kasiska Division of Health Sciences. He has authored multiple publications and conducted extensive clinical research. His contributions include work in trials that have helped to define the current treatment of high blood pressure, diabetes and high cholesterol. In addition, his work at ISU has involved solving rural health issues.
Jill Murphy, Senior HR Business Partner, Agri Beef & President, HRATV
In addition to her human resources role with Agri Beef, Jill Murphy is serving as the 2022 president for the Human Resources Association of Treasure Valley (HRATV). Her love of HR unknowingly began when she owned and operated a Pita Pit franchise shortly after graduating from college. Hiring, training, leading and developing incredible people is her passion. She is a proud Vandal with degrees in marketing and Spanish from the University of Idaho, and she received her master’s in HR management from Webster University.
Elke Shaw-Tulloch, Division of Public Health Administrator, Idaho Department of Health & Welfare
As the administrator of the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare’s Division of Public Health, Elke Shaw-Tulloch is also the state’s public health officer. She has worked for the Department of Health and Welfare since 1996 and was promoted to division administrator in 2012. Since February 2020, she has focused a majority of her time on responding to the coronavirus pandemic.
April 7, 2022: Workforce and wages
2021 posed unique challenges on the Idaho business community — with the great resignation (or reshuffle) happening across the nation resulting in increasing wage pressures, to name just a couple. Where are we as a state today with that change of workforce? Have people who previously left returned? Have new jobs helped? Where are wages at? Panelists will tackle these and other timely questions.
Carsten Peterson, partner at Hawley Troxell and co-chair of the firm’s insurance practice group, has a civil litigation practice that includes personal injury, medical malpractice claims, insurance coverage, uninsured and underinsured motorist claims, insurance bad faith, employment discrimination, wrongful termination, employment wage disputes and transportation liability. Peterson is admitted to practice law in Idaho and Utah in both state and federal courts. Peterson has significant experience in defending health care providers in medical malpractice claims, catastrophic personal injury cases, wrongful death and transportation liability. He also defends employers in administrative complaints filed with the Idaho Human Rights Commission, Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) raising claims under the Fair Housing Act (FHA), Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA), Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act (race, color, religion, sex and national origin) and state laws. His practice also includes advising employers on a variety of matters, including paid time off, workplace harassment and discrimination, employee handbooks, as well as employee termination and discipline.
Executive Director of Optum Idaho
Georganne Benjamin is the executive director of Optum Idaho, a health services innovation company that provides mental health and substance use disorder treatment and services to more than 370,000 Idaho Medicaid members through a network of over 2,000 licensed providers statewide. Benjamin joined Optum Idaho in 2015 as director of strategic communications and was promoted into her current role in 2016, leading a team of more than 80 employees in Idaho. A graduate of the University of Idaho, she has held positions of increasing responsibility with Regence Blue Shield of Idaho, Regence Blue Cross/Blue Shield of Utah and Cambia Health Solutions. She lives in Boise with her husband and two daughters and is a board member and past president of the Idaho Ronald McDonald House. Benjamin also previously served on the board of the Twin County United Way in Lewiston.
Account Manager for Express Employment Professionals
Rob Graham is an account manager for Express Employment Professionals (Express) and has been with the company since 2019. He spent over 15 years serving Australia in the military — two years in the Australian Army Artillery before moving over to the Royal Australian Air Force as a licensed aircraft maintenance engineer, specializing in Avionics. Having traveled the world on exercises and combat deployments, Graham brings a diverse experience to the Express team. He currently manages the Caldwell and Fruitland Express offices and works closely with clients in workforce development, workforce strategy and professional development. Graham says he loves that by working at Express, he does nothing but help people, make friends and somehow earns a living from that! He currently serves on the Caldwell Chamber of Commerce, as chairman of the board, and is an ambassador for the Nampa Chamber of Commerce. He also works in close partnership with the College of Western Idaho’s Work Based Learning Center to enhance students’ work-based learning and retain local talent in Treasure Valley. When not at work, Graham enjoys being with his family outdoors — hiking, camping, hunting and fishing.
