Jules F. Knapp
Jules F. Knapp, Founder, IIT Knapp Entrepreneurship Center
Jules F. Knapp is a member of the IIT Board of Trustees and a very successful serial entrepreneur. He started his own paint business, United Coatings, in 1962 and was one of the first paint producers to market to mass merchandisers such as Wal-Mart. In 1994 United Coatings merged with Pratt and Lambert. In 1996 the company was purchased by Sherwin-Williams. In September 2002 Knapp purchased Grisham Manufacturing, a maker of steel security storm doors, and used his entrepreneurial know-how to improve production and customer service, and established a new sales relationship with retail giant Home Depot. Knapp successfully sold Grisham Manufacturing in 2014 and is now devoting more of his time to mentoring new start-ups.
William R. Burke
William R. Burke, Principal, William Burke Services
William R. Burke is an experienced senior executive who has spent most of his career in the global packaging and manufacturing sectors. He has worked at companies that provide products and services to many well-known multinational and domestic food, beverage, cosmetics, and consumer products companies. His background includes president and CEO roles in global middle-market manufacturing companies that were both public and private-equity owned.
With a diverse background in key executive roles, he has demonstrated success turning around low-performing entities, streamlining complex business processes, deploying unique products, and driving profitable growth strategies. As a strategic thinker with hands-on operating skills, he has aligned business goals with performance metrics. His career has progressed from the plant floor to the executive suite. He has contributed almost 20 years running foreign-owned U.S.-based businesses.
Glen Capek, Multimedia Manager, Molex
Glen is the Director of the global multimedia communication effort for Molex, one of the world’s largest manufacturers of electronic interconnects and solutions. He uses his entrepreneurial spirit and creative energy across cultures creating unique, engaging marketing and communication content in 17 languages, for people in dozens countries. Glen made hundreds of commercials for clients like Cobra Electronics and GMC Trucks, produced tourism videos in places like rural Alaska, and edited for the 10:00 p.m. news at CBS. He also leads teams of people that produce large corporate events that include Sales, Communication, and Global Management Meetings. His two true passions are creating new things and helping people. This led to starting his production company that does some videos at or below cost for worthwhile causes. These favor people who help the world like Giant Steps School for children with Autism, the Abide in Me house for the mentally challenged and the Cam Fund to cure Primitive Neuroectodermal Tumors in infants & toddlers. He also started a foundation that raises money specifically for breast cancer research and serves on 2 youth athletic association boards. After joining the Knapp Center, Glen jumped right in to work with two of our clients right away, making connections for them and adding ideas for new product features. As the son of an 1952 IIT Alum, Glen is happy to give back to the school that gave his family so much.
Steven S. Dorfman
Steven S. Dorfman, Managing Director, Financial Relations Incorporated
Steven S. Dorfman is the managing director for Financial Relations Incorporated (FRI), an international investment banking and advisory services firm. He works with FRI clients, providing them access to the firm’s vast network of relationships, as well as access to funds and strategic advisory in areas such as the Department of Defense, government, health care, manufacturing, and financial services organizations.
As a founder and president of SSD Strategic Services, Dorfman provided leadership to merger and acquisition initiatives such as the Bank of America’s acquisition of Merrill Lynch and Canadian-based Bank of Montreal Harris Bank's acquisition of Marshall & Ilsley. His strategic leadership, operational integration experience, and applied engineering skills at the banks provided for seamless transitions.
Dorfman spent more than 15 years in successful business startups, including The Wire Exchange, COO (a market for surplus and excess wire and cable), Provision X, CIO (a beef, pork, and poultry company to buy/sell meat backed by Tyson, IBP, and Cargill), Sapient, regional director (an international strategy and technology consulting firm) and breakaway solutions, regional director managing the Midwest (an international strategy and technology consulting firm).
Dorfman began his career at Accenture, formerly Andersen Consulting, where he focused on large-scale international strategy and technology initiatives for banking, insurance, and health care clients.
