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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

Greg Achten

Greg Achten

Managing Director

UBS


Gregory is managing director and market head for the UBS Wealth Management Chicago Market that includes offices in Downtown Chicago, Northbrook, Oakbrook, Barrington and Naperville, and Madison and Milwaukee Wisconsin.

Previously he spent 28 years at Merrill Lynch, where he began as an operations manager and held numerous roles to include 14 years as a financial adviser, resident director, regional sales manager in Dallas, complex director in Tulsa and managing director in Cincinnati and Dayton, Ohio, Indiana and Boston.

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.

Andrew Busser

Andrew Busser

Managing Director

Pitcairn Trust Co.


John Caltagirone

John Caltagirone

Founding Director

Loyola Business Leadership Hub


Prior to joining Loyola, Mr. Caltagirone was the Vice President of Global Supply Chain Strategy for The Revere Group. He was previously Senior Vice President, Chief Logistics and Operations Officer for Peapod, Inc., where he was responsible for distribution services, inventory management, purchasing, transportation management, logistics engineering, and customer service. John has also held senior management positions with the following companies: Rand McNally, RR Donnelley & Sons and Ryder Integrated Logistics.

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.

Evan Gallinson

Evan Gallinson

Managing Director

Merit Capital Partners


Evan, Managing Director, joined Merit in 2005. Evan currently serves on the Board of Directors of Choice Slocum Holdings, LLC, Elgen Manufacturing Company, Glunt Industries Inc., RSA Engineered Products and TGR Industrial Services. Evan received an M.B.A. from Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management in 2002 with a concentration in finance. In 1997, he received a B.B.A. from the University of Michigan with a concentration in finance and accounting.

Scott Gilbertson

Scott Gilbertson

Principal

Pfingsten Partners


Mark Heckler

Mark Heckler

Executive VP, Commercial Banking

Fifth Third Bank


Robert Johnson

Robert Johnson

Managing Partner

The Solomon Group LLC


Robert Johnson is the Managing Partner of the Solomon Group, a social enterprise management consulting company and the co-founder of The Collective, a social impact business incubator that raises capital for social enterprises.

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.

Lee M. Koury

Lee M. Koury

Managing Partner

Smart Business


Lee is managing partner of Smart Business, 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.

Ryan Kraus

Ryan Kraus

Managing Director

Aon


Kristi Kunz

Kristi Kunz

Investment Management

Goldman, Sachs & Co. LLC


Kristi is a private wealth advisor in the Investment Management Division of Goldman Sachs & Co. She previously worked on mergers and acquisitions in the investment banking division of Mesirow Financial, providing valuation analyses and advisory services for middle-market business owners looking to sell their companies. She is a member of the firm’s Disability Interest Forum, which supports local community organizations and raises awareness across the firm.

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.

Michelle Moore

Michelle Moore

Partner

Reed Smith


Maura O'Hara

Maura O'Hara

Executive Director

Illinois Venture Capital Association


Diane Pearse

Diane Pearse

CEO

Hickory Farms, LLC


Diane is CEO and president of Hickory Farms LLC, a leading multichannel retailer of food gifts and specialty foods. She is leading a transformation of the company to reinvent the brand and become the best retailer in the food gifting space. Previously, she was COO and executive vice president of finance for Garrett Brands LLC, a privately held retailer of gourmet, handcrafted popcorn with over 40 locations globally.

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.

Russell Romanelli

Russell Romanelli

Managing Partner

BKD


John Rowady

John Rowady

CEO

rEvolution


John is the Founder & President of rEvolution, a leading independent, fully integrated global sports marketing and media agency headquartered in Chicago, Ill. Rowady is a Hoosier B-School Alum whose advanced sports industry experience includes sales and leadership roles working with high-profile governing sports bodies and properties, such as NCAA, F1, FIFA World Cup, the Olympics and many more.

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. 

Tim Simonds

Tim Simonds

CEO

Merrick Pet Care


Tim is CEO of Merrick Pet Care Inc. He joined Merrick in 2016 with a proven track record of growing and leading organizations to improved performance. He served as vice president of marketing and president before assuming his current role in October 2018. A skilled general manager and innovative marketer, he is adept at brand strategy, customer experience and new product development.

Stuart Sorkin

Stuart Sorkin

Former Owner, President & CEO

Affy Tapple


Stuart is past president and CEO of Affy Tapple LLC. He transformed the business into the largest wholesale caramel apple company in the U.S. and one of the largest food vendors in the Direct Response Television segment, and led the creation of an e-commerce storefront. He positioned the company for its sale in 2018.

Teri Tadros

Teri Tadros

Director of Development

Frontenac


Teri is Director of Development at Frontenac, a Chicago-based private equity firm, and is responsible for coordinating the firm’s professional outreach including the sourcing of transactions and CEO1ST executives.  Frontenac invests in lower middle market companies in the consumer, industrial, and services industries.

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.  

Dan Weinfurter

Dan Weinfurter

Director

Mentor Group Ltd.


Dan is a Director at Mentor Group UK. Mentor is a London-based global technology-enabled services firm that delivers solutions focused on improving sales productivity, leadership capability and revenue growth. Prior to Mentor Group, Dan was the Founder of GrowthPlay, an integrated sales effectiveness services business that grew rapidly to be ranked #22 on the 2017 Inc. 500 list of the fastest growing private companies. In Dan’s 25 years as a serial entrepreneur, he has built three prior private equity-backed companies from start-up to considerable scale, including Parson Group, his first startup that landed #1 on the coveted Inc. 500 list. He started his career at General Electric, hired into their sales training program upon graduation from college, spending 8 years at GE in 4 different US cities. He is the author of Second Stage Entrepreneurship, Ten Proven Strategies to Drive Aggressive Growth (Macmillan/Palgrave, 2013). He has a BS and MBA from Marquette University, and from 2015-2017, Dan was an Adjunct Professor of Entrepreneurship and Innovation at Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management.

Visit: www.mentorgroup.co.uk and www.danweinfurter.com

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.

Conference Location

320 N Dearborn St.
Chicago, IL 60654
Tel: 312.726.7500