Director of the Idaho Department of Labor
Jani Revier is a fifth generation Idahoan, born and raised on a ranch in Three Creek. Governor Brad Little appointed Revier to serve as director of the Idaho Department of Labor when he took office in 2019. Prior to this, she was the administrator of the Division of Financial Management for six years under Governor C.L. “Butch” Otter. Revier also spent 16 years working for members of the Idaho Congressional delegation in Washington, D.C., and Boise. Revier is proud to lead more than 500 employees who strive to make a difference in the lives of job seekers, employers, government officials and Idaho citizens. Revier earned a bachelor’s degree in agricultural economics from Oklahoma State University and her post-graduate work was in agricultural and resource economics at Oregon State University. She is married to John Revier, director of state and regional government affairs for the Idaho National Laboratory. The Reviers have teenage twins and reside in Meridian.
Senior Consultant with Gallagher’s Human Resources & Compensation Consulting Practice
Charles Sterling is a senior consultant with Gallagher’s Human Resources & Compensation Consulting practice, where he manages client engagements and provides consulting expertise in all areas of compensation, including global total compensation management and administration, competitive labor market analysis, salary structure design and administration, compensation program communications and annual salary increase administration. Upon receiving his Ph.D. in business with an emphasis in organizational behavior from Ohio State University, Sterling joined the full-time faculty in the Argyros School of Business and Economics at Chapman University, where he became one of the youngest recipients of the Valerie Scudder Award for excellence in teaching, research and service. Outside of academia, his career also includes full-time roles working within companies of varied industries, such as at Wells Fargo, where he helped establish a new pay program, and at the San Francisco Federal Reserve Bank, where he established the first formal market-pricing methodology as head of compensation. Sterling’s experience as a total compensation consultant is extensive, having served as principal consultant within Mercer’s Human Capital practice for several years as well as operating his own consulting firm (Sterling & Sterling LLC).[/box]
June 9, 2022: Food innovation
Food innovation has been a trending topic in recent years as stakeholders have been investing in research and development centers across the state. Following the Magic Valley’s announcement of plans for a facility in 2020, the Treasure Valley intends to have a similar one of its own at Boise State University. Panelists will share their insights into food innovation across Idaho and what that means for industries and the entire state.
Moderated by Hawley Troxell
Justin Fredin, Attorney, Hawley Troxell
Justin Fredin is in the firm’s business department and real estate practice group. He has a strong background in real estate and contract law, specifically land use law. Prior to joining Hawley Troxell, Fredin spent nine years working with the Ada Country Highway District as in-house counsel, giving him wide experience in real estate, land use, entitlements and development issues.
Jessica Anderson, Public Affairs Manager, Amalgamated Sugar Company
Jessica Anderson has been with Amalgamated Sugar since 2016 when she accepted the company’s newly created communications specialist position. Since then, her responsibilities have expanded to include government relations and community outreach responsibilities. She serves as a representative of Amalgamated Sugar on the Boise Metro Chamber of Commerce’s Food and Ag Industry Advisory Board, the Food Producers of Idaho and Idaho Agriculture in the Classroom organizations. Anderson also serves on the board of directors for the Foundation for Idaho History and the Idaho Future Farmers of America (FFA) Foundation. Before coming to Amalgamated Sugar, Anderson owned a digital marketing company, also working as a freelance magazine journalist. She received her Bachelor of Arts in communication, with a minor in political science, from Boise State University, where she will be attending school again this fall to earn an Executive Master of Business Administration degree.
Ben Brock, Farm Manager, Global Gardens
Ben Brock joined Global Gardens, a program of the Idaho Office for Refugees, in 2022, having previously served as director of farm development at Little Buddy Farm in Fruitland. He is passionate about implementing practices that add to the resilience of local food systems, especially producer/consumer connections and soil health and water conservation. He earned his undergraduate degree in biology from Williams College and completed a master’s degree in leadership for sustainability at the University of Vermont. Prior to his career in farming, Brock guided on the Middle Fork of the Salmon River and served as the outdoor program director at Riverstone International School.
Olivier Delobbe, Site Director, Lactalis American Group Nampa Plant
Olivier Delobbe has more than 25 years of experience in the food production industry. After earning a master’s degree in food science, specializing in microbiology and food safety, Delobbe started his career with Lactalis in France in 1996 at a cheese factory in Britany. There, he served first as quality manager, then as assistant production manager. In 2009, he moved to the United States to accept the role of mozzarella production manager. Over the next 13 years, he was promoted to various leadership positions with Lactalis in Nampa. Today, as site director of the Nampa plant, Delobbe is responsible for leading and directing all aspects of production, quality, food safety and personnel at Lactalis’ largest production plant in the United States.
