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Committee

Chairman

Fred Koury

Fred Koury

President & CEO

Smart Business Network


Fred co-founded Smart Business Network in 1989 with a single publication in Cleveland, Ohio. In the years since, he has built the company into a leading multimedia and content marketing business providing print and digital marketing services to a national client base.


Host Committee

Phil Alexander

Phil Alexander

Founder & CEO

NexusAI & ConceptDrop


Phil is CEO and founder of Nexus A.I., a Chicago-based human capital management company. Prior to founding Nexus AI, he worked at Zodius Capital, Ernst & Young and BrandMuscle. He has an MBA from Case Western Reserve University and is a master’s in data science candidate at Northwestern University. In 2016, LinkedIn named him to its Next Wave List of the top 100 professionals under 35 in America.

Bob Ambrose

Bob Ambrose

Attorney at Law

Howard & Howard Attorneys PLLC


Joseph Angel

Joseph Angel

Senior VP, Head of Structured Finance

First Midwest Bancorp


Joe leads First Midwest Bank's Cash Flow and Asset-Based Lending units. Joe is responsible for building origination, underwriting and portfolio management teams across both lines of business, as well as developing new growth channels for the bank. Joe’s career includes experience in bank and non-bank environments, with roles including business development, credit and capital markets activities.

Joseph Baez

Joseph Baez

Principal, Private Equity

CLA


Joe is a private equity principal with CliftonLarsonAllen LLP (CLA) and has been with CLA since 2001. He has 18 years of assurance and consulting experience, which includes working with a wide range of closely held companies as they deal with the challenges of mergers and acquisitions.

Robert Barnett III

Robert Barnett III

Managing Partner

Wexford Capital Partners, LLC


Robert is managing partner of Wexford Capital Partners LLC, an independent sponsor platform for principal investing. He was a managing director and sector head of BMO Capital Markets’ Commercial and Industrial Group. Previously, he was head of Midwest Large Corporate Banking for Bank One Corp.

Elizabeth A. Browne

Elizabeth A. Browne

Vice President & Head of Business Development

DNS Capital, LLC


Elizabeth is a vice president on the investment team and head of business development at DNS Capital, which takes a long-term and flexible approach to investing by building relationships with business owners, management teams and entrepreneurs to align interests, evolve businesses and create lasting value. Previously, she was an associate in Goldman Sachs’ investment management division in Chicago, advising entrepreneurs, business-owning families and family offices on asset allocation, portfolio management, and direct investing strategies.

Miriam Leskovar Burkland

Miriam Leskovar Burkland

Attorney & Counselor

Howard & Howard PLLC


As a transactional attorney, Miriam Leskovar Burkland assists clients in closing transactions, from the everyday to the once-in-a-lifetime. Miriam concentrates her practice on corporate and commercial transactions, with extensive experience negotiating and interpreting a full range of contracts that govern her clients and their businesses.

Gale Bowman

Gale Bowman

Managing Director

IrishAngels


Paul Carlisle

Paul Carlisle

Executive Vice President and Market Head

Wintrust


Paul is executive vice president and market head of Wintrust Commercial Banking, where he is responsible for leading and coordinating middle-market banking across all of the Wintrust banks. He has spent his entire career serving middle-market organizations in the Greater Chicago area. Before joining Wintrust in 2010, he spent more than 25 years with JPMorgan Chase and its predecessor banks, American National and Bank One.

Harry Cendrowski

Harry Cendrowski

Managing Director

Cendrowski Corporate Advisors


Harry is a founding member of Cendrowski Corporate Advisors and a licensed CPA in Michigan, Illinois and Florida. He is a veteran of the private equity and venture capital industries as an investor, founder and advisor to several funds. He has served as an expert witness in numerous disputes, as court-appointed receiver for multimillion dollar estates and as the accountant to the trustee in high-profile bankruptcy cases.

Brendan Deely

Brendan Deely

CEO

Banner Solutions


Brendan is CEO at Banner Solutions, a PE-owned portfolio business. He is a C-suite executive with 30-plus years of diversified leadership experience within global corporations, publicly traded companies and private equity owned mid-cap specialty distribution and manufacturing businesses, serving industrial, commercial and consumer markets. He has a reputation for value creation as a CEO, corporate director and member of a variety of board/executive committees.

Jenny Deloy

Jenny Deloy

Office Managing Partner

Marcum LLP


Jenny is office managing partner in Chicago at Marcum LLP and partner-in-charge of Assurance Services and the SEC Practice group for the Midwest region. She also represents the Midwest region on the firm’s national Diversity Program board.

She has more than 20 years of experience providing auditing and consulting services for public and private clients in a variety of industries. Her experience includes writing business plans to assist start-up companies in obtaining funding, as well as buy- and sell-side due diligence engagements.

