Chairman, CEO & President, W.S. Darley & Co.
Paul C. Darley is Chairman, CEO & President of W.S. Darley & Co. Under his leadership, sales have increased over 800% to over $175 million in 2016. He began in pump sales in 1985 and was named Vice President for the Fire Pump Division of W.S. Darley & Co. in 1990. In 1997, he became President and COO and was appointed President & CEO in 2003. He was named Chairman in 2011.
Founded in 1908, W.S. Darley & Co is a fourth generation family business, led by Paul and an executive team that has transformed this 108-year-old company into a world leader in the firefighting industry and defense industry distribution and manufacturing with ISO 9001 certification and an electronic catalog of more than 10,000 items. The company has recently been awarded major Department of Defense Contracts including an $85.1 million contract with the USMC in 2012. In 2010, W.S. Darley & Co was named the Loyola University Illinois Family Business of the Year and was recognized by Marquette University as Alumnus Family Business of Year in 2009.
Paul is a graduate of St. Ignatius College Prep in Chicago and he holds a BS Degree in Marketing and Finance from Marquette University. He earned his MBA from Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management. He recently earned a two year graduate certificate from the University of Illinois in Emotional Intelligence.
Paul has traveled to 80 countries in his 30-year tenure, and has made over 500 industry speaking engagements. He is involved with numerous charitable, business and service organizations. He is a former Chairman of the Chicago Windy City Chapter of Young Presidents’ Organization (YPO), and is currently a trustee for Dominican University.
He is a Past President of the Fire Apparatus Manufacturers Association (FAMA) after serving on its board for the past 5 years. He also served on the Board of Directors of Fire & Emergency Manufacturers & Services Association (FEMSA) for seven years. Paul Darley currently serves on the Board of the National Defense Industry Association (NDIA) for the Great Lakes Chapter.
Paul is married to his high school sweetheart for 28 years and together they are raising three daughters in Elmhurst, IL.
Chief Executive Officer, Nia Enterprises, LLC; Director, PrivateBanc Corp,, Deluxe Corporation
Cheryl Mayberry McKissack is the Founder and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Nia Enterprises, LLC, a Chicago based business, marketing and digital consulting firm established in 2000. Ms. McKissack previously served as CEO of Ebony Media Operations (formerly Johnson Publishing Company), the trusted and leading African American preeminent media company connecting advertisers and consumers for over 71 years. Ebony Media Operations (EMO) is best known for its flagship publication and brands, Ebony and Jet reaching over 10M African Americans monthly. Prior to assuming the CEO position, Ms. Mayberry McKissack was the Chief Operating Officer (COO) and President of Digital for Johnson Publishing Company since 2013. She was responsible for managing media operations including technology development, production, media sales, marketing, business development and all functions of the digital business unit, JPC Digital. Over the past three years she has been responsible for many of the transformational initiatives at JPC including a new, fair-market pricing model for advertising sales, and the migration of the iconic, sixty-four- year-old publishing brand, Jet, from print to digital. She has also spearheaded the construction of a digital ecosystem for future growth including Ebony Moments, Ebony Collections and the Ebony/Jet Store.
Ms. Mayberry McKissack has extensive corporate and civic board experience, with more than sixteen years of corporate board experience and a special expertise in corporate governance. She currently serves on the Board of Directors of the PrivateBanc Corp (NASDAQ:PVTB), where she is the Chair of the Corporate Governance Committee and Vice Chair of the Compensation Committee. During her tenure at the PrivateBanc Corp, she has been instrumental in overhauling its Corporate Governance program which has resulted in the bank receiving consistently high scores from leading governance advisory services such as Glass, Lewis and ISS. She also serves as a Director of the Deluxe Corporation (NYSE:DLX) and currently serves on the Finance and Compensation Committees. She previously chaired the Governance Committee for six years and spent ten years as a member of the DLX Audit Committee. Ms. Mayberry McKissack is actively involved in the Chicago community and has held positions on numerous non-profit boards. She is currently a Board Member for the University of Chicago Medical Center, Chicago Library Foundation, Shedd Aquarium, and the Gaylord and Dorothy Donnelley Foundation.
