Pavlis Honors College

External Advisory Board

The Pavlis Honors College External Advisory Board provides support to the Honors College in its mission to cultivate thoughtful, passionate and authentic students who go on to positively impact the world as innovative scholars and leaders.  The board’s mission is to advise the Dean on long-range planning, develop and enhance educational opportunities for students, and encourage relationships between Pavlis and the greater community.

The Pavlis Honors College External Advisory Board is composed of individuals with strong connections to the educational goals of the college and university. We are honored to welcome our current 2018-2019 board members listed below. 


Kurt B. Beinlich 

Vice President, Research & Development, Consumer Business Group

3M Company

EAB member through May 2020

Kurt Beinlich has helped launch some of 3M’s biggest products and businesses. He holds a wrestling medal from last year’s Veteran’s World Championships. And the best compliment he’s ever received is that he and his wife have raised great kids. What do all those things have in common? They ignite his passion.

Great achievements have peppered Kurt’s career, which began at 3M in 1981. Since then he has led laboratories focused on a variety of markets; guided the reformulation of longstanding product lines; and coordinated scientific developments across borders and disciplines. He is now Vice President, Research & Development, for the Consumer Business Group, home to some of 3M’s most iconic brands. He holds a degree in chemical engineering from Michigan State University.


Lisa Genslak 

Director for IT Operations Strategy and Planning Ford Motor Company

EAB member through May 2021

Lisa Genslak has been with Ford Motor Company for 27 years.  As the Director for IT Operations Strategy and Planning department, she is responsible for infrastructure planning to support both the core and emerging business and ensure operational excellence.

Lisa has held many roles within IT at Ford including IT strategic planning , large scale application development and infrastructure consolidation programs, as well as, IT engineering and operations.   

Lisa Genslak has a B.S. in Computer Science Engineering from Michigan Technological University and MBA from Wayne State University.


Monica Hahn

Brand builder, entrepreneur, coach and inspirational leader

EAB member through May 2020

After a successful career in Marketing for well-known global brands, Monica struck out on a new path, and is now thriving as a Franchisee and Area Director with Elements MassageTM. Elements Massage is one of the largest retail massage franchises in North America. Monica oversees brand development and the operations of 19 studios in the San Francisco Bay Area and Colorado. She also owns and operates one studio and is soon to open a second, both in the Bay Area.

Before joining the Elements family, Monica spent several years as a brand strategy consultant and career coach, focused on inspiring brands and individuals to reach their potential. Before beginning her own practice, Hahn was a respected senior executive for a number of large companies, including ARAMARK, Einstein Noah Restaurant Group, Burger King Corporation and Whirlpool.

Monica’s passion for education and leadership development reaches outside her “day job.” She is a Board Member Emeritus for The Leadership Investment, a Denver-based nonprofit that seeks to be the definitive voice, resource and catalyst to advance the collaborative power of women and men leading together. Since 2012, she has served on the Board of Directors for Asante Africa Foundation, a nonprofit working in East Africa to educate and empower the next generation of change agents, whose dreams and actions are transforming the future for Africa and the world. She is also a member of Michigan Tech’s Presidential Council of Alumnae.

In addition to the Bachelor of Science in Business Administration she earned at Michigan Tech, Hahn holds an M.B.A. in marketing from Western Michigan University.


Tammy Helminski

Partner, Law Firm of Barnes & Thornburg

EAB member through May 2020

Tammy serves as co-chair of the Remediation, Corrective Action, and Voluntary Cleanups Practice Group in the firm's Environmental Law Department. She counsels a wide-range of clients nationwide on all aspects of environmental law including compliance, remediation, litigation, and regulatory policy.

Tammy began her professional career as an environmental engineer at Ford Motor Company, assisting manufacturing plants in the U.S., Mexico, and Canada with environmental compliance. She later became the pollution prevention coordinator for the NASA Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, California.