David Dziedzic (M.B.A. '96), Serial Entrepreneur—Currently owns seven companies
David Dziedzic is a serial entrepreneur, having initiated or participated in 14 startups or new companies over the course of the last 20 years. He has more than 23 years of general, project, and operations management experience, primarily responsible for the cost-efficient and profitable operations of numerous enterprises.
Specific responsibilities have included coordination and cost-efficient completion of multiple projects, financial planning and management, budget development and management, systems construction and analysis, sales and promotion, bid preparation, contract and vendor negotiations, customer relations, and human resource management.
Dziedzic holds an M.B.A. from Illinois Institute of Technology, an M.A. in international relations/comparative politics from Loyola University Chicago, and a B.A. in political science/international relations from DePaul University.
Samuel B. Guren
Samuel B. Guren, Owner, Guren Capital Management
Mr. Guren started in the venture capital/private equity business in 1975, with Continental Illinois Venture Corporation (CIVC), a subsidiary of Continental Bank (Chicago). During his tenure with CIVC, the firm’s investments ranged from Apple Computer to Yoplait to Kohlberg, Kravis & Roberts. The KKR investment took the firm into the buyout investment business.
In 1981, Mr. Guren was recruited by William Blair to co-found and manage William Blair Venture Partners. He grew the business to six professionals during three funds. Investments ranged from the founding of The Sports Authority to the buyout of Sanford Corporation to investments in various technology, healthcare and cable television companies.
Robert Baird recruited Mr. Guren in 1996 to manage the Baird Capital funds. While there, BCP grew from two to five professionals with a focus on outsourcing and temporary staffing.
Mr. Guren joined Allied Capital in 1999, and stayed through 2002. He managed the Chicago office, and was on their Investment and Operating Committees.
From 2007 to 2011, he was the Managing Director of the Hyde Park Angels, an angel network affiliated with the University of Chicago Booth School of Business. Sam is an advisor to OCA Ventures and a member of the Boards of Directors of The Debt Exchange (Debtx), SpotHero and the CEC which manages 1871.
Mr. Guren is a recipient of the Stanley C. Golder Medal which “acknowledges individuals who have made profound and lasting contributions to the private equity industry in Illinois”. He is a graduate of the University of Wisconsin, and received an MBA from the Wharton Graduate School.
Mike Harshfield is a savvy and experienced senior executive with a unique blend of Operations, Technology Deployment, Process & Cost Optimization, Innovation and Program Management, spanning start-ups through Fortune 50 organizations. With industry experience spanning multiple sectors including Food & Beverage (McDonald’s); Entertainment & Media (Sonifi Solutions, formerly LodgeNet Interactive & Reactrix Systems, Inc.); Internet services (CDNetworks); Clean Tech; Transportation; Insurance; and Distribution. He is driven by a passion for identifying, building and executing scalable, technology-driven solutions to solve critical business needs.
A logical thinker and strong communicator, Mike is known for delivering optimized processes, rapid-paced large-scale deployments, building scalable infrastructure and complex innovation implementations, all while ensuring future design solutions result in optimized efficiency & effectiveness, information sharing and cross-departmental collaboration.
Today, Mike has a consulting practice focused on helping innovate businesses by enhancing or implementing technology, business operations & process/cost improvements. Translating corporate vision and imperatives into strategic and tactical plans with an “outside-in” approach to ensure business continuity and protect the customer experience.
Mike graduated from Northeastern University with a dual B.S. in Economics and Political Science and holds a M.B.A. with concentrations in Finance and Quality Management from the Stuart School of Business @ Illinois Institute of Technology. He is honored, proud and happy to give back to the school and community that propelled him in his career.
