2013 Financial Executives Forum Speakers

Tom Abendroth, Schiff Hardin LLP

Thomas W. Abendroth is a partner of Schiff Hardin LLP and practice group leader of the firm's Private Clients, Trusts and Estates Group.  He concentrates his practice in the fields of estate planning, federal taxation, and business succession planning.  Tom is a 1984 graduate of Northwestern University School of Law and received his undergraduate degree from Ripon College, where he currently serves on the Board of Trustees.  He has co-authored a two-volume treatise entitled Illinois Estate Planning, Will Drafting and Estate Administration, and a chapter on sophisticated value-shifting techniques in the book, Estate and Personal Financial Planning.  He is co-editor of Estate Planning Strategies After Estate Tax Reform: Insights and Analysis (CCH 2001).  Tom has contributed numerous articles to industry publications, and served on the Editorial Advisory Board for ABA Trusts & Investments Magazine.  He is a frequent speaker on tax and estate planning topics at banks and professional organizations. 

Lou Colella, Walnut Ridge Strategic Management Co.

Lou Colella participated in the creation and is Finance and Operations Director of Walnut Ridge Strategic Management Company, and as such, is responsible for financial and back office support of all of its business platforms, including philanthropic activities, family office and overall wealth management operations, business management and governance activities, and oversight of the family’s early stage ventures activities, for the three generations of the Kanfer Family. Prior to joining the Kanfer family enterprise, Lou spent 12 years as a practicing CPA in regional accounting firms serving family and privately owned businesses. He then spent the next 12 years in various CFO and COO roles in privately owned retail and services businesses, where he practiced and honed his operations, management and strategic skills, working to grow and harvest capital value for the family shareholders with whom he was associated.

Craig Cook, Oakbrook Solutions

As co-founder and President of Oakbrook Solutions, Craig Cook brings over 30-years experience in technology-based solutions for trust accounting providers and the asset management industry focusing on new product development for trust systems, investment management systems, and proprietary systems. Cook brings significant experience in analyzing, designing, and delivering application software based solutions of varying scopes and sizes. By leveraging Cook’s knowledge of business combined with his technical and project management skills, he has a demonstrated track record of success in delivering proven solutions for such areas as trust and custody, portfolio management, employee benefit, private banking, and family office.

Jeff Cook-McCormac, Policy and Taxation Group

Jeff Cook-McCormac, President and CEO of Policy and Taxation Group, advocates on behalf of family enterprises in their efforts to decrease the maximum federal estate tax rate and ultimately eliminate federal estate, gift and generation-skipping taxes.  Jeff recently led successful efforts to secure a lower 35% rate, higher $5 million exemption, spousal portability and reunification, preserve repeal of the estate and generation-skipping taxes for 2010 and prevent the elimination of valuation discounts and limitations on grantor-retained annuity trusts.  In advance of the next phase of tax reform, Jeff is working to mobilize the estate tax relief coalition and lobby members of Congress to fight proposed tax increases and ensure family businesses have the best chance for sustainable relief and ultimate repeal.

Christopher Cutrara, Plante Moran

Chris Cutrara has more than 12 years of business operations, finance, accounting, and internal controls experience. Chris has been actively engaged in assignments evaluating and improving financial process and internal controls across multiple industries including family offices.  He has spent time with Fortune 500 companies conducting financial and operational reviews. These reviews included the identification of control deficiencies and process improvements; assessing risk exposure and assisting management develop and implement action plans.  Additionally, Chris has significant experience in financial reporting, accounting and back office process improvement.  He has been engaged to perform financial and operational improvement services where he focuses on developing processes and controls which reduce risk and improve efficiencies.

Michael DuBose, HUB International Personal Insurance

Mike DuBose brings over 20 years experience in occupational safety, emergency response, business continuity, enterprise risk management and industrial security, serving as Vice President and Senior Risk Consultant for Hub International and is the Practice Leader, Emergency Response, Business Continuity, Security & Enterprise Risk Management Solutions. In this role he supports clients as a resource for the brokerage operations, providing safety, security, business continuity, and emergency management guidance to HUB’s clients.

