CEO, The Forge Adventure Parks
Mr. Bacon is a seasoned executive and entrepreneur in B2B software and Outdoor Recreation. He is CEO of The Forge Adventure Parks, which designs, constructs, and operates large-scale outdoor recreation parks. He formerly served as CEO of Imagineer Technology Group, is President of Itiviti Americas, and CEO of Backstop Solutions Group, which he co-founded in 2003. Early in his career, he spent several years as an institutional equities associate at Goldman Sachs, specializing in sales and trading for hedge funds, mutual funds, and pension funds.
He is a board member and strategic advisor to several fund management and software companies, is the founder of The Forge Charitable Adventures, The Highwater Foundation, and Chicago Tech Rocks, and serves on the boards of 1871 and i.c. stars, a nonprofit that uses project-based learning to provide an opportunity for future leaders to develop skills in business and technology. Mr. Bacon earned a B.S. in International Studies and Global Economics from Brigham Young University and a graduate research diploma from the University of Tsukuba, Japan.
CEO, Clear Spring Health
Mr. Carlos brings over 25 years of healthcare experience in various leadership and entrepreneurial roles. Currently, he serves as CEO and President of Clear Spring Health, a national provider of Medicare Advantage and Medicare Part D plans. Previously, he served as President and CEO of Symphonix Health Insurance, a national Medicare Part D insurer that he built from start-up to $2 billion in expected prescription drug sales within three years of founding the company. He has also served as President and CEO of Destiny Health Insurance Company (now The Vitality Group), an early-stage consumer directed health insurer.
Mr. Carlos’s prior experience includes 16 years with Aon and Hewitt Associates, where he served in various leadership roles, including chair of the national actuarial practice council and member of the executive committee, helping set global strategy. Mr. Carlos earned a B.S. in Actuarial Science from the University of Illinois and is a Fellow of the Society of Actuaries and an Enrolled Actuary under ERISA.
Retired President, Industrial Parts Depot
Mr. Clogg has served as an executive in multiple industrial manufacturing/distribution businesses, growing the top line and improving bottom line results through a combination of organic growth, successful M&A integration, and financial management. Mike has led turnarounds as well as growth businesses. His background includes significant international experience and brand building. Prior to his role as President and COO of Industrial Parts Depot, Mr. Clogg served as a VP at Federal Mogul, was President of FP Diesel, a Fel-Pro company, and currently serves on several mid-market advisory boards. Mike earned a B.A. in Marketing from Michigan State University.
Caralynn Nowinski Collens
CEO, Dimension Inx
Dr. Collens is the CEO of Dimension Inx, a regenerative medicine company harnessing the power of a patented 3D-printing biomaterials platform. Previously, she was co-founder and CEO of UI LABS, a research and commercialization collaborative that launched MxD, the national digital manufacturing institute, and City Tech, a digital innovation hub for cities. She continues to serve as Chair Emeritus of the Board of Directors of MxD.
Dr. Collens spent her early career in venture capital and corporate finance, focusing on technology-based university spin-outs. She was a Principal with early-stage venture capital firms ARCH Development Partners and Midwest Venture Partners, and SVP of Sikich Investment Banking. As a graduate student, she co-founded SanoGene Therapeutics, an early-stage biotechnology company. She is a member of World Business Chicago’s ChicagoNEXT Council of technology leaders, the Commercial Club of Chicago, and The Chicago Network. Dr. Collens earned a B.S. in Human Communication Sciences at Northwestern University and both an M.B.A. and M.D. from the University of Illinois at Chicago.
Former CSO, Intuit
Mr. Coppe is an independent advisor and early stage investor, and has served on the boards of directors of or as an advisor to several companies, including Accuvant, Fuhu and Xero, as well as many start-ups he has invested in. Most recently, he was the Chief Strategy and Corporate Development Officer of Intuit, where he led a team setting strategy for the company’s $4B business and oversaw several key acquisitions. Prior to that, Mr. Coppe was a senior partner with Accenture for over 20 years, with several responsibilities including serving on the firm’s Global Leadership Team, and as Managing Partner, Corporate Development and Strategy. He worked with a broad spectrum of high tech companies, including component suppliers, computer and networking manufacturers, consumer electronics and software companies, to formulate corporate and business unit-level strategies. Mr. Coppe earned a B.S. in Engineering with Highest Honors from the University of California at Berkeley and an M.B.A. from Harvard Business School.