Zackery R. House
Zackery R. House, RCDD/OSP/RTPM/RITPM
An Executive Leader known for creating strategic vision to achieve business goals and shareholder value, Zackery House offers a unique blend of executive expertise, global IT operations, and corporate business operations solutions credited with strong return on investment and improving operational efficiency. With a reputation for being a logical thinker and strong communicator, Zackery is known for transforming organizations with support for global, enterprise-wide infrastructures critical to the success of corporate production systems and company performance.
As the Chief Operating Officer for Environmental Systems Design, Zackery is responsible not only for all operational functions of a growing engineering and design firm, but also for serving as a strategic technology partner for ESD’s clients. He helps facilitate planning to achieve streamlined critical operations, and the design and implementation of international technology solutions that result in cross-departmental collaboration and information sharing, optimizing project efficiency, and building technology infrastructures that allow for access to data anywhere and anytime.
Prior to joining ESD, Zackery was employed at Wal-Mart Stores and served in various roles including Director of Information Technology, Operations Senior Manager, Regional Technology Manager, IT Operations Manager, and Assistant IT Operations Manager. These roles varied in regards to leading infrastructure systems rollouts to the US Store Division Chain to leading systems engineers and application developers to provide enhanced IT systems for Operations.
Zackery graduated Magna Cum Laude from Capella University with a Bachelors in Business Management with a Specialization in Leadership and Management and holds a Masters in Operations Management from the University of Arkansas College of Engineering. He is a Registered Communications Distribution Designer, Registered Outside Plant Specialist, Registered Telecommunications Project Manager, Registered Information Technology Project Manager, and holds a Six Sigma White Belt Certification and ITIL Foundations Certification. He maintains an active membership with the Building Industry Consulting Services International (BICSI).
James L. Jerue
James L. Jerue, partner, Business and Finance Group, Horwood Marcus and Berk Chartered, Chicago Office
James L. Jerue is a partner in the Business and Finance Group at Horwood Marcus and Berk Chartered in Chicago. Jim’s practice emphasizes transactional representation of entrepreneurs and professional investors. Jim’s practice areas include venture capital, mergers and acquisitions, start-up law, securities, general corporate, financing transactions and matters involving partnerships and limited liability companies. Jim has practiced start-up and venture capital law for more than twenty years. He represents angel investors, start-up and early stage businesses and venture capitalists in business formation, business operation and financing transactions. His clients are active in many industries, including education, health care services, internet retail, mobile and web development.
Jim provides counsel to corporate boards and managers of LLCs in connection with transactions including financings, mergers, acquisitions and other changes in control. He provides general counsel services on employment matters, preparing and negotiating technology and general contracts and the drafting of stockholder, partnership and LLC agreements. Jim also serves as general counsel to a number of professional firms, including law firms. Jim is active in Chicago’s start-up community, having served as a mentor at the Chicago business accelerator TechStars Chicago and leading HMB’s relationship with and sponsorship of Hyde Park Angels, an angel investment organization affiliated with the University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business.
Jim is past Chair of the Chicago Bar Association’s Business Law Committee and previously chaired its Subcommittees on Non-Corporate Business Entities and on Private Equity. He also served as Program Chair and as a member of the Executive Committee of the Committee on LLCs, Partnerships and Unincorporated Entities of the American Bar Association’s Business Law Section. Jim also was a member of the Illinois Secretary of State’s Business Law Advisory Committee. He has spoken at a variety of seminars sponsored by the CBA, ABA, Illinois Institute of Continuing Legal Education and others concerning partnerships, limited liability companies, venture capital transactions and other business law topics. Jim has served as an expert witness in cases involving partnership issues, venture capital and standards of care for lawyers. He has been named an Illinois Super Lawyer in Business and Corporate practice for four out of the last five years.
Karen Kane, President, Karen Kane Consulting
Karen Kane is a communication and reputation management expert who works with senior leaders and boards of directors to advance business objectives. A NACD Governance Fellow, she was senior vice president and board secretary of the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago, where she is credited with starting MoneySmart Week, a national financial literacy program. She has served as a senior corporate officer in diverse business segments including environmental, high-tech, insurance, the media, banking and asset management. She writes frequently on the topics of leadership and governance; she is a former senior editor of the Hearst Corporation and staff writer of the The Vineyard Gazette, and was a pioneer in women sportswriting for The Boston Globe.
