LEAD Forward Fellows

Mindy Sagez

Professor Mindy Sagez, LEAD Forward program director

LEAD Forward program logo

Mindy served as a driving force in Starbucks’s 2008 Reinvention of Brewed Coffee Initiative. She strategized, organized, and led multiple cross-functional teams totaling nearly 120 Starbucks partners in the creation and successful launch of Pike Place Roast. CEO Howard Schultz publicly recognized her efforts in a press release in 2008, and in March 2015 Fast Company directly attributed the launch of Pike Place Roast as a key driver in Starbucks turnaround, the 5th biggest business turnaround of the last 20 years.

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LEAD Forward Student Bios

Tristan De Leon

B.S. in Accounting
Minor(s): Computer Science, Legal Studies
Expected Graduation: May 2020
Hometown: Quezon City, Philippines

The LEAD Forward Program was a program that was recommended by my peers and my upperclassmen who have now become alumni in the program. I entered LEAD Forward to form long-lasting relationships with other leaders and expand my career network, all while I learn more about myself and what it means to be a leader.

After graduation, I plan to follow my father’s footsteps and take the CPA certification exam and pass it. Upon obtaining the certification, I want to work in the States in a CPA firm as either a tax consultant or as an auditor. I plan to work for a firm that has strong ethics and a great environment for me to thrive and learn.

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Tyler Frields-Reifsteck

B.S. in Economics and Supply Chain Management
Minor(s): Math
Expected Graduation: May 2021
Hometown: Evansville, IN

I joined the LEAD Forward Program to improve upon my interpersonal communications skills, enhance my formal and informal business knowledge, learn effective leadership strategies, and become more involved in the community. Most importantly, I joined to network and from current business leaders and fellow students in the program who will become the business leaders of the future.

After graduation, I hope to work for an international company as a member of their supply chain management team. In my career, I hope to be able to travel and be someone who is considered a life-long learner. I also hope to work for an innovative company that will have a lasting positive impact on the future of the world.

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Forrest Gottman

B.S.B.A. in Management and Finance
Minor(s): Political Science
Expected Graduation: May 2021
Hometown: Mt. Vernon, IN

The LEAD Forward Program is very promising to me for several reasons. I can finally take the next step in being the best me I can be. This program will allow me to become more professional in my everyday life and in the business world. I will be able to network myself with the most renowned mentors in the area, including the program’s head, Mindy Sagez. My hope is that this program will be able to help me and that I will be able to help the program.

My dream is to start and own my very own business after college and I have already had small opportunities to have this experience at the University of Evansville. The LEAD Forward Program will allow me to gather more experience from top leaders in the area. Every great business needs connections and networking as well.

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Lindsay Langstaff

B.S.B.A. in Global Business and B.A. Spanish
Expected Graduation: May 2019
Hometown: Aurora, IL

I joined the LEAD Forward Program in order to improve my command of leadership skills, to clarify my career goals and direction, and to expand upon my existing network of connections. I am hoping to be able to create a positive impact both on the community at the University of Evansville and within the city through this program. With more growth in these areas, I will be able to successfully apply my experiences in the LEAD Forward program to a leadership position within the realm of Global Business.

After graduation, I am looking to obtain a job in Global Business as an international management analyst. After traveling to over 16 countries, I’ve found that working and traveling internationally is truly where my passions lie. The challenges of traveling solo and my experiences with meeting new people have made me fall in love with everything about traveling. For that, I am hoping to receive a position that will allow me to travel at an international and ethical company.

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Molly Lear

B.S.B.A in Marketing
Minor(s): Communications
Expected Graduation: May 2019
Hometown: Fishers, IN

I joined the LEAD Forward Program because I considered the impact it could have on my professional future. As a member of the women’s soccer team at UE, I knew that I needed to take advantage of a different type of campus leadership opportunity. The opportunity to be mentored by Mindy Sagez was another one of the key reasons that I chose to apply. Mindy’s professional experience and advanced set of skills are both things I greatly admire and things I hope to acquire through the program. An opportunity like this one is something that cannot be passed on. Not many universities have a program like LEAD and I believe it could have a great influence on my path upon graduation.

This summer, I am currently interning with Pacers Sports and Entertainment in Indianapolis. My background in sports is a driving factor in what I want to do after graduation. My ultimate goal is to develop a strong network within PS&E that will lead me to a full time position at Nike headquarters in Oregon. Working within the marketing department at Nike has been a goal of mine since I realized I wanted to go into the marketing field. The creativity and success of the company has been something I have envied for years.

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Danyang Liu

B.S.B.A. in Global Business & Marketing
Expected Graduation: May 2019
Hometown: Liuzhou, China

I became a member in the LEAD Forward Program to improve my professional leadership skills; to expand my networking with business leaders, which is helpful for my future career; and to establish healthy personalities by learning from other members. I strongly want to achieve the third goal within the last year in UE campus, because I have realized that I am the biggest enemy on my way to success. Therefore, I wish I could always encourage myself when I am trapped in any dilemma.

