The Timothy B. Hussey Leadership Institute is returning in late April for its seventh and best year yet.  The program, focused on Leading in an AI World, begins on Monday, April 22, with a virtual event from noon – 1 p.m. and an in-person Keynote event from 5 – 7 p.m.

Our in-person event will be headlined by Zack Kass, former head of Go to Market for OpenAI. OpenAI is a research and development company whose mission is to ensure that artificial intelligence benefits all of humanity. We look forward to welcoming Zack to campus in April.

In addition to the in-person keynote, this year’s program will feature extraordinary local, regional, and national speakers delivering practical advice, best practice thinking, and pearls of wisdom over five virtual sessions, from noon – 1 p.m. via Zoom during the week of April 22. We have an all-star line-up of thought leaders who come from the for-profit and not-for-profit worlds and represent start-up ventures, academics, consulting, and corporations of all sizes.

Central to this year’s program are top-of-mind topics, such as: the impact of AI on leadership thinking, the uses and benefits of AI to business and management, the role AI plays in strategy, and the ways AI will shape how we lead.

Zack Kass

Zack Kass stands out as one of the brightest minds in AI today, with a robust 14-year journey at the epicenter of technological
evolution. His significant tenure as Head of Go To Market at OpenAI put him front and center building AI strategies with
many of the biggest companies in the world. His role in converting state of the art research into real-world business applications has positioned him as one the the foremost thinkers in Applied AI.

His mission is to ensure that businesses and governments are active participants in the AI-powered future, equipped to
enable a future of abundance. Zack aims to do this by demystifying AI, making it accessible and understandable for
everyone, and helping leaders navigate the rapidly evolving environment.

Beyond the corporate world, Zack is also researching the impact of AI on Small Medium Businesses and Entry Level Jobs as an adjunct professor at two major academic institutions and remains a staunch advocate for AI’s potential to revolutionize local governance. He works tirelessly to promote AI as a tool that can significantly enhance community service and overall societal welfare. His efforts seek to guarantee that the advancements in AI transcend commercial benefits and work towards the
betterment of communities and societies at large.

Hussey Institute Virtual Sessions

Monday, April 22 | 12pm – 1pm

Using AI to Solve Business Challenges

Jacob Schoenberg

Jacob Schoenberg studied marketing at USM and went on to study Financial Analytics at Bentley before kicking off his career working in Finance at a Tech company in Boston and then moving to Austin Tx to work in Corporate Strategy in the power sector. During the early parts of his career Jacob led projects providing guidance to leadership in the adoption/risk mitigation of AI and even drew upon his analytics background to lead projects addressing the impact of extreme weather events on critical infrastructure (water supply and power grid.) Jacob now draws on his experience leading projects to further build the startup GrantWrite, aimed at automating the grant seeking process and optimizing the grant funding marketplace, which he founded with Jan-Christian Damon in April 2023. 

Jan-Christian Damon

Jan-Christian Damon, Co-Founder of GrantWrite, brings extensive expertise in data science within the financial sector, having held distinguished roles at BlackRock, the Federal Reserve, and Analytics Consulting for a Fortune 100 company. In his current capacity at GrantWrite, he spearheads product development, seamlessly integrating data science and AI solutions to optimize grant writing processes. A notable career highlight includes Jan-Christian’s receipt of the Constellation Award, the Highest Team Honor at the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta, for his pivotal contributions to CodeShare. This internal platform has significantly enhanced and democratized the utilization of Machine Learning across technical and non-technical audiences within the organization. Jan-Christian holds a Master of Science in Business Analytics from Wake Forest University School of Business and a Bachelor of Arts in Mathematics from Lesley University.

Tuesday, April 23 | 12pm – 1pm

Using AI to Empower Organizational Learning

Libby Bischof

Libby Bischof explores American society through the lens of history — and the lens of a camera. A nineteenth-century American cultural historian, Professor Bischof specializes in the history of photography, particularly in Maine.  She is the co-author of the 2015 book Maine Photography: A History, 1840-2015.  In 2011, she co-curated the exhibition Maine Moderns: Art in Sequinland, 1900-1940 at the Portland Museum of Art with Senior Curator Susan Danly. The show won the Critic’s Choice award for best Historic Show in the 2011 New England Art Awards. Her other research interests include Maine history, modernism, how friendship informs cultural production and nineteenth-century New England women writers.  She has recently been appointed as the Executive Director of the Osher Map Library and Smith Center for Cartographic Education at USM.