Prior to founding Nia Enterprises, Ms. Mayberry McKissack enjoyed a successful 23-year corporate career in operations and technology, including serving as the Worldwide Senior Vice President and General Manager for Open Port Technology. She also served as the Vice President for the Americas, and a founding member of the Network Systems Division for 3Com (formerly U.S. Robotics). During her tenure at U.S Robotics, she was a key member of the leadership team that purchased the leading PDA (personal digital assistant; forerunner to today’s smartphones) company at the time, Palm, Inc. That acquisition was a key driver in the subsequent sale of publicly –traded U.S. Robotics to 3Com for over $8 billion, constituting one of the largest technology- company transactions in the late 1990s. Ms. Mayberry McKissack started her technology career with IBM Corporation where she enjoyed a 14- year career in sales, marketing and management positions.
Ms. Mayberry McKissack is a native of Seattle, Washington. She received her B.S. Degree from Seattle University, completing the four-year program in two-and-one-half years. Ms. Mayberry McKissack also received her MBA from the Northwestern J.L. Kellogg School of Management. In 2005, Ms. Mayberry McKissack was named an Associate Adjunct Professor of Entrepreneurship at her alma mater, the Kellogg School of Business, Northwestern University where she lectured for ten years.
Ms. Mayberry McKissack is an innovative business and entrepreneurial leader as evidenced by numerous awards and citations. In 2005, she was recognized as a Business Leader of Color by Chicago United, an advocacy non-profit organization. Other acknowledgements of her accomplishments include recognition as one of the 25 Influential Black Women in Business by the Network Journal Magazine (2006) and the “Leader Entrepreneurship” award (2006) from the YWCA of Metropolitan Chicago. She received the 2007 Kellogg Alumni "Rising Entrepreneur of the Year" award, was recognized in 2008 as a "HistoryMaker” and was a recipient of the 2009 Anti-Defamation League (ADL) Women of Achievement award. In 2012, she was recognized as one of the "17 Black Internet Pioneers" by ROOT.com, a division of the Washington Post. She was also recognized by Director’s & Board magazine as one of the 2015 “Directors to Watch”. A published author, Ms. Mayberry McKissack‘s next book, The Entrepreneurial Sell: How Selling Impacts Every Step in Start-Up Success—And How To Get It Right, is scheduled for distribution in 2017.
CEO and Chairman of the Board, Mead & Hunt Companies, Inc.
Rajan Sheth joined Mead & Hunt in 1977 as a structural engineer. Sheth has been Chairman of the Board and CEO of the company since 1994. In the past 22 years under Sheth’s leadership, Mead & Hunt has grown from two Wisconsin offices to 31 offices nationwide and from 100 to 525 employees, while still maintaining its values, culture and profitability. The company’s billings increased from $10 million to about $90 million in the same time period. Sheth has been instrumental in fostering an environment in which every employee is encouraged to exercise his/her creative and entrepreneurial spirit. Mead & Hunt has consistently been recognized as one of the best architectural and engineering firms in the nation for which to work and has been repeatedly listed as one of the fastest growing.
Partner, Pelham S2K Managers, LLC, and Director, Derry Enterprises, Inc.
Fields is an experienced independent corporate board director and also has served on numerous company boards as an investor. With her more than thirty-five years of financial management in banks and investment firms, her experience serving on audit committees, and her MBA from Northwestern University, she can readily serve as a financial expert when serving on boards.
Currently, she serves as an Independent Director for Derry Enterprises, Inc., a distribution company in Rockford, IL providing inventory management and supply chain services for fasteners and other Class C items in the U.S., Canada and Mexico.
In her career, Ms. Fields is Partner for Pelham S2K Managers, LLC (“Pelham S2K”), providing junior capital and private equity investments for privately held middle market companies. Formed in 2016, Pelham S2K is the Manager and General Partner of Pelham S2K SBIC, a $100 million Limited Partnership. She manages the Firm’s Illinois office, where she generates investment opportunities in the Midwest.
