Financial Executives Forum 2016 - Speakers

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Thomas W. Abendroth, Partner, Schiff Hardin LLP

Thomas W. Abendroth is a partner in the Chicago law firm 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 member of Duke University Estate Planning Council.  Tom is a frequent speaker on tax and estate planning topics at banks and professional organizations.  In addition, he is a co-presenter of a monthly teleconference series on estate planning issues presented by the American Bankers Association.  Tom has taught at the American Bankers Association National Graduate Trust School since 1990.  He is a Fellow of the American College of Trust and Estate Counsel.

Bruce K. Benesh, Partner-in-charge, Grant Thornton LLP

Bruce is a tax partner with Grant Thornton LLP and has more than 35 years of experience in executive compensation, tax planning relating to compensation arrangements and international human resource consulting.  Before joining Grant Thornton, Bruce was the partner-in-charge of Arthur Andersen’s North American and Latin American Human Capital Practice and the Divisional President of a consulting practice for a publicly traded company.
Bruce has broad consulting experience in many industries with companies ranging from closely held family businesses and single family offices to multi national corporations.  His experience includes advising clients and executives on all aspects of strategic compensation planning, benefits and human resource issues, including competitive total compensation arrangements for executives, change of control and severance arrangements, qualified pension, stock bonus plans, life insurance planning, welfare benefit plans, and nonqualified executive compensation arrangements.
He also has extensive experience in the design and implementation of long-term, equity-based incentive plans for single family offices, privately held and other publicly held companies.
Bruce is a certified public accountant and a member of both national and state organizations, including the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants.  
Bruce has written numerous articles dealing with compensation and tax issues that have been published in such journals as The Tax Advisor, Taxes, Small Business Taxation, Trusts and Estates, Tax Ideas and Journal of Accountancy.  He lectures frequently on executive compensation and business planning, focusing primarily on designing incentive plans (with a special emphasis on simulated equity plans) and organizational structures to motivate corporate performance and drive growth.
Bruce holds a Bachelor’s degree in Business and Economics from Hendrix College in Conway, Arkansas, and a Masters in Accountancy with an emphasis in taxation from the University of Oklahoma.

Bobbi J. Bierhals, Partner, McDermott Will & Emery LLP

Bobbi J. Bierhals is a partner in the Private Client practice group of McDermott Will & Emery LLP, based in the firm’s Chicago office.  McDermott’s Private Client practice is regularly recognized as the leading Private Client practice in the U.S., most recently receiving the 2014 Trusts & Estates Law Firm of the Year Award from U.S. News and Best Lawyers and having been ranked every year in the top tier by Chambers USA for wealth management.
Bobbi focuses her practice on tax and estate planning for high net worth individuals and families, with a particular emphasis on owners of closely-held businesses, family offices and private trust companies.  A graduate of Harvard Law School, Bobbi has been quoted frequently in leading publications, including the Wall Street Journal, Forbes and Business Week.

Mark Blumenthal, Partner, Plante Moran PLLC

Mark is a Partner and Leader of the Family Office Service Group at the accounting and business advisory firm Plante Moran in Chicago. He is also the Co-Leader of the Private Equity Venture Capital Fund group in Chicago and one of the senior real estate tax partners of the firm.
Mark serves as a strategic advisor to ultra-affluent families, family offices, private equity/venture capital funds and mature private businesses. He advises clients on buying, selling and investing in private businesses and real estate; the formation of family and investment limited partnerships, family offices and private foundations; and income tax and transaction planning.
Mark has written articles for numerous publications, including The Illinois Institute for Continuing Legal Education, The Tax Advisor, Taxation for Accountants, The Journal of Property Management, The Real Estate Securities Journal, The Journal of Real Estate Development, Taxation for Lawyers, Real Estate Forum and The New York State Bar Association Partnership Handbook.
Mark’s most recent article entitled “Extreme Makeover” appeared in Worth discussing the need for family offices to embrace best-in-class management and organizational standards.
Mark has been on the speaker faculty for the Investment Management Consultants Association (IMCA), the Family Office Exchange, The Family Office Forum, Illinois Venture Capital Association (IVCA), the Family Succession Planning Institute, the Family Office Management Conference, Family Office Symposium, the Illinois Institute for Continuing Legal Education, The Chicago Bar Association, IIR’s Mastering Tax & Estate Planning Conference, the Center for Professional Education, and others. He has also been quoted in The Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg Wealth Manager, The Chicago Tribune, The Los Angeles Times, The Arizona Republic, The Philadelphia Inquirer, Washington City Paper, Accounting Today, Crain’s Chicago, and the Family Wealth Report.
Mark received both his Bachelor of Science and Master of Business Administration degrees from the University of Illinois. He is a member of the Chicago Estate Planning Council, the Illinois Venture Capital Association, the Thought Leaders Council of the Family Office Exchange, the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants, the Illinois CPA Society, Legacy Partners at Lurie Children’s Hospital, and the JUF Professional Advisory Committee having served as chairman.

