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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

Mark Achler

Mark Achler

Managing Director

MATH Venture Partners


An early employee of Apple and Head of Innovation at Redbox, Mark Achler has been creating and investing in tech startups since 1986. Today, he is a founding partner of MATH Venture Partners, a technology venture capital fund, and an adjunct professor at the Northwestern Kellogg School of Management.

Joe Angel

Joe Angel

Director, Corporate Banking

First Midwest Bank


Robert Berdanier

Robert Berdanier

Managing Director, Business Restructuring Services

BDO


Robert is a Managing Director in BDO's Business Restructuring & Turnaround Services practice. His focus is on middle-market companies, both distressed and healthy, seeking financial financial and operational improvement through interim financial leadership and re-organization. Robert is a seasoned restructuring professional, with significant experience in the manufacturing, distributing, hotels/ hospitality and entertainment industries.

Will Bloom

Will Bloom

Managing Director

Chartwell Financial Advisors


Will leads Chartwell’s Chicago office. He is an investment banker for the firm’s corporate finance practice and heads the firm’s capital markets team. Will has worked on both mergers and acquisitions as well as capital markets transactions within a variety of industries while executing high-profile ESOP buyouts, terminations, and restructurings.

Prior to Chartwell, Will was an investment banker with Bank of America Merrill Lynch’s Transaction Development Group, where he focused on executing sell-side, buy-side, and ESOP transactions for middle-market clients between $200 million and $2 billion in enterprise value.

Terry Bressler

Terry Bressler

Managing Director

Prairie Capital Advisors


Terry joined Prairie Capital Advisors in 2012 and is a shareholder in the firm. He focuses on mergers and acquisitions (M&A) and capital advisory engagements. In this role, Terry assists middle-market business owners in understanding and assessing their strategic business alternatives and then developing and executing transaction solutions to meet the owner’s objectives. He works with family, management-owned and private equity-owned businesses and helps these clients address their growth and ownership transition issues, including executing recapitalizations, M&A, company sales and ESOPs.

Terry frequently speaks on and writes about M&A and financing topics. He also authors Prairie’s quarterly M&A and financing topics newsletter, the Prairie Middle Market Perspective. Terry was announced as a 2017 Thought Leader of the Year Finalist by the Alliance of Merger & Acquisition Advisors (AM&AA).

Jeff Burgess

Jeff Burgess

CEO

BCD Technology Holdings, LLC


After 20 years selling in the IT server space, I opened Burgess Computer Decisions (BCD) in November 1999 as an IT reseller building high-availability servers for large corporations and morphed into the video surveillance infrastructure space in 2008. BCD now has over 170,000 systems recording video in 91 countries - from multinational Armed Forces to Zoos and everywhere in between.

Steve Carleton

Steve Carleton

Managing Director

Aon


Steve’s role is Resident Sales Director for Aon's Chicago office, overseeing growth responsibilities across Commercial Risk, Health, Human Capital and Retirement Solutions. In this role, Steve works closely with all distribution channels to execute on Aon’s growth agenda and deliver valuable results to clients and prospects. Steve is also a core part of the Chicago Leadership Team, working closely to support all office, colleague and client goals and overall P&L management. This role aligns well with his passion in helping people and clients succeed with their goals. Steve spends time actively in the market with clients and colleagues, supporting the relationships with clients to ensure Aon is delivering on all partnership engagements and bringing the best of Aon.

Paul Carlisle

Paul Carlisle

Executive Vice President & 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.

Tracy Britt Cool

Tracy Britt Cool

Co-Founder

Kanbrick


Tracy Britt Cool is Co-Founder of Kanbrick, a long-term investment partnership focused on acquiring and building great companies.

Tracy worked at Berkshire Hathaway from 2009-2020. She spent five years at Berkshire headquarters in Omaha as the Financial Assistant to the Chairman, and five years as Chief Executive Officer of Pampered Chef, a Berkshire Hathaway subsidiary based in Chicago.

Additionally, she served on the boards of several Berkshire Hathaway companies including Kraft Heinz, Benjamin Moore, Oriental Trading Company, Larson Juhl, and Johns Manville. Tracy continues to serve on the board of EverArc Holdings.