Chuck Fawcett, TriState Capital Bank

As President of TriState Capital’s Private Bank, Chuck oversees the Relationship Management team. TriState Capital’s Private Bank cultivates relationships with family offices, wealth management firms, and individual high-net-worth clients on a regional and national basis.  The Private Bank at TriState Capital also provides lending and deposit services to the executives of the companies TriState Capital serves. Prior to joining TriState Capital, Chuck spent 17 years with Federated Investors, where he provided sales, marketing, product development and business development expertise.  During his tenure, Chuck served as a Director of Alliances, Trust Sales/Special Projects Consultant, and Vice President and Director, Marketing and Product Development.

Sharon Geocaris, The Benida Group, LLC

Sharon Geocaris is currently the HR/Office Manager at The Benida Group, a full-service office managing the investments, banking, legal and philanthropic affairs of a single family.  Prior to joining The Benida Group, Sharon worked with The Home Depot, Beam Inc., and Matha-MacDonald, LLC.  Sharon is a graduate of Robert Morris College in Chicago.


Thomas Kasza, Hillard Heintze

Thomas Kasza specializes as a security and investigative strategist and to CEOs, HNWs and other corporate decision-makers.  For 30 years, he has designed and implemented best practice-based security programs that provide risk management solutions. For more than two decades, Tom served in the United States Secret Service.  Following appointment to the Senior Executive Service as Special Agent in Charge of the Chicago District in 2003, he was responsible for all criminal investigation, protective and intelligence activity of U.S. Secret Service personnel in one of the agency’s five largest offices.

Christopher Liu, AIG

Christopher Liu is the Financial Institutions Cyber Product Manager for AIG US Financial Lines and oversees the underwriting of cyber liability products within the Financial Institutions Group for the US and Canada.  Prior to assuming responsibility for the cyber portfolio, Chris had a focus on a broader array of management and professional liability products for banks, insurance companies and other financial institutions. He earned a B.S. in Economics from Rutgers University in New Brunswick, NJ.

Colleen Monfore, RDV Corporation

Colleen Monfore is the Director of Human Resources for RDV Corporation, a multi-generational family office. The firm provides comprehensive wealth management, financial, tax and estate planning, investment planning and management, foundation governance and personal administrative services. Colleen earned a bachelor's degree in Business Administration from Western Michigan University. She has maintained certification as a Senior Professional in Human Resources (SPHR) since 1999. Previously, Colleen served as Human Resources Manager for Johnson Controls, Inc. in Holland, Michigan and Employee Relations Manager for Hi-Lex Corporation in Battle Creek, Michigan. She is a member of the Society for Human Resource Management and the Greater Grand Rapids Association for Human Resource Management.

Karan Peare, Mathile Enterprise (CYMI, LTD)

Karan has over 20 years of experience in the Human Resource Field.  She has held positions in Benefits, Compensation and Employee Relations.  Currently she is the V.P. Human Resources, Mathile Enterprise (CYMI, LTD).  Her areas of responsibility include organizational development, policies and programs covering employment, compensation, benefits, performance management, employee relations, recruiting and retention, and compliance with all applicable federal, state and local laws.

Robert Pluth, Jr., Schiff Hardin LLP

Robert R. Pluth Jr. represents taxpayers in connection with various federal and state income tax controversies, including complex tax accounting matters, tax shelters and transactional disputes. Along with partners in our White Collar Criminal Group, Bob represents taxpayers under criminal investigation regarding tax-sensitive activities. In addition, he implements customized tax, succession planning and estate planning strategies to enable business owners and other wealthy individuals achieve their long-term planning goals.

Mark Rogozinski, RockIT

Mark Rogozinski brings more than 20 years of experience in various senior-level positions, with a particular focus on the ultra-high net worth space. Mark is a Managing Director of Rockefeller & Co. and President of Rockit Solutions, LLC, an outsourced solution that provides wealth data aggregation and financial reporting solutions for single-family and multi-family offices, high-net-worth individuals and financial institutions.  


