Diane Durance

Executive Director of Great Lakes Entrepreneur's Quest (GLEQ) in Ann Arbor. A Michigan-based, statewide organization, GLEQ offers entrepreneurial education and a technology-focused business plan competition for new ventures. GLEQ connects early stage ventures to growth capital and business-development resources. It currently works with 302 start ups and has a network of 130 business coaches and 85 venture investors. Prior to joining GLEQ, Durance was president of the Ann Arbor IT Zone, where she increased membership and member involvement, hosting 160 networking and education events with more than 4,700 attendees annually. She also managed Ann Arbor SPARK facilities, meetings and events, accounting, and reporting, and SPARK Business Accelerator/Ann Arbor-Ypsilanti SmartZone education programs. Prior to joining the IT Zone, Durance had 23 years of experience as an entrepreneur. She founded three companies, including a telecommunications engineering firm at which she was a frequent presenter at national industry trade conferences. She also founded a marketing communications publishing company. She directed a staff of 12 editorial and design professionals and achieved sustained annual revenue of $3 million. Durance also founded a residential home improvement/handyman business that grew to 40 employees and $2 million in revenue with 80 percent market recognition in one year. She is the program committee chairperson for New Enterprise Forum and vice president of the Great Lakes Alternative Energy Association. She chairs the C.S. Mott Foundation initiative to increase entrepreneurship in mid-Michigan and is on the membership committee of MichBio, Michigan's association for life science companies. She is the former chair of the Washtenaw Remodelers Council. Durance received her bachelor's degree in business administration and master's degree in public administration from Southern Methodist University.

WHERE BORN: “Midland.”

MOST INFLUENTIAL PERSONS: “My first real boss, Conny McCormack, who has been my best friend for 30 years. She was registrar of voters and county clerk for Los Angeles County, overseeing the largest jurisdiction in the United States with 5,000 voting precincts. She's an astoundingly good manager. She has traveled the world helping countries, including Russia and Yemen, set up election systems. Her commitment to a challenging career while maintaining a healthy work-life balance has been my inspiration.”

LAST BOOK READ:The Imperfectionists, a debut novel by Tom Rachman, tracks the private lives of reporters and editors at an English-language newspaper in Europe from the heyday of newspaper publishing through the market challenges that led to the paper's eventual collapse. I also read Disciplined Dreaming: A Proven System to Drive Breakthrough Creativity by Josh Linkner. Too bad the characters in the novel didn't have Josh's book. He would have inspired them to tap into the power of creativity to change their destiny.”

WORDS THAT DESCRIBE ME: “Inventive, collaborative, optimistic, outgoing.”

WHERE MY FIELD/INDUSTRY IS HEADED: “I'm helping technology and life science entrepreneurs connect with resources around the state. It's becoming increasingly obvious that we need to support high-potential new ventures to create jobs in Michigan. I expect to see more educational opportunities, business-development talent and support, and capital being made available. It's an exciting time for entrepreneurship.”

FAVORITE TECHNOLOGICAL GADGET: “I'm shockingly slow to adopt new technologies. I recently invested in a really good headset, so I can finally hear and be heard on cell phone calls while driving.”

FAVORITE PLACE: “Up North is my favorite destination, especially Charlevoix in the summer months.”

FAVORITE HOBBIES: “All types of boating − from sailing in the Greek Isles to canoeing the AuSable River.”

FAVORITE FOOD: “If a beverage counts − Diet Coke.”

MY HIDDEN TALENT: “I can ride a unicycle.”

HOW I WANT TO BE REMEMBERED: “For creating opportunities for others to thrive personally and professionally − to achieve, experience, and enjoy success and happiness.”