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Session 7

Entrepreneurs Roundtable

Join four of this year’s Dealmakers Award honorees as we pull back the curtain on three dynamic organizations in different industries to explore recent M&A transactions, growth strategies, and the all-important issues that keep these leaders up at night.


Dustin S. Klein
Chief Content Officer
Smart Business

Dustin is an award-winning business journalist, bestselling author, and the chief content officer of Smart Business. Over the past 30 years, he has interviewed thousands of business and civic leaders, and helped more than 50 CEOs and entrepreneurs transform their ideas into books. A trained investigative politics reporter and former digital media entrepreneur, Dustin joined Smart Business in 1997 after serving as an editor at several daily newspapers.


Jason Barsema
Co-Founder & President
Halo Investing

Jason Barsema is the Co-Founder and President of Halo Investing, a FinTech start-up that believes in impact before profit. Halo is the first independent, multi-issuer platform for defined outcome investing. Jason has been involved with investing and global economics for years, including a successful 7-year employment at Credit Suisse.

He is extremely passionate about making an impact on the world and leaving it a better place.

Kathryn Finney
Founder, CEO & Managing Partner
Genius Guild

Kathryn Finney is the founder and managing general partner of Genius Guild, a venture fund that invests  in scalable companies led by diverse founders. She is also the founder of The Doonie Fund, the founder and first CEO of digitalundivided—mastermind of the widely acclaimed #ProjectDiane research, and a Yale-trained epidemiologist. Selling her lifestyle company, The Budget Fashionista, made Kathryn one of the first Black women to have a successful startup exit.Kathryn Finney’s bestselling new book, “Build The Damn Thing: How to Start a Successful Business if You’re Not a Rich White Guy,” hit the Wall Street Journal bestsellers top 10 list in its first week published. She is the first Black woman business author at Portfolio/Penguin books.

Luke Haverhals
Founder & CEO
Natural Fiber Welding

Luke Haverhals, Ph.D., is the CEO and Founder of NFW (Natural Fiber Welding). Luke’s professional mission is to collaborate with and empower material scientists, manufacturing workers and engineers, investors, change makers, creators, and brands around the world to create a truly circular and sustainable material economy from the ground up.

Luke earned a Ph.D. in Chemistry at the University of Iowa before going on to explore all-natural alternatives to petroleum-derived plastics as an Assistant Research Professor at the US Naval Academy. His vision to develop bio-neutral, high-performance materials from renewable natural nutrient inputs has become the foundation for NFW’s ecosystem of patented, paradigm-shifting material technologies.

In an industry awash with incremental solutions, Luke is leading NFW to drive a moonshot systems-level shift away from petroleum-derived products and toxic chemistries. Luke is an Unreasonable Group Fellow, Forbes Council Member, and World Economic Forum Technology Pioneer.


Jennifer Tescher
President & CEO
Financial Health Network


Jennifer Tescher founded the Financial Health Network in 2004, pioneering the movement to improve financial health for all. Today, she continues to lead the organization as its President and CEO, equipping organizations across industries to function as a force for good and build a future where all people can thrive financially.  

As an entrepreneur, innovator, and powerful voice for change, Jennifer has spent the last two decades working to raise the profile of financial health. Her efforts have united a robust community of changemakers impacting the financial lives of millions. Under her leadership, the Financial Health Network has cultivated a network of 160+ influential Member organizations, invested in 40+ promising finhealth solutions through its Financial Solutions Lab, and delivered deep consumer insights and tools that are transforming policy and business practices.

Jennifer drives the national discussion on financial health through frequent media and speaking engagements, including as the host of EMERGE Everywhere podcast and as a columnist for Forbes. Prior to founding the Financial Health Network, she gained valuable experience breaking down silos, engaging with evidence, and shifting perspectives as a journalist for the Charlotte Observer and within the financial sector at Shorebank.

Conference Location

65 W. Jackson Blvd.
Chicago, IL 60604
Tel: (312)427-7800