John E. DeBord, Senior Vice President, Operations, LHT Consulting Group, LLC

Mr. DeBord brings over 32 years of experience to his leadership role with LHT Consulting Group, where he focuses on the planning and implementation of funeral and memorial events to celebrate the lives and legacies of distinguished individuals.
Mr. DeBord has earned a solid reputation for delivering the highest level of service to families in their time of need. He is recognized for his keen ability to capture the essence of a life to create a tribute as unique as the individual being honored.
Mr. DeBord completed his studies in Funeral Service and Mortuary Science at the Community College of Baltimore County and holds professional accreditation from the American Board of Funeral Service Education and a Funeral Service license in the State of North Carolina.

Mark Harder, Partner, Warner Norcross & Judd LLP

Mark K. Harder is a partner with the law firm of Warner Norcross & Judd LLP and serves as Chair of the firm’s Family Office Practice.  He concentrates his practice in estate planning and administration for high net worth individuals and in the representation of family owned businesses and their owners. 
Mr. Harder is a Fellow in the American College of Trust & Estate Counsel and is listed in Best Lawyers in America and Michigan Superlawyers.  He was named 2010 Lawyer of the Year for Trusts and Estates in Grand Rapids, Michigan by Best Lawyers in America and was recognized as a 2010 Thought Leader in the Law by the West Michigan Business Review.
He served as Chair of the State Bar of Michigan’s Probate and Estate Planning Section and was the Chairman and Reporter for the Michigan Trust Code Committee.  He is prolific speaker and author for the Institute of Continuing Legal Education and other professional organizations.

  Scott Hirsch, CFO, The Benida Group, LLC

Scott has been the CFO of the Benida Group LLC for 11 years.  Before joining the Benida Group LLC, Scott spent 1 year as the tax manager with Miami Corporation, a Chicago, Illinois based single family office.  Scott also spent a total of 7 years with Arthur Andersen LLP and then Deloitte & Touche LLP in the tax division of the Chicago office, working with high net worth families.

Scott is a Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) charter holder, a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) with a Personal Financial Specialist (PFS) certification licensed in the State of Illinois, and a Certified Financial Planner (CFP®).

Scott holds a Bachelor of Science degree in accountancy from the University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign, Illinois.

David Hubbard, Vice President, Marketing, AIG Private Client Group

Mr. Hubbard is Vice President, Marketing for AIG Private Client Group in Los Angeles.  Private Client Group provides innovative insurance products and risk management services exclusively for high net worth and ultra high net worth individuals and family offices.  His responsibilities include oversight of the Los Angeles, Southern CA, and Southwest regions, which involves daily interface with insurance brokers, underwriters, and trusted advisors to high net worth individuals and families.
Mr. Hubbard also manages the Family Office practice at AIG Private Client Group, overseeing the national development, distribution and implementation of unique insurance products and personal risk management services for members of family offices, as well as their executive staff.  Mr. Hubbard is a certified Continuing Education Trainer in California, where he presents on the subjects of risk management and personal insurance to property and casualty Insurance Brokers, Financial Planners, Certified Public Accountants, and other professional groups.   
Prior to joining Private Client Group in 2002, Mr. Hubbard was at Marsh Private Client Services in Los Angeles. During the 16 year period with Marsh & McLennan Companies, he provided sales management, consultation and insurance services to high net worth clients, family offices, and business management clients.
Mr. Hubbard earned a Bachelor of Marketing degree from St. Cloud State University in St. Cloud, MN, and has resided with his family in the Los Angeles area for his entire insurance career. His hobbies and interests include home improvement, hiking and running.

Kumar Krishnamurthy, Partner/Principal, PricewaterhouseCoopers Advisory Services LLC

Kumar Krishnamurthy leads the technology strategy practice for Industrial Products and Automotive business in N.A. for Pricewaterhouse Coopers Advisory Services LLC.  In his role he has led numerous engagement to plan and stand-up client’s investments in connected technologies.  His work includes developing the operating strategy and designing the operating model.  Mr. Krishnamurthy is a thought leader in driving business impact using technology, and has published and delivered viewpoint presentations in several industry forums.
Mr. Krishnamurthy has earned his Master of Business Administration from the University of Chicago.  He also holds a Master of Science in Management Information Systems as well as a Bachelor's Degree in Mechanical Engineering.