Previously for eighteen years, Ms. Fields was a Partner with Smith Whiley & Company. She was also a senior member of Smith Whiley’s Investment Committee and oversaw the investment and commitment of 38 mezzanine and private equity transactions that the Advisor directed and managed in its three private equity funds: SW Pelham Fund, L.P., SW Pelham Fund II, LP and SW Pelham Fund III, L.P. As a leader of the Midwest offices of Smith Whiley & Company, she led a team that structured and invested over $145 million in eighteen portfolio companies throughout the country. As an investor, she has served as a Board Director of a dozen Smith Whiley portfolio companies in the food and beverage, manufacturing, retail, and business services sectors.
Prior to 1998, Ms. Fields served as Senior Vice President for seven years at Bank of America in Chicago. She led a team of originators of highly leveraged transactions throughout the Midwest. Expanding to the North, she opened Toronto Loan Production Office and initiated asset-based lending in Canada. During her eighteen year banking career, Ms. Fields has structured, closed and/or managed approximately $2 billion in investments in the automotive, aviation, environmental, food, industrial manufacturing, retail, and service sectors.
In the community, Ms. Fields is an active and energetic leader in several major community and business organizations in the greater Chicago area, often serving on the Audit or Nominating Committee. Currently, she serves as a Trustee for the Ravinia Festival in Highland Park, IL and the Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago, IL. In addition, she is on the board as President for the Association for Corporate Growth, Chicago Chapter and she is a Founding Member, and on both the Chicago & International Boards for the Private Directors Association.
Ms. Fields has a Master of Management degree from the J.L. Kellogg Graduate School of Management and a
B.A. degree from Northwestern University. In addition, she joined the faculty at Kellogg as a Guest Lecturer teaching Entrepreneurial Finance from 2010-2012.
In recognition of her leadership and accomplishments, she was awarded 2004 YWCA Woman of Achievement and then in 2005 awarded Business Leader of Color by Chicago United. She has been featured as a business leader in Crain’s Chicago Business and she won an Award by the M&A Advisor for Consumer Deal of the Year for one of Smith Whiley’s portfolio companies. Ms. Fields was nationally recognized in the January 2017 edition of Mergers & Acquisitions Magazine as one of “The Most Influential Women in Mid-Market M & A."
Senior Vice President, Power Construction Company. Chairman/CEO, Power Wellness Management LLC
Kenneth Gorman is senior vice president and an owner of Power Construction Company and the chairman/chief executive officer of Power Wellness Management LLC. Power Construction Company was founded in 1926 by Kenneth’s grandfather and is recognized today as one of the Midwest’s largest construction managers, with annual revenues exceeding $700 million. Founded by Ken in 1995, Power Wellness focuses on the planning, development and management of institutional wellness centers for healthcare systems and universities. With 30+ facilities nationwide and over 2,000 team members, Power Wellness is an industry leading organization.
Born and raised in the Chicago area, Ken attended North Shore Country Day School in Winnetka and graduated from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania with a degree in finance and real estate development in 1985. Ken has been a member of YPO/WPO since 2010, and is a board member on Power Construction Company, Elgin Academy, Women in Need Growing Stronger, and College of Dupage Foundation. In the past, Ken has served on numerous professional and charitable boards, including the Good Shepherd Hospital Development Council, Illinois Facilities Fund, Roosevelt School of Real Estate, and Harper College Foundation.
Kenneth has been married for 28 years, has three children, and lives in North Barrington, Illinois. Ken enjoys golfing, skiing, and a good bottle of Chianti Classico..
Chief Legal Officer, and former Director, Sasser Family Holdings, Inc.
Robin Letchinger is the Chief Legal Officer for Sasser Family Holdings, Inc. (SFH), a fourth-generation, family-owned transportation asset lessor and management company headquartered in Schaumburg, Illinois. SFH's subsidiaries include Chicago Freight Car Leasing, Inc., Union Leasing, Inc., CF Rail Services, LLC, Xcēd Aviation Services, LLC, NxGen Rail, LLC, and CF Asia Pacific Pty Ltd.
Robin was an independent director on SFH's board for six years and the chair of its Compensation Committee before joining the Company in 2015. In her role as CLO, Robin is responsible for directing every legal aspect of the Company. She also works closely with each of SFH’s subsidiaries to provide legal support and strategy. As a member of the senior leadership team, Robin serves as a key strategic advisor, including serving on the Company’s Investment Committee. In conjunction with the Executive Chairman and the CEO, Robin also is responsible for the preparation of materials for and facilitation of Board of Director and Board Committee meetings.
