Skip to Content

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

Jim Altman

Jim Altman

Middle Market Banking Regional Executive- PA and WVA

Huntington


As a high-energy and tenured business leader, Jim is a proven banking and financial services professional known for providing innovative and effective ideas to help companies grow, increase profitability, manage more efficiently and exceed client business objectives. He works collaboratively with all of his business partners to tailor impactful solutions to each of his clients. Jim is known for his challenger-based ideas that encourage clients to consider changing the status quo by providing options and continuous improvement strategies. Jim has over 35 years of banking experience.

Christopher Amar

Christopher Amar

Vice President

AB Bernstein


Christopher is a Vice President and Financial Advisor with Bernstein Private Wealth Management. In that role, he provides customized analyses for high-net-worth families, individuals, and foundations, with a focus on pre-transaction planning, philanthropy, and asset allocation. Before joining Bernstein, Chris was a principal at OneWeb and an attorney with Buchanan Ingersoll & Rooney. Chris also chairs the Pittsburgh Arts & Lectures board of directors.

Tom Bakaitus, Jr.

Tom Bakaitus, Jr.

Partner-In-Charge, Western PA

Herbein + Company Inc.


Tom is a CPA who serves as tax partner and operating officer of Herbein + Company Inc., a 180-plus person CPA firm with eight offices across Pennsylvania. Over 90 percent of Tom’s clients fall in the category of closely held or family-owned businesses. He provides those clients with accounting and business advisory services as well as tax planning and consulting. Tom spends much of his time structuring complex transactions and acquisitions.

Leroy Ball

Leroy Ball

President & CEO

Koppers Inc.


Leroy is president and CEO of Koppers and serves on the company’s board of directors. Under Leroy’s leadership as CEO, Koppers is focused on safely delivering customer focused solutions, primarily through the development and application of technologies to enhance wood. Leroy joined Koppers in September 2010 as vice president and chief financial officer, providing oversight for the finance, treasury, information technology and investor relations functions. From May to December 2014, he held the role of COO with responsibility for the company’s global business operations. He was elected president and CEO in January 2015. Prior to Koppers, Leroy spent 10 years with Calgon Carbon Corp., an international chemical company.

Brian Baum

Brian Baum

Managing Director

Interchange Capital Partners


Brian is the Managing Director of Interchange Capital Partners. In this role he oversees strategic initiatives of the company with a specific focus on the Family Business and Entrepreneur client segment. His focus is on helping owners think through, build and execute on a value acceleration and transition strategy for the shareholders. He believes that at its core exit planning combines the plan, concept, effort and process into a clear, simple strategy to build a business that is transferable through strong human, structural, customer, and social capital. The future of each owner, their family, and their business are addressed by exit planning through creating value today.

Brian is also the President of the Pittsburgh Exit Planning Chapter, which he helped found in 2019. The chapters mission is to give business owners a forum to get educated on true exit planning – how to build a valuable and transferable business through a proven process. He graduated from Penn State with a Bachelors in Psychology and a minor in Business. He is a Certified Exit Planning Advisor and a CFP.

Jill Berardi

Jill Berardi

Owner/Marketing Strategist

BerardiGroup LLC


Jill is a seasoned strategist with three decades of helping more than 80 companies gain traction and grow through the creative use of marketing. Through her consulting company, BerardiGroup LLC, she helps business owners use branding and promotion to gain new customers, visibility and sales. BerardiGroup’s unique model enables companies to ‘rent a CMO’ to tap the consistent counsel of experienced marketing strategists for a fraction of the cost of hiring full-time staff. Jill’s background includes marketing leadership roles at ad agencies; private companies; the American Red Cross; digital agency IMPAQT; and VC-backed tech startup SnapRetail – where she was a founding exec. She is a Board Member for Front Porch Theatricals and volunteers with various non-profits to coach entrepreneurs.

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.