Mike Francis, Founder & CEO, Payette Brewing Company
Mike Francis left corporate life as an industrial engineer at Boeing Co. in Seattle to engineer some industry of his own. After receiving an associate degree in brewing technology from Chicago’s Siebel Institute of Technology, followed by a stint at Schooner Exact Brewing in Seattle, Francis headed to his home turf of Boise in 2010 to establish Payette Brewing Company, now proudly celebrating its “11th year of beer!”
Eric Torres-Garcia, Founder & President, Cocoa Bombs
Eric Torres-Garcia is an accomplished 26-year-old, USA-born, Mexican-American entrepreneur. He holds a bachelor’s degree in international business from Boise State University. In December of 2019, an unexpectedly successful viral video urged him to take a giant leap of faith into the chocolate business. He has since attracted worldwide attention for his crazed signature concoction, Cocoa Bombs.
2021 Breakfast Series Events
10/5/2021 Office life in 2021
Keeping tabs on office life adaptation, culture, practices and more, this Breakfast Series panel will explore what today’s offices look and feel like despite a continuing pandemic and shrinking, yet inflating, real estate market, among other challenges.
Allison Bruce is TalentSpark’s vice president of recruiting and client relations. She has over 15 years of recruiting experience in pharma, health care and engineering, including time with several Fortune 500 companies. She is a self-professed “recruiting nerd” with expertise in market research and finding unique, hard-to-find talent. Allison is a Colorado native and former Division 1 track athlete and graduate of the University of Colorado (Go Buffs).
Mike Fornander, CEO and owner of Neurilink, is a thought leader in the Northwest for all things video collaboration, digital signage, health and wellness kiosks, audio-visual and information technology solutions architecture and instructional technologies. Born and raised in Boise, Mike involved himself in all leadership availability, including serving as Capital High School ASB (Associated Student Body) president, participating in Leadership Boise, etc. Graduating high school, Mike took advantage of a full ride leadership scholarship at Washington State University. After six years of teaching, Mike took a yearlong fellowship with the Kathryn Albertson Foundation, in which he delivered instruction technology training to teachers across the state of Idaho.
After 14 years as regional vice president for Data Projections, out of Boise, Mike negotiated a regional buy out of this northwest territory, and in December of 2012, he rebranded the organization as Neurilink and has continued to foster growth and regional expansion ever since. Neurilink is an industry leader in unified collaboration and audio-visual solutions integration.
Scott Galloway is a Boise native. He received his bachelor’s degree in business from BYU. He has developed and sold three companies in the Boise area. Scott has extensive experience in talent development and strategically growing organizations. He currently works as a principal partner at OEC (Office Environment Company), a commercial interiors and construction company.
Jeff Heath has been a part of Business Interiors of Idaho his entire life. After gaining work experience outside the furniture industry, he moved back to Boise and joined the team in 2014. Jeff strives to constantly evaluate and improve the Business Interiors of Idaho customer experience. His goal is to provide every customer with the most efficient, functional and creative solution possible. Jeff holds a Bachelor of Science degree in business marketing and entrepreneurship from the University of Idaho.
Jennifer Jones Hooft is managing principal for Higher Resources LLC. She is an HR expert and executive coach with more than 25 years of experience spanning varied industries, including technology, financial services, higher education, manufacturing and health care. In addition to speaking, coaching, training and supporting clients with sound HR practices, she has taught as adjunct faculty for Boise State University for more than 20 years and is personally committed to lifelong learning and helping people and organizations flourish. Jennifer has a long history of volunteer leadership within her profession and her community. She is past president of HRATV and past state council director for Society for Human Resource Management Idaho, past president of the board for Family Advocates and Idaho Humane Society. Currently, Jennifer is a board member for the Wassmuth Center for Human Rights.
Carsten Peterson, partner at Hawley Troxell, has a civil litigation practice, which includes personal injury, insurance coverage, uninsured and underinsured motorist claims, insurance bad faith and transportation liability. His practice also includes representation of businesses in various matters including contract and construction disputes. Carsten is admitted to practice law in Idaho and Utah in both state and federal courts, with substantial experience in handling litigation in federal courts. He is co-chair of the firm’s insurance practice group. Carsten has significant experience in defending health care providers in medical malpractice claims, catastrophic personal injury cases, wrongful death and transportation liability. He also defends employers in administrative complaints filed with the Idaho Human Rights Commission, Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) raising claims under the Fair Housing Act (FHA), Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA), Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act (race, color, religion, sex and national origin) and state laws. His practice also includes advising employers on a variety of matters, including paid time off, workplace harassment and discrimination, employee handbooks, as well as employee termination and discipline. His experience also includes defending health care providers in prelitigation screening hearing panels before the Idaho State Board of Medicine. He received his Juris Doctor from the University of Idaho Law School in 2001.