Prior to joining SFH Robin was a capital partner at the law firm, Fox, Swibel, Levin & Carroll, LLP, where she co-chaired the firm's Litigation Group. While at FSLC, Robin focused her practice on commercial disputes, representing clients in a variety of business-related matters. She also acted as outside general counsel to closely-held companies and family-owned businesses.
Robin has been recognized as a Leading Lawyer in commercial litigation and alternative dispute resolution by the Law Bulletin Publishing Company—a distinction reserved for lawyers who are most often recommended by their peers in statewide surveys.
Robin also sits on the board of directors of Chicago Foundation for Women, a philanthropic organization dedicated to increasing resources and opportunities for women and girls in the greater Chicago area.
Robin earned a B.S. in Finance, with highest honors, from the University of Illinois and a J.D. from the Northwestern University School of Law.
Director, Southworth International Group Inc. and Kennebec Technologies Inc.
Jim McHugh is the Founder & CEO of McHugh & Co., a strategy and performance improvement consulting firm. Jim specializes in âfixing Stuck companiesâ. He created the 9StucksÂ® business diagnostic tool that identifies nine distinct yet interrelated business challenges that cause a company to underperform. His practical approach to working with the leadership of these Stuck companies has produced substantial improvements in strategic focus and alignment, operating performance, organizational clarity, profitability, cash flow, and shareholder value. Jim has worked extensively with Boards, investors, owners, CEOs and senior leadership teams of management-owned, family-owned, or private equity backed businesses in diverse industries: manufacturing, distribution, technology, business/professional services, and retail. In addition to his work as a CEO advisor and consultant, Jim has broad, senior, general management experience in middle market and emerging growth companies as an operating executive (CEO and CFO) and a member of multiple Boards of Directors. His operating roles include Chairman and CEO of Chi-Vit Corporation and President of Strategies, Inc., an information technology consulting firm. He co-founded (2005) and leads the Maine Board Forum CEO Peer Group. Jimâs current board positions include Southworth International Group, Inc. and Kennebec Technologies, Inc. In the past Jim has served on the boards of Beckwood Services, Inc., Climax Manufacturing Company, The RETEC Group, Inc., Shield Pack, Inc., Chi-Vit, Inc., Questech Metals, Inc., and the Advisory Boards of Seaman Paper Co., Inc. and Animation Technologies, Inc. He is a former Director of the Boston Chapter of the Association for Corporate Growth and Founder of The Concord Vine, a monthly breakfast group of operating executives, private investors, corporate development professionals, and attorneys. He writes regularly on his blog at www.9Stucks.com and for numerous business publications. Jimâs passions outside of work include family life (married 40 years with two daughters), running, reading, writing and boating. He graduated with an AB in Economics from Bowdoin College and an MBA from The Amos Tuck School of Business Administration at Dartmouth College. He earned his CPA while employed with Arthur Andersen & Co.
President, Kiolbassa Provision Company Inc.
Michael Kiolbassa began his career in the family sausage business in 1987 after a two-year period working in the commercial banking industry as a credit analyst. Since then, he has overseen the transformation of the family meat company from a small family business to one of the largest sausage manufacturers in the U.S.
Michael holds a BBA in finance from Southern Methodist University and is a member of the Young Presidents Organization, Southwest Meat Association, Texas Association of Meat Processers, Greater San Antonio Chamber of Commerce and Christ Episcopal Church. He is married to his lovely wife, Nita, and has two almost grown children, Rusty and Claudia.
Director, and retired Chairman, IDEAL Industries Inc.
Dave was born in Sycamore, home of IDEAL INDUSTRIES INC; the family owned and controlled business since 1916. He joined the company in 1972 after college at Shimer and grad school at University of Chicago. Experience as a teacher, VISTA volunteer, and several years in a manufacturing company in Chicago proved to be important career steps prior to IDEAL.
Dave held several positions at IDEAL, from IT director, to salesman, to marketing positions, culminating with being named chairman in 1984. He held the CEO title for some portion of his 30 years as chairman, depending on who he had in operations.