When I graduate, I desire to pursue a graduated school in Japan, and continue learning business culture, especially, business in Eastern Asia. My dream college is Kyoto University, Nagoya University, or Keio University. During my school years, I will learn Japanese, at the same time, develop my English. After graduate from the college, I hope I can join Toyota.

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Blake McNutt

B.S.B.A. in Finance
Expected Graduation: May 2019
Hometown: Newburgh, IN

The LEAD Forward Program is an organization that will help drive me towards reaching my goals. This program is full of opportunities that are very unique and cannot be found anywhere else. Being mentored by Mindy Sagez will give me the leadership skills that I will use for the rest of my life. Mindy will put me in situations that I truly believe will challenge me like nothing else. Along with the great mentorship, this program will allow me to meet with local business leaders and learn from them about their experiences as well. Overall, I joined this program to learn and gain key experiences for my future.

This summer, I am working as a Supply Chain intern at Berry Global. I would love to start my career, after graduation, with a global company like Berry. Supply Chain is a growing interest of mine and I would like to utilize my experience and knowledge with Supply Chain to work for a company’s Supply Chain department.

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Riley Shanks

B.S.B.A. in Finance and Marketing
Expected Graduation: May 2019
Hometown: Evansville, IN

I joined the LEAD Forward Program for a few key reasons. First, I wanted to be able to improve the relationships among my fellow business peers and to connect with some of the business leaders in the Tri-State area. Secondly, I wanted to enhance my leadership skills through the amazing opportunities and experiences that are available within the LEAD program. Lastly, I wanted to better myself in a way that I could take what I learned from LEAD and use it in the real world to make a difference with the career I choose.

After I graduate from the University of Evansville, I would like to work in either the financial or marketing fields. I would like to start a career where I would be able to make a difference in the lives around me. The personal goal that I have is that when I wake up in the morning I want to say that I truly enjoy what I do.

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Megan Smith

B.S. in Economics and B.A. in International Studies
Minor(s): Spanish
Expected Graduation: May 2020
Hometown: Shelbyville, IN

I joined the LEAD Forward Program to grow myself both professionally and personally. I am excited to be able to network with business professionals and to gain perspective on my career path and my own leadership style. For me personally, I felt that these core aspects of the program will be what I need to become successful in my future in the global marketplace that grows more globalized every day.

After graduation, I hope to attend law school to pursue a career in International Business Law. At the University of Evansville, I have been able to use my passions as a form of education. I would like to continue using my passions in my future career. These include using Spanish, traveling, experiencing different cultures, and working with a diverse group of people.

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Joey Vermillion

B.S.B.A. in Management
Expected Graduation: May 2019
Hometown: Terre Haute, IN

I joined the LEAD Forward Program for two distinct reasons. First, is to advance my leadership skills so I can use them in my future career path. The second, is to take full advantage of the amazing opportunities to connect and network with local and national companies.

This summer, I am completing an internship for Infrastructure & Energy Alternatives in their business development department. While, my plan is to stay with this company and after school become a full-time employee in this department and see where the world of renewable energy takes me, I also know that the skills I will gain through LEAD will help make me a good candidate for any company.

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Hannah Welsh

B.S.B.A. in Marketing and Management
Expected Graduation: May 2020
Hometown: Jasper, IN

I joined the LEAD Forward Program to learn more about the business world and to have an overall better understanding of business. I hope to learn from Mindy Sagez’s knowledge and successfulness in the business world. With Mindy as a mentor, I hope to learn to step out of my comfort zone, enhance communication and leadership skills, to be a valuable asset in a group setting, and to better myself as a person overall. I joined the LEAD Forward Program to take the next step in the positive direction toward my future business career.

I have not decided specifically which area of business I would like to pursue after graduation, however, I hope to discover specific areas of interest during the LEAD Forward Program. I hope to join a business and to be a valuable asset whether that be in a start-up company, or a preexisting company. If I were to work in a start-up company, my goal would be to help it grow and succeed.

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Shangshang Yao

B.S. in Accounting & Math Applied/Actuarial Science Specialty
Expected Graduation: December 2019
Hometown: Liuzhou, Guangxi, China

There are several reasons make me join in the LEAD forward program. Firstly, LEAD forward is a good resource and it can offer me a systematic study about leadership through related activities, reading, and discussions, which cannot be offer by school official classes. Secondly, LEAD forward provide me more opportunities to create my social network and help me learn from different leaders’ leadership experience. Finally, joining in LEAD forward is also like a after-class club. I believe LEAD forward’s interesting and business-related activities will make my college like more colorful and knowledgeable.

After graduation, I plan to take further graduation program in either business or math area. Later on, I am going to work in different companies to gain more business practical experiences and funds, and then I would love to create my own business.

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