 Jeffrey K. Lambert, Chief Financial Officer, Assistant Secretary,
 RDV Corporation

Jeffrey K. Lambert is the Chief Financial Officer and Assistant Secretary for RDV Corporation, a multi-generational family office located in Grand Rapids, Michigan.  The firm provides comprehensive wealth management, financial, tax and estate planning, investment planning and management, foundation governance and personal administrative services.
Mr. Lambert heads the Services Group of RDV Corporation, which includes Accounting, Human Resources, Technology Services, Risk and Asset Management and Life Long Learning.  He is an officer and/or board member on various family entities and committees, including RDV Sports and the Orlando Magic, MVP Sports Clubs, the Operations/Services Committee, and the Lifelong Learning Committee.
Mr. Lambert began his career on the audit staff of KPMG working first in Fort Worth, Texas, and then Boston, Massachusetts.  He then served for three years as Controller of Gulf Resources & Chemical Company, a publicly-traded holding company of natural resources and international real estate interests headquartered in Boston.
In 1992, Mr. Lambert relocated to Grand Rapids to join Guardsman Products, Inc., a publicly-traded manufacturer of industrial coatings and consumer products.  He served as Director of Finance for four years until the company was sold in 1996. 
Following a brief period as Director of Business Risk Assurances and Economic Evaluation for office furniture maker Herman Miller, Mr. Lambert joined RDV Corporation in 1997. 
Mr. Lambert is a Certified Public Accountant and earned a Top Ten award from the State of Texas for his scores on the CPA exam.  He graduated with highest honors from the University of Texas at Arlington, earning a bachelor’s of business administration degree in accounting.
He resides in Ada and has college-age triplets.  Mr. Lambert serves on the board and finance committee of Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park, the finance committee for Our Daily Bread Ministries, and the Talent Attraction and Retention Committee of the Talent 2025 Initiative.  He is also a coach for the girls’ varsity lacrosse team at Grand Rapids Christian High School.  

Ethelyn McDaniel, Director, Tax Controversy and Regulatory Services (WNTS), PricewaterhouseCoopers, LLC

Ethelyn is a Director on the Tax Controversy and Regulatory Services Team, a branch of PwC’s Washington National Tax Services.  The team includes former IRS managers and executives with extensive experience in resolving disputes between the Internal Revenue Service and clients.  Ethelyn assists clients in resolving domestic and international compliance and controversy issues before the IRS using alternative dispute initiatives including Pre-Filing Agreements, Closing Agreements, Fast Track Settlement and Appeals Mediation.  She is adept at navigating audits through the IRS Examination Process, the IDR Directive and Enforcement Process and the new Appeals roadmap. 

Ethelyn came to PwC with 35 years of experience with the IRS.   She served as the Director, Field Operations in Large Business and International (LB&I), Communications, Technology & Media industry providing executive oversight over LB&I compliance examinations in Northern California, Colorado, Washington, Oregon and Hawaii.  Additionally, she was the LB&I Territory Manager for Southern California and led teams of revenue agents and front line managers in Los Angeles, Orange and San Diego counties.  Ethelyn’s most recent role was as the Assistant to the Deputy Commissioner (Domestic) for LB&I, providing guidance and assistance with the reorganization of LB&I which rolled out in 2016.  

Ethelyn has engaged in tax issue resolution with companies in various industries including high technology, communications, auto manufacturing, pharmaceutical and biotechnology.  She has an accounting degree from California State University, Long Beach and is the recipient of numerous awards for her service with the federal government including the Large Business & International Commissioner’s Award of IRS Excellence for her work in preparing strategies for the New Information process with Appeals Division.

 Dulcie L. Truitt, President and CEO, Briar Hall, LLC

Dulcie L. Truitt is President and Chief Executive Officer of Briar Hall, a full service family office serving the 3rd, 4th and 5th generations of a Chicago based family.  Before joining Briar Hall, Dulcie was the President of two other multi-generational family offices.  Prior to entering the family office industry, Dulcie was a partner with KPMG.  


Thomas P. Ward, Partner, McDermott Will & Emery LLP

Thomas (Tom) P. Ward focuses his practice on the structuring and implementation of transactions involving partnerships and limited liability companies, including private equity fund formation, portfolio company investments and representation of pension fund investors in private equity funds. He also advises clients with respect to use of profits interests as compensation and legislative efforts to change the tax treatment of carried interests. 
Tom works closely with family offices on partnership issues, including structuring and tax allocation matters. He also addresses federal income tax issues related to aircraft acquisition and operational issues arising from personal versus business use. In addition, he advises clients on tax issues with respect to domestic and international joint ventures.

