•  Business Meeting


Mickey Edwards

Former Republican Congressman

Mr. Mickey Edwards is Vice President of the Aspen Institute and serves as Director of the Aspen Institute’s Rodel Fellowships in Public Leadership. Mr. Edwards was a member of Congress from Oklahoma for 16 years, serving as a member of the House Republican Leadership and as a member of the Appropriations and Budget Committees. After leaving the Congress, he taught for 11 years at Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government and for five years as a lecturer at Princeton’s Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs. He has also been a visiting professor at the University of Maryland Law School and at Georgetown University’s Public Policy Institute and a visiting lecturer at Harvard Law School.

Jake Jacoby

President and CEO, Truck Renting and Leasing Association

Jake Jacoby was named the President and Chief Executive Officers of TRALA in January 2015. Before that position, Mr. Jacoby worked as TRALA’s top lobbyist for the past four and a half years in the role of Vice President of Government Relations on a number of issues both before Congress and in the states. He also established TRALA’s first political action committee, TRALAPAC, which has been a great benefit for TRALA’s advocacy efforts over the past three years. Prior to joining TRALA, Mr. Jacoby operated his own consulting company which specialized in trucking and transportation matters. He has been a federal lobbyist for more than 15 years.

Art Freedman

Ace Hardware Center for Excellence

Mr. Art Freedman has been an Ace Hardware store owner for 25 years and a retailer for over 45. He is the Managing Director of Retail Operations for 21 store chains and is also an internationally known conference speaker and trainer in over 30 countries. Mr. Freedman has educated, inspired, and mobilized thousands of business people on how to make more money in their companies. He is the author of the book, Making Money is Not Illegal, Immoral or Fattening.

Eric Maddox

Intelligence Officer/Interrogator, Finding Saddam

In July of 2003, while assigned to a Delta Force team in Tikrit, Staff Sergeant Eric Maddox worked as an interrogator to gather intelligence to track down individuals on the infamous “Deck of Cards”. Just days into his tour, Eric realized the interrogation techniques he was taught by the Army were not working. Over the next five months, Eric developed his own unique techniques of getting prisoners to cooperate. Eric’s techniques are based upon understanding Iraqi culture and cooperation with his prisoners, not threats and coercion.

After months of chasing down leads, following hunches, and interrogating literally hundreds of detainees, Sergeant Maddox uncovered crucial details about the insurgency. In his final days in Iraq, he closed in on the dictator’s inner circle, and within hours of his departure from the country, pinpointed the precise location of Saddam’s Tikrit spider hole. As a result, he was awarded the Legion of Merit, the Defense Intelligence Agency’s Director’s Award and the National Intelligence Medal of Achievement.

Bruce Mehlman

Founder, Mehlman Castagnetti

With over two decades experience in public policy, business, and the law, Bruce Mehlman helps clients understand, anticipate, and navigate the public policy environment through the bipartisan public affairs company he founded, Mehlman Castagnetti. Specializing in strategies that leverage emerging policy trends, he provides creative, proactive solutions to knotty, high-stakes business issues for Fortune 500 leaders and global trade associations.

Mr. Mehlman previously served as Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Technology Policy, having been nominated by President Bush and confirmed by the U.S. Senate in May 2001. At Commerce, he worked closely with leaders from industry, universities, and government on issues affecting technology creators and users, driving Administration efforts on broadband, innovation, and emerging technologies. He has also worked as tech policy counsel for Cisco Systems, policy director and counsel at the House Republican Conference, general counsel of the National Republican Congressional Committee, and as a commercial litigation attorney in a major Washington law firm.

John Venhuizen

President and CEO, Ace Hardware

Mr. John Venhuizen is President and Chief Executive Officer of Ace Hardware Corporation. Mr. Venhuizen is a 22-year veteran of Ace. Prior to this role, he most recently served as President and Chief Operating Officer. Mr. Venhuizen joined Ace within the marketing department in 1992. After serving a number of roles both in corporate and the field within marketing, category management and merchandising, he was promoted to Manager of Marketing in 2000, where he oversaw Ace’s brand strategy, customer relationship management initiative, e-commerce and consumer research, among other duties. In 2004, Mr. Venhuizen became Director of Business Development where he led Ace’s aggressive growth strategy and implementation. In 2006, he was promoted to Vice President of Business Development. In 2008, Mr. Venhuizen served as Vice President, Business Development, Retail Training and International as Ace launched Ace International Holdings to expand brand licensees around the globe. In 2010, he was promoted to Executive Vice President where he oversaw Ace’s supply chain, IT, international and strategy.

Mr. Venhuizen currently serves as a Director on a number of boards including the Mark Morton Memorial Foundation, Ace International Holdings and Ace Retail Holdings. He is a graduate of Trinity Christian College. Mr. Venhuizen holds a Bachelor of Science degree in business administration with a marketing concentration. He resides in the western suburbs of Chicago.