Penske Panel


Sherry Sanger is Senior Vice President of Marketing for Penske Truck Leasing, a leader in transportation and logistics. She leads Penske’s global marketing function including strategic marketing, market research, promotional activities, and interactive marketing. Sherry holds a bachelor’s degree in German from Kent State University, a master’s degree in international management from the Thunderbird School of Global Management, and an MBA from Case Western Reserve University. She is currently completing a doctorate in management from Case Western Reserve.


Sarah Smith is Vice President of Human Resources Operations at Penske Truck Leasing, a leader in transportation and logistics. Sarah is responsible for Penske’s corporate and field Human Resources organization, diversity and inclusion programs, and the company’s recruiting efforts. Penske has a diverse and extensive workforce of more than 26,000 associates worldwide. Sarah holds a bachelor’s degree in French from Wilkes University and her Juris Doctor degree from John Marshall Law School in Chicago. She maintains an active law license in Pennsylvania and New York.


Malissa Wilhelm is Great Lakes Area Recruiter for Penske Truck Leasing, a leader in transportation and logistics. Malissa is responsible for recruiting drivers, technicians, sales and operations professionals for the Leasing side of Penske Corp. She has five years of experience working in fields operations and started with the recruiting department in 2014. Malissa holds a bachelor’s degree from Kent State University. Her immediate goals for recruitment include attracting and hiring diverse, top talent to further strengthen the future of the organization.

EMBA Panel


Joy E. Brathwaite is has recently transitioned to Vice President for Finance and Business Affairs at North Central University in Minneapolis. Until early 2016 she served for five years as the Vice President for Finance and Business Affairs for Malone University in Canton. Her previous roles include managerial finance and accounting positions in Brooklyn, NY; Springfield, MO; Virginia Beach, VA; and Barbados, West Indies.

She also has been a board member of Multi-Development Services, Stark County, providing educational and career services to underserved youth, and of William Seymour College, a start-up college which provides theological training to pastors. Joy received her Bachelor of Science in Economics and Management from the University of West Indies in Barbados, and her Master of Science in Administration from Central Michigan University, and is completing an Executive MBA at Kent State University.


Paula Fyda has been President at Innovative Quality Solutions Company (IQS) for 21 years. IQS is a full service training and consulting firm focused on total customer satisfaction, performance improvement and achievement of organizational objectives. Paula is a registered Lead Auditor with extensive experience in training, process mapping, consulting and auditing. Her firm assists organizations with integration of all imposed requirements into their business systems including ISO, Regulatory, Customer, and The Joint Commission with an emphasis on effectiveness and sustainability. She also is the Director of Quality for the EBO Group where she leads development, implementation and improvement efforts of a multi-subsidiary Quality Management System.

Prior to IQS, Paula was Vice President of Quality Systems at GBS Group and had held previous positions at P.E. Handley Walker and Delphi Packard Electric Division. Paula received her undergraduate degree in Industrial Engineering from General Motors Engineering and Management Institute, now Kettering University, and her Executive MBA from Kent State University.


As the Vice President of Professional Services at Akron Children’s Hospital, Linda Hetson oversees laboratory medicine, pharmacy, radiology, social services and the Children’s at Hudson. Prior to serving in this role, Linda was Director of Nursing Administration in charge of patient services finance where she had oversight of more than $500 million in budgets across more than 80 cost centers. She also served as the Director over maternal fetal medicine, overseeing the administrative component of the high-risk perinatologist service at Children’s. She was the Co-Director of the Decker Family Development Center, which was a collaborative of Akron Children’s, the University of Akron and Barberton City Schools. She was awarded the Community Partner Award from the University of Akron. Linda was also part of the team which oversaw the design and construction of the Centennial Building at Children’s and was awarded the 2007 Distinguished Service Award from Akron Children’s Employee Foundation Council. She received her Bachelor of Science in Business Administration and Management from Malone University and her Executive MBA from Kent State University.


Desiree Primm serves as the Director of Quality Management at Kindred Hospital.  Before joining Kindred in 2012, Desiree worked for a diverse range of hospitals, including Regency Hospital, Marymount Hospital, and the Cleveland Clinic Foundation. She brings to the table more than twenty-three years of nursing experience in both the acute and long term acute care settings focusing on improving the quality of care in the clinical setting. 

Desiree is no stranger to hard work.  After earning her Executive MBA from Kent, Desiree founded a non-profit organization and currently serves as the Executive Director of Marvalas Heaven’s Playground.  The organization focuses on the prevention of domestic violence, restoring the family structure and curtailing youth violence. Marvalas Heaven’s Playground gives an annual scholarship to a male student that has been affected by domestic violence.  In 2015, a Kent State University student received the Dion & Davion’s Dream Scholarship.” Desiree earned her undergraduate degree at Tiffin University and her Executive MBA at Kent State University.   

Lisa Waite

Lisa Waite is owner and president of Waite Communication & Professional Development, LLC. Through her inspirational brand of professional development, Lisa’s focus is on people, performance and results. Her expertise is in developing people-centric leaders and transforming organizational culture. Working with entry level to C-level staff, her sessions carve a path to develop employees at every level leading to sustainable change. Culture documents like mission and vision are realized through strategies that support individual success, accountability, and strengthen teams to innovate.

With a dynamic style, Lisa is also active in individual coaching and sharing her compelling message with special event audiences. Lisa holds a Masters degree in Organizational Communication from the University of Akron and CST Master Certifier status from Barry-Wehmiller University.

Kim Riley

It’s an understatement to say that Kim Riley has broken a few glass ceilings. In her over 30 years of experience as a business leader in the insurance and risk management fields, Kim has been the youngest female officer appointed by the board of directors, has driven revenue and client profitability into the billions, pioneered technology solutions that changed the insurance industry from paper to data driven flow, and has been awarded multiple honors for networking and influence. She has led revenue enhancement, driven large scale organizational transformation, built and turned around businesses, as well as entered and increased penetration in new markets across the US, Canada and China.

As President of Hylant since 2011, Kim developed a turnaround, restructuring and mergers and acquisition strategy for this startup operation with full responsibility for P&L and increased the top line by 200%+ and the bottom line by average of 20% per year. In addition, she is an advisor to clients on current, past and future risk management and employee benefits issues (Cyber exposure analysis, alternative risk financing and Risk Mitigation).

As a professional speaker, Kim’s diverse leadership roles provide value and her keynote speeches are presented to the audience with wonderful spirit, Southern charm and wit. Audiences always relate to Kim’s story and are engaged by her dynamic speaking style. In her presentations, she shares her wealth of knowledge on Business Development, Networking, Reputation Building, and Women’s Leadership, and no doubt inspire listeners to break a few glass ceilings of their own.

Nurete Brenner

Nurete Brenner holds a Ph.D. in Organizational Behavior from Case Western Reserve University, an MBA from the University of Derby, an MA in English Literature from Hebrew University in Jerusalem, and a BA in English and Middle East history from Bar Ilan University in Israel. She is currently the Director of the MBA program at Ursuline College, the leading women's college in Cleveland, Ohio. She has also been a visiting lecturer in Management at the Herzliya Interdisciplinary Center (IDC) in Israel and a co-facilitator of Arab-Jewish dialogue at the Center for Educational Technology (CET) in Israel. Nurete’s research has focused on intercultural dialogue, Arab-Jewish dialogue and conversations under challenging circumstances. She is also interested in the shifting of the management education towards a socially conscious paradigm. Nurete has also taught workshops and courses in organizational behavior, leadership development, international business, dialogue and the socially conscious economy.