Speaker Bios – 2019 Forum
Former, Director of Comms
Michael Merk is a seasoned global corporate communications and marketing leader who spent the last 18 years at Steelcase, a Fortune Most Admired premium global office furniture brand.
As the Director Corporate Communications, Michael was the lead for the Steelcase Centennial, collaborating with executive management and cross-functional leaders to develop a complex global strategy. This award-winning campaign positioned Steelcase as a thought leader in the eyes of their most important stakeholders and the public. The Centennial theme, 100 Dreams 100 Minds 100 Years was a highly effective campaign, which propelled business and garnered tremendous media.
Michael’s 70-page post-anniversary de-brief is one of-a-kind playbook for communications professionals to follow,
With more than 30 years in the office furniture industry, he has developed a discipline aligning culture to drive business success. Working and living in the U.S., France, and Germany, he brings a global mindset with multicultural understandings.
Michael wholeheartedly believes in the power of sharing and is honored to be considered a “Milestone Master” with Anniversary University ™.
Former, VP Global Brand Systems
Making the world work better through 100 years and 100 icons of progress was core to IBM’s acclaimed Centennial program.
Leading the Centennial campaign was part of Kevin’s role as head of the IBM Brand System—a system to inculcate IBM’s unique and distinct culture into the working lives of 430,000 IBMers in over 170 countries round the world.
Kevin’s expertise in shaping brand, culture, and leveraging an anniversary for strategic advantage is second to none. It begins with the “think” phase—an IBM slogan for over 100 years, but one that has not lost its power or relevance.
Prior to this role, Kevin was Chief Marketing, Communications and Citizenship Officer for IBM Europe and Chairman of the IBM Foundation in the UK and Europe.
Outside of his career in IBM Kevin is an abstract expressionist painter; a humanist; a generative, systemic and narrative thinker; and a change leader. After 30+ years with IBM, first as a manufacturing systems engineer, then sales and marketing lead to IBM’s Chief Brand Officer, he’s now working on a start-up to build a community of leaders dedicated to mind fitness and innovation that is being pioneered in Japan, but made for the world.
Kevin is thrilled to be a “Milestone Master” with Anniversary University™ and looks forward to the prospect of helping Leaders to shape Anniversaries for maximum impact. He uses systems thinking to help clients identify critical touch points and engineers each moment to delight employees and customers alike.
Kari S Evans
Ex. Dir. Bicentennial
University of Virginia
Kari S. Evans has served as the Executive Director of the Bicentennial at the University of Virginia since 2014. She is responsible for strategic planning and development, oversight, and execution of programming and content to commemorate this extraordinary milestone in the University’s history.
The celebration launched October 5-7, 2017 and will continue through the bicentennial of the University’s charter on January 25, 2019, and beyond.
Additionally, Ms. Evans is the University’s Protocol Officer, offering training in protocol and etiquette as well as supporting efforts to bring Ambassadors and other foreign dignitaries to the University, providing the community the opportunity to learn from and engage with international leaders.
Ms. Evans was previously the Director of Donor and Constituent Relations at UVA, where she managed stewardship of the university’s major donors.
Carmen Ferrigno is a member of Saint-Gobain’s North American Executive Committee and reports to John Crowe, President and CEO of both Saint-Gobain and its largest North American subsidiary, CertainTeed Corporation.
As chief strategist for the North American portion of Saint Gobain’s 350 year celebration, Ferrigno developed a multiyear plan to fully integrate business activities, corporate social responsibility and broader reputation management into the global anniversary celebrations.
The result was a highly coordinated, multi-pronged program that enabled the company to clearly articulate its past, present and future plans across the region with key measurements in corporate brand, working brand, CSR and social media.
Ferrigno is responsible for all aspects of external and internal corporate communications, including crisis communications counsel, reputation management and corporate social responsibility. In addition, Ferrigno has overall responsibility for the company’s in-house marketing communications agency.
