Jim Bland has approximately 27 years of management, investment, mergers & acquisitions, and leadership experience. Jim began his career as a field artillery officer in the United States Army. He has also worked for corporations such as E&Y and HSBC, North America. He is currently an investment partner at NextGen Growth Partners, a growth-oriented private equity firm making investments in the lower end of the middle market. He also serves as the Civilian Aide to the Secretary of the Army for Illinois (which carries a 3-Star protocol rank) and as a Trustee for a Chicago suburb of approximately 50,000 residents. Over Jim’s career, he has served on nearly 20 private company, non-profit and government boards. Jim holds a Bachelor’s of Science degree from the United State Military Academy and an MBA in Finance from the University of Chicago Booth School of Business. Jim is happily married and has two terrific children.
Scott Hiipakka serves as the Chief Executive Officer of the Michigan Israel Business Accelerator, a nonprofit economic development organization, responsible for accelerating Michigan’s innovation ecosystem, one Israeli connection at a time. With a focus in mobility, defense, cyber/AI, food+ag tech, and health/life sciences, his vision is to make Michigan a premier partner for Israeli innovation. Previously, he served as the Director of the Office of Performance and Transformation for the State of Michigan where he was responsible for the integration of strategic programs along with overseeing planning, audit, process improvement, program management, and employee engagement for over 40,000 state employees. Before, Scott Hiipakka was appointed as the Program Management Director-Executive Office of the Governor. His responsibilities include oversight and integration of key state strategic initiatives, including synchronization of programs and deliverables that support the Governor’s priorities. Prior to his role in state government, Hiipakka worked in the private sector as the Vice President for a consulting firm that specialized in emergency preparedness, safety, and security with clients across the United States. He also has experience in the medical, pharmaceutical, and manufacturing industries. Hiipakka is a member of the Michigan Army National Guard where he currently serves as an Assistant Adjutant General and holds the rank of Brigadier General. In this capacity he is responsible for overseeing the operations, mentoring, and building of functional teams ranging in size from 30 to over 8,000 people. His prior assignments include Land Component Commander and Brigade Command of a Military Police Brigade. Other assignments include multiple command and staff positions with deployments and military activations in support of the state of Michigan’s COVID response, Operation Enduring Freedom (Afghanistan) and Operation Noble Eagle (Washington, DC). His active-duty military experience includes service in the US Army Ranger Regiment and other key leadership and advisor roles. Hiipakka has over 25 years of military service. He currently serves as an advisor and former appointee to the Michigan Community Service Commission. He has served on multiple boards in Michigan including Leadership Oakland and was the former Board Chair and board member for Winning Futures. Hiipakka was recognized by Crain’s Business as a 2020 “Notable Veteran” and is the recipient of the 2016 Leadership Oakland Leader of Leaders Award, the 2014 Winning Futures Legacy Award, and the 2013 Winning Futures Rare Everyday Hero Award. Hiipakka holds a bachelor’s degree in advertising from Michigan State University, a master’s degree in homeland security from Penn State University, and a master’s degree in strategic studies from the US Army War College. He is married to Susan and the proud father to Abby (21) and Alex (19) and they reside in Milford, Michigan.
LTC Kelly Bell received her initial commission in 1999 through Marquette University’s ROTC program. She served in the 1/334 Army Reception Battalion where she worked as the assistant S-3, S-1, and as a Commander of a very small company. In 2003 she was recommissioned into the Army Nurse Corps and transferred to the 452d CSH where she served as a staff nurse and the assistant head nurse of the emergency medical treatment section. From July 2009 thru June 2010 she was deployed to Afghanistan where she worked in the Intensive Care Unit at the Craig Joint Theater Hospital at Bagram Air Field. Upon returning home she had the privilege of serving as the 3rd Platoon leader. She then served at the Bravo Company Commander, 452D Combat Support Hospital from January 2012 through October 2014. After this duty, she assumed the role of Head Nurse of the Emergency Medical Treatment Section. LTC Bell then became the Nurse Training Officer in the Clinical Services Operations Section of the 807th Medical Command (Deployment Support). She was mobilized as the Medical Readiness Officer for the 103rd Mission Support Element, the rear detachment asset for the 103rd Expeditionary Sustainment Command. Prior to transferring to the 7203d to assume command, LTC Bell was assigned to the 7456th MORU but continued to serve with the 103D ESC on an ADOS Tour as their Medical Readiness Officer and Nurse Advisor for their Cactus COVID Task Force. She is passionate about advocating for and mentoring Soldiers and has spent that last several years initiating policy changes for pregnant and postpartum service members throughout the DOD. She continue this advocacy work through social media and DA level work groups. In her civilian capacity, LTC Bell worked as an Emergency department nurse at Aurora Sinai Medical Center in Milwaukee, WI for over 11 years. She received her Master’s Degree in Nursing Education in June 2013 and was inducted into Sigma Theta Tau, the International Honor Society of Nursing. She lives in Ankeny, IA with her two daughters: Meghan (Jun 2012) and Caelainn (Dec 2015).