Registration: 8 a.m.
Panel discussion: 8:30 a.m. – 10 a.m.
Idaho Business Review is committed to bringing business professionals together to recognize leaders and build business relationships, but we are also committed to achieving this in a safe environment. We will continue to follow CDC regulations for all in-person events.
Idaho’s technology sector was one of the few bright spots of 2020. Our panel will discuss what needs to happen for this to continue in 2021.
Moderator: Bradlee Frazer, partner, Hawley Troxell
Frazer chairs the firm’s Internet and Intellectual Property Practice Group. In addition to emphasizing and focusing on all facets of internet law, intellectual property law, and information technology law, he also helps clients with related transactional work and litigation. He has also written extensively for national legal publications and law blogs, and is a frequent speaker on internet, intellectual property, and computer law topics and is a regular guest lecturer at Boise State University on those subjects.
Nick Crabbs, partner and founding member of Vynyl
Vynyl is a product development firm that works with corporations, institutions, and investors to build unique mobile, web, applications that are technically excellent, visually appealing, and create real & measurable business value. Prior to his work with Vynyl, Crabbs spent nearly a decade working for some of the nation’s largest banking institutions, local municipalities, and large enterprise environments as an IT specialist and manager. Embracing his more entrepreneurial endeavors, community engagement and tech evangelism Crabbs has worked with several start-ups, local community organizations and leadership with large-scale events to leverage his knowledge and expertise in technology, management and recruiting to judge events, offer mentorship, speak on panels, and contribute to a growing tech and entrepreneurial ecosystem.
Denise Dunlap, co-founder and managing partner of Sage Growth Capital
Dunlap has a record of successfully building and operating companies as well as coaching startups and entrepreneurs. Two of her former roles include CEO of an IT services company and director of Boise State University’s business incubator. She has been an active angel investor and leader in the angel investment community since 2008, and travels the country teaching angel investing courses as an Instructor for the Angel Capital Association’s Education program. She co-founded Loon Creek Capital Group in 2010 and has grown the company to provide consulting and administrative services to hundreds of angel investors across the country. In 2019, Dunlap co-founded Sage Growth Capital, a fund that makes revenue-based investments in a wide variety of companies that need growth capital but are not a fit for traditional bank or equity financing. She holds a BBA from Boise State.
Amy Gile, co-founder and CEO, Silverdraft
Gile began her career in the media and entertainment industry in multiple aspects of the industry including actor and producer. She identified a need in the industry for a better solution for production and for the artist. The demands of rendering, animation, and visual effects required a sophisticated approach to computing. She knew that there was a better, faster way to bring complex content to the masses. She co-founded Silverdraft and has dedicated herself to building the highest performance compact supercomputers on the market for various industries including automotive, and media and entertainment. She is a TEDx speaker.
Robert Poleki, CEO and founder, Washie
Prior to becoming an entrepreneur, Poleki was an elected official in Bannock County. He has worked in the government sector for over a decade, primarily in social services. He decided to take a leap of faith with a toilet seat idea he had while taking his four-year-old son to a public restroom. After filing for a patent in 2015, a patent was issued by the USPTO in 2018. He decided to quit his job as an elected official to begin his entrepreneurial journey with his new company, Washie. Washie sells and creates innovative products for public restrooms with their feature product, Washie Toilet Seat, launching 2021.
Tiam Rastegar, executive director, Trailhead Boise
Born in Iran and raised in Germany, Rastegar came to Boise in 2000 and lives there with his wife and two children. Rastegar received both his undergraduate and Executive MBA from Boise State University. He has wide-ranging experience in sales, marketing, product and program management, mergers & acquisitions, and other areas at Boise startups since the early 2000’s. He currently leads Trailhead as its Executive Director, Boise’s nonprofit hub for entrepreneurship and startup incubation.
Between property taxes, a surplus, COVID and a new Legislature, this year’s session was unlike any other. Our panel will discuss the business ramifications of the session.