Ferrigno has a B.A. in political science and English literature, as well as a master’s degree in English and writing from Rutgers University. He has held a wide range of senior corporate and marketing communications positions, including 12 years with Rohm & Haas Company. Most recently he was Director of Global Communications for a major division of Dow Chemical Company.
Saint-Gobain, the world’s largest building materials company, has its North American headquarters in Valley Forge, Pennsylvania. As the world leader in sustainable habitat, Saint-Gobain is committed to inventing solutions to help professionals and communities around the world build and renovate comfortable, healthy, economical and energy-efficient buildings. The company has more than 265 locations and approximately 19.000 employees in North America. In the United States and Canada, Saint-Gobain reported sales of approximately $7.7 billion in 2011.
Saint-Gobain’s family of companies in North America includes CertainTeed, Saint-Gobain Abrasives, Saint-Gobain ADFORS, Vetrotech Saint-Gobain North America, Saint-Gobain Glass, Saint-Gobain Solar, Saint-Gobain Performance Plastics and more.
Saint-Gobain earned the 2011 ENERGY STAR Sustained Excellence Award, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s highest level of recognition for outstanding contributions to protecting the environment through energy efficiency. For information about Saint-Gobain in North America, visit www.saint-gobain-northamerica.com
Sr. Dir., Comms & Mktg
Matt Weismantel successfully led Rutgers University’s 250th year-long Anniversary, for which the planning began more than 4-years prior. The Anniversary encompassed the past, present and future of Rutgers and engaged students, faculty and staff, alumni, and the general public in programs and events to celebrate this once-in-a-lifetime milestone.
From securing the sitting President of the United States as the commencement speaker-- a first in the school’s long history-- to academic colloquia, books and publications; from concerts, to institution-wide simultaneous celebrations on the four major campuses across the state, the multifaceted initiative included something of relevance for everyone, living out its tagline: "Revolutionary for 250 Years."
In Matt’s 30+ career in higher education he’s held many positions from student affairs to serving on the leadership team of a Big Ten university communications and marketing unit. Matt helped found the Collegiate Information and Visitor Services Associations with over 1,200 professionals and served 18 years on the national leadership team on the Council for the Advancement of Standards in Higher Education, representing over 100,000 professionals worldwide. Matt is honored to be considered a "Milestone Master" with Anniversary Universary™.
While working for a leading global communications agency I had a light bulb moment that would ignite a passion and illuminate a higher purpose that would take me on an exciting entrepreneurial adventure.
My journey began when a client engaged us to produce their 150th Anniversary global celebration, a purely positive experience. To do more of this challenging and rewarding work I needed to know more about how great organizations leveraged their anniversary, beyond the celebration.
Because there was no central place to go for information, I gave myself the best education available by speaking with more than 130 “masters” who were Fortune 500 senior executives in communications, marketing, brand and CSR professionals who led successful anniversary campaigns. What I learned expanded my thinking beyond what I ever could have imagined an anniversary would accomplish. I call these outcomes “The Anniversary Effect.”
Executives revealed that a unique challenge was never having led an anniversary campaign and that best practices and key learning would have been invaluable. I answered this call by creating The Corporate Anniversary Forum in 2014 as the only event of its kind dedicated to corporate anniversary planning and execution. The inaugural Forum sold out to world class organizations and has been growing year over year.
The Corporate Anniversary Forum is the foundation for Anniversary University, which will grow to provide greater education, resources and connection to “the masters”– on demand. If you have an anniversary story to tell, anniversary work in your portfolio, or need guidance as you begin to plan, please connect.
Prior to founding Anniversary University and The Corporate Anniversary Forum, I was part of the lead team establishing three of our nation’s premier conferences for women with over 20,000 attendees. Maya Angelou, Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, Jack Welch, Melinda Gates, Hillary Clinton, Indra Nooyi, Zaineb Salbi, and Jane Goodall were among our speakers.
I’ve been executing great ideas and building powerful relationships for common good my entire life and I love what I do.
My business degree is from New York University. I have two beautiful children who were given roots in a lovely town across the Hudson River in NJ. Those roots gave them wings to pursue their passions in New Orleans and Boulder Co.