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.
Samuel J. Agresti
Brady Ware & Company
Sam joined Brady Ware as partner in 2006. He leads the firm’s Dealership Services team, working with dealerships to decrease their tax burden, maximize tax benefits, streamline processes and financial reporting, increase profits, prevent fraud and expand operations to new markets. He links these services with overall tax, audit and strategic planning initiatives to help clients realize financial rewards across their businesses.
Senior Vice President - Ohio Resident Sales Direct
Chris is the Resident Sales Director for Ohio responsible for the offices in Cleveland, Columbus and Cincinnati. Chris’s responsibilities include working with Aon’s Corporate Leadership team to identify growth areas and developing strategic plans to execute upon across the four pillars of our firm - Risk, Wealth, Human Capital, and Health. In addition, Chris is also responsible for managing Aon’s executive relationships with many of the firm’s large multinational clients.
Steve has led the region as U.S. Bank’s senior executive since 2016. He has more than 27 years of experience in banking. As head of U.S. Bank’s Commercial Banking Group in the greater Columbus area, Steve focuses on helping middle-market clients work toward their goals and meet their financial and operational needs. In addition, he leads the local U.S. Bank Foundation.
Dickinson Wright PLLC
Ben is a corporate transactional attorney who has represented a wide range of public and private companies and many of the leading international private equity sponsors. He has significant experience advising clients on domestic and cross-border M&A, leveraged buyouts, joint ventures, minority investments, divestitures and restructurings. Ben also is an adjunct professor at The Ohio State University Moritz College of Law and serves on the board of NoticeAbility and the advisory board of Calmer Choice.
Benesch Friedlander Coplan & Aronoff LLP
Andy is a partner in the firm’s Commercial Finance & Banking Practice Group and advises lenders, administrative agents and borrowers in matters involving middle-market debt financings, broadly syndicated debt financings, asset-based lending, ESOP financings, mezzanine debt and acquisition financings. Andy also handles a variety of real estate matters, with a particular emphasis on construction and permanent loans, leasing, and acquisitions and divestitures.
Frank is founding partner of Oxer. By partnering with community banks as investors and obtaining additional capital through the SBA, Oxer has invested in over 28 companies since 2016. Capella originates and manages portfolio companies , in addition, to sitting on Oxer's investment committee, and has been involved in financing middle market companies for more than 30 years.
Prior to serving as CEO of ChromoCare since 2016, Hugh was part of eight successive early-stage technology companies. Hugh has been an active angel investor and taken leadership roles in many of these companies. Earlier, Hugh served as president of two publicly traded telecom companies.
Darci L. Congrove
GBQ Partners LLC
Darci joined GBQ in 1998, became a partner in 2003 and was elected managing director in 2010. Prior to joining the firm, Darci worked in the tax practices of two regional firms. Her client base is primarily closely-held businesses and their owners, and real estate companies. Darci is on the boards of the Columbus-Franklin County Finance Authority and the Columbus Chamber of Commerce.
Executive Vice President of Corporate Development
Sequoia Financial Group
Norm is executive vice president of corporate development at Sequoia Financial Group. Previously, he was president and CEO of Wealthstone Advisers and led Banc One/JPMorgan’s Institutional Investment Group, where he oversaw a team responsible for advising over $250 billion in assets. He also served as director at One Group Global Funds and director of JPMorgan Asset Management (UK) Ltd. and was on Banc One’s Investment Advisors’ Board of Directors and its Investment Policy Committee and Investment Management Group Risk & Policy Committee.
Rick Corcoran, Jr.
Slate Capital Group
Rick Corcoran is co-founder and Partner at Slate Capital Group which makes private equity investments in the lower middle market. Rick focuses on operations and team development in Slate's portfolio and has been CEO of a Slate company three times. In his spare time, Rick co-leads Sufferfest (www.sufferfest.net), creating and participating in ultra-hiking adventures.
Dickinson Wright PLLC
Scot manages the firm’s corporate, M&A, private equity, securities and tax practices, and is also the head of the cannabis group, which consists of more than 40 attorneys throughout the U.S. and Canada. He has extensive experience in corporate, mergers and acquisitions and tax law and has served as lead counsel in mergers and acquisitions, private equity investments, private offerings, venture capital financings, mezzanine debt offerings, divestitures and other related financial transactions, in a number of industry sectors, including the cannabis industry.
