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Host 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

Phil Alexander

Phil Alexander

Founder & CEO

NexusAI & ConceptDrop


Phil is CEO and founder of Nexus A.I., a Chicago-based human capital management company. Prior to founding Nexus AI, he worked at Zodius Capital, Ernst & Young and BrandMuscle. He has an MBA from Case Western Reserve University and is a master’s in data science candidate at Northwestern University. In 2016, LinkedIn named him to its Next Wave List of the top 100 professionals under 35 in America.

Bob Ambrose

Bob Ambrose

Attorney at Law

Howard & Howard Attorneys PLLC


Bob Ambrose is a trial lawyer with an emphasis on prosecuting and defending business disputes. He has represented clients in a wide array of complex disputes, including cases involving class action securities litigation, director and officer defense, errors and omissions, consumer fraud, trademark counterfeiting and infringement, FDIC claims against former bank directors and officers, broker liability, employment discrimination and wrongful termination.

Joe Angel

Joe Angel

Senior Vice President, Head of Structured Finance

First Midwest Bancorp


Joe joined First Midwest Bank in 2015 to lead the Structured Finance team, which originates, structures and manages a portfolio of private equity-backed, middle-market companies across the Midwest. Previously he was at GE Antares Capital, where he led teams in underwriting, diligence, documentation and syndication of new transactions, as well as monitored a personal portfolio of over $500 million in committed senior credit across a broad investor base. 

Joseph Baez

Joseph Baez

Principal

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.

Gale Bowman

Gale Bowman

Managing Director

IrishAngels


Gale is founding director of IrishAngels, an investment network affiliated with the University of Notre Dame. Formed in 2012, IrishAngels has 225 active investors, making it one of the largest angel groups in the country. She also founded IrishAngels Ventures, an early stage venture capital fund. To date, she has led 50-plus investments totaling over $25 million in seed and Series A capital. 

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. 

Paul Carlisle

Paul Carlisle

Executive Vice President

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

Founding Member & 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 on the boards of several banks, PE/VC Funds, nonprofit and charitable organizations, including foundation and university boards. 

Brendan Deely

Brendan Deely

President & 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.

Jenny Deloy

Jenny Deloy

Office Managing Partner

Marcum LLP


Jenny is office managing partner in Chicago at Marcum LLP and partner-in-charge of Assurance Services and the SEC Practice group for the Midwest region. She also represents the Midwest region on the firm’s national Diversity Program board.

She has more than 20 years of experience providing auditing and consulting services for public and private clients in a variety of industries. Her experience includes writing business plans to assist start-up companies in obtaining funding, as well as buy- and sell-side due diligence engagements.

Ty Field

Ty Field

Executive Chairman

TPC Training


Ty, executive chairman of TPC Training and CEO1ST partner, is the former CEO of Jones & Bartlett Learning, a division of Ascend Learning and a leading provider of educational solutions. Previously, he was CFO of Ascend Learning, where he implemented a roll-up strategy that resulted in 20 acquisitions.

Jeffrey Hechtman

Jeffrey Hechtman

Managing Partner

Horwood Marcus & Beck


Jeffrey is managing partner of Horwood Marcus & Berk and a partner in the Business and Finance Group. He serves as outside general counsel for a wide variety of privately held startup, early stage and later-stage businesses, including manufacturers, distributors, service providers, technology companies, finance companies, financial service companies and real estate companies. He also acts as outside general counsel and transactional counsel to numerous entities.

Mark Heckler

Mark Heckler

Executive VP, Commercial Banking

Fifth Third Bank


Brian P. Kerwin

Brian P. Kerwin

Chairman, Corporate Practice

Duane Morris LLP


A trusted deal lawyer for 30 years, Brian has helped numerous business owners in the sale of their companies in a variety of industries. He is chairman of Duane Morris’ 175-lawyer Corporate Practice Group and a member of the 800-lawyer firm’s Executive Committee. He was selected for twelve consecutive years by Chambers USA as a top lawyer in Corporate/M&A.

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. 

Bob Knott

Bob Knott

President

SWC Technology Partners


Bob is president of SWC Technology Partners. As the primary policymaker of SWC for more than 15 years, he is committed to setting the tone for the company’s core values, culture and business strategy that have grown the business. He has over 25 years of experience building and leading long-term strategies that enable business transformation through technology. He has completed multiple M&A transitions. 

Marc Kiven

Marc Kiven

Founder

Signal


Marc has a wealth of digital marketing domain expertise from senior executive roles at aQuantive (Avenue A | Razorfish and Atlas), Right Media and Centro. He served as COO and executive vice president of global expansion at Centro and at Right Media, played an active role building the company into the fastest-growing media network in the world. Previously, he was a founding member of aQuantive’s Atlas division.

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.

Kristi Kunz

Kristi Kunz

Private Wealth Advisor

Goldman Sachs


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.

Angela McCoy

Angela McCoy

Vice President

PSP Capital


Angela is a vice president in the Private Investments Group of PSP Capital Partners, responsible for sourcing and executing new investment opportunities and providing portfolio company oversight, with a primary focus on the food and consumer sectors. She serves on the board of two PSP portfolio companies. Previously, worked in the Leveraged Finance Group at Bank of America Merrill Lynch, where she helped structure and execute capital markets transactions that supported leveraged buyouts, corporate-to-corporate acquisitions, balance sheet restructurings and other strategic debt financing initiatives.

Jim McNair

Jim McNair

Managing Director

Capital Group Chicago


Jim is a managing director at Capital Group Chicago, an independent private equity firm.  Throughout his career in middle-market private equity buyouts with both funded and independent firms, he has been involved with all aspects of the business, from transaction sourcing and execution to portfolio company management. Previously, he was a senior managing director and an Investment Committee member at Corinthian Capital Group, where he was chairman of six companies. 

