French-American Chamber of Commerce Michigan Chapter to celebrate 70th anniversary of D-Day at annual Gala and Awards ceremony

French-American Chamber of Commerce Michigan Chapter to celebrate 70th anniversary of D-Day at annual Gala and Awards ceremony

May 23 black-tie event to commemorate Michigan D-Day heroes and celebrate defense ties between Michigan and France with Senator Carl Levin and other dignitaries

Detroit, Mich. — March 25, 2014 — The French American Chamber of Commerce Michigan Chapter (FACC Michigan), a not-for-profit business organization committed to the improvement of economic, commercial and financial relations between France and the United States, will host its annual gala and awards ceremony on Friday, May 23 at the Detroit Athletic Club (DAC) in Detroit. This year’s gala will commemorate the 70th anniversary of the D-Day Normandy landings and honor the special ties that bring France and the United States together through the defense industry, where France spends approximately $60 billion annually.
Leading an anticipated 250 attendees in an evening of celebration and reflection will be guests of honor and speakers Senator Carl Levin, chairman of the Senate Committee on Armed Services; Mr. Frederic Lefebvre, member of the National Assembly of France, representing the First Constituency for French North American residents overseas; and Brigadier General Bruno Caitucoli, Defense Attaché at the Embassy of France. Several D-Day combat veterans from Michigan will also be in attendance at the event and restored WWII military vehicles will be parked at the DAC entrance. All proceeds from the evening will be donated to the ’Michigan Remembers’ project, according to Cedric Ballarin, FACC Michigan president and a vice president in the Michigan headquarters of France-based Faurecia.

“In addition to commemorating the 70th anniversary of D-Day, we will celebrate Michigan’s defense industry and its contribution to the economy – past and present,” said Ballarin. “And most importantly, in the spirit of engagement and support, we are proud to donate all proceeds from the gala to, ’Michigan Remembers’. We want to insure that the people of Michigan never forget the sacrifices made by the 419 soldiers from Michigan, 362 who are physically buried in Normandy and 57 of whom are missing in action or buried at sea.”

The ’Michigan Remembers’ project will send 180 American students from the Lakeshore (Berrien County) High School marching band to participate in the 70th Anniversary of D-Day on June 6 in France. The students will honor the 419 Fallen by pouring sand from Michigan on their grave site, march in the parade in Ste-Mere-Eglise, perform on Omaha Beach by the Normandy American Cemetery for President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama, and finally perform in Paris in the Jardin du Luxembourg for members of the French Senate. In addition, ‘Michigan Remembers’, in conjunction with the Michigan Department of Education, will distribute teaching packets to all Michigan high schools to ensure that students never forget the sacrifices made on D-Day.

The French-American Chamber of Commerce gala and awards ceremony begins at 6:30 p.m. with cocktails and a silent auction, dinner at 8 p.m. and speakers beginning at 9 p.m. Gala tickets are $160 per person for FACC members and $190 per person for non-members and sponsorship opportunities are available. To purchase tickets for the black-tie gala, donate items for the silent auction or become a sponsor or for additional information, please contact Stephanie Salvadero, executive director of the FACC Michigan, at

About the French-American Chamber of Commerce, Michigan Chapter
The Michigan Chapter of the French-American Chamber of Commerce (FACC Michigan) is a member of the French-American Chamber of Commerce – the oldest bilateral chamber of commerce in the United States, comprised of 19 chapters in major cities across the nation representing more than 5,000 member organizations. The FACC is a non-profit, non-political organization dedicated to the development of commercial relations between French and American businesses. Learn more at

Rick Snyder

Rick_Snyder_NewRick Snyder is the Governor of the state of Michigan. Previously, he was CEO, Chairman of the Board and Co-founder of Ardesta LLC, a Michigan-based venture capital firm. He was President and Chief Executive Officer of Avalon Investment from 1997 to 2000. From 2005 to 2007, he served as Chairman of the Board of Gateway.

Paul W. Smith

Paul W SmithWhether he is interviewing the head of a major local company, the governor, or a Hollywood celebrity, Paul W. Smith has a warm and conversational style that keeps listeners tuned in.

A graduate of the University of Michigan, Smith has an extensive background in both talk radio and television. He has hosted both radio and TV shows in Toledo, and has been on the airwaves in New York City at WABC and WMCA. Prior to coming back to Detroit and WJR, Smith was on the air at WWDB-FM in Philadelphia.

Smith devotes much of his time to many important community endeavors, including helping thousands of Detroit youth through the Paul W. Smith Golf Classic to benefit Think Detroit PAL. The tournament has raised nearly $3 million in net funds for athletic, academic and leadership programs since its inaugural event in 2004.