Josh works with business leaders on ownership transactions and liquidity events, including sell-side and buy-side engagements and transactions, such as management buyouts, succession and exit planning, ESOP formations, capital sourcing and leveraged recaps. Prior to leading Footprint Capital, Josh was vice president at Insource Spend Management Group. He led Insource through two synergistic acquisitions and ultimately, its sale.
CO-founder, CEO & Community Orchestrator
COhatch was born out of Matt’s desire to merge his business energy and talent with his calling to help the least, the last and the lost. He develops innovative brands and business models that also sustainably support the community. Previously, he was vice president of Business Excellence for Velocys, ran a large business unit for Parker Hannifin, designed and implemented new manufacturing plants for Honda and was a consultant for Arthur Andersen.
VENN Growth Collective
For over thirty years, Dirk has been involved with developing marketing and brand strategies with some of the world’s leading brands. He has held account strategy leadership roles with many agencies, and has worked in the retail, CPG, restaurant, healthcare and service brand sectors. His client experience includes: P&G, Starbucks, Cooper’s Hawk Restaurant, Wal-Mart, Ohio Health, and many others. Dirk has held senior leadership roles in agencies such as Interbrand, Fitch, Kantar Retail and Retail Planning Associates. Dirk serves on the Board of Directors for FST Logistics based in Columbus, Ohio
Englefield Business Advisors LLC
Cindi helps small business owners start up, grow, right-size or prepare to sell their businesses. She founded and grew her educational publishing business over 20 years until its sale in 2011. Cindi is involved with the OhioHealth Hospice, Red Cross, Healthy LifeStars® and the Women’s Small Business Accelerator. She is a member of the X-Squared Angels investment group.
Columbus Venture Partners
Chief Technology Officer
Troy is a transformative thought leader offering 20+ years of experience, which includes a position as a C-Suite executive at a $5B Berkshire Hathaway subsidiary. He has expertise innovating and reengineering technology and business environments, developing and launching product and service offerings, establishing best practices-based processes and systems, and pursuing and closing multimillion-dollar key accounts. He is passionate about creating new opportunities with products and services as well as leveraging technology to enhance business processes. Troy is also an accomplished speaker that has been asked to engage at events such as Dreamforce, Ohio CIO Executive Summit, Executive CIO Roundtable, and Think Mobile.
An Engineer with proven expertise in launching and scaling start-up technology companies, entering new markets, selling & marketing services and well versed in International Business Development. Created startups and managed a successful exit. Specialties: Scaling Start-ups in Technology Services, Unlock potential via M&A, Business Development & Leveraging Global Delivery.
Commercial Banking Executive - S.V.P.
Fifth Third Bank
Jeremy serves as the Senior Commercial Banking Executive responsible for the Central Ohio region. In his role, Jeremy is responsible for leading the Commercial efforts of the bank in Central Ohio, West Virginia, and Greater Pittsburgh (PA), This entails direct responsibility for the strategy, execution, performance and community and economic development efforts of the team in the region.
Windsor Advisory Group
Clayton Hall joined Windsor in 2018 and is a Partner. Windsor serves as a Personal CFO for highly successful individuals and their families. Before joining Windsor, Clayton worked at Goldman Sachs & J.P. Morgan.
Brightstar Capital Partners
Jacob Herschend is a Principal at Brightstar. Jacob leads Brightstar’s Business Development across the Midwest. He is a third-generation owner and steward of a family-owned business, Herschend Family Entertainment.
Prior to joining Brightstar, Jacob was a Vice President at Marsh & McLennan Agency, working in Business Insurance and specializing in strategically owned and family-operated businesses serving as the Director of the Multi-Generational Family-Owned Businesses Strategies Vertical. Previously, Jacob owned and operated three restaurants in the St. Louis area. Additionally, Jacob has worked for three United States Senators and a U.S. Attorney General.
