Meet The Team

Pete O’Connell

Director of Talent Acquisition

As Director of Talent Acquisition, I lead and mentor our Direct Hire Team to support our Client’s growth with Direct Hire Candidates.   

I am passionate about supporting our Manufacturing Clients with Candidates that are a perfect match for their position requirements and culture.  I bring 30 plus years of Operations Management combined with 7 years of experience in Direct Hire Recruiting.  

My message to my Direct Hire Staff:  Rule #1:  “Respect your Client’s time.”  Present only qualified Candidates and follow up immediately with professional communication.

With my Operations experience, I bring a Metrics Driven, direct style of communications.  I can relate and communicate with Candidates as well as CEOs.  The workforce of today expects more than just a basic salary and benefits.  The Candidate of today wants to be appreciated and recognized for their experience and qualifications.  Matching the right Candidate with the Client’s culture is essential for our success.

I do enjoy, landscaping and gardening and watching people and beautiful things grow.

Hometown: Battle Creek, Michigan

Education: Western Michigan University

Favorite Quote: 

“Pete, you are an average student, and you are kind of clumsy… you should consider a career in management.” – Pete’s Mother

Fun Facts:

  • Favorite movie:  Casablanca
  • Favorite vacation spot:  Traverse City, Mi.
  • Favorite Holiday:  Valentine’s Day
  • Favorite President:  US Grant

Farron Lee-El

Talent Acquisition Specialist

My name is Farron Lee-El and I have been with Advance Employment for over 15 years.  I currently reside in Kalamazoo, where I have lived most of my life.  I have 3 young kiddos who keep me very busy outside of my work life as they are all into athletics and orchestra.  I have held numerous positions within Advance and am currently a member of Advance Employments Direct Hire Talent Acquisition team along with Pete O’Connell and Kayla Oaks.  I have several years identifying and engaging with top talent in the automotive, manufacturing, financial, construction, and real estate industries.  We are a service-driven organization, and we look forward to partnering with you to meet all of your direct hire staffing needs.

Hometown: Kalamazoo, Michigan

Education: Kalamazoo Valley Community College

Favorite Quote: 

“Life isn’t about finding yourself. Life is about creating yourself.” – George Bernard Shaw

Fun Facts:

  • My family are big Michigan State fans. Go Green!
  • I’m a total foodie. I love to try new and exotic foods; Ethiopian is one of my favorites!
  • My favorite holiday is a toss up between Christmas and Halloween, but I love all holidays/activities happending from September through December.
  • I was an avid volleyball player in high school. I like to joke with my kids and husband that I’m still the best athlete in the family.

Kayla Oaks

Talent Acquisition Specialist

I have been a part of Advance Employment for around 8 years. I started as a recruiter and worked my way to the position that I am at now as a Talent Specialist with Direct Hire so I know many different aspects of what Advance Employment does for our candidates and clients. I love being able to help candidates that are looking for jobs and finding them the correct placement so they will be successful. I love being able to work with multiple different clients that are looking for the right candidates that will be successful with their company as well! Being a part of Advance Employment has been the BEST job I have had and I absolutely love what I do on a daily basis!

When I am not in the office, I enjoy spending time with my husband and our 3 children. We like to go traveling, checking out new places, and just spending time together! I also enjoy reading books and crocheting blankets and hats. I donate hats once a year to our local hospital OB unit.

When not at the office, I enjoy traveling to new places, good food, a good book, and good company!

Hometown: Quincy, Illinois

Education: University of Phoenix, BS Criminal Justice

Favorite Quote: 

“Nothing is impossible, the word itself says I’m possible.” – Audrey Hepburn

Fun Facts:

  • Favorite sports team is University of Michigan (GO BLUE!)
  • My nickname is ‘Kay’ or ‘K’
  • Favorite holiday is Christmas (all the family time)
  • My husband and I have been together since I was 15!

Shelley Mitchell

President of Staffing


As the President of Advance Employment Services, I assist in leading our staffing team and act as a liaison between our external customers and our internal staff.  I began my career with Advance Employment in 1992 as a front desk coordinator and have worked my way to holding the president’s position by taking on any projects or tasks that have come my way! The variation of my roles during my 27+ years has allowed me to become a skillful coach and trainer to Advance Employment’s professional staff, who are the real secret sauce that drives our success and provides me the wonderful opportunity to be a benefit in both operations and customer service for the staffing industry.

I am passionate about meeting our clients’ expectations and I am committed to training our team on client satisfaction. I work hard to ensure every member of our team fully understands the unique needs of each of our clients. In my time with Advance Employment I have helped grow our Staffing division to new regions, markets, and states.

In my free time, I enjoy spending time with my husband, children, and especially my grandchildren. I am also very active in and working with local rescue organizations to assist in the rescue and placement of abused or abandoned animals.

Hometown: Mesick, Michigan

Education: Western Michigan University

Favorite Quote:

“Love all, trust a few, do wrong to no one.” – William Shakespeare

Fun Facts:

  • Favorite movie is Steel Magnolias
  • Favorite band is Rascal Flatts
  • I can’t live without my husband, my grandchildren and my dogs
  • Favorite vacation destination is any lake that my boat can float on!

Blaine Schultz

Chief Operations Officer

As the C.O.O. of Advance Employment and one of the founding shareholders, I strive to lead by serving.  I am the chief cheerleader for our business development, administrative, finance, and operations teams (Air game/Ground game) responsible for collaborative day-to-day leadership, strategic planning, and team development.

I have been in the staffing industry for over 28 years, starting with the Advance Employment in 1991. In my twenty-two years at Advance, I was an owner and served in a variety of leadership roles including Controller, CFO, Executive Vice President, and President. In 2014, I joined AccessPoint, retaining oversight and leadership of the Staffing division as AccessPoint and acquired the ongoing Advance operations in Staffing, Outsourced HR and Charter School services.

In spring of 2019, AccessPoint sold the staffing division back to Advance Team, which re-established Advance as an independent entity once more.

Prior to my work in the staffing sector, I started my career working in accounting, first at Lindell Drop Forge in 1988, then as Controller of the Michigan Republican State Committee in 1990.

When not at the office, I enjoy traveling to new places, good food, a good book, and good company!

Hometown: Midland, Michigan

Education: Michigan State University, BS Accounting

Favorite Quote: 

“If serving is beneath you, leadership is beyond you.”

Fun Facts:

  • Favorite sports team is the Michigan State Spartans Basketball
  • Nicknames ‘Schultzie’  ‘El-Guapo’
  • Favorite holiday is Christmas (I still love getting presents)
  • Favorite childhood memory was waking up at midnight outside of Atlanta, GA on family vacation. We would refuel at a truck stop and the smell of diesel and the sight of moss in the trees always takes me back. Atlanta meant we were less than a day from Ft. Lauderdale, FL.