Prof. Bischof teaches a variety of introductory and upper-level courses in the History major, including History of Maine, Photographing American History, American Popular Culture, and a variety of Senior Seminars.  Prof. Bischof also works with history majors and minors who wish to do internships.  Recent internship sites include The Portland Museum of Art, The South Portland Historical Society and Museum, the Maine Historical Society, the Osher Map Library, the Brick Store Museum, the Maine Women Writers Collection, and USM’s Special Collections.

Wednesday, April 23 | 12pm – 1pm

Exploring Market Opportunities with AI

Christopher Curran

Christopher Curran is the Co-Founder and CEO of a new start-up based in Maine called Salt AI which is a multi-language conversational voice AI concierge that answers phone calls for businesses 24/7. 

Christopher has been a revenue leader with a passion for product for over 13 years with experience in building high growth go-to-market motions and most recently building a voice AI company from 3 customers to a 20M Series A in 16 months.

A South Portland native growing up in Willard Square and alumnus of North Yarmouth Academy, he returned home during the pandemic after living in New York City for twelve years. He lives on a lake in Raymond traveling to New York monthly and loves cooking, dining, and appreciating the state that shaped him. He hopes to add to the tech wave in Maine that our universities and the Rue Institute have begun to forge.

Thursday, April 24 | 12pm – 1pm

Thinking About Quality and Risk in an AI World

Christy Evans

Christy Evans serves as the US Global Quality and Risk Management(QRM)Leader. Additionally, Christy
focuses on process and technology innovation activities within the QRM space across the Deloitte network. Christy has been with Deloitte for more than 24 years serving in a variety of roles from technology implementation leader for several state-wide computer systems in California; QRM leader
for Deloitte Consulting in Germany; US Methods and Tools Leader and Risk Manager for numerous global Deloitte client accounts. Previously, she worked for IBM, City of Tucson (AZ) and EF Education First. Christy received her BA from Northeastern University and MPA and MBA from the University of

Although not a Maine native, Christy considers Portland to be her hometown and relocated here full-time in 2020 from Santa Monica, California. When not in Portland, she’s following her passions of travel and cultural exploration having been to 69 countries to date (Namibia and South Africa being the most

Friday, April 25 | 12pm – 1pm

How the Hussey Leadership Institute Has Prepared Us for the AI World

Richard Bilodeau

Richard Bilodeau teaches both undergraduate and graduate courses in entrepreneurship, creativity, design thinking, business sustainability, strategy, and marketing at the University of Southern Maine (USM) and University of Maine. He is also an entrepreneur who is a partner in two growing businesses. One business is a direct marketing company working and consulting in alternative health and wellness located in Portland, Maine. The other is a television network located in the Southeast providing vacation and tourist information to hotel and resort guests in markets like Key West, New Orleans, Atlanta, Myrtle Beach, and Pensacola.

He also has an active consulting practice with clients located in the United States, Canada, and Europe. In his consulting, he works with and presents to a wide range of businesses.

In addition to his teaching, Richard oversees USM’s Center for Business and Economic Research, is the faculty chair of USM’s Hussey Leadership Institute, and serves on the advisor groups for USM’s Honors Program and Maine Economic Improvement Fund Entrepreneurial Training Program.

Richard’s current research focuses on the role our neurobiology plays in our creative and business decision-making. His other research interests include the use of design thinking to create market value, the development of marketing strategies to support rapid growth, the role of leadership in startup success, and the importance of triple bottom line thinking in business strategy. 

The Timothy B. Hussey Leadership Institute honors the legacy of one of Maine’s most esteemed business and community leaders. Tim Hussey was committed to the principles of servant leadership over his two decades as president and CEO of Hussey Seating Company, a 180-year-old Maine family business. Tim envisioned an institute that would engage, educate and empower the next generation of Maine leaders to change communities for the better by “doing well while doing good.”

In 2018, two years after Tim’s untimely passing, the inaugural Timothy B. Hussey Leadership Institute was held on the Portland campus of the University of Southern Maine. Emerging leaders of organizations throughout the region, from start-ups and nonprofits to long-established companies, were invited to engage around topics related to the business of doing good. Through extensive conversation on how to build and sustain a successful, values-based business, our goal is to equip participants with actionable tools and strategies to facilitate change within their organizations.

Learn more about the history of the Hussey Leadership Institute.

Thank you to our founding sponsors!

Hussey Seating  |  Kennebunk Savings
USI Insurance Preti Flaherty  |  Volk Packaging

Hussey Leadership Institute Video