Renee Metcalf

Renee Metcalf

Market Executive of Illinois Middle Market Global Commercial Banking

Bank of America Merrill Lynch


Renée is market executive of Illinois Middle Market Global Commercial Banking for Bank of America Merrill Lynch, responsible for banking services for middle-market companies with revenue between $50 million and $2 billion. She manages 16 Relationship Management teams covering general, security alarm, construction and technology industries.  Metcalf, a senior vice president, has been in her current position since 2010. 

Steve Miles

Steve Miles

Partner

Livingstone Partners


Steve co-founded and is managing partner of Livingstone’s U.S .operations, where he drives strategic growth initiatives, including business development, recruitment and client relations. He is chairman of the board of directors, where he has overseen many of the company’s most ambitious strategic global growth initiatives, as well as the hiring of key senior leaders and the expansion of the firm.

Dan Needham

Dan Needham

Investment Development

Wynnchurch Capital


Maura O'Hara

Maura O'Hara

Executive Director

Illinois Venture Capital Association


Since 2004, Maura has been executive director at the Illinois Venture Capital Association, which advocates for Midwest investors of private dollars into private companies. Previously she worked at Sears, Roebuck and Co. in corporate strategy, marketing and customer relationship management. She serves on the executive board of 1871, the advisory board of the Illinois Growth & Innovation Fund and as a judge for the Chicago Innovation Awards and mHUB’’s Fourth Revolution Awards.

Meghan Otis

Meghan Otis

Co-Founder & Partner

Lightspring Capital Partners


Meghan is a co-founder and partner at Lightspring Capital Partners, a firm focused on control equity buyouts and mezzanine investments in the lower middle market. Prior to founding Lightspring, shewas a partner with Waveland Investments, where she co-led 19 platform equity investments. She has nearly two decades of experience investing equity in small businesses.

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

Partner

Svoboda Capital Partners


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.

Saul Rudo

Saul Rudo

Katten Muchin Rosenman LLP


Saul is the national head of Katten's Transactional Tax Planning practice and a member of the firm's board of directors and Executive Committee. He concentrates his practice in the area of tax and corporate planning for private equity, venture capital, mergers and acquisitions, and international transactions, and in investment and management compensation arrangements.

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. 

Dan E. Silberberg

Dan E. Silberberg

CEO / Founder

DIGINTEL Inc


Dan has more than 45 years of experience in consumer products. He has particular expertise in strategy, innovative business models and exponential top-line growth. He has a strong understanding of strategy, branding, product positioning, finance planning and marketing, driving enterprises to the next level. He is launching a cognitive technology platform of strategic assets, DIGINTEL Inc., a Software as a Service business model targeting health care, financial services, retail and CPG.

Darren Snyder

Darren Snyder

Partner

Prairie Capital


Darren is a partner of Prairie Capital, with experience in financing leveraged buyouts and managing a relationship-based lending portfolio of middle-market companies. He is the former chairman and a current board member of the Illinois Venture Capital Association. He is active in volunteer and fundraising services and is a former president of the founding board of Polaris Charter Academy.

Kathleen Steele

Kathleen Steele

Managing Director - Investments

Equity Group Investments


Kathleen is managing director at Equity Group Investments and has served as a core member of Sam Zell’s investment team since 2000. She is on the boards of GreyCastle Holdings Ltd. and Wapiti Oil and Gas LLC and is the portfolio manager for the Zell Credit Opportunities Fund. She also dedicates time to the Leadership Council of a Better Chicago.

Nicholas	Stone

Nicholas Stone

Managing Director

Cyprium Partners


Nick is a managing director with Cyprium Partners, a private equity fund with offices in New York, Cleveland and Chicago.  Since its founding in 1998, Cyprium has completed 75 non-controlling investments alongside founders, entrepreneurs and management teams.  Previously, he worked for Northlight Capital.

Teri D. Tadros

Teri D. Tadros

Director of Development

Frontenac Company


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.

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 Fortune 500 and private companies that manufactured and sold precision industrial equipment.

Roger Veome

Roger Veome

Regional Executive & Managing Director, Investments

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.  

Bill Watkins

Bill Watkins

Managing Director, Business Development

PNC


Bill has more than 27 years of investment banking and corporate finance experience. He has completed a range of financial advisory assignments, including mergers and acquisitions, leveraged buyouts and capital raising on behalf of private equity firms and public and private company clients. Previously, he was a managing director with National City Capital Markets Investment Banking Group, where he provided investment banking services within the Industrial group.

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.

Steve Zaruba

Steve Zaruba

CFO & Executive Vice President

ACH Food Companies, Inc.


Steve is CFO and executive vice president of ACH Food Cos. Inc. He brings 35-plus years of experience in the foods industry with a variety of large and mid-sized businesses, publicly listed, PE and privately owned. His background includes 23 years with Sara Lee in corporate and operating CFO roles at Compact Industries and Enesco.

Betsy Ziegler

Betsy Ziegler

CEO

1871


Elizabeth “Betsy” Ziegler is the first female CEO of 1871, now the No. 1 ranked university-affiliated tech incubator in the world.  Previously, she was chief innovation officer at the Kellogg School of Management, Northwestern University, responsible for portfolio innovation and integration of technology into the Kellogg educational experience. From 2011 to 2015, she served as associate dean of degree programs and dean of students. Ziegler holds an MBA from Harvard Business School.

Conference Location

17 East Monroe Street
Chicago , Illinois 60603
Tel: 312.726.7500