Remote learning and support services will continue through Summer 2020. [ SEE COVID-19 UPDATES. ]


Learn from Leaders has been cancelled for Spring 2020 due to precautionary measures in response to coronavirus. For more updates and for full information on the college response to COVID-19, please visit


Presentations are held in T-Building, Room T-129. They are free and open to the public.

View the live presentation videos from our previous guests below.

Denise Carkhuff - Tuesday, April 7, 2020 | 12:30-1:45 p.m.
denise carkhuff

Denise Carkhuff has spent the last 24 years (14 of which as partner) at the global law firm Jones Day, acting as the principal outside lawyer on a multitude of merger and acquisition, and private equity transactions. Her experience covers a wide range of matters in a variety of industries and deal structures. Denise has worked on all aspects of the full life cycle of a company, from incorporation to liquidity event or dissolution.

While the main focus of Denise's practice has been the representation of private equity funds, she also has served in a general counsel function for countless private companies. After helping clients with their businesses for the last 24 years, she decided to invest in her own business, Adrenaline Monkey, a family adventure and training center dedicated to empowering guests of all ages, sizes and abilities through fun and physical challenges.

She sits on the board of Breakthrough Charter Schools, urban charter schools with the mission of giving every scholar a chance to go to college; and Achievement Centers for Children, whose mission is to empower children and adults with disabilities and their families to achieve their greatest potential. For over a dozen years, Denise led Women In Transactions, a networking group for women doing transactional work, which currently sits under the ACG umbrella. She co-leads RRAIN, a women's group for the Cleveland Jones Day women lawyers. She is a member of In Counsel With Women. She was selected to be a "Wise Woman" as part of Deloitte's Wise Women leadership program. Denise was a member of the 2018 Leadership Cleveland class.

Joel Kearns, Ph.D. - Tuesday, April 21, 2020 | 6-7:15 p.m.
joel kearns, ph.d.

Joel Kearns serves as the director of facilities, test and manufacturing at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration's (NASA) John H. Glenn Research Center in Cleveland, Ohio. In this capacity, Kearns is responsible for facility infrastructure and maintenance on all major test facilities at the Glenn Lewis Field Campus. He also has responsibility for the flight research aircraft, the manufacturing facilities and the environmental management program. 

Prior to his current assignment, he served as the deputy director of NASA Glenn's Space Flight Systems Directorate, providing executive direction of projects assigned to Glenn in human exploration and operations, space exploration systems development, space science and space technology. He previously worked as manager of the European Service Module (ESM) integration for the Orion Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle, including oversight of the European Space Agency and their prime contractor developing and testing ESM in the U.S., and refurbishment and requalification of the Space Shuttle Orbital Maneuvering System engine for the ESM's main propulsion system.

Kearns worked as a senior executive at NASA Headquarters (HQ), Ames Research Center, Marshall Space Flight Center, MEMC Electronic Materials and Sumitomo-Mitsubishi Silicon USA in research and development of aerospace vehicles, semiconductor materials and solar materials.  He managed the NASA Microgravity Research Program in the 1990s and the NASA SOFIA Program in 2005-2006. He led the planning for Space Shuttle Transition and Retirement from 2006 to 2010 for the Space Operations Mission Directorate at NASA HQ.

Kearns earned his bachelor's and master's degrees in mechanical engineering from Worcester Polytechnic Institute. He also earned a Ph.D. in materials science and engineering. An associate fellow of the American Institute for Aeronautics and Astronautics, Kearns was awarded the U.S. Government's Presidential Rank of Meritorious Senior Executive in 2009. He is an inventor on four patents for single crystal growth technology.

Previous guests

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