MELANIE WEAVER BARNETT | EXECUTIVE CONSULTANT
With 30 years’ experience in a mix of the corporate world, consulting, and academia, Melanie brings an inclusive, collaborative, and energetic leadership approach to her work. She has created new global partnerships, developed innovative learning experiences, earned high levels of customer satisfaction, all while achieving unprecedented organizational growth. Melanie is chief executive education officer at the University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business, as well as an executive coach and consultant
In her current work, Melanie co-creates solutions with and for a wide range of global organizations including ICBC, DTE Energy, Toyota Motors North America, Saudi Arabian Telecom Company, and the National Football League. She serves as a faculty member in Executive Education, developing and teaching programs on leadership, change management, and team–building.
Prior to joining Michigan, Melanie worked for then Fortune 500 firm Ethyl Corporation in its management and organization development area, in her own firm The Leadership and Learning Alliance, and with a boutique marketing consulting firm in Richmond, Virginia.
In addition to holding an MBA from Michigan Ross, Melanie earned her undergraduate degree at the University of Michigan, where she was an all-American distance runner. A proud mom of two grown sons, today she reluctantly has to use the “J-word” to accurately describe her running workouts. That would be “jogging,” by the way.
RICK HALLER | EXECUTIVE CONSULTANT
Rick was President and COO of Walbridge for almost 25 years. He was part of a leadership team of four civil engineers who came to Walbridge in their 20’s to grow the company from a small regional general contractor in southeast Michigan to a 43X larger multinational and multifaceted company. He developed service offerings, competencies, and processes to serve diverse manufacturing, technology, and institutional customers in North and South America, Middle East, and occasionally Asia and Europe.
As Rick matured in business he began to recognize the critical and lasting impact that a positive culture has on measurable business success, including improved operating results, exponential improvements in safety, creativity, and loyalty, and an ingrained ability to adapt and change to remain relevant and successful. He knew and guided building cultures that valued people, and in doing so his company was able to thrive.
Rick spends much of his time with family.
ROBIN KLEIN | EXECUTIVE CONSULTANT
Robin recently retired after spending her professional career in two organizations at the senior level in consulting, business development, and always as a chief people officer. In 1999, she joined Root as a member of Root’s leadership team, using her talents and passion to connect people and business outcomes. She loves problem solving and new challenges and had the opportunity to work externally with amazing clients who continue to be curious, thoughtful, hard driving, and committed to making their organizations stronger and more effective. Her consulting specialties include organizational transformation, culture, talent development, connecting strategy with individual change, and experience design.
Under Robin’s leadership, Root Inc. was recognized by the Great Place to Work Institute as one of the top 25 small to medium companies to work for in America. Root’s culture also was recognized by the Wall Street Journal and Winning Workplaces as one of the top small workplaces in the U.S., and it received a Bronze Stevie Award from the American Business Awards in 2012. Robin also led the development of a training product recognized by HR Executive magazine as one of the top 10 training products of the year in 2002.
Before joining Root, Robin spent 15 years in financial services and served as senior vice president for Sky Financial Group. She holds a BBA and an MBA from the University of Toledo and is an alumna of the University of Wisconsin’s Graduate School of Banking. In 2004, she won the Human Resource Management Award for Excellence in Northwest Ohio, and in 2018 she was named the Outstanding Alumni of the Department of Management at the University of Toledo. Robin also served as Board President for a Charter School and was a board member for many years on a regional health quality coalition. She is certified in both the Herman Brain Dominance Instrument (HBDI) and Lominger Development Tools.
Robin lives in Charleston, SC. She and her husband Dan have four wonderful daughters in their teens and twenties. She loves shopping, theatre, cooking and gardening. She stays in contact with her clients and will always love problem solving and making a difference where her expertise matters.
RON MAY | EXECUTIVE CONSULTANT
Ron has worked his entire career in the utility business. He began working for a regional construction company building electrical generation facilities. Moving from a director to Vice President, he began consulting with a small project management firm. He finished his career with a large, 3 million customer utility as Executive Vice President. The variety of experiences including coal fire and nuclear generation operations, to distribution system development and operation, to executive leadership and strategic projects development and execution was both enriching and fulfilling.
He was involved in several strategic culture transformations in his career from mergers and reorganizations to crisis management. What he discovered along the way was that he didn’t need to make mistakes to know what to do better the next time. There are science and research based approaches to transformation that he could learn from and implement with a higher degree of success. After the 2008 financial crisis, he was introduced to the Center for Positive Organizations. He was amazed by how much insight and implementation practices he could employ to make the lives of so many better.