Tammy is currently the chair of the City of Grand Rapids Vital Streets Oversight Commission. She has received recognition over multiple years from SuperLaywers™ and Best Lawyers™ in America. She has also received awards for leadership, including the Detroit Regional Chamber of Commerce Horizon Award, and is a graduate of the inaugural class of the Urban Land Institute’s Larsen Center for Leadership.

Tammy has her B.S. in Environmental Engineering from Michigan Tech and was the second person to earn an M.S. in Environmental Policy from Tech’s Department of Social Sciences. She earned her J.D. from the University of Michigan Law School.


Suzanne Jurva

Independent Filmmaker

EAB Member through May 2019

Suzanne Jurva has been involved in all forms of film making. As a feature film development executive for DreamWorks-SKG she created and headed the research department while working on a long list of Academy Award nominated and winning films. She has been able to work in various formats and technologies including Tom Hanks’ IMAX film, Magnificent Desolation: Walking on the Moon to co-founding a company developing for the smallest media, the mobile phone.

Suzanne’s television work has been seen on The Weather Channel, NBC, NBC News, PBS, MTV, FOX, BBC, Showtime and at The Library of Congress. Her films, The Fabulous Ice Age (documentary feature) and Changing Keys: Billy McLaughlin & the Mysteries of Dystonia (documentary feature) won many awards while touring the festival circuit. Yoopera! (feature documentary shot on Michigan Tech’s campus) Is currently on PBS and soon will be distributed internationally. 

Suzanne was a member of the Joint Civilian Orientation Conference and the Air Force War College. Suzanne has a degree in Scientific and Technical Communications, was elected as an Outstanding Young Alumni, and was inducted into the Academy of Arts and Sciences at Michigan Technological University.


Rom LaPointe

Chairman and Co-Founder of i3Logic

EAB member through May 2022

A 1992 graduate of Michigan Technological University, Rom earned degrees in Electrical Engineering Technology and Scientific & Technical Communications. He is a past President of the Alumni Association Board of Directors, which serves more than 70,000 constituents.

Rom is the Chairman and Co-Founder of i3Logic, aka The Performance Agency. The talented team at i3Logic creates performance and learning solutions for smart people within growing organizations. Innovative concepts and technologies are used to deliver engaging content to more than 500,000 professionals around the globe.

Rom has been a member of the Entrepreneurs Organization (EO) since 2006. EO is a global network of 11,000 leading entrepreneurs focused on personal and business growth. He has served in many leadership roles within the world of EO, including the Detroit Chapter President in 2011, with members leading 6,000 employees and generating over $2B of revenue.

Rom is very grateful for the opportunity to share his keynote presentation, “ZOOM! High Performance Leadership” with leaders around the world. Most recently, Rom is focused on helping CEOs develop their vision and strategy, build high performing leadership teams and improve accountability at all levels. This work is built on three pillars: execution planning, strategic thinking, and executive coaching. As the founder of Capricorn Leadership, Rom advises CEOs, Leadership Teams and Boards. He follows The Execution Maximizer™ process which is the foundation for helping CEOs get from vision to execution and results. 

Milan Lathia

Chief of Staff for the Bing Division, Microsoft Corporation

EAB member through May 2021

Milan Lathia is the Chief of Staff for the Bing division at Microsoft Corporation. In his current role, he is responsible for the organization strategy, communication, finances and operations. He also leads the Bing Defaults Engineering team. Milan graduated from Michigan Tech in 2004 with dual Bachelor's degrees in Computer Engineering and Computer Science. He also has a Master's in Computer Science from the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana and an MBA from the University of Chicago Booth School of Business.


Townsend H. Porter

Synergy Synthesis LLC

EAB member through May 2020

Tom received a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering from Michigan Technological University in 1968 and joined IBM in Rochester, Minnesota that same year as a logic and analog circuit designer. While working as an engineer at IBM, he was responsible for approximately 20 inventions that culminated in the issuing of US patents and internal technical disclosures. These inventions included the 3.5 in floppy disk and IBM's first digital modem. At IBM, he eventually became the director of hard drive development with responsibility for IBM's two hard drive development organizations in San Jose, CA and Rochester, MN.