Craig Blank

Craig Blank

Director of Investments

Woodland Management


Craig plays a key role in our co-investment due diligence efforts. He contributes a strong combination of restaurant operating experience, public market investing, mutual funds, hedge funds, private equity, venture capital, and real estate. Craig received a BSBA from Washington University in St. Louis and MBA from the Katz School of the University of Pittsburgh.

Kristy Britsch

Kristy Britsch

Attorney

Levenfeld Pearlstein, LLC


Kristy serves as senior counsel to the Corporate and Securities Practice Group of the law firm of Levenfeld Pearlstein, LLC (LP). She has more than a decade of experience advising closely held businesses on incorporating employee stock ownership plans (ESOPs) into their business succession planning. Kristy represents businesses of all sizes, as well as selling shareholders and ESOP fiduciaries, in transactions involving employer securities. Her transaction experience includes representing companies, selling shareholders and ESOP fiduciaries in the sale of employer securities to the ESOP, representing existing ESOP companies and ESOP fiduciaries in sales of ESOP companies to third-party buyers and representing existing ESOP companies and ESOP fiduciaries in the acquisition of other companies. Kristy enjoys helping her clients navigate the complex legal aspects of an ESOP stock purchase transaction and the issues that arise during the life cycle of the ESOP post-transaction, which includes counsel on ERISA fiduciary matters and on ESOP plan compliance matters.

In addition to working on ESOP transactions, Kristy’s practice focuses on general employee benefit and executive compensation matters, including plan design, implementation, and compliance for various types of qualified and non-qualified plans (this includes advising businesses on Code Section 409A matters). In addition, Kristy supports LP’s corporate attorneys by using her expertise with employee benefit plan and executive compensation issues related to merger and acquisition transactions. Kristy also represents plan sponsors and fiduciaries with respect to Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and Department of Labor (DOL) examinations and audits and with the resolution of plan defects by utilizing the IRS and DOL correction programs.

Christopher Brodman

Christopher Brodman

President & CEO

Metz Lewis Brodman Must O’Keefe LLC


Chris is the president of the firm and a member of the firm’s executive committee. His practice focuses on general corporate matters and business transactions for funds and privately held middle-market companies. Chris serves as outside general counsel for many clients. His transactional practice includes M&A, early stage investments, corporate finance and commercial transactions. Chris has led in excess of 100 M&A transactions during his career. Chris has been a member of the board of directors of many privately held companies throughout his career and he has invested in early-stage and mature businesses.

Sara Clevenger

Sara Clevenger

Principal

Blue River


Sara, Principal, provides strategic direction and oversight for the firm’s Acquisition Support Investment Banking Group. She also leads Blue River’s Pittsburgh office. Ms. Clevenger brings over 15 years of experience in Corporate Development, Mergers & Acquisitions, Commercial Real Estate Development, Portfolio and Transaction Management.

Since joining Blue River in 2012, Ms. Clevenger has managed successful platform and add-on acquisition strategies for Blue River’s acquisitive clients in a range of industries, across the US and into Canada. She works closely with clients to develop overall strategic direction of the growth-through-acquisition objectives. She then leads the Blue River deal team in their execution of the acquisition support initiatives. Primary industries of focus include industrial manufacturing, commercial and industrial distribution, information technology/software, marketing and fulfillment, and healthcare.

Ron Donatelli

Ron Donatelli

Pittsburgh Regional President

First National Bank


Ronald is President of the Pittsburgh Region of First National Bank. He is responsible for integrating FNB’s successful cross-functional business model and for developing small business, middle market and corporate banking opportunities in the Company’s headquarters market. Donatelli also oversees FNB's Asset-Based Lending group, which operates across the Company footprint.

Donatelli joined FNB in 2009 to lead its Asset-Based Lending division and has had oversight for various corporate banking groups within the organization, including Syndications and International Banking Services. He has more than 35 years of financial services experience, having held a range of leadership roles with asset-based lending groups at major banks in the Pittsburgh area.

A graduate of LaRoche College, Donatelli is active in the community as board chairman for Bridgeway Capital and chair of the Watson Institute/First National Bank Pro Am golf tournament committee.

