Talent and Economic Development
Appointed by Gov. Rick Snyder in November 2016, Roger Curtis oversees efforts to ensure that Michigan can efficiently and effectively develop, administer and coordinate Michigan’s economic, housing and talent development programs.
As a long-time business operator and a member of Gov. Snyder’s 21st Century Michigan Education Commission and his local school board, Curtis understands how developing talent requires coordination and cooperation between employers and educators. And, he recognizes how building talent is a key factor in Michigan’s efforts strengthen its economy and communities.
Curtis works with state Superintendent Brian Whiston to lead the Michigan Career Pathways Alliance, which is focused on ensuring students have improved access to career exploration and training and schools getting more support.
He sits on the board of the Michigan Strategic Fund, the Michigan State Housing Development Authority and the Michigan Land Bank. Curtis formerly served on the Michigan Tourism Commission.
Before being appointed as the director of the Michigan Department of Talent and Economic Development, Curtis was president of Michigan International Speedway for 10 years, driving an estimated $414 million in economic activity to the state and expanding the speedway into a year-round attraction.
Curtis also has served as vice president of sales and marketing at California Speedway, senior director of marketing and sales at Richmond International Raceway and director of marketing and sales at Watkins Glen International.
A native of Terre Haute, Ind., Curtis is a graduate of Indiana State University and lives in Onsted with his wife and three children.
As CEO, Jeff Mason is charged with implementing and executing MEDC’s core mission of business development and attraction, community development, providing access to capital and improving Michigan’s image and brand.
From 2009 to 2017 Jeff was the Executive Director of Michigan’s University Research Corridor which is an alliance between Michigan State University, the University of Michigan, and Wayne State University to transform, strengthen, and diversify Michigan’s economy. The vision of the University Research Corridor (URC) is to play a key role in creating a vibrant Michigan economy that leverages the intellectual capital of its three public research universities, to work proactively to attract the knowledge economy businesses that can find the research activity that feeds new enterprise, educate the workforce, and plants the seeds for the new industries of tomorrow.
Prior to joining the URC as Executive Director he served as Senior Vice President and Chief Business Development Officer for the Michigan Economic Development Corporation. In that role Mason led a team responsible for the retention and expansion of existing Michigan businesses as well as the attraction of national and international companies to Michigan.
Before becoming Chief Business Development Officer, Mason headed up the Technology Development Group working to grow Michigan’s technology oriented segments of our state’s economy. Technology Development was engaged in the areas of technology transfer and commercialization, venture capital, entrepreneurship, and business development. Their focus was in the sectors of life sciences, homeland security, and advanced automotive technologies. From 1990-1999, Jeff served in various roles on the Travel Michigan team, serving eventually as Managing Director of Travel Michigan.
Jeff received a Bachelor of Arts in Business Administration from Michigan State University.
Wanda Stokes was named Director of the Michigan Talent Investment Agency by Gov. Rick Snyder in July 2016. She serves as an adviser in the governor’s Cabinet.
Under her leadership, the agency is redoubling its commitment to customer service, which includes an across-the-board review of programs and operations to ensure the most efficient and effective delivery of services. Her emphasis on innovation and excellence is preparing the agency to be a dynamic force in addressing Michigan’s talent development needs through successful programs such as the Skilled Trades Training Fund and the newly created Michigan Talent Team.
Ms. Stokes previously was a Deputy Director in the Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs (LARA) with responsibility for Litigation Risk Management. Her duties included providing oversight to the Bureau of Employment Relations, the Michigan Administrative Hearing System, the Michigan Occupational Safety and Health Administration, and administration of the Freedom of Information Act.
Before joining LARA, Stokes served more than 15 years in the Michigan Department of Attorney General where she served as an Assistant Attorney General and held many significant leadership roles. These included Bureau Chief of the Child & Family Services Bureau, Chief of Staff, head of the Consumer Protection Practice Group and Division Chief for Licensing and Regulation.
Prior to her state service, Stokes worked in the private sector and held positions that included attorney and Director of Personnel at Auto-Owners Insurance Company, and service in the Office of General Counsel for Ford Motor Company in Dearborn.
Stokes earned a bachelor’s degree from Michigan State University and a law degree from the University of Detroit Mercy.
Earl Poleski of Jackson was named Michigan State Housing Development Authority’s executive director on February 22, 2017. He previously served in the Michigan Legislature from 2011 to 2016, holding prominent roles as chair of the Financial Liabilities Reform Policy Committee and the General Government Appropriations Subcommittee. Earl also has been a certified public accountant since 1981, working as a sole-practitioner and partner with accounting firms providing individual and business accounting, tax and consulting services, while also representing clients to the IRS and state tax agencies.
He has also served in the oil and gas industry, where he managed the controllership, tax and treasury functions of CMS Nomeco Oil & Gas Co. in Jackson, and as vice president, treasurer and chief financial officer of Dart Energy Corporation in Mason.
After graduating from Jackson Community College in 1976 and Albion College in 1978, Earl earned a master's degree in taxation science from Walsh College.
Josh Burgett is in his first year as the Director of the Michigan Land Bank.
Burgett was chair of the board of directors for the Jackson Anchor Initiative, an effort to transform the city’s downtown by focusing on market rate housing in existing buildings with multi-use opportunities. Placemaking, especially in urban downtowns, is an important part of attracting the talent that businesses need to grow and thrive, creating new jobs.
The Anchor Initiative board works with corporate investors, public sector leaders, young professionals and others to advance projects.
Burgett continues in his role as chair of the Jackson County Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors and serves on the Experience Jackson Board of Directors, the Jackson County Visitors Bureau.
The Grass Lake, Mich. native worked at the Michigan International Speedway for nearly 11 years, last serving as vice president of business development and partnerships. He was part of the team that turned the speedway, Michigan’s largest sports and entertainment facility, into a year-round destination.
The Michigan Land Bank promotes economic growth through the acquisition, assembly and disposal of public property, including tax reverted property, in a coordinated manner to foster development that helps communities grow and thrive. The organization works to promote and support county and local land bank operations as well.
Burgett has a bachelor’s degree from Siena Heights University and a master’s degree from Eastern Michigan University.