Jacob received his M.B.A. focused on Families in Business from Kennesaw State University. He received his B.A. from Gordon College. Jacob serves on the boards of The Foundation for Barnes-Jewish Hospital and Forest Park Forever.
Oak Tree Equity, LLC
Brooke Hoeflich is President of a single member family office. Her family’s 3rd generation construction business was started in 1951 and has grown to include 3,500 team members and $1.5B annual revenue while operating in over 8 different states. The family office was added in 2018 with a focus on real estate, private equity, and venture capital investments.
Senior Vice President
Todd Kavalieros is a Senior Vice President and Market Leader with First National Bank in Columbus, Ohio. In this role, Todd will expand FNB’s presence in the Central Ohio region and develop new business opportunities with various middle market companies and municipal entities. Prior to joining FNB, Todd worked at several super-regional banks throughout the Midwest in leadership capacities within the commercial, municipal and treasury management banking verticals. Most recently, he worked as a senior management consultant delivering enterprise-wide strategic financing solutions and capital planning to entities with annual budgets up to $750 million.
Lee M. Koury
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.
Senior Managing Associate
Thompson Hine LLP
Alyson is a senior managing associate in the firm’s Corporate Transactions & Securities group. She focuses her practice on mergers and acquisitions, commercial contracts and general corporate matters.
Alyson’s experience at Thompson Hine has included assisting with a large volume of transactions, including a number of mergers, conversions, contributions and dissolutions in connection with a merger valued at more than $11 billion. She has also assisted with equity acquisitions and sales ranging from $8 million to nearly $100 million, some of which involved a private equity buyer or seller. In addition, Alyson’s experience encompasses providing assistance on a number of asset deals valued under $10 million.
Prior to joining Thompson Hine, Alyson was an associate with another firm in Columbus, where she gained experience drafting M&A and real estate transaction documents, licensing agreements and loan documentation. She advised on a variety of federal and state regulatory risks and compliance, and assisted clients with securities law compliance for private offerings, including preparing federal securities registration exemption memoranda, SEC notices and state blue sky law memoranda and notices.
SVP, Corporate Partner
Mike has spent more than a decade in venture-backed startups, new product launches, and in venture development helping entrepreneurs and corporate innovators connect and grow. As Chief Business Development Officer, Mike works closely with hundreds of entrepreneurs and corporate leaders across industries to make connections and deliver innovation programs that drive strategic impacts and growth.
Co-founder & President
Women's Small Business Accelerator
Mary has 20+ years of experience as an entrepreneur and is the owner and founder of YMT Consultants, Inc., a business consulting and development firm. McCarthy is the former Chairperson of SCORE Columbus, sat on the Athena PowerLink Governing Body, sits on the programming committee for the Westerville Chamber, and public policy committee for National Association of Women Business Owners (NAWBO) Columbus Chapter. She is a former member of the now-retired Ohio Department of Development’s Small Business Advisory Council. In 2018, Mary was hired as the WSBA’s president. Her leadership and passion for the organization and its mission cannot be matched. She plans to take the organization to the next level and beyond.
MelCap Partners, LLC
Al Melchiorre is President and founder of MelCap Partners, a middle market investment banking firm that he founded over 22 years ago, Over the past few years, MelCap has been recognized as boutique investment banking firm of the year multiple times by The M&A Advisor. MelCap's clients are predominately privately-held, family owned businesses going through a once in a life-time transaction.
Kassel Equity Group
Since joining Kassel Equity in 2013, Brett Motherwell has contributed to its business development team with his experience in global financial markets, creating multinational corporations’ global payroll platforms at Global Single Source Solution. He also helps oversee financial operations throughout the company and its subsidiaries, in concert with Thomas Werner. Previously, he worked with TTR, a Portland, Oregon-based company that specializes in the creation of customized sales and use tax rulings on business-related goods and services.
Business Performance Advisor
Kerri Nicholson is a Business Performance Advisor in the Columbus community. She works with entrepreneurs to help remove barriers blocking business success and guides them on the journey toward greater revenue generation, better cost containment and risk reduction through a more strategic approach to human resources. Her passion is helping small businesses level the playing field and elevate their competitive advantage in the marketplace. For over 15 years she has been building relationships with business owners and leaders across various industries and understands the day-to-day challenges they must overcome to achieve their goals.
