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Session 1

Dealmakers Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony

Congratulations to the 2022 Dealmakers Hall Of Fame Honorees!


Dennis Barsema
Board Member
Halo Investing

Dennis Barsema’s over three decades of executive experience in telecommunications, software and optical networking reached a peak from 1996 to 2007, years in which he built and cultivated a successful career as chief executive officer for several Silicon Valley technology companies, including Redback Networks that went public in 1999, and also completed a multi-billion dollar acquisition the following year.

Rebecca Howard
Founder & CEO
PayLink Direct;

Rebecca Howard is Founder and CEO of PayLink Direct and, affiliated businesses and leaders in financing, payment services and online vehicle protection plans, headquartered in Chicago, IL and serving the US and Canada. Rebecca brings with her 22 years of experience and leadership in the vehicle protection plan industry.

In 2006, Rebecca founded PayLink Direct, and under her leadership, the company has secured the largest market share in financing and payment services. PayLink Direct has a 16-year track record of profitability and has processed more than four million service contracts – over $13 billion of originated receivables – since the company’s inception.

In 2019, Rebecca launched, a digital vehicle protection plan platform built to give consumers peace of mind. lets consumers buy direct, with no pressure, the way they want to buy, giving them an assortment of coverage and deductible options that are convenient and fit their budget.

Prior to founding PayLink Direct and, Rebecca led the growth and development of the vehicle service contract financing business for Mepco Insurance Premium Financing. She oversaw the company’s sales, marketing and operations functions.

Rebecca holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Commerce and Business Administration from the University of Michigan’s School of Business and resides in suburban Chicago with her husband and two children.

Biju Kulathakal
Co-founder & CEO
Halo Investing

Biju Kulathakal is the founder of Halo Investing, Inc. which provides investment protection. Halo offers the first independent multi-issuer technology platform for Structured Notes, connecting investment advisors and their clients to the world’s largest banks.

Biju was also one of the early co-founders of Redbox. In addition, he is a founder and the past Chairman and CEO of Trading Block Holdings, an online brokerage firm specializing in option traders. Biju received a BS in Aerospace Engineering from Illinois Institute of Technology.

Jai Shekhawat
Founder & former CEO
SAP Fieldglass

Jai Shekhawat is the Founder and former CEO of Fieldglass, the world’s largest services procurement platform. The company was acquired by SAP in 2014 and now has customers in 200 countries. Jai serves on the boards of Four Kites, SomruS and HealthEngine. He Chairs the Technology Roundtable for Madison Dearborn Partners and is an active angel investor and advisor to startups. He serves on the Executive Committee of the Field Museum Board of Trustees and is a Trustee of the Harris Theater for Music and Dance.

Mary Tolan
Founder & Managing Partner
Chicago Pacific Founders

Mary Tolan is Founder and Managing Partner of Chicago Pacific Founders a healthcare sector focused private equity firm. She has led CPF to a strategic focus and advantage in building value-based provider and Medicare Advantage companies and in applying artificial intelligence technologies to value based care models. CPF has more of these platform companies than any other single private equity group.

Prior to CPF, Mary was the Founder, Chairman and CEO of a healthcare payments company serving health systems and physician groups (R1 RCM, Nasdaq listed). She took the company from an inception to apublicly traded company.

Dave Tolmie
Senior Partner
The Edgewater Fund

Dave Tolmie is a Senior Partner with The Edgewater Funds, a private equity firm based in Chicago, IL. Dave joined Edgewater in 2001 and has helped grow the firm into a prominent private equity firm with $3 billion in committed capital.

Prior to Edgewater, Dave was CEO of Yesmail, Inc., a marketing services provider, which he led through a successful IPO and subsequent sale. In addition to serving on the boards of numerous Edgewater portfolio companies, he is on the board of the Field Museum of Natural History, the Chicago Entrepreneurial Center, and the Illinois Venture Capital Association. Dave is also the Chairman of the Faraja Foundation Fund which supports the Faraja Primary School for children with physical disabilities in Tanzania, Africa.

Dave and his wife Tracy live in Lake Forest, IL and are active members of First Presbyterian Church. They have three children who share the family’s commitment to mission. Dave is a graduate of the University of Virginia and received an MBA from the Harvard Business School.

Gary Walter
Infutor Data Solutions

Gary Walter has extensive background in general management, operations, strategic planning, product development, financial management, sales and market execution. He has been successful in growing businesses, both organically and via M&A, driving high profitable performance in complex situations. Most recently Gary Walter served as the visionary and strategist behind the transformation of a small consumer identity data company into a market digital identity management platform. Walter secured a private equity investment/family buyout, optimized operations and go to market functions, executed several bolt on acquisitions, and finalized the investment by securing a strategic buyer for $250M five years after the investment from Norwest Venture Partners.


Thaddeus Wong
Co-Founder & Co-CEO

Thad Wong is the co-founder and co-CEO of @properties, the nation's 8th largest brokerage firm by sales volume (REALTrends 500). @properties and its affiliated companies have over 3,500 agents in 13 states, as well as annual closed sales volume of over $16 billion.A highly creative and energetic entrepreneur, Wong has been a driving force behind the development and deployment of pl@tform™, @properties' proprietary suite of end-to-end real estate technology applications. He also directs the design and implementation of @properties' award-winning marketing programs, agent training and coaching initiatives, and recruitment activities. Additionally, Wong has provided venture funding for a number of real estate tech startups, including Konverse,, and m@ilcontrol.

Suzanne Yoon
Founder & Managing Partner
Kinzie Capital Management

Suzanne Yoon is the Founder and Managing Partner of Kinzie Capital Partners, a Chicago-based private equity firm. With 25 years of experience investing in and advising middle market companies, Yoon is a respected leader in the business and civic communities. She serves on several boards including as Board Chair of the National Philanthropic Trust, a $25B donor advised fund.

Conference Location

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