News

September 29, 2021 - 8:51 am

Welcome, September 2021 New 20Fathoms Members!

By Keri Amlotte, Director of Marketing

Get to know the newest 20Fathoms members.

T.J. Berden

Principal/Producer at Big Sur Pictures

Describe your professional background.

I am a producer with a background in entertainment, tech and not-for-profits. As a consultant, I help people and organizations clarify their identity and communicate strategically through narrative and documentary films, audio, digital and live experiences. 

What inspired you to join our 20Fathoms community?

After a long pandemic of working at home, I wanted to see people again! I have been pleasantly surprised to see the progress on the art and tech side of things in the region and 20Fathoms seemed a natural hub to witness this progress. And the view, let’s be honest. 

Outside of work, what do you like to do for fun?

Fun is proportionate to the people that I experience it with — usually with a custom cocktail to fit the occasion!


Michael Brodsky

VP, Business Operations at Countable

Describe your professional background.

I discovered the intersection of tech and politics not long after beginning my career in public policy. I’ve been working in that space for nearly the past eight years now, and am currently the vice president of business operations at Countable — a civic technology company dedicated to digital community engagement and lowering barriers to political entry.

What inspired you to join our 20Fathoms community?

Its warm, mission-driven community filled with very evidently good people. The remarkable views of the bay only helped solidify my excitement.

Outside of work, what do you like to do for fun?

Lots of hiking with my partner, Sarah, and our rough collie named Tex. Plus lots of tennis, time with close friends, reruns of vintage Roger Federer matches, audiobooks on every walk, and exploring town.


Jay Meldrum

Director of KRC and Liaison to the Grand Traverse Area at Michigan Technological University

Describe your professional background.

I am the Director of the Keweenaw Research Center (KRC) at Michigan Tech and Liaison to the Grand Traverse Area of Michigan.  Michigan Tech is a leading public research university, home to more than 7,000 students from 54 countries around the world. I have a BSME degree from General Motors Institute (now Kettering University) and a MSME degree from the University of Michigan.  KRC is a soft money research institute funded by contracts with the US military and automotive industry.  Testing on KRC’s 900 all-season proving ground by these customers includes mobility over snowy and rough terrains for the military as well as traction control and stability control technologies for the automotive industry.  During my 24 years at Michigan Tech I have also been the Director of Sustainability, Faculty Advisor for the Alternative Energy Enterprise class, and Advisor to the Sustainability Demonstration House project.  While I continue as director of KRC, I’ve relocated to the Traverse City area to help further collaboration in five areas of mutual interest: K-12/pre-college engagement, higher education, industry development, economic development and community development.

What inspired you to join our 20Fathoms community?

As part of my assignment here in Traverse City, I want to connect with the local entrepreneur community.  20Fathoms provides a very professional atmosphere for the encouragement of professionals that want to be successful.  I hope to add to that cause, bringing my experience with similar activities at the Michigan Tech Enterprise SmartZone in Houghton and Hancock, Michigan.  Hopefully my 24 years of experience running a successful not-for-profit research center there and my activities running an incubator on the campus of Michigan Tech will help me to bring some new perspectives to the Grand Traverse Area.

Outside of work, what do you like to do for fun?

My passions outside of work are woodworking and fishing.  I have made most of the furniture for my home including tables, dressers, beds, bookshelves, and kitchen cabinets.  For the past 30+ years I have driven 8 hours one way for the annual Steelhead runs on the Platte and Betsie rivers — I look forward to the 30 minute drive this spring.  I am excited to live in the area where I love to spend my vacations.


Ann Ralston

President at Ralston Consulting Inc.

Ann Ralston

Describe your professional background.

I love to help business leaders and their teams identify and overcome barriers to growth, including innovation sprints! I ‘grew up’ in healthcare, working for a large hospital system in central Ohio. Since creating my own company over 20 years ago with Gary, my husband, I’ve been blessed to have worked with coaching and consulting clients in industries ranging from energy, tech, engineering, nonprofit, education, and even a few I’d never imagined, like consumer package goods and oil and gas.  While businesses have similar challenges, the context of the industry keeps our work spicy.

What inspired you to join our 20Fathoms community?

I joined 20Fathoms after hearing great things from community members… AND having an additional nudge when my cable was sliced in a construction ‘mishap.’  I’ve really enjoyed the space and am looking forward to getting to know other 20F members.

Outside of work, what do you like to do for fun?

Like many of you, my passion doesn’t stop when I step away from Ralston Consulting.  I love to be outdoors: hiking, bicycling, and gardening at a new and larger scale than ever before (I’ve gone from a suburban grade to acres of woods).  I’m passionate about the lakes and exploring the beaches with my wonderful yellow lab, Milo!


Halle Simpson

Coach/Speaker/Trainer at Halle Simpson, Inc.

Describe your professional background.

In my summer job in college I sold knives…yep, I had that job for four summers, and loved it! It gave me an invaluable understanding of entrepreneurship, discipline and how to build something from nothing. I graduated from Indiana University with a Biology degree and spent only 3 years in corporate America…enough to know that wasn’t the place for me. So, I found my way back into direct sales with Mary Kay Cosmetics and advanced to the top 2% of the company. There, I spent 15 years recruiting, training and elevating the new company leaders, earning a handful of pink Cadillacs along the way. In January of 2017 it was time to move on, so I paired my leadership development background with a coaching certificate and am currently a Professional Certified Coach (PCC) through the International Coaching Federation (ICF). I work with small business owners and leaders in a 1:1 coaching setting, covering topics like mindset, change management, leadership challenges, strategic planning and self-awareness. I also speak and conduct workshops for conferences and organizations.

What inspired you to join our 20Fathoms community?

I was involved in a co-working space in Indianapolis and found it to be a great place to meet with clients and be involved in a business community. Though I can work from home, sometimes I need to see different walls to find focus or inspiration!  And the water view from 20Fathoms sealed the deal!

Outside of work, what do you like to do for fun?

I grew up vacationing on Old Mission Peninsula, but now that I’m a resident, I’m learning all there is to explore! Currently, I’m enjoying yoga at breweries, hiking with my Boston Terrier, Marco, biking the TART trail, and day trips to all the little towns in the Grand Traverse area. I’m also a huge Indy 500 fan (attended 33 times), enjoy cooking, and can’t wait to book my next international trip.


Brittany VanderBeek

Manager of Impact at Hagerty

Describe your professional background.

As the Manager of Impact at Hagerty, I lead the corporate citizenship program, including sustainability, corporate giving, and volunteerism, and am the liaison to Traverse Connect and the Grand Traverse Regional Community Foundation Community Development Coalition. Since graduating from the University of Michigan Ross School of Business BBA and Spanish Program and the University of South Carolina Moore School of Business International MBA and French Program, I have spent my career championing business as a force for good in the community, working in sustainability consulting at BrownFlynn (now ERM), completing a cross-functional global leadership program at Michelin, and mostly recently at Hagerty. 

What inspired you to join our 20Fathoms community?

Since moving to Traverse City at the start of the pandemic, I have been drawn to 20Fathoms given the strong sense of community and opportunity for co-working and collaboration on the latest ideas advancing Traverse City. I love the energy of the entrepreneurial community and am excited to interact more often with the many visionaries and changemakers in Traverse City.

Outside of work, what do you like to do for fun?

Outside of work, I serve on the Grand Traverse Bay Watershed Center board, am a TCYP member, volunteer as an ESL tutor at Networks Northwest, and I enjoy staying active all four seasons with the Traverse City Track Club, GT Social Sports kickball, paddle boarding, biking, hiking, cross country skiing, snowshoeing and more.