Ann Dugan

Ann Dugan

Founder

aduganLLC


Chris Farmakis

Chris Farmakis

Chairman; Shareholder

Babst Calland


Chris focuses his legal practice on mergers and acquisitions, private company equity investments, recapitalizations and joint ventures, startup company formation and general representation, commercial transactions, corporate governance, and real estate matters. His practical legal approach has earned him a regional and national client base with recent deals in the manufacturing, retail, services, wireless infrastructure, IP, utility, emerging technology and food industries. He is also national acquisition counsel for numerous public and private companies and private equity-owned portfolio companies. Like his clients, Chris is an entrepreneur, having founded three businesses including Solvaire, a company leveraging AI technology to undertake large-scale due diligence and contract management projects.

Jeff Ford

Jeff Ford

Partner

Grossman Yanak & Ford LLP


Jeff has focused his career on providing accounting, auditing and consulting services to privately held companies and not-for-profit organizations. His experience includes furnishing compliance services such as audits; providing due diligence and investigation services related to business acquisitions; performing fraud investigations; developing and compiling projected and forecasted financial statements; and evaluating, selecting and implementing information systems for companies.

Sreekar Gadde

Sreekar Gadde

Executive Director

BlueTree Capital Group


BlueTree Capital Group is an active investor in early-stage, high-growth companies in the Pittsburgh region and around the country. We invest in companies where we can provide both capital and expertise to help accelerate their growth. As the Executive Director for BlueTree Capital Group, Sree focuses on identifying and evaluating investment opportunities, working with other investors as well as other parts of the entrepreneurship ecosystem. Specifically, we focus on leveraging our groups unique skills and experience, specifically in sales, marketing, and operations, to help companies to avoid or overcome early obstacles. Sree leverages his experience and training as an engineer and IP attorney to help portfolio companies develop and implement an IP strategy. For high-growth companies, he helps them focus the allocation of resources (both capital and time) on assets that will drive business value.

Jessica Gibson

Jessica Gibson

CEO & Co-Founder

Ariel Precision Medicine


Sherri Grasak

Sherri Grasak

Resident Managing Director

Aon


Sherri is responsible for the Aon operations for the Greater Pittsburgh Region. Aon Pittsburgh has 60 colleagues working to empower results for organizations on two of the most important issues facing them today: risk and people. Sherri ensures that client teams are leveraging the local and global experts of Aon to bring the very best ideas and solutions to our clients. As Resident Managing Director, Sherri oversees the delivery of client, brokering and consulting services as well as growth for Pittsburgh. Her expertise is in Data & Analytics, manufacturing and retail.

Stephen J. Gurgovits Jr.

Stephen J. Gurgovits Jr.

Managing Partner

Tecum Capital


Stephen is the managing partner and co-founder of Tecum Capital, a $450 million private investment firm based in Pittsburgh, which oversees pools of committed capital focused on mezzanine debt, subordinated notes and private equity, via two active funds, Tecum Capital Partners II LP and Tecum Equity Partners III. In his current role, Stephen is responsible for providing strategic, operational and investment management leadership to the funds, including its overall planning, fundraising, growth and execution of strategy.

Don Haddad

Don Haddad

Senior Vice President

Citizens


Don is a seasoned, experienced Senior Banking Executive with a demonstrated history of new business development, customer advocating and navigating the commercial banking world for his customers and prospects. During his tenure at Citizens, National Bank of Canada and Mellon, demonstrated strong relationship and interpersonal skills, with expertise in Commercial Lending, Banking, Leadership, Relationship Building, Asset Based Lending, Credit Analysis and Leveraged Finance.