Former CEO, Engineered Glass Products
Mr. Hobbs is a strategic and operational business leader with a track record of optimizing value in the manufacturing space. He served as CEO of Engineered Glass Products, where his vision resulted in sales and profit growth exceeding 500% from 1995 to 2007. During that time, Mr. Hobbs orchestrated a management buyout of the company and significantly modernized corporate structure and processes. Prior to that, he was a successful commissioned salesperson in the wholesale glass business, and earlier served as General Manager of a 22-store retail auto glass installation business. In addition to his involvement with charitable organizations focused on providing educational and professional development to disadvantaged youth, Mr. Hobbs serves on several boards of directors, including Iowa Glass Depot, Bellarmine University, LIFT, E2C, ANEW, New Covenant Community Development Corporation and Veterinary Pharmaceutical Solutions. Mr. Hobbs earned both a B.A. in Philosophy and an M.B.A. from Bellarmine University.
Retired COO, Morningstar
Mr. Huang was the COO of Morningstar, a top global provider of investment research, until his retirement in 2010. He spent nearly two decades at Morningstar, taking on increasing levels of responsibility from his start as an entry-level technical programmer. Mr. Huang led initiatives enabling significant growth, both organically and through acquisition, and oversaw continuous improvements in the operation of the firm’s core businesses. He has been Director of Principal Mutual Fund since 2012, Director of Armstrong World Industries, Inc. since 2010, and Director of Equity Lifestyle since 2015. Mr. Huang earned a B.S. in Computer Science from Hunan University, China, an M.S. in Computer Science from Marquette University and an M.B.A. from the Booth School of Business at the University of Chicago.
Mr. Izzo serves as CEO of ThermFlo Inc. and Zonatherm Products Inc. a 50 year old company providing concept to completion, Electrical and Thermal management design build and service for mission critical facilities. They represent Generac standby power systems, Vertiv, and StarLine. Mr. Izzo earned a B.S. in Mechanical engineering from Northwestern University and is an alumnus of Harvard University’s Owner president management (OPM) program. He is a professional engineer licensed in Illinois.
Principal & Chief Wealth Strategist, Gresham Partners, LLC
Ms. Kamin is a principal at the wealth management firm, Gresham Partners, where she serves as the Chief Wealth Strategist, leading Gresham’s development and implementation of estate, wealth transfer, philanthropic, educational, and fiduciary planning activities. Previously she was a partner at Schiff Hardin LLP where she practiced in the Private Clients Trusts & Estates group. Ms. Kamin is also an adjunct professor at the Northwestern University Pritzker School of Law and on faculty with the University of Chicago Booth School of Business Executive Education. She is on the Editorial Advisory Board of Trusts and Estates Magazine, President for the Chicago Estate Planning Council, a Regent with the American College of Trust and Estate Counsel, and on the Advisory Board and Leaders Council for the UHNW Institute. She is a member of The Economic Club of Chicago and serves on advisory boards for the Chicago Community Trust, the Art Institute of Chicago, the Northwestern Memorial Foundation Council for Philanthropy, the Goodman Theatre, and the Chicago Foundation for Women. She also serves on the Executive Committee for the Lurie Children’s Legacy Partners and on the Board of Leaders for the Stanford Club of Chicago. Ms. Kamin received a B.A. in Psychology, with distinction and departmental honors, from Stanford University and a J.D. from the University of Chicago Law School.
Pamela Forbes Lieberman
Retired CEO, True Value
Ms. Forbes Lieberman serves on the Boards of Directors of Standard Motor Products, Inc. and John B Sanfilippo & Son. Ms. Forbes Lieberman served as President & CEO of True Value Company, where she led a successful turnaround. Additional leadership positions include Interim COO Entertainment Resource Inc. and Chief Financial Officer positions at True Value Company, ShopTalk, Martin Brower and Fel-Pro Inc. Ms. Forbes Lieberman additionally serves on boards for Rush University Medical Center, Morrow Sodali, National Association of Corporate Directors – Chicago, and Villanova University Widger School of Law’s Girard-diCarlo Center for Ethics. Ms. Forbes Lieberman is a member of The Chicago Network, International Women’s Forum, The Economic Club of Chicago, and the Private Directors Association. Ms. Forbes Lieberman began her career at Price Waterhouse, is a CPA, and holds an MBA from the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University and a B.S. in Accountancy from the University of Illinois.