FOX Speakers and Facilitators

Alexandre Monnier, President

Alexandre, who oversees FOX membership globally as well as consulting, marketing strategy and business development, has a deep understanding of the private wealth market and extensive experience in creating, delivering, and marketing premium services for wealthy individuals. He joined FOX from PinnacleCare, a leading provider of private health services, where he served as managing director. Previously, he ran Bombardier Skyjet, a private jet travel provider. He was also a management consultant for 10 years, serving firms in the U.S. and Europe on issues ranging from strategy to operational and organizational effectiveness. He has been a member of Young Presidents’ Organization since 2005.

Amy Hart Clyne, Managing Director - Market and Content Development

Amy Hart Clyne is Managing Director of the Family Office Exchange (FOX) Market and Content Development team where she works on delivering market-centric solutions to both Family and Advisor Members of the firm.  She is an executive with extensive experience in private wealth management serving ultra high net worth individuals. A strategic and tactical professional, Amy is skilled in developing strategy, marketing and communications programs to both members of senior management teams and as an advisor to industry leaders in private wealth management. Specific areas of expertise include strategic planning, client management and advisory, strategic marketing and research planning, internal sales and training meetings, client events and seminars, relationship management, and new product launch.

Ruth Easterling, Managing Director - Member Services

Ruth leads all FOX member services activities and manages the team that annually produces three major forums, workshops, and local and regional member events. She also develops new member programs and services in response to feedback from member satisfaction surveys and advisory boards. She has extensive experience leading membership organizations and aligning service strategies to meet member needs.

Ken Gaidas, Managing Director - Finance and Operations

Ken Gaidas is the Managing Director of Finance and Operations of Family Office Exchange (FOX), overseeing day-to-day operations of the firm’s finance and accounting area, including transaction processing, recordkeeping and financial reporting in both the U.S. and the U.K. He reports directly to FOX founder and CEO Sara Hamilton.
Mr. Gaidas served most recently as controller of Vector Securities International, a privately held investment and merchant banking firm with an affiliated venture fund group.  

Mariann Mihalidis, Managing Director - Councils

Mariann oversees the FOX member councils, which are private networks of close peers working together to advance their professional development and to solve the unique challenges they face in their management of private wealth. She has extensive experience in the accounting and legal fields. As a practicing tax and estate planning attorney, she develops strategies in wealth transfer issues, taxes, and corporate structures.

Karen D. Neal, Managing Director

Karen works with family groups and wealth advisors to bring processes and solutions to the challenges of preserving family wealth, including refining of business strategy to address transitions and changing needs of the family and firm. Her work with families has included development of family enterprise strategy, operational assessment of the family office, selection of wealth advisors, and wealth management industry education. She is a frequent speaker on the topic of family office best practices.

Karen Rush, Senior Relationship Manager

Karen Rush is a senior relationship manager for Family Office Exchange (FOX). She is part of the advisor team that works to increase membership and provide member services. Formerly events manager, she was responsible for planning all external FOX events, including forums, workshops and regional events. Prior to joining FOX in 2005, Ms. Rush spent 10 years at a large, multi-generational family office as the communications coordinator. She worked directly with the family office and family members to develop a family meeting process and younger generation education program.

Michael Sallas, Managing Director - Knowledge Center

Michael Sallas serves as Managing Director of the Knowledge Center for Family Office Exchange and is responsible for the efficacy of learning strategies dedicated to improving performance of member families, family office executives and advisors within the family wealth industry. As a life-long educator, Sallas has designed, developed and delivered learning opportunities in the public, private and non-profit sectors and has worked globally to serve learners in 87 countries. Included in his experience has been providing customized adult learning content—print, live and online—for multiple public and private sector owners inclusive of the Department of State, Department of Transportation, National Institutes of Health, Department of Health and Human Services, FBI, CIA, all branches of the military, the Walt Disney Corporation and several U.S. multi-national companies operating abroad.