Bruce Leon, Founder, Benefits Solutions Group, Tandem HR and Alliance Workplace Solutions
Bruce Leon, a young entrepreneur, is the founder of three sister companies in the Chicago area: Benefits Solutions Group (an insurance brokerage firm), Tandem HR (a professional employer organization) and Alliance Workplace Solutions (a voluntary benefits firm). In 2011 he purchased Workplace Solutions, an employee assistance program delivering comprehensive EAP, work-life, wellness and organizational effectiveness services to a variety of organizations in a wide range of industries to further complement the exemplary services he provides to his clients.
Leon started his entrepreneurial endeavors with Benefits Solutions Group in 1996, offering full-service health care insurance benefit solutions. It wasn’t long before he recognized a unique need in the Chicago-area market for an unbundled, high-touch, consultative professional employer organization (PEO). Small and mid-sized businesses outsource all employee-related functions to a PEO, including human resource services, employee benefits, payroll administration, and risk management. Through a co-employment agreement, the PEO becomes the “administrative employer” while the client remains in charge of running the business as the “worksite employer.” In 1998 when he incorporated Tandem Professional Employer Services (which changed its name to Tandem HR in 2008). Tandem HR’s 140 employees process $400 million in payroll for 9,300 client employees and boast a 96% retention rate.
Alliance Workplace Solutions emerged in 2006 as a customer-centric voluntary benefits company offering employers enhanced benefits packages to their employee packages (100% employee paid and owned). Benefits Solutions Group, Alliance Workplace Solutions, and Workplace Solutions EAP service Tandem HR and their own client base.
Leon and his companies have been recognized as: Crain’s 2011 Best Places to Work; Chicago’s Largest Privately Held Companies 2006, 2007, and 2009; Chicago’s Fast Fifty (50 fastest growing companies) 2007, 2009, 2010, 2012, 2013, and 2014; Inc. 5000 in 2007; a finalist of Ernst & Young’s Entrepreneur Of The Year award 2008, 2009; and Chicago-area Entrepreneurship Hall of Fame inductee 2009.
When not growing his businesses (or beginning new ones!), Leon can be found serving as a director on several boards, including those of ESAC, NAPEO, and the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation. He serves on a number of philanthropic boards as well, such as Arie Crown Hebrew Day School, Hanna Sachs, and the ATT Foundation. He and his wife, Cheryl, are proud parents of four lovely daughters and a new son-in-law!
Shari A. Matzelle
Shari A. Matzelle, Managing Partner and Founder, RGS
RGS Consultants is a strategy consulting firm that engages with early-stage technology-focused enterprises and startups to refocus on their core strategies and evolve the actions to drive-quick, targeted initiatives to achieve breakthrough results and progress to the next plateau in evolution.
Shari Matzelle built her technology foundation as an engineer working with the B2 and F15 fighter programs at Northrop Grumman and implementing the first cellular systems across Thailand, Indonesia, Hong Kong, and parts of China and Latin America with Motorola Cellular Infrastructure Divisions.
She then advanced into the business side of technology in management consulting, working across the U.S. and as an expatriate in Stockholm, Sweden and London, driving major technology transformations programs with clients such as Ericsson, Nokia, and Nortel Networks as a senior manager with Cap Gemini Ernst and Young.
Most recently, she drove successful business development teams in emerging software, services, and hardware technologies across North and South America in areas of GPS, satellite, and IT. And then in 2015, she decided to refocus herself on her passion: helping early-stage entities transform from startup stage to viable, thriving enterprises at the speed of technology.