Moderator: Stephen Thomas, Partner, Hawley Troxell
Thomas is a member of the litigation practice area and has also established a practice in state government affairs and legislative advocacy. He handles commercial litigation, products liability, resources disputes, and insurance defense. As a legislative advocate, he represents clients in such industries as oil and gas, railroad, health insurance, forest products, social media, finance and soft drink industries. He is a past chairman of the Idaho Association of Commerce and Industry, director of Associated Taxpayers of Idaho Inc., and a member of the Boise Chamber of Commerce. He is past president of the Ore-Ida Council, Boy Scouts of America and St. Joseph’s School Board.
Scott Bedke, Speaker of the House
Representative Bedke has been elected to ten terms representing District 27 in the Idaho House of Representatives. In December 2012, he was elected Speaker of the House, and is currently serving his fifth two-year term as Speaker. His previous committee assignments included Revenue & Taxation, Appropriations, Education, Transportation, and Natural Resources Committees. He earned a bachelor’s degree in finance from Brigham Young University and is a fourth-generation rancher in Oakley.
Miguel Legarreta, President, Associated Taxpayers of Idaho
Founded in 1946, the ATI is a nonpartisan, not-for profit organization working on behalf of Idaho’s taxpayers. Today, the ATI remains the only statewide association encouraging effective and responsible government through research and public education.
Prior to his role at the Associated Taxpayers of Idaho, Legarreta was the director of public policy for the Boise Regional Realtors and government affairs director for the Building Contractors Association of Southwestern Idaho. In those roles, he advocated on numerous issues promoting housing and home ownership. He began his career in public policy working for Idaho Governor Dirk Kempthorne as executive assistant and scheduler where he coordinated staff, issues, and activities throughout Idaho. He holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in business administration with a concentration in finance from the College of Idaho.
Michelle Stennett, Senate Minority Leader
For over a decade, Senator Stennett has represented District 26, which encompasses Blaine, Camas, Gooding and Lincoln counties. She received her bachelor’s in international relations, environmental studies and romance languages from the University of Oregon. She possesses various certificates from several universities as well, including the University of Idaho. This session, her committee assignments include Health and Welfare, State Affairs and Resources and Environment. She also serves on many interim committees, such as the Legislative Council on River Governance and Pacific NorthWest Economic Region.
Shaakirrah R. Sanders, Professor of Law, University of Idaho College of Law
Sanders is the first African-American to earn the rank of full professor at the University of Idaho College of Law, where she teaches Constitutional Law, Criminal Procedure, and the First Amendment. She chairs the Idaho State Advisory Committee for the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights and serves as national board representative for ACLU of Idaho. She regularly presents CLEs to members of the Idaho State Bar and gives testimony before the Idaho State Legislature. She has been quoted in local and national news stories published by New York Times, Washington Post, Associated Press, National Public Radio’s All Things Considered and local and regional news broadcasts.
Jayson Ronk, Vice President of Government Affairs, Regence Blue Shield of Idaho
Ronk directs the legislative, executive and regulatory strategy in Idaho and advocates to various elected and appointed bodies and officials. Most recently, he was state government affairs director with Micron Technology. Before joining Micron, Ronk managed then-Governor C.L. “Butch” Otter’s historic re-election campaign for a third consecutive term. Before that, Ronk was vice president of the Idaho Association of Commerce & Industry. Ronk also served as executive director of the Idaho Republican Party and worked as government affairs director of the Building Contractors Association of Southwest Idaho.
Ronk completed his undergraduate studies in political science at Idaho State University. He obtained his Master of Public Administration at Boise State University.
What a long, strange trip 2020 was for the tourism industry. With vaccinations becoming more widespread, our panel will talk about how 2021 is looking.
2020 Breakfast Series Events
October 6 – Keeping Idaho Healthy: Innovators shaping the industry
August 4 – Idaho On the Move: Transportation trends
July 14 – Food Culture: Growing Idaho’s food industry
Join us to learn from Idaho producers about the food cycle, from farm to table. We’re hungry for information!
June 2 – Idaho Tourism: COVID-19 response and recovery
The June Breakfast Series has been switched to a free webinar in light of social distancing. It will be held at 10 a.m., June 2, via Zoom.
When the COVID-19 virus swept across the world this spring, tourism was one of the hardest hit industries. Join us for a discussion of how Idaho tourism businesses are coping and planning to move forward from the pandemic.
Click here to read reports from previous Breakfast Series discussions.
For information about registration, contact Laura Clements at [email protected] or (208) 639-3528.
For information about advertising or sponsorship opportunities, contact Cindy Suffa at [email protected] or (208) 639-3517.