Executive Chairman, Reveal - Chairman and Retired CEO, Litera
Avaneesh Marwaha is a growth oriented executive and advisor with a background in successfully scaling companies globally. He is the Executive Chairman of Reveal and the Chairman of Litera. In 2022, Avaneesh transitioned from CEO to Chairman of Litera. As CEO, Avaneesh was responsible for leading Litera as the company continued to grow in market impact and influence. He drove the entire team to deliver truly leading-edge solutions for customers while driving a strong culture, accountability, innovation, and growth from $16M to ~$250M in Revenue.
In his prior role, Avaneesh served as the chief operating officer of Nexonia (now Emburse). During his tenure, he was instrumental in the company’s expansion to become a multinational company, while increasing customer focus and streamlining product development. Previously, he served as the chief operating officer of Keno Kozie, where he doubled the size and revenues of the organization in just three years. Earlier in his career, he was a practicing attorney, general counsel, and entrepreneur. Avaneesh earned his JD degree from the Valparaiso University School of Law and completed a bachelor’s degree in biology from Bradley University.
Founder and CEO, Ramsay Innovations
Mr. Morris is the founder and CEO of Ramsay Innovations, a management consulting company. Previously, Jon was the Founder and CEO of Rise Interactive, a full-service, digital marketing agency helping leading brands drive better business outcomes with their proven approach to cross-channel media management and customer experience. Under Morris’ leadership, Rise received recognition for excellence including acknowledgment from Inc. 500|5000 Fastest Growing Companies (nine-time winner), Ad Age (Best Places to Work in Advertising), Fortune Magazine, and more. Morris has been personally recognized as a leader in technology and innovation on the Techweek100 list the Crain’s Chicago Tech 50 list.
As a leader in the digital marketing community, Morris has mentored several entrepreneurs and also regularly shares his expertise as a guest speaker. He has presented at workshops and webinars for organizations such as Search Marketing Expo, Search Engine Strategies, American Marketing Association, The University of Chicago Booth School of Business, Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management, Forrester Research, Online Marketing Summit, iStrategy, and Vistage. Morris earned an MBA with high honors, graduating first in his class from the University of Chicago Booth School of Business, and a bachelor’s degree from Kenyon College.
Retired Senior Vice President & Chief Supply Chain Officer, Valvoline, Inc.
Mr. Moughler was the Senior Vice President and Chief Supply Chain Officer at Valvoline, Inc. for almost 34 years. Moughler began his career at Valvoline in 1988 as manager of plant engineering. In 1990, Moughler moved into a series of vice president positions including Valvoline Instant Oil Change, global manufacturing and distribution, e-business and business transformation. From 2002 to 2019, Moughler was the president of Valvoline International, the business unit responsible for all of Valvoline’s operations outside the US and Canada. Moughler has held long term board positions in all of Valvoline’s International joint ventures as well as leadership positions in several industry and charitable organizations including the Petroleum Packaging Council, the World Trade Center of Kentucky, and the Opportunity Workshop of Lexington. Moughler holds a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering from Purdue University and an MBA from the University of New Orleans.
Chief Investment Officer, Summit Point Capital
Mr. Park, Chief Investment Officer of Summit Point Capital, brings 19 years of experience successfully investing in the mining, metals and commodities sector. He has built a career overseeing commodity investing in equities and futures for multiple investment firms including Vulcan Mining, The Electrum Group, and Soros Fund Management. Mr. Park began his investing career at GE Capital where he was Assistant Vice President in the distressed debt businesses, followed by a stint as a long/short equity analyst in the basic materials sector for Highlander Fund Management. He received a B.S. in Economics from the University of Chicago and an M.B.A. from Columbia University.