Matzelle holds a B.S. in electrical engineering from Southern Illinois University and an M.B.A. from the University of Chicago Booth School of Business. In her free time she manages a small, local real estate portfolio, competes in Half-Ironman triathlons, and is an avid downhill skier. She is conversationally fluent in Spanish, having studied in Barcelona, Spain, in an immersion program as well as in the U.S. for many years.
Daniel T. McCaffery
Daniel T. McCaffery, Founder and President, McCaffery Interests, Inc.
Founded in the fall of 1990, McCaffery Interests, Inc. has risen to be nationally recognized as a leader in urban development and renewal projects. As the founder and president, Daniel McCaffery has overall responsibility for the executive management, strategic direction, and leadership of the company. Other specific responsibilities include new business creation and enhancement and expansion of tenant and financial partner relationships. McCaffery has more than 25 years of experience in the real estate industry and has led the development of more than $2 billion of mixed-use urban projects.
In addition to its many projects in the Chicago area, the firm has developed projects in diverse markets including Minneapolis; San Francisco; Myrtle Beach S.C.; Washington, D.C.; Clarendon; Va.; and Moscow. Its most demanding challenge at present is the redevelopment of the approximately 500 lakefront acres known as the former US Steel lands in the southeast area of Chicago.
He graduated from the University of Alberta in Canada.
Nick Merker, Partner and Co-chair, Ice Miller’s Data Security and Privacy Practice
Nick Merker is a partner and co-chair of Ice Miller’s Data Security and Privacy Practice. He advises clients on complex privacy and data security issues arising from emerging technologies, including, most notably, Internet-based applications. Clients seek Nick’s counsel in all areas where privacy and data security is an issue, including PCI-DSS, the HIPAA Security Rule, online privacy statements, general contract issues, the EU Data Protection Directive and U.S. Safe Harbor, anti-SPAM issues, regulatory enforcement, privacy audits (i.e. GAPP), and data security standards and audits (i.e. NERC, SSAE 16, etc.).
Nick is a former systems, network, and security engineer with hands-on technical experience in both the public and private sector, including an Internet service provider, the National Center for Supercomputing Applications and Classified Ventures/Cars.com. Nick is a Certified Information Systems Security professional (1057505), RedHat Certified Technician and a Certified Information Privacy Professional/Information Technology. He is also a Faculty member for the International Association of Privacy Professionals where he leads privacy training to executives, engineers, and managers in the privacy arena. Nick has led privacy training at Twitter, Microsoft, Intel, RackSpace and other technology companies.
Clients routinely seek Nick’s support to provide a nexus between technology and the law or engineers and lawyers.
Nick also focuses his practice on general legal issues found in Internet technologies, namely, new uses of social media and cloud services. He provides counsel to clients in developing, modifying, and implementing processes, architecture, and policies that fit regulatory compliance regimes.
Nick earned his juris doctorate from Chicago–Kent College of Law where he was a member of the Chicago-Kent Law Review. He is admitted to practice in Indiana and Illinois and registered to practice before the United States Patent and Trademark Office in patent matters.
Mona Pearl, Founder & COO, BeyondAStrategy, Inc.
Mona Pearl is a global business development strategy and execution leader, helping shape strategies to launch products in new markets, innovate and compete globally. She has been working with Fortune 1000, middle-market, and start-up companies that wish to fully tap into their global potential. Mona provides a fresh perspective and creative tactics that help identify, qualify and align the right opportunities with the proper markets.
She has worked on projects in Europe, North America, Asia, Latin America and the Middle East. She excels in driving participation across multi-stakeholder environments for corporate, private-public partnerships, M&A and technology investments toward achieving growth and competitive advantage across-borders.
Mona started and successfully operated three businesses of her own. In her role as a project leader, she helps companies build and scale businesses worldwide. As a subject matter expert, she is a respected international advisor to many of the world's leading companies and governments on global strategy, transformation and innovation.