The first part of his term as chairman included revising the role of the board, working with family to enhance and formalize the family governance systems to parallel corporate governance, and reevaluating markets being served. It led to a series of actions, including creating a Voting Trust and a stock redemption policy, both of which have become the backbone of future growth for the company and the family.
The middle portion led to several acquisitions that moved IDEAL into a broader reach into the data communications market, entered the environmental monitoring market, a greenfield operation in China, and novel approach to connection technology in the high current DC arena.
The final stage was focused on exiting the chairman role. He was able to recruit a very talented non-family member who heartily embraced the overall direction of the family and company, which led to a new level of involvement for the next generation of family leaders. Along with an extremely complex estate planning effort, IDEAL is well placed for growth for generations to come.
Dave has served on several boards from a community bank to an ag retailer, to a high tech HVAC startup in the private sector. He served 10 years on the Illinois State Board of Education as well as the local school board. He has been active in support of the local community college as well as NIU. Economic development has been a real interest, having served DeKalb County, Illinois as well as Vilas County Wisconsin.
Since his retirement in 2014, he keeps up with happenings at IDEAL, overseeing a major construction project, serving on its board, and driving the estate planning initiative. He also owns a manufacturing incubator operation in Vilas County where he advises, and sometimes funds startups. He has five operations currently, with several having come and gone.
Managing Principal, StratConGlobal, Inc.
Joanna Peters is the Founding Managing Principal of StratConGlobal, Inc, a strategic advisory firm based in New York City, with a proven track record of build outs and turnarounds in emerging and global markets. She has driven rollups in Asia and the United States, appointed interim COO/CFO on new private equity ventures in the offshore oil and gas sectors as well as advisor in the Australian livestock sector. She has extensive experience in Asia Pac, including India, Korea, Indonesia, Singapore, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Malaysia, Vietnam as well as Latin America, Eastern Europe and the Middle East. Her industry sectors include asset management, financial services, energy and agriculture.
Joanna is a best practice industry speaker here and abroad, participates in various governmental and private sector forums including the Peterson Institute and Volker Alliance and serves on private boards. Educated in Australia where she captained the women’s ski team, as well as England, she is also admitted to the bar in New York and Australia.
Retired Chairman and CEO, CNA Insurance Companies
Dennis Chookaszian is the retired chairman and chief executive officer of CNA Insurance Companies.
Mr. Chookaszian served as CNA’s chairman and chief executive officer from 1992 until 1999. He also served as chairman of the executive committee of CNA from 1999 to 2001. From 1990 to 1992, Mr. Chookaszian served as CNA’s president and chief operating officer, with responsibility for all property and casualty, life, health and investment operations. Mr. Chookaszian joined CNA in 1975 and served as chief financial officer until 1990 when he was named president. He also served as chairman and CEO of mPower Inc, an internet financial advisory service, from 1999 to 2001. Prior to joining CNA, he was a management consultant with Deloitte for eight years working on various financial and systems related assignments.
Mr. Chookaszian served as chairman of FASAC (Financial Accounting Standards Advisory Council) which provides guidance to the FASB (Financial Accounting Standards Board) on accounting matters for five years and completed his term in 2011. He is also a member of the FCAG (Financial Crisis Advisory Group) which is the international commission that was created to develop recommendations to solve the financial reporting problems associated with the current economic problems.
During his career, he has served as a director on the boards of twelve publicly traded corporations and fifty private corporations. He is currently a director of the Chicago Mercantile Exchange, the world’s largest derivatives exchange, Career Education, a private post-secondary education provider, Allscripts, a leading provider of software for the Health Care sector, Internet Patents Corp, a firm that licenses Internet Patents, and MacDonald Dettwiler, a space satellite technology company. He also serves as a director of a number of private corporations and has served as an arbitrator in ten diverse cases and an expert witness in five cases.
Mr. Chookaszian is an Adjunct Professor at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business and teaches courses in Corporate Governance. He also teaches a course in International Corporate Governance at Cheung Kong University in China, Shanghai Advanced Institute of Finance in China, and at IIPM in India.
