DETROIT — Inforum announced this week that its first Activate Michigan class will kick off Tuesday, Aug. 28 at the University of Michigan – Dearborn.

Activate Michigan, a proven methodology that guides women through the earliest stages of idea validation and technology commercialization, is a key element of Inforum’s inGage strategy, designed to position Michigan as the Midwest hub for high-tech women entrepreneurs.

Activate is a year-long applied learning course that covers two phases that guides participants to identify and validate an idea and develop a business model and capital structure. Classes are scheduled one evening per week combining online and in-classroom interaction.

All participants gather one Saturday per month.

Ideal program participants are women in mid-career with five or more years of experience in science; technology; business development; management  or professional services; women from corporate, academic and non-traditional careers who may stay in their current jobs while developing new skills and fostering innovative ideas.

InGage is Inforum’s strategy to position Michigan as the Midwest hub for high-growth women entrepreneurs. InGage bridges the gap between a strong and growing talent base of highly skilled women and the need for an innovation-based economy — where new technology or technology-enabled products have the potential to change a market or industry.

Inforum’s inGage strategy, including Activate Michigan, is led by Kathleen Mechem, who joined Inforum earlier this year as executive director for entrepreneurial strategies. Since 2010, Mechem has been president and owner of Organizational Solutions LLC, which provides strategic planning and development services to businesses and non-profits. Before that, she spent eight years as president and CEO of the Battle Creek Area Chamber of Commerce and Battle Creek Area Chamber Foundation. Mechem also has served in various executive level positions at the Michigan Economic Development Corp, the Michigan Jobs Commission, and the Michigan Department of Commerce for more than 23 years before joining the Chamber. Most recently, she was assistant vice president of corporate relations at the MEDC.

Mechem holds graduate and undergraduate degrees from Michigan State University as well as several post-graduate professional certifications.

Activate’s instructors, meanwhile, offer valuable, real-world entrepreneurial experience. In addition, all instructors have passed a rigorous certification process. Confirmed instructors for 2012 are:
* Diane Durance, executive director, Great Lakes Entrepreneur’s Quest
* Amanda Chocko, program director, Start Garden
* Joanne Belanger, former associate marketing director, consumables and durables, Bissell Homecare Inc.
* Rosemary Bayer, chief inspiration officer, ardentCause L3C
* Merrill Guerra, former executive director, Michigan Venture Capital Association
* Therese Peace, president, T.M. Peace and Associates Inc.
* Katy Caschera, owner, Need2 Be Inc.
* Ashima Saigal, president, Database Sherpa

For more information about inGage, contact Kathleen Mechem, Inforum’s executive director for entrepreneurial strategies, at or visit

InGage is supported by grants from The 21st Century Jobs Fund  and  New Economy Initiative for Southeast Michigan.


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