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SBAM Foundation

About the Foundation

The SBAM Foundation focuses on:

  • Research, publications, content development, and programming in connection with entrepreneurship
  • Training, education, and support services for small businesses in Michigan particularly those belonging to marginalized and economically challenged communities
  • In depth analysis of the entrepreneurial environment in Michigan via the Michigan Entrepreneurship Score Card

Michigan Entrepreneurship Score Card

When the Score Card was first conceived 19 years ago, Michigan was in the midst of a long-term economic slowdown. The Small Business Association of Michigan (SBAM) set an ambitious goal to start the long and difficult climb of becoming a “Top Ten” state for entrepreneurs. But to get there, we had to understand how Michigan performed against other states in a variety of areas.

At the time, SBAM had no ready reference with which to know how well its entrepreneurial economy was doing; no comprehensive data reference to determine progress. So, we set about to design and publish annual progress. The resultant Score Card is now recognized nationally as one of the most complete assessments of a state’s ‘state of small business and entrepreneurship’.

Download the 2023 Score Card

Foundation Supported Events

SBAM Annual Golf Outing

Save the Date:
Join us as we return to the Medalist Golf Course in Marshall on August 15, 2024.

7th Annual MI Hidden Talent Workshop

The workshop is a one-day training seminar for business owners/leaders and HR professionals, providing tools and insights needed that will help companies hire Michiganders with disabilities.

MI Hidden Talent was created in 2015 by then Lt. Governor Brian Calley and Michigan Supreme Court Justice Richard Bernstein.

2023 Event Recap
David Rhoa, Executive Director of the SBAM Foundation

David C. Rhoa | SBAM Foundation Executive Director

David Rhoa (pronounced “roy”) is the Executive Director of the SBAM Foundation and a serial entrepreneur owning multiple businesses serving customers around the world.

SBAM Foundation Board of Directors

A woman named Bonnie Alfonso drinks from a logo branded cup in front of a step and repeat with the Alfie logo

Bonnie Alfonso

President & Chief Embellishment Officer | Alfie Logo Gear for Work & Play

At least that’s what her business card reads. Which, after 33 years in business, Bonnie has determined this basically means that not only does she make sure the break room is fully stocked with great looking coffee cups with the company logo, it also means she may end up washing them.

Bonnie hails from a lineage of entrepreneurs, both her father and grandfather were Michigan small business owners. When Bonnie reflects on her days working in one of the family businesses she tells herself that those summers dressed in costume as the water park mascot, Betsy the Beaver, were character building.

Bonnie is a Past Chair of the Small Business Association of Michigan.

A man named Brian Calley poses in front of a building in Lansing

Brian Calley

President & CEO | Small Business Association of Michigan

Brian Calley is a collaborative leader who combines the skills from an accomplished private sector career with an extensive record of public service and a reputation for getting things done. He is passionate about making the world work better for all people and uses an inclusive problem-solving approach to make a difference.

Brian was Michigan’s Lieutenant Governor from 2011-2018. Prior to that, he served in the Michigan House of Representatives, on the Ionia County Commission, and worked over a decade in community banking. He holds a BA from Michigan State University, an MBA from Grand Valley State University, and an MPA from Harvard University.

Rob Fowler

Chief Executive Officer | Public Policy Associates

In 2022 Rob Fowler became Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Public Policy Associates (PPA). He has more than 35 years of experience in the public policy arena as an association CEO and a board member of various organizations focused on business, health care, education, and housing. Before PPA, Mr. Fowler held the position of president and CEO for the Small Business Association of Michigan for 21 years.

He has led several organizations through strategic planning and implementation of resulting plans and aids clients in leading through reflection on mission, vision, goals, and strategy.

Milan Gandhi

Vice President | Med-Share Inc.

As the leader of Business Development and Strategic Partnerships for Med-Share, Mr. Gandhi has made a name for himself as a tenacious marketer and tireless networker. He serves on the Board of Directors for the National Small Business Association and is also a Past Chairman of the Board of the Small Business Association (SBAM) as well as a current member the SBAM Political Action Committee Board.

He was an advisor and member of the Finance Committee for Governor Whitmer’s campaigns in 2018 and 2022. In 2020-2021, he was a member of the Michigan Economic Recovery Council (MERC) advising Governor Whitmer on Michigan’s COVID response with respect to business and employment policy.

Cynthia Kay

Founder | Cynthia Kay and Company

Cynthia Kay and Company produces communications for organizations from Fortune Global 100 to small business. A graduate of Michigan State University, Kay holds a master’s in communications from Western Michigan University.

She is the Past Board Chair of the Small Business Association of Michigan (SBAM) and the National Small Business Association (NSBA). Cynthia has been honored with many awards including numerous Tellys and Woman Owned Small Business Supplier of the Year from Siemens in 2018. She has been named One of West Michigan’s 50 Most Influential Women 5 times. Cynthia has authored several books. Her latest book is Small Business. Big Success. How to Beat the Odds and Grow a Great Business.

Tom Mathison, FAIA


Tom’s primary focus is early phase planning, programming, master planning, concept design, project management and firm management.  His projects have received numerous design awards and recognitions.  Tom is a Fellow of the American Institute of Architects.

Tom is a past SBAM Board Chair and a current member of the Leadership Council and the Legislative Action Committee. Tom also serves on the Boards of the Michigan Architectural Foundation, St, Cecilia Music Center in Grand Rapids and the Rotary Club of Grand Rapids Charities Foundation.

Ann Parker, CAE

Chief Operating Officer | Small Business Association of Michigan

Parker has been with SBAM for 28 years, first serving as the Director of Government Relations, offering advocacy and lobbying services to SBAM members statewide.  In her current capacity as COO, Parker oversees budget and finance, human resources, facilities management and governance.