Ron has been married for 45 years. He is so happy he chose the right partner for life. They have lived through tough times and have emerged stronger. They have two adult children and they have four grandchildren between them. Ron and his wife love to travel and have been to Europe, Russia, China, Japan, and throughout the United States. They love Michigan and their home town of Rochester Hills.
RICH SMALLING | EXECUTIVE CONSULTANT
Rich is a servant leader, advisor, philanthropist, husband, father and friend. For 25 years, Rich led American Innovations, a provider of solutions that help the oil and gas industry comply with regulations and operate safely. With a great team of engaged colleagues, Rich helped grow AI and navigate through difficult challenges. Along the way, Rich became passionate about positive business practices that create thriving organizations and the impact of thriving organizations on society.
Rich is an Executive in Residence at the Center for Positive Business at the Michigan Ross School of Business and an advisor to the College of Engineering at Virginia Tech. He is on the board of Origin Materials, a Sacramento-based start-up biochemical business. Since 2003, he has been an avid supporter of Creative Action, an Austin nonprofit organization delivering interactive theatre programs to youth in Central Texas. Rich is a founder of the Austin Together Fund which encourages collaborations among nonprofits in Central Texas.
Rich loves to spend time with his wife Anne and daughters Marina and Samantha, especially if it involves travel, music, food, wine, biking, hiking or pretty much any other game or sport you can come up with.
HANNAH ARONOW | COMMUNICATIONS INTERN
Hannah is a senior at the University of Michigan, majoring in Organizational Studies and double minoring in Entrepreneurship and Community Action & Social Change. She enjoys taking courses which explore the intersection between positive leadership, innovation, and social impact. Hannah is intrigued by how businesses can leverage their power in ways that promote social good. She aspires to serve in a role where she can utilize positive leadership practices to help organizations develop their culture and create purposeful marketing strategies and materials which encapsulate their core values and mission.
Hannah joined the Riverbank team as our Culture and Communications Intern. She is lending her marketing and design skills to our overall Riverbank marketing strategy, and to the internal Culture Current newsletter.
Hannah is a lifelong Wolverine, having grown up in Ann Arbor just a few miles from the Big House. In 2015, during her sophomore year in high school, her family relocated to Rhode Island where she now spends her time away from school. In her free time Hannah loves spending time outdoors, especially running and hiking. She has spent several summers as a counselor leading backpacking and canoeing trips in Pennsylvania and Michigan. She also enjoys playing guitar and ukulele.
MAGGIE LAWRENCE | BRAND & DESIGN MANAGER
Before pursuing her own business as an independent contractor, Maggie worked as an in-house marketing professional for several local and remote businesses – wearing many hats but specializing in design. As her roles evolved, she came to realize design was where her passion grew. So she turned a new leaf in her career and set out to be a professional designer, using her marketing experience to strategize her design work and consult her clients along the way. Her goal is to design websites and marketing assets that help businesses feel empowered and authentic in their brand, and as a hopeful result – change lives.
She believes that everyone deserves to feel heard and cared for, which is why she joins us at Riverbank to work towards a common goal. Through branding and design management, she hopes to engage and influence more executives & leaders to work towards our vision of changing society’s story about work.
Maggie works from her home in Downtown Frederick, MD that she shares with her fiancé Zak, italian greyhound Finch, whippet puppy Henry, and two cats Bonnie & Marcy. When she’s not at the barn learning as a horsemanship apprentice, she loves dipping her toe into everything creative, reading in the park, spending time with friends, and gardening in the backyard.
SARAH KURTZ MCKINNON | CONSULTANT
Sarah is the founder of The Summer Camp Society, a professional development collaborative for camp owners and directors, providing educational content, connection and innovation for nearly 3,000 camp leaders in the U.S., Canada, and around the world. She is the former director of Ann Arbor YMCA Camp Al-Gon-Quian in Northern Michigan, serving more than 1,200 children and 85 staff and volunteers each year, and is also part of the teaching team for two Management & Organizations classes in the Online MBA program at the UofM Ross School of Business.
She believes everyone deserves to thrive. People spend most of their time at work—maybe more time, even, then they spend with their family, friends or doing things they love. Workplaces need to be designed and constantly re-designed so that people can thrive: so that life is worth living, whether at work or not.
Personally, Sarah has never met a racquet sport that she didn’t like.
LISA SIMON | ADMINISTRATOR
Lisa Simon has spent the last twenty years helping to build and support small businesses in the Ann Arbor area, primarily in the legal profession. Lisa has worked as a bookkeeper and office manager and, in recent years, has served hundreds of community members doing seasonal work as a tax preparer.