Jon Halpern

Jon Halpern

Co-Founder & President

Pineapple Payments


As co-founder and President of Pineapple Payments, Jon leads the execution of strategic and operational initiatives. Pineapple Payments is a payments technology company that provides business owners with value added tools to seamlessly accept credit card and ACH payments. Prior to Pineapple, Jon co-founded AthleteTrax in 2012 to provide software to sports leagues/facilities to accept payments and manage their businesses. After raising capital and driving the vision, Jon grew AthleteTrax’s customer base nationally and ultimately to its acquisition by Pineapple Payments in 2018. Jon’s passion for entrepreneurship has driven him to spend his free time helping non-profits accelerate and reach sustainability. Jon serves as partner and board member of Social Venture Partners (SVP), a growing network of individuals that link passion and purpose to share skills, time, and resources in support of innovative nonprofits in the Pittsburgh region.

Craig Heryford

Craig Heryford

National Chair Business Transactions Sections

Gordon Rees LP


Craig's practice is concentrated in the area of mergers and acquisitions, venture capital and corporate finance matters as well as the representation of mature and emerging businesses. He has experience in a wide variety of commercial transactions, including numerous corporate finance and venture capital funding transactions involving both equity and debt, as well as merger and acquisition and private equity transactions.

Mr. Heryford regularly represents investors, including private equity and venture based investors, in portfolio investments and acquisition and divestiture transactions. He has also represented fund clients in fund formation work, including the structuring and formation of the funds, negotiation and preparation of investor documents and constituent fund documentation.
Mr. Heryford is the chair of the firm's Business Services Section and Business Transactions Practice Group.

Gabriela Isturiz

Gabriela Isturiz

Entrepreneur | Growth Advisor | Investor


Gabriela (Gaby) is a serial entrepreneur, innovator, experienced CEO, and founder of two high-growth successful SaaS (Software-as-a-Service) technology companies that were ultimately sold to Fortune 500 companies. Gaby possesses a unique combination of passion, curiosity, and discipline, making her one of the few women in STEM who has led bootstrapped companies to successful exits. A native of Caracas, Venezuela, Gaby earned her MS in Information Sciences from the University of Pittsburgh and her BS in Computer Systems Engineering from the Universidad Metropolitana in Caracas.

Larry Keyler

Larry Keyler

Managing Partner

RSM US LLP


Lee M. Koury

Lee M. Koury

Managing Partner

Smart Business Network Inc.


Lee Koury 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. 

Michael Livanos

Michael Livanos

Principal

Stellex Capital


Mr. Livanos is a member of Stellex’s investment team. Prior to joining Stellex in 2014, Mr. Livanos was a Vice President at Barclays in the Restructuring and Finance Group. Prior to Barclays, Mr. Livanos was an Associate at Houlihan Lokey in the Financial Restructuring Group. Before that, Mr. Livanos worked at Citigroup’s Corporate Headquarters and at Citigroup International within the finance and corporate development functions.

Mr. Livanos currently serves as a director on the board of Custom Glass Parent, LLC, Dominion Hospitality Topco Limited and Fenix Parent, LLC.

Mr. Livanos received his B.S. in Computer Science and Business Administration from Carnegie Mellon University and his M.B.A. from Columbia Business School. He is a member of the alumni advisory board of Carnegie Mellon’s School of Computer Science and remains active with Columbia Business School’s Private Equity Program.

Michael Matesic

Michael Matesic

President & CEO

Idea Foundry, Inc.


Michael M. Matesic, President & CEO of Idea Foundry, Inc., is a seasoned business executive experienced in working with businesses at a variety of stages. Over the last 17 years at Idea Foundry he has invested in and participated in the development of over 200 innovation based start-ups, creating jobs in the region. Previously, Mr. Matesic was Chief Executive Officer for two start-up companies and Chief Financial Officer for MetalSite, Inc., participating in the rapid growth of the company and public registration process. While at MetalSite, Mr. Matesic led the startup of the company’s subsidiary, ScrapSite.Before that he served as Senior Vice President and Chief Financial Officer for Anker Coal Group and its subsidiaries where he was responsible for Human Resources, Information Technology, Tax and Finance functions. During his ten years with Anker Coal, Mr. Matesic led a successful registration with the Securities and Exchange Commission, managed the company’s substantial growth, established and invested in various start-up companies and completed many acquisitions.A 1987 graduate of Duquesne University with a B.S. in Business Administration, he spent two years on the audit staff of Ernst & Young, LLP in Pittsburgh.