She holds a Master’s degree in International Business from DePaul University and a Bachelor’s degree in Spanish and Communications from Northeastern Illinois University. She has lived on three continents and speaks French, German, Hebrew, Spanish and Romanian and limited proficiency in Italian. She also teaches global marketing and management in universities around the world (US, China, Austria, Turkey), and is a requested speaker in conferences worldwide.
Mona is the author of “Grow Globally” and is a sought after contributor to worldwide conferences, media and leading publications such as: Deal Reporter, CNBC, Oracle, Chicago Tribune, NPR/WBEZ, Microsoft, Bloomberg, Leadership Magazine, Global Finance, Format, Crain’s Chicago, Entrepreneur.com, the United Nations, and more on global strategy, execution and industry competitive intelligence.
William Penn, Co-Founder, Penn Square Associates
The Co-Founder Of Penn Square Associates, William is also part of the BLUE 1647 management community that designs ways in which creative professionals, entrepreneurs, change-makers and nonprofits can come together to make meaningful, lasting impact while providing key input on The City of Chicago Technology Plan. They advise on technology sector growth initiatives to enable and encourage major stakeholders in the public, private, and nonprofit sectors to focus, prioritize and coordinate their technology-based efforts to achieve maximum impact for Chicagoans. With two decades ad agency experience, William has worked at evaluating opportunities to grow national account revenue and has been charged with growing enterprise customers, agency relationships and revenue within the firm’s ecosystem. He has managed cohesive relationships with key agency partners including C-Level agency executives, internal senior Investment teams, national accounts teams and other internal stakeholders.
Maureen Raihle, Private Wealth Advisor, Managing Director – Investments
Maureen has worked in the investment management industry since 1985, and started with Merrill Lynch in 1987. Prior to joining Merrill Lynch, Maureen also worked in the personal banking industry as well as with a member firm of the Chicago Board Options Exchange. She is a graduate of Bradley University where she earned a degree in Finance and Economics. Maureen is a Director on the Children’s Memorial Foundation Board, and is involved with the Juvenile Diabetes Foundation. Maureen also served on the board of the Wood Family Foundation for four years.
Over the past 9 years Maureen has been recognized annually in many publications as among the top financial advisors in the nation. Since it’s inauguration in 2006 Maureen is one of only sixteen women who have been recognized for ten years in a row in Barron’s national list of the Top 100 Women Financial Advisors; most recently Maureen was ranked No. 13 in 2016. Additionally, Maureen has been recognized in Barron’s Top 1200 Advisors list every year since its inauguration in 2009; most recently ranked No. 11 in Illinois in 2016. Also in 2014, 2015 & 2016, Maureen was named to the Financial Times’ FT 400 Top Financial Advisers. In 2012, 2013, 2014 and 2015 Maureen was listed in Registered Rep’s list of the Top 50 Wirehouse Women; most recently ranked No. 8. And, in the only year it was published Maureen was ranked No. 12 in Chicago Magazine’s 2008 list of Chicago’s Top 50 Financial Advisors, which was based on Barron’s Top 1000 Advisors list. Maureen's focus is designing customized asset management solutions for wealthy families and individuals.
Lisa Rosetta, Vice President of Business Development, U.S. Strategic Channel Sales, Allied Telesis, Inc.
Leveraging more than 25 years of experience in networking sales and management, Ms. Rosetta drives Allied Telesis North American new business development initiatives through direct and indirect channels. Aglobal provider of networking infrastructure and flexible, reliable video, voice and data network solutions, Allied Telesis serves clients in multiple markets including government, healthcare, defense, education, retail, hospitality and network service providers.
In her role, Ms. Rosetta ensures the sales organization communicates the unique value Allied Telesis brings to its customers and partners, and is charged with building strategic relationships across enterprise accounts, alliance and channel partners.
Prior to joining Allied Telesis, Ms. Rosetta held senior sales positions with Broadcom Communications and Cabletron Systems. Ms. Rosetta holds an AA degree from American River College.