After 27 years, Tom left IBM to found the High Performance Storage Group for Western Digital Corporation, where he was vice president of engineering. Tom grew the organization to 400 employees and a billion dollars in revenue over the ensuing 3 years.

In 1997, Tom joined Seagate Technology as the Chief  Technological Officer and Executive Vice President of Product Development. He managed the Corporate annual R&D budget, developed and maintained the corporation’s long-term technology strategy and managed advanced-technology development as well as all new product design. After retiring from Seagate in 2004, Tom bought a 20 acre vineyard in Napa Valley where he designed and built a 17,000 sq ft state of the art winery.....underground. Today the winery produces 3,000 cases of premium Napa Valley wines each year.

Michigan Tech inducted Tom into the Electrical Engineering and Computer Science Academy in 2007.

Three years ago Tom formed a consulting company, Synergy Synthesis LLC, to provide consulting services to the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, MN.   He is currently consulting in the areas of technology portfolio management, advanced product development, and organizational and business


David Shull

Director of University Growth, Handshake

EAB member through May 2019

David headed to Michigan Tech with a dream of working for a major Silicon Valley Tech company. While at Michigan Tech David became passionate about helping connect students to incredible career opportunities. With a background in computer engineering and computer science, David joined Handshake as the first employee in 2014. Handshake's mission is to help democratize the college recruiting process to bring amazing opportunities to students across the country. Today, Handshake has grown from it's humble Houghton roots to raise over $10.5 million dollars from some of the best investors in the world and powers connections between 3 million students and 180,000 recruiters around the globe. 


John Soyring

IBM (retired)

EAB member through May 2021

John Soyring is currently a philanthropist and investor, with a focus on water quality management, cancer research and renewable energy. John was born and raised in Michigan. Following his graduation from Michigan Technological University, he continued his graduate level studies at a variety of universities during his 36-year career with IBM.

His IBM career included a wide variety of global roles, including: leading the IBM Personal Computer software business; co-founder and global leader of the IBM software services business; founder and leader of the IBM industry solutions business.

Soyring has received honorary doctorates of engineering from Michigan Technological University and Moscow Engineering and Physics Institute. John was a member of the Industry Advisory Council of the American Indian Science and Engineering Society (AISES). He was also a member of both the Michigan Tech Campaign Committee and the College of Engineering Industry Advisory Board.


Otha Thornton

Owner and Principal Consultant

Thornton Consulting Group

EAB member through May 2022

Otha Thornton is owner and Principal Consultant for the Thornton Consulting Group.  He is also a Senior Operations Analyst with General Dynamics in Fort Stewart, Georgia and the Immediate Past National President of National PTA. He is a retired United States Army Lieutenant Colonel and his last two assignments were with the White House Communications Agency and United States Forces-Iraq in Baghdad. Thornton earned the Bronze Star Medal for exceptional performance in combat operations during Operation Iraqi Freedom 2009-2010. 

Previously, Thornton served on National PTA’s Board of Directors, Legislative, Membership, Organizational Effectiveness, Communications, and Executive Search Committees. Thornton served as a member of Anne Arundel County’s Superintendent High Performing High School Task Force. In addition, he was appointed by the governor of Maryland to serve on a Maryland Education Task Force. 

Thornton is active in the community. Otha serves an Advisory Group member for Georgia’s Partnership for Excellence in Education. He is an active member of Richmond Hill of Christ and Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity. He is a life member of the National Eagle Scout Association and has more than 25 years of active service in the United States and around the world. He has won numerous awards to include: Ebony’s 2013 Power 100 List, Morehouse College Alumnus of the Year, and Michigan Technological University Outstanding Young Alumni Award. 

Thornton received his bachelor’s degree in urban studies from Morehouse College and a master’s degree in communications from Michigan Technological University. He was awarded an honorary doctorate degree from Michigan Technological University.