Founder, Owner & CEO
West Point Optical Group
Crane Investment Company
Matt is responsible for the underwriting and administration of equity and mezzanine investments as part of the Stonehenge Community Development team in Columbus. With extensive experience in underwriting federal and state New Markets Tax Credit investments, he is uniquely qualified to assist with equity, mezzanine and early stage investments. Mr. Orr gained his early experience as a financial analyst at Procter & Gamble in Cincinnati.
Prior to joining Stonehenge, Mr. Orr served as an advisor for the Evans Scholarship Foundation at The Ohio StateUniversity, overseeing 76 Evans Scholars and managing the off-campus group living facility. Mr. Orr, who is an Evans Scholar, earned his BS in finance from The Ohio State University.
Senior Vice President, Commercial Region Manager
The Huntington National Bank
Mark is a 30 year veteran of the commercial banking industry in Columbus, Ohio who recently joined Huntington to lead it's middle market commercial banking efforts there. The entirety of his career has been dedicated to helping local businesses grow through the provision and sourcing of capital, the streamlining of payment systems, and the mitigation of financial risk.
Robert A. Smith
Armada Waste - OH
With over 32 years of solid waste and recycling experience, Rob has successfully led teams as small as 7 and as large as 1300 to increased sales and profits, cost controls, and process improvements which have resulted in consistent advancement in profits, safety, compliance, customer service and operational efficiencies. After time as a District Manager, Market Area GM, and Area Vice President, Rob started his own company, from scratch which has grown over the past 10 years to become Armada Waste, a regional force in the Solid Waste and Recycling business, spanning 5 locations across Ohio, Pennsylvania and Kentucky with a current annual run-rate of nearly $40 million.
Kensington Hill Partners
Jeff leads Kensington Hill Partners, a board of directors and corporate growth advisory firm, which concentrates on five business competencies: board advisory services, private equity investments, business consulting, executive search and sales advisory services. Its focus and expertise is on mid-market and entrepreneurial companies with high-growth potential. With offices in Columbus, Ohio, Jeff supports and invests in companies throughout the Midwest.
CEO; Managing Partner
Atlas Partners; Ohio Impact Fund
Chief Operating Officer
Mr. Stevens is Chief Operating Officer and a Partner of Copper Run Capital LLC. In this capacity he oversees all core corporate functions and processes, putting the right people and systems in place to best serve our clients and execute our growth strategies.
Prior to his current role, Jason served as a Managing Director focused on energy and natural resources at Copper Run. His operational and financial management experience includes launching an energy startup, Eureka Oil and Gas; a decade of experience at Morningstar, where he served as director of energy equity research; and a stint at property-casualty insurer Zurich North America, where he worked in corporate financial planning.
Mr. Stevens holds a B.A. in Liberal Arts from St. John’s College, a Master of International Management in Finance from the Thunderbird School of Global Management and an M.B.A from the University of Houston. He is an avid reader, with particular interest in philosophy, history and ecology, and a dedicated distance runner.
Catherine Strauss is the Managing Partner of Ice Miller's Columbus office. She is also an adviser and advocate for employers with workforces in Ohio and nationally. She is also a skilled coach to human resource professionals and business executives. Preferring practical outcomes based on a keen knowledge of the law and common sense judgment, Catherine is an effective adviser in managing risks and conflict avoidance.
When disputes are unavoidable, Catherine is a tenacious trial attorney, having successfully represented employers and businesses in all types of legal proceedings, both in Ohio and nationally.
Finally, Catherine serves as a neutral investigator in all types of matters involving or impacting employees.
Buckeye Elm Consulting; Bluebird Consulting Group
An entrepreneur, energy industry executive and consultant, Sheri founded Delta Energy in 2003 and grew the business, both organically and through acquisition, into one of the largest privately held companies in Central Ohio. Delta exceeded $1 billion in sales before being sold to Hess Corp. in 2012. Sheri formed Delta Energy Services to provide energy management consulting for large energy consumers in the U.S., Canada, Europe, South America and Australasia, and ultimately sold the company to Edison International in 2015.