John J. Sabl
John J. Sabl, partner, Sidley Austin, LLP Chicago Office, Chairman, Knapp Entrepreneurship Center Board
John J. Sabl joined Sidley Austin, LLP in 1976 and became a partner in 1983. He represents clients in a broad range of corporate and securities matters, including public and private offerings, mergers and acquisitions, joint ventures, private equity investments, and corporate counseling assignments. His experience spans a number of industries, such as financial services, communications and media, agribusiness, biofuels, retailing, information services, medical products, health care, manufacturing, and real estate.
From 1997 until 2000 Sabl served as executive vice president, general counsel, and secretary of Conseco, Inc., a life and health insurer. At Conseco he handled a diverse set of legal matters, including merger and financing transactions, litigation, venture capital investments, regulatory issues, and government relations. Sabl is an active speaker and a past chair of the Securities Law Committee of the Chicago Bar Association.
In 1973 Sabl received his undergraduate degree in economics from Stanford University, where he graduated with distinction and was elected to Phi Beta Kappa. He received his law degree in 1976 from Stanford Law School, where served as associate managing editor of the Stanford Law Review. He is admitted to the bar in Illinois and California.
Mitchell H. Saranow
Mitchell H. Saranow, Chairman, The Saranow Group
Mr. Mitchell H. Saranow is Chairman of The Saranow Group, LLC. Mr. Saranow served as the Vice President of Finance and Law at the Sunmark Companies from 1975 to 1979. Additionally, Mitchell served as an Assistant Vice President for Warburg, Paribus, Becker, Inc., from 1973 to 1975 and served as an attorney for Mayer Brown & Platt from 1971 to 1973. Since 1984, Mr. Saranow has acquired and served as the Chief Executive Officer of companies with operations in the U.S., Europe, and Australia.
Mr. Saranow served as the Chairman of the Board and Co-Chief Executive Officer of Navigant Consulting, Inc. from November 1999 to June 2000 and prior to that, Mr. Saranow was the Chairman and Managing General Partner of Fluid Management, LP and due to the company’s success, was named the 1994 “Entrepreneur of the Year” for Chicagoland and Northwest Indiana.
Earlier in his career, Mr. Saranow served as the Chief Financial Officer and Vice President of Finance of CFS Continental, Inc., from 1979 to 1983. He worked as an investment banker with AG Becker & Co. and practiced law with Mayer, Brown & Platt. Mr. Saranow has been the Chairman of The Saranow Group, LLC since August 1996, a company he founded. He has been a Director of Telephone & Data Systems Inc. since May 2004 and is a Member of Audit Committee. Mr. Saranow has been a Director of Lawson Products Inc. since 1998. He is a Member of the Board of Governors of the Northwestern University Library. Mr. Saranow is a Member of Strategic Advisory Committee at BlueStar Ventures. He also serves as a Director and past President of the Juvenile Protective Association. Mr. Saranow served as a Director of Telular Corp. from July 28, 2001 to October 26, 2003. He served as a Director of North American Scientific Inc., from June 2001 to January 17, 2005.
Mitchell served as the “James M. Collins Senior Lecturer” at the Harvard Business School during the 2001 to 2002 academic year and a joint Bachelor of Science and arts degree from Northwestern University. Mr. Saranow earned a C.P.A. in 1981. He holds an M.B.A. and a Juris Doctor from Harvard Business School. Mr. Saranow holds a joint Bachelor of Science and Arts degree from Northwestern University and he was admitted to the Illinois bar in 1971.