Smith is the recipient of numerous awards, including Eastern Michigan University’s 2011 Ethos Man of the Year Award, The Dave Bing MVP Leadership Award from Think Detroit PAL, and The Champion Award from Yatooma’s Foundation For The Kids. He was recently voted Best Radio Voice by HOUR Detroit, and was named one of The Detroit News 2010 Michiganians of the Year.

Jake Sigal

Jake-Sigal-editJake Sigal is the founder and CEO of Tome, a software company launched in 2014 to explore the buzzing “Internet of things” tech space. Through Tome, he is able to build upon his exciting vision for enhancing the region’s place in the world of technological innovation.

A third-generation entrepreneur with a passion for integrating hardware with software applications, Sigal founded his first company, Livio, in 2008 and successfully engineered software that enables mobile device applications to work seamlessly with vehicle hardware systems. He sold the company to Ford Motor Company in 2013.

Sigal has a bachelor’s degree and master’s degree in engineering from Ohio University

Devin Scillian

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Scillian has been honored for his work both at home and abroad. His assignments have taken him from Sydney, Australia to St. Peter’s Square at the Vatican, from the Red Sea to Moscow, from Jerusalem to Siberia. He has twice won the Edward R. Murrow Award for Best Documentary.

Scillian is also the author of 15 children’s books. One book, “A is for America,” became a national bestseller, while another, “Memoirs of a Goldfish,” won the Wanda Gag Award for the nation’s best “read aloud” book. He has a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Kansas.

Marilyn Schlack, Ed.D.

Marilyn Schlack-editMarilyn Schlack, Ed.D. and Ph.D. is the president of Kalamazoo Valley Community College, appointed in October 1982. Prior to her presidency, she served as dean of instruction and associate dean of instruction at Kalamazoo Valley Community College.

The former chairman of the Kalamazoo County Chamber of Commerce, Schlack has also served on the American Council on Education’s International Education Commission, the American Association of Community Colleges board of directors and the Commission for a Nation of Lifelong Learners.

Schlack has a bachelor’s degree from the University of Michigan and a doctorate degree in education from Western Michigan University.

Eric Ryan

Eric Ryan-smallEric Ryan is the co-founder of Method Products, Inc., serving as the chief brand architect by building consumer and retail concepts.

Previously, Ryan worked for more than seven years in advertising, trend-spotting and brand positioning for high-end consumer brands including Gap, Old Navy and Saturn. By fusing his knowledge of fashion and design, Ryan created a modern and stylish line of environmentally-conscious surface products.

Along with fellow Method co-founder Adam Lowry, Ryan has co-authored two books, “Squeaky Green” and “The Method Method.” He has a bachelor’s degree in communications from the University of Rhode Island.

Kelly Rossman-McKinney

Kelly HeadshotKelly Rossman-McKinney is the CEO and principal of Truscott Rossman, a full-service public relations agency that represents local, statewide and nationwide clients. Her firm is one of only a handful in the country to win two Silver Anvil awards—the highest honor in the public relations industry.

A nationally accredited public relations counselor, Rossman-McKinney started her business in 1988 and was the first woman in the field of strategic communications. She pioneered issue management in the Capitol and continues to pursue cutting edge work in the field across the state, as one of only three Michigan members of the Public Relations Society of America’s (PRSA) distinguished College of Fellows.

Rossman-McKinney is a magna cum laude graduate of Wayne State University.

Rochelle Riley

ROCHELLE_RILEYRochelle Riley is a columnist for the Detroit Free Press where she has been a leading voice for children, better schools, literacy, honest, competent government and civil behavior since 2001.

Riley also makes frequent television and radio appearances, including on National Public Radio and WDIV-TV’s “Flashpoint.” She has been a columnist and commentator since 1996, when her debut column in the Louisville, Ky., Courier-Journal spurred an $80 million campaign to build the Muhammad Ali Center.

Riley has won several state and national honors, including the 2013 National Headliner Award, one of the most prestigious in the country, for first place in local column writing. Her columns on the text message scandal that led to the imprisonment of Detroit’s former mayor were part of the entry that won the Free Press the 2009 Pulitzer Prize for local news.

Riley has a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of North Carolina.

Rip Rapson

Rip RapsonRip Rapson is the president and CEO of The Kresge Foundation, a $3 billion national, private foundation based in metropolitan Detroit. Rapson came to Kresge in 2006 and led the philanthropy in a multi-year transition to expand and recalibrate its grantmaking by using multiple funding methods, including operating support, project support and program-related investments.

Prior to joining The Kresge Foundation, Rapson was the president of the Minnesota-based McKnight Foundation, the private, $2 billion foundation governed by the descendants of William McKnight, one of the founders of 3M Corporation.

Rapson has a law degree from Columbia University.