Mr. Chookaszian is a member of the national board of the Boy Scouts of America, a trustee of Northwestern University, a member of the advisory board of the University of Chicago Booth School of Business, and a member of the advisory board of Kellogg Graduate School of Management. He is also a director of Northwestern Memorial Hospital and president of the Foundation for Health Enhancement.
Mr. Chookaszian has a bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering from Northwestern University, a master’s degree in business administration from the University of Chicago, and a master of science degree in economics from the London School of Economics. He is a Certified Public Accountant, a Chartered Global Management Accountant, Chartered Property Casualty Underwriter, and a Certified Management Consultant as well as a member of the directors’ table of Beta Gamma Sigma, an honorary fraternity. In 2010, Mr. Chookaszian received the Outstanding Director Award from the Financial Times Outstanding Directors Exchange.
CEO, Banner Apartments LLC
Milton Pinsky is the CEO of Banner Real Estate Group, LLC and affiliates, which he founded in 1990 with his brother, Martin, and father, Alex. Prior to starting Banner Apartments, LLC and its affiliates (Banner), Milt practiced law for 5 years at Skadden Arps Meagher & Flom, specializing in mergers, acquisitions and leveraged buyouts. Milt received his JD and MBA from the University of Chicago. Prior to graduate school, Milt worked as an Electrical Engineer for 2 years during and after obtaining a B.S. in Electrical Engineering from the University of Illinois. Milt resides in Glencoe, Illinois and is married with three children.
When Banner started, Milt owned and controlled a majority interest and was the CEO of a company whose sole asset was a $2.5 million line of credit from Alex Pinsky. Today, Banner is an owner of and manages over 6,000 apartments and is an owner of a portfolio of self-storage properties. Banner’s main operating divisions include (i) conventional acquisitions, fundraising and investor reporting, (ii) new construction of multifamily rental properties, self-storage properties and senior housing and (iii) property management. Banner currently has approximately 250 employees. Banner’s stabilized portfolio is worth over $600 million, its development pipeline has a projected stabilized value of over $400 million and it has operations in 14 states.
Milt transferred his majority control to a Board of Directors in 2005. The family member owners created a family council in 2006 and a Business Governance Committee to interact with the Board and the business in 2014. The Board of Directors consists of 4 outside directors (the Independent Directors Committee) and 2 family board seats. The Independent Directors Committee has sole discretion to fire, hire, promote or determine the annual salary and bonus of each family member working in the business, including Milt. Family members working in the business are to be held to the same standards for all such decisions as non-family members would be held. Pursuant to a Board approved plan, Banner promoted one of its long term executives (who is not a family member) to COO at the beginning of 2015 with the expectation that such individual will become CEO in August of 2017.
Milt is also on the board of two non-profits, one focusing on affordable housing (which Milt co-founded) and one focusing on people with developmental disabilities.
Board Member, Menasha Corporation
Menasha Corporation, a family-owned company, provides niche-based packaging, logistics and marketing services through two operating units: Menasha Packaging and Orbis. The company has sales in excess of $1 billion and 4,000 employees.
Menasha Corporation is also a socially responsible business, supporting various organizations and causes through the Menasha Corporation Foundation.
Charles "Charlie" Shepard spent two decades as a journalist, reporting for the Charlotte (NC) Observer and Washington Post. His investigations led to federal convictions and prison terms for three executives at the United Way of America and four executives at the PTL television ministry, including its president, televangelist Jim Bakker. Shepard’s reporting on PTL won the Pulitzer Prize for Meritorious Public Service in 1988 for the Observer. A year later, Shepard published "Forgiven: The Rise and Fall of Jim Bakker and the PTL Ministry," a biography of Bakker.
Charlie, a 1976 graduate of Harvard University, earned an MBA from The University of Virginia Darden School of Business in 2000. For the past 10 years, he has worked in a variety of roles with Menasha Corporation, a Wisconsin-based packaging business founded by his paternal great-great-grandfather, Elisha D. Smith. Charlie, founding chairman of the Smith Family Council from 2004 to 2008, now serves on Menasha's board of directors.
Charlie is married to author Wendy Swallow, and they live in Reno, Nev., and Washington, D.C. He has two sons, Ben and Sam Shepard, and two stepsons, Joe and Geoff Williams.