Brad Schulman, CEO, Brand 729 Ventures, LLC
Brad began his entrepreneurial career in the specialty tea and coffee industry in1993, when he and a partner acquired a small Chicago-based specialty beverage distributor (Chicagoland Beverage Company or “CBC”). Over the last decade, Schulman and his partner helped transform "CBC" into the largest Mid-west supplier of specialty coffees and teas. The company worked with premium brands such as Peet’s Coffee, Lavazza Coffee, Intelligentstia Coffee, Mighty Leaf Teas and many more. In 2009, Mr. Schulman, Founder and Chief Executive Officer launched Green Planet Beverages, an environmentally friendly beverage company that patented the world’s first compostable beverage bottle. These bottles were made from100% plant starch and used zero petroleum. Through his leadership, Green Planet Beverages became the leading environmental bottled beverage brand in the US. The success of Green Planet’s disruptive business model helped pave the way for companies like Coke and Pepsi to adopt this environmental innovation. In 2014, Brad developed a strategic partnership with Vault Ventures. Vault, a venture building company that develops equity joint-ventures to unleash untapped business growth opportunities. Brad has been recognized by Retailer Magazine’s Innovative Package of the Year, Ernst & Young’s Entrepreneur of the Year, Mid-west division, Chicago Innovation Awards, and the Chicago Green Awards. He currently sits on the Board of Directors of “A Save Haven,” an organization that helps support Veterans and families in crisis.
Owen Shapiro, Marketing Strategy Consultant, Author and Mentor
Owen has always been fascinated with how people ‘make up their minds,’ which has lead him to pursue a diverse range of research and discovery projects both in academics and in business. Shapiro is a market researcher, strategist and speaker and spent more than 30 years in customer insights and market strategy.
He has a career-long interest in helping launch innovative start-up companies, several of which have become well-known brands, including Staples, PetSmart, Sports Authority, Ulta and Five Below, and some that are just starting their journeys.
Owen is a guest presenter at the University of Chicago, where he received his MA and MBA – drawing on his combination of real-world experience with clients, his training in social science theory and his grounding in research methods.
Owen also wrote the book: Brand Shift - The Future of Brands and Marketing, along with his co-author David Houle. Information available at the website: www.brandshiftbook.com
James H. Stone
James H. Stone, President and Founder, J. H. Stone Consulting
James H. Stone has developed his firm into one of the country’s leading logistics consultancies by attracting experienced consultants who consistently provide a wide range of corporate clients with important levels of economic improvement. He directs the firm’s research reports, which appear in the firm’s newsletter, Logistics Resource, and is a former director of the Chicago Roundtable of the Council of Logistics Management.
Until recently, he served as a director of Stone Container Corporation, a publicly owned manufacturer of newsprint, paperboard, and converted products, until it recently merged with Jefferson Smurfit Corp. He served as director of Fullerton Metals, a privately owned distributor and fabricator of metals and metal products. He is president and a director of the Harvard Business School Club of Chicago. He is also an active member of the Chicago Committee, the Economic Club, and the Traffic Club of Chicago.
In the field of education, he serves as trustee and secretary of Roosevelt University, life trustee for Hadley School of the Blind, member of the University of Chicago, and Visiting Committee to the Library, Illinois Institute of Technology. He has also initiated the Grade Level Project, a pilot program to raise achievement levels in Chicago Public Schools.
J. Robert Tillman
J. Robert Tillman, President & CEO, TillmanCarlson
Rob Tillman currently serves as the President & CEO of TillmanCarlson which he founded with his partner, Kelly Carlson in 2002. Based in Chicago, TillmanCarlson focuses on the recruitment of CEOs, CFOs and CIOs for middle market companies and private equity investors.
Prior to founding the firm, Rob served as the Managing Partner of another executive search boutique, Crist Partners which he and his partners sold to Korn Ferry in 1999. Before that, he spent several years with Russell Reynolds Associates from 1990 through 1997, and he began his career in public accounting with Touche Ross after graduating from the University of Illinois.
While continuing to serve a variety of clients across the country as a senior level executive recruiter, Rob is in the process of completing his executive coaching certification at The Hudson Institute. As a result, Rob is in the midst of expanding the firm’s capabilities to provide executive coaching services in addition to executive search.Rob and his wife currently reside in Wheaton, Illinois where they have spent the last twenty years and raised three daughters.