Joe Dwyer

Joe Dwyer

Co-Founder & Partner

Manifold Group


 

 

Michael R. Gatewood

Michael R. Gatewood

Chicago WM & Midwest PWM Market Head

UBS


Michael is responsible for leading Chicago Wealth Management and Midwest Private Management as the Market Head. In this capacity, he brings together the firm's best in class resources, talent and capabilities to create and sustain success for our clients in the Americas. Combining the client focus of a boutique firm with the footprint, strength and expertise of the world's only truly global wealth manager, UBS is committed to being the office of choice for high net worth and ultra-high net worth clients and the financial advisors who serve them.

With more than 21 years in the wealth management business, Michael brings a wide breadth and depth of experience having served in a multitude of capacities including Complex Director, Branch Manager, Regional Sales Manager and member of the Equity Advisory Group.

Michael has served as the co-head of the firm's Leadership Advisory Council and leads the Veteran Network in the Midwest. Michael has also been recognized by On Wall Street as one of the top 10 Branch Managers.

Sam Hathi

Sam Hathi

Managing Partner

General Management Group


Sam Hathi is a Managing Partner at General Management Group, a boutique private equity firm specializing in distressed asset investment and revitalization in up-and-coming markets. With more than 10 years of experience in distressed acquisitions and operational restructuring, he has successfully completed dozens of transactions across a multitude of industries.

Luke Haverhals

Luke Haverhals

Founder & CEO

Natural Fiber Welding


 

 

Kristine Holtz

Kristine Holtz

CEO

Cornerstone Foodservice Group


Bryce Jenney

Bryce Jenney

Business Performance Advisor

Insperity


Bryce is a Business Performance Advisor at Insperity – a comprehensive HR solutions company based outside of Houston, TX – and partners with companies ranging from the early-stage startup segment with few employees to the middle market segment with several thousand employees. The bulk of his practice consists of companies and investors in the healthcare, technology, financial and manufacturing industries. Bryce sits on the Board of Directors for CreatiVets, is an Advisory Board Member for Nashville Capital Network, and is on the Steering Committee for The CFO Leadership Council.

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.

Will King

Will King

Vice President

Svoboda Capital Partners LLC


Will joined Svoboda Capital Partners (“SC”) in April 2018 and is responsible for investment evaluation, transaction execution, and portfolio management. Prior to joining SC, Will spent two years as an analyst in the Investment Banking Division of BMO Capital Markets (“BMO”) in Chicago. During his tenure at BMO, Will advised clients in the consumer sector on a variety of transactions including mergers & acquisitions, as well as debt and equity financings.

Stephanie Kline

Stephanie Kline

Managing Director, Commercial Banking

BMO Harris Bank


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.

Jeffrey Klunzinger

Jeffrey Klunzinger

Co-Founder & General Partner

OS Fund


Lee M. Koury

Lee M. Koury

Managing Partner

Smart Business Network Inc.


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. 

Phil Kretekos

Phil Kretekos

President

Thunderbird LLC


As Thunderbird President, Phil has a wide range of crucial responsibilities. He directs operations at all of the Thunderbird holdings, and he flourishes in his role thanks to a deep experience and demonstrative success as top manager at many manufacturing organizations over the course of his career.

Phil oversees mergers and acquisitions, post-merger integration, growth strategy, manufacturing turnarounds, business performance improvement, and organization effectiveness at Thunderbird. He has a vast technical and managerial background in both union and non-union environments. He is an effective leader able to coordinate the efforts of individuals from diverse operational areas to maximize customer value while minimizing waste.

Before joining Thunderbird in 2010, Phil was director of operations at Accellent, a provider of comprehensive supply chain solutions to the medical device industry.

Melissa Lederer

Melissa Lederer

Chief Experience Officer

mHub


Michelle Moreno

Michelle Moreno

Lead Advisor

VentureDNA


Michelle Moreno is an investment banker and has worked with companies across diverse industries. With a focus on entrepreneurial endeavors, Michelle advises companies on marrying finance with strategy to optimize outcomes. Within VentureDNA and through its augmented network of investors, Michelle actively identifies the right capital fit in equity and debt financings with Family Offices, Institutional Equity and Debt Investors, and Strategic Corporate Investors.