Bob McCormack

Bob McCormack

Managing Partner

Murphy McCormack Capital Advisors


Bob is Managing Partner and Founding Partner of Murphy McCormack Capital Advisors, a boutique investment banking and corporate advisory firm in Lewisburg, Pennsylvania. Mr. McCormack has more than 32 years of financial services experience, and focuses on providing advisory services related to business sales, mergers, acquisitions, divestitures, business valuations, debt and equity financing, and select turnaround projects. He formed Murphy McCormack Capital Advisors in 2005. He previously served as President and Chief Executive Officer of Sun Bancorp, Inc., a $1 billion financial services holding company with bank branches and affiliates located throughout central Pennsylvania.

Charles McIlvaine

Charles McIlvaine

CEO

Coen Markets, Inc.


Kit Needham

Kit Needham

Director, Project Olympus

Carnegie Mellon University


Kit is Director and Executive-in-Residence at Project Olympus where she provides start-up advice, business strategy planning, connections to industry experts, advisors and the business community to student, faculty and staff startups. She is a Program Leader for the National Science Foundation’s iCorps programs and an Amazon Alexa Innovation Fellow.She is a member of BlueTree Allied Angels and serves on the Screening Committee. Kit is an Advisory Board member of Chatham University's Center for Women's Entrepreneurship, and a Board member of the Pittsburgh Entrepreneurs Forum.She was a Senior Vice President at the Allegheny Conference on Community Development working on education and economic development initiatives. Prior to that, she was Chief Operating Officer of Mellon Lab which was responsible for creating revenue-producing businesses for Mellon Bank. She also provides consulting services to promote economic growth to Chambers of Commerce, individual entrepreneurs and non-profit organizations.Kit is a Board member of the Women's Center & Shelter for Domestic Violence, and an Advisory Board member for Standing Firm. She is a graduate of Leadership Pittsburgh XIX.

Jim Nickel

Jim Nickel

Pennsylvania Region Head | National Commercial Banking

CIBC Bank USA


Jim is a native of western Pennsylvania and is Managing Director and Pennsylvania Region Head CIBC Bank USA. Over his 30-year banking career, Jim has focused on providing relationship-driven commercial banking services to middle market companies. He joined The PrivateBank & Trust Company (acquired by CIBC June 2017) in September 2014 to spearhead the founding of a Pittsburgh office. Prior to that, he was with TriState Capital Bank and Citizens Bank of Pennsylvania. He began his career with PNC in Pittsburgh. Jim has a finance degree from Bucknell University and a master’s degree from the University of Pittsburgh. He serves as Treasurer of the Board of Junior Achievement of Western Pennsylvania, is a member of the board of the Pittsburgh Chapter of the Association for Corporate Growth and is President of the school board of directors at Seneca Valley School District. Jim has been married for 29 years and has two sons, ages 25 and 21.

John Roppo

John Roppo

Principal

Roppotunity LLC


John is Principal of Roppotunity LLC providing CFO and management consulting and transaction preparedness services.  John has held the CFO position at seven companies ranging from startup to billion-dollar multinational and been involved in numerous buy- and sell-side transactions.  After graduating from the Tepper School of Business with an M.S. in Industrial Administration, he started his career at Ford Motor Company as a financial analyst.  He progressed into senior roles in the U.S., Argentina, and Brazil, and the top financial positions at Jaguar Cars North America and Lincoln Mercury.  Since leaving Ford, he has been CFO at closely held and private equity backed companies and successfully completed the sale of three companies.  John is a CFAÒ charterholder and Certified Value Builder™.

David G. Schaich

David G. Schaich

Region Manager

JPMorgan Chase & Co.