Principal, The Elgin Company
Mr. Seigle brings decades of investing and operating experience as a principal of The Elgin Company, a family office focused on real estate management, investing and philanthropy, and as former president of Seigle’s Inc, an Illinois-based lumber supplier. He spent 30+ years in various executive roles of Seigle’s Inc as the family business grew to over $300 million in annual sales and was eventually sold to Stock Building Supply/Wolseley PLC in 2006. Mr. Seigle also serves as a trustee of Washington University, Campaign Chairman of the 2016 Chicago Jewish United Fund, and outgoing president of Chicago’s American Jewish Committee. Additionally, he serves on the boards of Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce and Civic Federation of Chicago. Mr. Seigle received a B.A. in Political Science from Washington University, and a J.D. from Northwestern University.
CEO & Owner of Hidden Embers
Granite Creek Executive Council Member Cory Sexson is a seasoned CPG/Food & Beverage Executive with over 15 years of transformative leadership in multinational corporations like PepsiCo & Tyson Foods, and private equity-backed ventures like Tropicana Brands Group. He is the Owner and CEO of Hidden Embers, a strategic consulting firm focused on growth mapping in the CPG space. In his most recent role at Tropicana, he was the Vice President & General Manager of Emerging Brands & Breakthrough Innovation. In 2022, he was recognized by Brand Innovators as a top consumer marketer in the Midwest, as he has consistently demonstrated his prowess in innovation, team leadership, and delivering strong P&L results. He holds an MBA from Northwestern University – Kellogg School of Management and a BA from Hastings College.
President & CEO, SMS Assist
Mr. Shiffman serves as the president and CEO at SMS Assist, in addition to serving on the board of directors. During Marc’s tenure, SMS Assist has grown to more than 750 employees. In June 2016, SMS Assist raised $150 million at a $1 billion valuation from Goldman Sachs Investment Partners, the same team that invested in Uber, Facebook, Pinterest, and Spotify.
Before joining SMS Assist, Marc provided strategic, financial, and operating support to entrepreneurs leading early-stage startups as they transitioned to hypergrowth mode. Prior to that, Marc worked as a senior executive in corporate finance and general management at MacAndrews and Forbes-owned-and-operated companies including Revlon, The Coleman Company, and Sunbeam Household Products.
Marc earned his bachelor’s degree in economics from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania and his MBA from The University of Chicago Booth School of Business. Marc currently serves on the Chicago Innovation Board of Advisors and in July 2019 Marc was named to the Crain’s Chicago Business Tech 50 list.
Chief Commercial Officer, BSE Global
Mr. Wandell oversees the ticketing, suites, sponsorship, and marketing departments across all BSE Global teams and venues. He is also responsible for the development and growth of the Brooklyn Nets and Barclays Center brands. Wandell joined BSE Global after spending more than three years as the Senior Vice President of Global Partnerships with the Los Angeles Dodgers, where he oversaw all corporate partnership sales and service and was responsible for directing and developing joint sales strategies with the team’s media partners. Prior to joining the Dodgers, he was Vice President of International Business Development at the National Basketball Association where he focused on creating large-scale global partnerships. Over the course of his career, he has generated more than $1 billion in total sponsorship revenue. A native of Champaign, IL, Wandell graduated from Northwestern University with a B.A. in History.
President, NJB Investments, LLC
Mr. Wellek is a partner in TRO Investment Partners, a private investment firm,President of NJB Advisors, LLC, a management advisory firm, as well asthe owner of two bicycle stores. He has a 35 year career in business and law. He has owned, operated and acquired many businesses, the majority of which were consumer products businesses which supplied major retailers including, Wal-Mart, Target, Bed Bath & Beyond, Dicks and Walgreens. Jeff received a B.S.. in Accountancy from the University of Illinois and a JD from Northwestern University.
Owner, Moraine Farmland Partners & Elemental Enzymes
Jim Zimmer is an executive and entrepreneur with decades of experiences in agribusiness. In partnership with Granite Creek, Jim has scaled Moraine Farmland Partners into a major owner of Midwestern farmland. Throughout his 18 years with Monsanto Company, Jim held a variety of sales, marketing and executive positions including overseeing Monsanto’s US business during their highest growth years and as CEO of Channel Bio LLC, then a $700 million subsidiary and the fourth largest corn/soybean seed company in the United States. Jim is an investor and board member of Elemental Enzyme, the leading supplier of crop enzymes and peptides. Jim is an active advisor to the seed industry and serves on the Board of Directors of First Mid Bank & Trust and Sarah Bush Lincoln Health System. Jim is a graduate of Lake Land College and earned his MBA at Washington University.