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Annual Open Business Forum 2011

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Malone University will host its Annual Open Business Forum 2011 on Wednesday, April 6 from 7-9 p.m. in Silk Auditorium of Mitchell Hall. The forum is entitled, “Social Networking to Build Your Business: Advantages, Myths, and Risks.” The lead speaker is Geoff Karcher of The Karcher Group. Panelists are Sue Grabowski, of Grabowski & Co.; Kathy Gray, of the Canton/Stark County Convention & Visitor’s Bureau; and Lorraine Kessler of Innis Maggiore Advertising Agency. The program is free and open to the public. For more information, call Marj Carlson Hurst, D.B.A., dean of the School of Business and Leadership at (330) 471-8244 or email her at mcarlson@malone.edu.

Read more about each speaker here:

Geoff Karcher, founded The Karcher Group in 1997 after seeing business potential in the growth of the Internet when he entered the field as a web sales and marketing specialist. Recognizing a need within the industry for agency-quality design backed by solid programming, he began selling websites out of an office in his parent's basement. Geoff's focus on improving business processes through technology allowed his clients to make money, rather than just spend it. This approach, combined with exceptional customer service, fueled the growth of his company. Today, Geoff heads up a staff of 40, including sales, production, IT, and SEO personnel. Ultimately, though, Geoff is a salesman and enjoys interacting with clients and finding solutions to make the Web work for their business. Geoff is a frequent speaker both locally and nationally on web marketing and development.
Under Geoff's leadership, The Karcher Group has become a respected firm with more than 500 clients worldwide, ranging from small local businesses to Fortune 500 companies with a global presence.
The Karcher Group is the proud recipient of the Jackson-Belden Chamber of Commerce's 2004 Small Business of the Year and Canton Chamber of Commerce's 2005 Business Excellence Award. The Karcher Group is involved in a variety of local chamber and university events.
Geoff blogs at  Websense (
http://websense.thekarchergroup.com/), offering a common-sense approach to the often-fickle web development and marketing worlds.

Sue Grabowski is president of Grabowski & Co, a strategic marketing communications firm which serves more than 40 clients who range from Fortune 500 companies to local small businesses and non-profits. The firm’s work has garnered 36 local ADDY® Awards, including two “Best of Show” honors, in the last four years. Grabowski & Co. is known for responsiveness and creativity.
Committed to the community, Sue is a graduate of Leadership Stark County. She serves on the board of Pathway Caring for Children, the Canton Advertising Federation and Indigo Ink Press. Sue has been married to Leonard for 16 years. Her proudest productions are her three children – Abbi,13; Mitch, 10; and Zane, 6. The family lives in Uniontown. Sue graduated from Malone University with a degree in Communication Arts.

Kathy Gray took over as web content manager for the Canton/Stark County Convention & Visitors’ Bureau three years ago just prior to the social media explosion. She quickly staked out a CVB presence on Facebook, Twitter, and more, while simultaneously helming a major overhaul of the CVB’s web site.
Kathy is always in demand as an Internet marketing/social media consultant for local tourist organizations, attractions, restaurants and hotels, and is a frequent speaker for local chambers of commerce and other organizations on topics related to getting started in social media. When she’s not chasing her two charming toddlers, she occasionally contributes articles about frugal living to area publications and blogs. Kathy graduated from Bowling Green State University with a degree in recreation and tourism.

Lorraine Kessler
is an Innis Maggiore principal and the agency's leading brand-positioning strategist. What that means is she has both the brains and the backbone to ensure clients' brands are authentic, relevant, and competitively differentiated in the minds of stakeholders, with the ultimate aim of delivering sustainable market value.  
Lorraine has developed brand programs for   Fortune 500   business-to-business and consumer companies in a range of industries as diverse as parts, planes, and pet care. An artist by training, she also has produced award-winning advertisements and promotions throughout her career.
Lorraine frequently teaches advertising courses and speaks on the topic of brand positioning. She's also an active volunteer at St. Stephen Martyr Lutheran Church, where she leads weekly Bible study. She is an elected member of the Northeastern Ohio Synod Council of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, and currently is preparing for candidacy as an ordained minister. She holds a BFA from Bowling Green State University and an MFA from the University of North Texas.