The NextGen™ Speaker Series

Brings together business and community professionals to encourage Leadership, Mentorship, Empowerment and Philanthropy. Connect with business leaders in the community and hear inspirational stories of achievement from world-renowned entrepreneurs and CEOs.

About the NextGenTM Speaker Series

The prestigious NextGen™ Speaker Series is a gathering of America’s most distinguished business leaders, right here in Naples, Florida. Keynote speakers are world-renowned entrepreneurs and CEOs who share their extraordinary life journeys with an exclusive invitation-only audience.

The NextGenTM Speaker Series started with a simple question. Michael Benson, CEO of Benson Blackburn, asked industry leaders to visit his office for a mentorship session with his team. His team was so fascinated by what they heard, they decided this information and these life journeys should be shared with the community. This led to the establishment of the NextGen™ Speaker Series, held two to three times per year at a private venue by invitation only.

To date, Benson Blackburn has hosted 15 NextGen™ Speaker Series events, with over 2,500 attendees. The speaker series was established to encourage Leadership, Mentorship, Empowerment and Philanthropy.

As part of a community outreach and mentorship process, the NextGen™ Speaker Series partnered with FGCU, Hodges University, Florida SouthWestern State College, The Immokalee Foundation, Imagine Solutions, Leadership Collier Foundation, Community Foundation of Collier County and Champions for Learning, to encourage deans and students to attend and learn from these industry leaders.

Each session, Benson Blackburn nominates a “focused charitable organization” in honor of the featured speaker. Focused charities have included The Shelter for Abused Women and Children, The First Tee of Naples, The Immokalee Foundation, American Cancer Society, NCH Healthcare System, the Naples Children & Education Foundation and Leadership Collier Foundation.

Join us for the next Speaker Series event featuring:

Michael Siegal NextGen Speaker Series Headshot

Michael Siegal | Executive Chairman, Olympic Steel

Friday, January 29, 2021

Michael Siegal’s career at Olympic Steel is one of Corporate America’s success stories. After accepting an entry-level position at his family’s business in 1974, Mr. Siegal progressed through the ranks and was named president in 1984. Under his leadership, the company experienced consistent growth and has been transformed from a family-owned steel distributor to a publicly traded, fully integrated, value-added processor and supply chain manager serving the outsourcing needs of America’s largest manufacturers. All totaled, Olympic Steel has grown from $35 million to more than $1.7 billion in revenues and has seen marked improvement in its key performance and financial metrics under Mr. Siegal’s leadership.

Michael Siegal NextGen Speaker Series Headshot

Joel Anderson | CEO, Five Below

Friday, February 26, 2021

Since February 2015, Joel Anderson has served as President & CEO of Five Below, Inc. He joined Five Below in July 2014 as President & COO, bringing more than 20 years of experience in the retail sector. Previously, he served as President and CEO of, the multi-billion dollar U.S. dotcom business unit. Prior to joining Wal-Mart, he was responsible for all aspects of the retail and direct business units at Lenox Group. He spent 12 years at Toys “R” Us, Inc. in various roles and activities including marketing, dotcom, new ventures and operations.

Joel was born and raised in California. He received a Bachelor’s degree in Political Science & Speech from St. Olaf College and earned a Masters of Business Administration from Harvard Business School.

He also serves on the Boards of Five Below, Inc. & Sprouts Farmers Market, Inc.

Michael Siegal NextGen Speaker Series Headshot
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Bill Sanford | Former CEO, STERIS Corporation

Friday, March 26, 2021

Bill Sanford is an outspoken advocate of entrepreneurship, innovation, and advanced technology commercialization. In only ten years, Sanford led STERIS—a global leader in infection and contamination prevention—from a start-up with five employees and a $3 million valuation to a NYSE-listed public company with 5,000 employees and a market value of $2 billion.

Michael Siegal NextGen Speaker Series Headshot
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Leading Ladies: The Business of the Arts

Friday, April 23, 2021

In a wide-ranging discussion with performing arts leaders, we will lift the curtain to learn what it takes to effectively run an arts organization and bring shows to the stage, as well as evaluate the economic impact of the arts in communities across America. Esteemed panelists include (pictured upper left, clockwise):

  • Kristen Coury CEO & Producing Artistic Director, Gulfshore Playhouse
  • Kathleen van Bergen CEO & President, Artis—Naples
  • Patty Baker & Sandi Moran Broadway Producers & Philanthropists

Thank you to our Sponsors!

Sponsored by

Benson Balckburn Logo

Michael D. Benson

Visionary Sponsors

Arthrex Logo

Dennis O’Keefe

Cohen & Grigsby Logo

Michael G. Dana

eBella Magazine Logo

Sharon Hood

FineMark Bank Logo

Gustavo Botura

FineMark Bank Logo

Adria D. Starkey

John R. Wood Properties

Bill Benson

John R. Wood Properties

Phillip Wood

Lurie Logo

Brian May, EA

Mark  Rupolo, CPA, ABV, PFS

Marsh Private Client Services Logo

Patrick M. Trittler

Meristem Family Wealth Logo

David J. Legus

Pure Insurance Logo

Robin Minch

Pure Insurance Logo

Michael Wynn

Our Community Partners

Florida Gulf Coast University Logo
Hodges University Logo
Florida SouthWestern State College Logo
Imagine Solutions Logo
Leadership Collier Foundation Logo
The Immokalee Foundation Logo
Community Foundation of Collier County Logo
Champions for Learning Logo