Tom Parro

Tom Parro

Founder & Senior Managing Director

MERK Capital Corporation


Kip Read

Kip Read

Senior Vice President - Middle Market Banking

Old Second Bank


Russell Romanelli

Russell Romanelli

Managing Partner

BKD LLP


 

 

 

Ashish Shah

Ashish Shah

CEO

Dina


Ashish is the co-founder and CEO of Dina (formerly known as Prepared Health) - a health engagement company making it easier for people to stay healthy at home by organizing and simplifying access to a large, growing ecosystem of home- and community-based providers. The comprehensive network is enabling consumers, health plans and ACOs to explore, learn and engage with the rapidly growing number of services that keep people happy and healthy in their homes.

Previously, Ashish served in several Technology Executive roles at Medicity from 2006-2014 - i.e., Chief Technology Officer (CTO), SVP of Product Management/Marketing, and Chief Architect. Under his leadership, the company outlined a market-leading product roadmap, influenced fast changing government regulations, and delivered on a progressive technical vision.

Eric Sheinkop

Eric Sheinkop

CEO

The Desire Company


Eric Sheinkop is an entrepreneur, acclaimed author, and tech innovator. As CEO of The Desire Company, Sheinkop is continuing his trend of creating disruptive tech-based solutions for antiquated industries ripe for change. Accolades include Billboard "30 Under 30” and Crain’s “Tech 50”. Awards include Cannes Lions, LIA’s and an Emmy. Sheinkop represented Entrepreneurs Building Companies that Unite the World when he ran with the Olympic Torch at the 2014 Sochi Olympics.

Ryan Shelton

Ryan Shelton

Co-founder & CEO

PhotoniCare


Ryan Shelton is CEO and founder of PhotoniCare, a medical device company that has developed a handheld imaging platform that uses light to see through tissue. He has led the company as CEO since its inception, raising over $14M in dilutive and non-dilutive funding to advance the company’s objectives. He is passionate about PhotoniCare’s current efforts improving the management of chronic middle ear infections because of the frustrations he’s faced as a parent of his own children dealing with chronic infections and hearing loss.

Kevin Slaughter

Kevin Slaughter

Partner

Levenfeld Pearlstein, LLC


Kevin Slaughter is a partner in the Corporate Practice Group. He focuses on representing clients in complex commercial transactions, including mergers and acquisitions, financing agreements, joint ventures, private offerings, supply/service agreements, distribution agreements, development and licensing agreements, and manufacturing agreements. Kevin has particular experience representing Fortune 500 companies in middle market transactions. Additionally, Kevin is a go-to attorney for clients in the cannabis industry, advising them on a range of issues including license applications, corporate governance and funding. He also assists cannabis clients with organizational structure, real estate matters, branding and licensing agreements and supply agreements. Clients appreciate Kevin’s practical advice, his effective communication skills, and his knack for problemsolving. Relying on his extensive experience and strong interpersonal skills, Kevin has achieved exceptional results for his clients. Above all, he listens to his clients to understand their needs, goals, and objectives. Kevin earns their trust and confidence by employing an analytical yet pragmatic approach that is centered around accomplishing the business objectives of his clients in a responsive, efficient, and effective manner.

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.

Kim Stapleton

Kim Stapleton

Business Development Director

Ice Miller LLP


Kim helps businesses with their legal issues, by matching attorney skill sets with the needs of their specific company. She is also a founding board member of 2 peer groups called; Council for Counsel and CFOrward. She is always willing to assist in any way & enjoy giving a helping hand to her network.

Mark A. Thomson

Mark A. Thomson

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.  

Justin M. Weber

Justin M. Weber

Investment Officer & Corporate Development Officer

Family Office


Michael R. Wilson

Michael R. 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.

Sherman Wright

Sherman Wright

Managing Partner & COO

TEN35


Sherman Wright is the co-founder and managing partner of TEN35, a creative company specializing in transforming brands through culture. An entrepreneur whose work and thought leadership has created award-winning campaigns for global brands including Pepsi, Nike, Disney, Microsoft, Facebook, Polaris, JP Morgan Chase and Stellantis. Sherman's accomplishments have been recognized by The New York Times, Inc., Advertising Age, and Adweek.

Conference Location

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