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College of Business and Economics
University of Idaho
875 Perimeter Drive MS3161
Moscow, Idaho 83844-3161
Phone: (208) 885-6478
Toll free: (800) 960-3033

2012 Spring Executive Speaker Series

The Jack Morris Executive Speaker Series brings top business leaders from companies throughout the region to the University of Idaho. These seasoned professionals speak about relevant business issues and provide important career inspiration and advice for our students. The executives generally donate their time, expertise and travel to and from the university.

The Chair in Business Enterprise Fund supports the Executive Speaker Series. The fund provides for the coordination of the series, provides for meals with students and executives, and provides for other support needed to deliver the series.

The students, faculty, administrators and staff of the College of Business and Economics are grateful for the Chair in Business Enterprise Fund and for the executives who share with us their valuable time and knowledge.
April 23- John Mead
The 50-year-old company has 5 specialty outdoor stores in Southern California and also operates a wholesale distribution division that supplies outdoor products worldwide. The San Diego based company is best known for its unique style of doing business and company culture. John grew up in Twin Falls, Idaho, joined the company after graduating from the U of I in 1978 with a degree in Business Management, and became its President in 1991. He was named the Outdoor Industry Retail Leader of the Year in 1995 and has participated in the University’s Executive Speaker Series since 1997. John is active in the Southern California community and has served on many non-profit Boards over the years. In 1997 he founded the Donate-a-Pack Foundation, which provides wilderness camping equipment to organizations that introduce disadvantaged youth to the outdoors.
April 16 - Kimberly Harris
Kimberly Harris is president and CEO of Puget Sound Energy, the utility subsidiary of Puget Energy. Prior to being named president of PSE in June 2010, she served as executive vice president and chief resource officer where she was responsible for all of PSE’s energy resources and led the operation of the company’s wind power facilities. With the capacity to produce the electricity equivalent to that used by more than 100,000 homes, it is the nation’s second-largest utility owned and operated wind resource. She also guided development of the company’s Lower Snake River Wind Project, currently under construction near Pomeroy, which will add to the utility’s renewable energy resources in Washington when it enters service in 2012. She has served as senior vice president of regulatory policy and energy efficiency, vice president of regulatory and government affairs, director of load resource strategies, and associate general counsel. Kimberly holds a BS from San Diego State University and a JD from Arizona State University.
April 9 - Jeff Williams
Jeff has 22 years of experience in the dairy industry and has been in his current role as President & CEO of Glanbia Foods since 2005. Jeff also has management responsibilities for Glanbia’s joint venture-Southwest Cheese, LLC in Clovis, NM. Jeff serves on the board of Southwest Cheese as well as the National Cheese Institute Board. Prior to joining the dairy industry, Jeff worked as a banker for eight years. Under Jeff’s leadership, the company has grown to over 650 employees in south central Idaho and another 350 in Clovis, and has achieved sales revenues of over $1.4 billion. Glanbia is the largest producer of American-style cheese in the country with nearly 20% market share. Jeff obtained his undergraduate degree from the University of Oregon in marketing and he went on to get his MBA from Columbia University in New York City.
March 21 - Brian Rice
Brian began his career in the futures industry in 1994 as an order clerk for First American Corp. in Chicago. After a couple years of general exposure to futures and options of all asset classes and geography, Brian decided to direct his focus toward Agricultural Markets. Following, Brian was a broker and trader at Iowa Grain Company. During his tenure there, he was commissioned by producers, commercial entities, money managers, and independent traders. Being aligned with an agricultural firm, Brian studied the inner workings of these markets (including the emerging Dairy Complex), and the brokerage firms that service them. He started Rice Dairy in 2002 with a vision to serve the growing market of dairy price risk management. Currently, Brian concentrates on helping the company's staff of 15 to continue offering specialized services and products to the global dairy industry.
February 27 - Kara Besst
Kara has been involved with Gritman Medical Center and healthcare for nearly 20 years. Kara joined the Medical Center in 1994 after graduating from the U-Idaho with a B.S. degree in Accounting. In 1996, she became director of Fiscal Services and in 2000 she was named CFO. Kara’s professional involvement includes; U-Idaho Accounting Advisory Board Member, Governor’s Workforce Development Council Member, Palouse Surgery Center, Palouse Surgeons, LLC President, Palouse Health Properties, LLC, Palouse Dialysis and BrightPath Board Member. Kara and her husband, Tim, are both Idaho natives. They live in Moscow and have two children.
View past Executive Speaker Series guests' biographies.
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