When Lisa is not working, you can find her spending time with her husband and two twenty-something children, growing flowers and veggies in her garden, or making intricate patchwork quilts.
DYLAN WHEATLEY | CONTENT CREATION INTERN
Dylan, a Chicago native, is a senior at the University of Michigan studying Organizational Studies on the Healthcare track and Biopsychology, Cognition, and Neuroscience (BCN). He served most recently for Deloitte Consulting in their Strategy M&A group. On campus, he is involved in research within the University of Michigan’s School of Public Health, with Hillel, and with the Rogel Cancer Center. Recently, he has pivoted from a pre-medical path to focus on a career guiding positive change in organizations tasked with caring for society.
He will be joining Riverbank as a Content Creation Intern, helping to curate content for Riverbank’s Medium site and newsletter, the Reservoir.
Outside of school, Dylan is an avid runner. One of his favorite parts about living in Ann Arbor is exploring new restaurants. He enjoys spending the rest of his free time with friends, family, and his two dogs.
CHRIS WHITE | PRINCIPAL
Chris has been leading and consulting to purpose-driven organizations for more than 20 years. He is co-author of Changing Your Company From the Inside Out (HBR Press), and recipient of the Aspen Institute’s “Ideas Worth Teaching Award” for excellence in business education. His thought leadership has been widely featured, including by TED, HBR, Forbes, Fast Company, Inc., and Chief Executive magazines. He is proud to be a Faculty Associate at the Center for Positive Organizations and adjunct faculty in Management & Organizations at the University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business.
Chris fundamentally believes that workplaces can and should be vehicles for people to learn, grow, create, connect, and contribute to meaningful outcomes. But over time, sometimes they can get blocked. With the right approach and commitment, they can be unblocked – leading to better results and experiences for everyone involved.
Chris is based in Ann Arbor, Michigan, with his wife Katy, kids Crosby and Kaylie, dog Ringo, and cat McCatney.
KATY WHITE | PROGRAM MANAGER
Katy’s mission is to create spaces that allow people to activate their best-self through deep connection and reflection. Throughout her professional career in Higher Education, this mission has been embodied through student coaching and program management. She has served as a coach to both undergraduate and graduate students studying in fields such as psychology, business, architecture, and computer science, helping them discover and engage their strengths and values. Program management for Katy has taken many forms, including guiding student ambassador programs, organizing events on campus, and engaging teams in professional, personal, and team development. No matter the project, Katy grounds her work in purpose, growth, and efficiency.
Katy believes that genuine care and trust are essential parts of what unlocks an organization’s or team’s potential. Positive strategic culture transformation teaches and embeds organizational norms that foster these values.
Katy’s family and friends are the heartbeat of her world. She especially loves taking family walks with her husband (Chris), kids (Crosby and Kaylie), and dog (Ringo) and hosting game nights (favorite games include Mysterium, Splendor, and Salad Bowl) with friends and extended family. Other favorite hobbies include producing puns and rewriting lyrics of popular songs for special occasions.
MARLENE WILDEN | ENGAGEMENT MANAGER
Marlene joins Riverbank Consulting Group as Managing Director of MMW Consultancy, a boutique, research & communications firm with international experience and broad, cross-industry perspective. Marlene works with senior leaders to develop performance planning in organizations ranging from start-up ventures to large, Fortune 500 and Big 4 professional services enterprises. It is Marlene’s deep understanding of statistical modeling, program evaluation fundamentals and project management standards that have given her a keen sense on how to increase competitive advantage and be a catalyst for change.
Previously, Marlene was embedded in the CEO’s office at Thomson Reuters where she helped sharpen execution of targeted relations strategies which included the company’s sale of the Finance & Risk business to private equity. Before that, Marlene was a Strategy Consultant at Daymon Worldwide where she led a multi-year engagement and worked with the C-Suite on all sales enablement and post-merger integration activities.
Marlene’s proficiency on the business-to-consumer side spans to the media & entertainment industry. She was a senior member of the group leading product operations for Nielsen’s sports division. She maintained a diverse client portfolio in addition to managing an analytics team.
Marlene holds an advanced degree in data & accountability for systems planning. While earning an Ed.M in Educational Statistics, Measurement and Evaluation, she supported the faculty of Rutgers GSE with works that examine the politics of education. Prior to that, Marlene served as a state certified secondary educator in both urban and rural Title I districts. She obtained her undergraduate degree from Temple University.