David G. Schaich is a veteran banker who joined JPMorgan Chase Bank in 2013 as a Division Manager of Middle Market Banking for the Western Pennsylvania Region. His role expanded to Region Manager of WPA in March of 2016.Prior to joining JPMorgan Chase, Mr. Schaich was with PNC Bank for 19 years, most recently as a Senior Vice President in the Middle Market group of the Corporate Bank. Mr. Schaich began his corporate banking career with SunTrust, gaining extensive experience in both commercial and commercial real estate lending, as well as branch management within the Retail Bank.Mr. Schaich is a native of Pittsburgh and attended the University of Pittsburgh where he received a dual degree in Business Administration and Economics. He currently holds his Series 79, 63 and 24 licenses. Mr. Schaich is very involved in the Allegheny Conference on Community Development, FEI, and ACG of Pittsburgh, as well as the Annual Campaign Chair for Junior Achievement.Dave resides in North Huntingdon with his wife and two children.

Robert Stein

Robert Stein

Executive Director

Institute for Entrepreneurial Excellence, University of Pittsburgh


Robert “Bob” Stein is executive director of the University of Pittsburgh’s Institute for Entrepreneurial Excellence. He leverages his contacts and experience to the benefit of IEE members. For 13 consecutive years, he’s earned the title of Microsoft’s Most Valuable Professional. He holds a Bachelor of Science degree from the Smeal College of Business and an MBA from the University of Pittsburgh Joseph M. Katz Graduate School of Business. He also holds a certificate in Executive Leadership from the Harvard Business School.

Suzy Teele

Suzy Teele

Head of Marketing & Communications

Advanced Robotics for Manufacturing (ARM)


Suzy has been an integral part of Pittsburgh's technology and start-up environment for over 20 years. She was the COO of two early stage companies, and is currently the Head of Marketing & Communications for Advanced Robotics for Manufacturing (ARM), a national public-private collaborative accelerating innovative robotic technologies and workforce development strategies for U.S. manufacturers. 

 

Andy Vollmer

Andy Vollmer

Managing Director and Co-CEO

BellMark Partners, LLC


Andy is Managing Director and Co-CEO of Bellmark Partners, LLC, and head of the firm’s Cleveland office. Andy has over 28 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.

Austin Webb

Austin Webb

CEO and Co-founder

Fifth Season


Austin is the CEO and co-founder of Fifth Season. He co-founded the business while obtaining his MBA at Carnegie Mellon University after a successful career in investment banking, including roles with FBR Capital Markets in Washington, D.C. and New York. A native of Chapel Hill, North Carolina, Austin holds a BA in Finance from Wofford College. He currently resides in Pittsburgh.

Ben Wilson

Ben Wilson

Founder and CEO

Rivers Agile


After building a number of QA departments and helping organizations utilize proactive Quality Assurance techniques to strengthen their SDLC, Ben started Rivers Agile as Pittsburgh's only QA Consultancy. Rivers Agile has grown to be a recognizable force within mobile and web custom software development, started a Code School and now offer QaaS to help organizations with automating risk management.

Penny Zacharias

Penny Zacharias

Partner

McGuireWoods LLP


Penny is an accomplished lawyer with over 15 years of experience representing financial institutions in a broad range of lending transactions. Penny focuses her practice on debt financing and secured transactions, including origination of asset-based and acquisition financing, leveraged finance, mezzanine finance and other lending transactions. She also handles the structuring and documenting of large syndicated transactions. Secured lenders as well as companies in the security alarm, medical alert, and other industries with a recurring revenue model, rely on Penny’s vast experience. Penny also advises domestic and international banking clients and investment firms in the areas of microfinance and impact investing. She has particular experience with commodities financing. Penny’s leadership roles include chairing the McGuireWoods Pittsburgh Women’s Leadership Forum as well as co-chairing the firm’s Women in Private Equity & Finance initiative.

Conference Location

600 Commonwealth Place
Pittsburgh, PA 15222
Tel: (412) 391-4600