Ty Field

Ty Field

Executive Chairman

TPC Training


Ty, executive chairman of TPC Training and CEO1ST partner, is the former CEO of Jones & Bartlett Learning, a division of Ascend Learning and a leading provider of educational solutions. Previously, he was CFO of Ascend Learning, where he implemented a roll-up strategy that resulted in 20 acquisitions.

Jeffrey Hechtman

Jeffrey Hechtman

Managing Partner

Horwood Marcus & Beck


Mark Heckler

Mark Heckler

Executive VP, Commercial Banking

Fifth Third Bank


Brian P. Kerwin

Brian P. Kerwin

Chairman, Corporate Practice

Duane Morris LLP


A trusted deal lawyer for 30 years, Brian has helped numerous business owners in the sale of their companies in a variety of industries. He is chairman of Duane Morris’ 175-lawyer Corporate Practice Group and a member of the 800-lawyer firm’s Executive Committee. He was selected for twelve consecutive years by Chambers USA as a top lawyer in Corporate/M&A.

Marc Kiven

Marc Kiven

Founder

Signal


Stephanie Kline

Stephanie Kline

Managing Director, Commercial Banking

BMO Harris


Stephanie is a managing director in BMO Harris Bank’s middle-market banking group in Chicago, bringing more than 20 years’ experience and management in corporate banking. She leads a local team of commercial banking experts with focus on building relationships with middle-market companies by providing financial solutions to increase enterprise value, fund business growth, manage cash flow and optimize working capital.

Bob Knott

Bob Knott

President

SWC Technology Partners


Lee Koury

Lee Koury

Managing Partner

Smart Business


Lee is managing partner of Smart Business Network Inc., a national events, media and marketing company founded in 1989, primarily responsible for expanding the company’s Aspire deal-making conference throughout the U.S. He plays a key role in establishing corporate policies and developing long-term strategy and growth plans. Previously, he founded and chaired the Growth Group at national law firm Arter & Hadden LLP (now Tucker, Ellis & West), which focused on working with middle-market and high-growth technology companies.

Kristi Kunz

Kristi Kunz

Private Wealth Advisor

Goldman Sachs


Len Lillard

Len Lillard

Managing Director

Glaucon Capital Partners, L.L.C.


Len brings more than 30 years of experience working in finance and capital markets, including co-founding a private equity firm focused on investments in lower middle-market companies. He has originated and invested more than $1 billion of privately held senior subordinated debt and equity securities, managed teams of up to 30 employees and performed all aspects of the investment process, including sourcing, negotiating, structuring and financing transactions working for Merit Capital Partners, Banc One Capital Partners and The Prudential Capital Group.

Angela McCoy

Angela McCoy

Vice President

PSP Capital


Jim McNair

Jim McNair

Managing Director

Capital Group Chicago


Renee Metcalf

Renee Metcalf

Market Executive of Illinois Middle Market Global Commercial Banking

Bank of America Merrill Lynch


Steve Miles

Steve Miles

Partner

Livingstone Partners


Dan Needham

Dan Needham

Investment Development

Wynnchurch Capital


Maura O'Hara

Maura O'Hara

Executive Director

Illinois Venture Capital Association


Meghan Otis

Meghan Otis

Co-Founder & Partner

Lightspring Capital Partners


Linda Peddle

Linda Peddle

Director

RSM US LLP


Linda is director of Business Development of RSM US LLP in Chicago. With more than 25 years of experience servicing middle-market companies across manufacturing, distribution and business and professional service industries, she specializes in helping organizations identify, evaluate and address their business opportunities and challenges. By connecting companies with RSM resources, she successfully helps organizations to accelerate growth and profitability. She is responsible for sourcing audit, tax and consulting engagements including M&A diligence, QOE, cyber security, tax consulting, ERP selections and specialty tools.

Jeff Piper

Jeff Piper

Managing Director

Svoboda Capital Partners LLC


Jeff joined Svoboda in 2004 and is responsible for evaluating potential investments, leading due diligence, executing transactions, fundraising and managing portfolio companies.  Jeff currently serves on the Boards of Cigar Accessories Holdings, Bully Pulpit Interactive and Sonoma Creamery, and was previously involved with Infinite Packaging Group, SWC Technology Partners, OPT Holdings (Optronics/Primos), The Glover Park Group, Nth Degree, and Coffee Bean International.  Previously, Jeff was an associate at Robert W. Baird & Co.

Saul Rudo

Saul Rudo

National Head, Tax Planning

Katten Muchin Rosenman LLP


Saul is the national head of Katten's Transactional Tax Planning practice and a member of the firm's board of directors and Executive Committee. He concentrates his practice in the area of tax and corporate planning for private equity, venture capital, mergers and acquisitions, and international transactions, and in investment and management compensation arrangements.