Director of Valuations
Doug received a Doctor of Jurisprudence (JD) degree from The Ohio State University Moritz College of Law and a Master of Business Administration degree from The Ohio State University Fisher College of Business. He is a Certified Public Accountant and is Accredited in Business Valuations. Doug has more than 15 years of experience in corporate, partnership, and individual finance and taxation. He oversees tax, accounting, and valuation engagements for a wide range of clientele. Doug is a member of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants and its section for Forensic and Valuation Services.
Ohio Innovation Fund
Faith Voinovich is a Principal at Ohio Innovation Fund where she focuses on Life Sciences and MedTech investments. Her current board and board observer responsibilities include Invirsa, Clarametyx, DatAnchor, and RXQ Compounding. Dedicated to cultivating the next generation of diverse venture investors, Faith also serves as a mentor for the National Venture Capital Association (NVCA) Venture Forward program and an executive board member at VentureUP.
BellMark Partners, LLC
Andy is Managing Director and Co-CEO of Bellmark Partners, LLC, and head of the firm’s Cleveland office. Andy has 30 years of investment banking experience, having personally completed well over 100 M&A, special committee, and board advisory assignments. Previously, he was with KeyBanc Capital Markets, where he was head of the sponsor coverage, consumer & retail, and M&A investment banking groups.
Founder & Principal
Fred has made non-control investments and served as financial advisor during the last 33 years, currently as Founder & Principal at Aegis Advisors and previously as a Managing Director with Banc One Capital Markets/Banc One Capital Partners. He has been involved in recapitalization, growth financing, and m&a transactions totaling over $2.0 billion in value and direct investments cumulatively yielding a 35+% IRR.
Eric is the co-founder and CEO of Converge Ventures, a technology start-up studio. He is the co-founder and CSO of Converge Technologies, an engineering and product development company. Eric is an experienced entrepreneur and seasoned C-suite executive. Previous to Converge, he was the president of a $300mm aerospace and defense company. Eric is an active angel investor.
Julie is an Audit Partner with Crowe and has over 18 years of experience. She serves upper middle-market privately owned clients in the manufacturing, distribution, and service industries. Julie’s clients range in size from $20 million to more than $1 billion in revenues, across a wide range of industries and companies with multi-national and multi-state operations and complex accounting and audit issues. Julie works with family owned and private equity owned businesses.
COhatch Regional Development Ventures, LLC
John has 35+ years of experience building world-class organizations in Asia and the United States. He is currently a co-principal of COhatch Regional Development Ventures, LLC, the development arm of COhatch. Previously, John held China-, Asia- and global-CEO positions at VOID Asia (Disney-backed), CRH plc, ASC Fine Wines, AVIAGE Systems (a GE company), Cummins Inc. and Northwest Airlines. John was twice elected chairman of The American Chamber of Commerce in China and was active in US-China commercial relations for three decades.
John was “employee #1” at two companies during his corporate career that later created $1 billion+ in value. An active business leader and community builder, John also served as Chairman of the Beijing International Christian Fellowship and of Airline Representatives in China.
Founder & CEO; Executive Chairman
Zell Capital; Nikola Labs
Will has founded three technology companies in addition to building successful real estate and retail ventures over the past 14 years. He is deeply passionate about seeing startups succeed, serving for a time as the Managing Director of a startup accelerator. Will draws from a broad range of experience in communications, organizational development, leadership, brand development and innovation. He brings drive and passion to the Nikola Labs team. Will was honored at the White House as top entrepreneur under 30 as part of Empact100 list and was also received the 2019 BizTech Executive of the Year award by Columbus Business First.
Founder and CEO
Dean Zody is a business-oriented Global Operations Leader with an engineering background delivering innovative solutions with measurable growth and profitability. Accomplished background in start-ups, cost reduction initiatives, and operations management in telecommunications, chemical and consumer product. Multiple disciplines include operations, supply chain, procurement, and logistics. Strong database and data analytical skills. In 2016, he founded GhostWave, commercializing patents from Ohio State University.
Co-founder & CEO
Brian is the Co-founder and CEO of Align. At Align we equip organizations with data about their workforce to redesign their full work experience — from real estate optimization to remote policies.