Ken Serwinski

Ken Serwinski

Chairman

Prairie Capital Advisors


Kenneth co-founded Prairie Capital Advisors with Robert Gross in 1996 after the industry veterans recognized a universally underserved need for objective financial advisory consultation for closely held businesses. Today, he continues to grow Prairie Capital Advisors’ reputation as the most widely respected firm of its kind, designing and implementing customized ownership transition strategies including private sales, management buyouts and Employee Stock Ownership Plans for businesses nationwide. 

Dan E. Silberberg

Dan E. Silberberg

CEO / Founder

DIGINTEL Inc


Dan has more than 45 years of experience in consumer products. He has particular expertise in strategy, innovative business models and exponential top-line growth. He has a strong understanding of strategy, branding, product positioning, finance planning and marketing, driving enterprises to the next level. He is launching a cognitive technology platform of strategic assets, DIGINTEL Inc., a Software as a Service business model targeting health care, financial services, retail and CPG.

Darren Snyder

Darren Snyder

Partner

Prairie Capital


Kathleen Steele

Kathleen Steele

Managing Director - Investments

Equity Group Investments


Nicholas Stone

Nicholas Stone

Managing Director

Cyprium Partners


Nick is a managing director with Cyprium Partners, a private equity fund with offices in New York, Cleveland and Chicago.  Since its founding in 1998, Cyprium has completed 75 non-controlling investments alongside founders, entrepreneurs and management teams.  Previously, he worked for Northlight Capital.

Mark Thomann

Mark Thomann

Managing Director

Spiral Sun Ventures


Mark is an entrepreneur dedicated to helping early stage companies and their management teams scale their businesses. The lack of seed capital available to early stage companies focused on better-for-you products inspired him to co-launch Spiral Sun Ventures. He also serves as CEO of Dormitus Brands, which acquires, redevelops and monetizes iconic dormant brands.

Mark A. Thomson, CPA

Mark A. Thomson, CPA

Managing Director

ORBA


Mark provides financial and business advisory services for a variety of industries, including manufacturers, distributors and service organizations. He provides guidance on audits, reviews and compilations, strategic management, income tax planning, litigation support and business advisory issues. He also has extensive experience with buy/sell situations and has helped clients plan for, and complete, their sales transactions.

Roger Veome

Roger Veome

Managing Director, Investments; Regional Executive

Alex Brown A Division of Raymond James


Roger manages the Chicago office of Alex. Brown and has over 20 years of experience working with families of significant wealth. As a Wealth Management Specialist, he focuses on the needs specific to business owners going through a liquidity event.  Strengths include presale planning, assembling your professional team, asset protection, investment management, family office services, philanthropy and building your legacy.  

Bill Watkins

Bill Watkins

Managing Director, Business Development

PNC


Bill has more than 27 years of investment banking and corporate finance experience. He has completed a range of financial advisory assignments, including mergers and acquisitions, leveraged buyouts and capital raising on behalf of private equity firms and public and private company clients. Previously, he was a managing director with National City Capital Markets Investment Banking Group, where he provided investment banking services within the Industrial group.

Michael Wilson

Michael Wilson

Partner

Locke Lord LLP


Michael represents private equity funds (including SBIC funds), banks, companies and entrepreneurs in M&A, debt finance and venture capital transactions in a wide variety of industries. He has substantial experience with technology, health care, energy, and food and beverage transactions. He also serves as an officer on the Executives’ Club of Chicago Leadership Circle Advisory Board.

Warren Young

Warren Young

Chairman

Acme Industries


Warren is owner and chairman of ACME Industries Inc., a $75 million contract precision machining company selling critical components to major OEMs. He is also chairman of Automation Nth LLC, a national supplier of system integration and automation controls engineering services.  He has over 40 years of experience in Fortune500 and private companies that manufactured and sold precision industrial equipment.

Steve Zaruba

Steve Zaruba

CFO & Executive Vice President

ACH Food Companies, Inc.


Steve is CFO and executive vice president of ACH Food Cos. Inc. He brings 35-plus years of experience in the foods industry with a variety of large and mid-sized businesses, publicly listed, PE and privately owned. His background includes 23 years with Sara Lee in corporate and operating CFO roles at Compact Industries and Enesco.

Betsy Ziegler

Betsy Ziegler

CEO

1871


Elizabeth “Betsy” Ziegler is the first female CEO of 1871, now the No. 1 ranked university-affiliated tech incubator in the world.  Previously, she was chief innovation officer at the Kellogg School of Management, Northwestern University, responsible for portfolio innovation and integration of technology into the Kellogg educational experience. From 2011 to 2015, she served as associate dean of degree programs and dean of students. Ziegler holds an MBA from Harvard Business School.