Additional speakers to be announced

Family Office Exchange Speakers

Heather Abramson, Senior Relationship Manager

Heather Abramson is a senior relationship manager for Family Office Exchange (FOX). Part of FOX’s family office team, she provides a variety of member services and supports the specific needs for family business-owning members. She also works on FOX’s Next Generation Network by engaging younger family members with education and networking.
Before joining FOX in 2008, Heather served as strategic marketing and events manager at Aon Corporation for seven years. While at Aon, Heather planned and executed more than 100 large-scale events and created the marketing and project execution for Aon’s South America Division. Earlier, she worked on Capitol Hill for a U.S. senator and in the foreign policy department at a lobbyist organization. She also has previous experience working in a Chicago-based family office.

John Cisek, Managing Director, Operations

John E. Cisek is the Managing Director, Operations for Family Office Exchange, overseeing all information technology and office operations for the firm. John brings to FOX over 30 years of experience in the management, planning, development and implementation of information technology systems, both as a consulting professional and as an internal IT executive.

Prior to joining FOX, John was an associate partner with Accenture (formerly Andersen Consulting), where he served in a variety of roles including program manager for a company-wide knowledge management system accessed by over 70,000 users in over 40 countries. He also led the enterprise architecture and security group, with a focus on aligning IT objectives with enterprise objectives.

John holds an MBA in Computer Information Systems from the University of Michigan, and a BA in Finance from Michigan State University. He is also an Illinois certified CPA.


Steven Draper, Senior Consultant

Steven Draper is a Senior Consultant at Family Office Exchange (FOX). He focuses on the business’ side of family offices as well as wealth management advisor clients. The emphasis is on solutions to support the integrated financial platform that is key for the Family Enterprise Framework. Steven is also active on the family office research side at FOX to ensure the members have the best available information, resources and solutions to help them streamline the family office processes and technology.
In previous consulting positions, Steven has been involved in single and multi family office assignments ranging from establishing the basic processes, technology and infrastructure required to operate the family office business through to the implementation of a sophisticated, integrated platform that included CRM, portfolio and partnership accounting, cash management, financial planning, risk management, data warehouse, account aggregation and flexible, on-demand reporting.
Steven has worked for over 25 years in the wealth management, private wealth and family office business in the USA, UK, Switzerland and the Middle East. His skill set covers a broad range and includes: strategy and operations for single and multi family offices; new business and operational structures; process re-engineering and modeling; suitable technology and latest developments; negotiations of contracts with vendors; program/project management of operational change projects and technology install; writing proposals, plans, standards, procedures and guidelines.

Ruth Easterling is Managing Director, Member Services

Ruth Easterling is Managing Director, Member Services, for Family Office Exchange (FOX). In her role, she provides relationship management for family and advisor members by aligning FOX services with the unique needs of each member. Ms. Easterling also co-moderates the Private Family Trust Company Network and works with the team at FOX to develop relevant programming and insight to the Network. 
Prior to her current responsibilities, Ms. Easterling led all of the firm’s member services activities, and oversaw the delivery of conferences, educational forums, webinars, website resources and member communications annually. She has overseen marketing and drove the redesign and brand initiative that differentiates FOX today.
Under Ms. Easterling’s direction, FOX has integrated member feedback processes through satisfaction surveys and advisory boards to guide the development of new programs and services. She played a lead role in the design and delivery of the first comprehensive program for Wealth Owners, known as the FOX Learning Academy.
Prior to joining FOX, Ms. Easterling worked with the professional services firm Smith, Bucklin & Associates, which provides association management and consulting services to more than 180 associations. She served as executive director to professional associations ranging in size from 300 to 4,000 members. In this capacity, Ms. Easterling re-engineered membership structures and planning processes to better enable organizations to maximize their potential through efficient governance structures and member participation. In addition to client service, Ms. Easterling often consulted with international and national organizations on strategic planning and governance design. 

Jane Flanagan, Director of Family Office Research

Jane is the Director of Family Office Research at Family Office Exchange (FOX). Jane has been with the firm since 1993 and has served in a number of roles providing value to FOX members, including Managing Director of Membership, Director of Research, and as a Consultant, where she advises and counsels family offices and financial institutions on the wealth management process and family office operations.
Jane currently leads the firm’s annual Family Office Benchmarking™ research studies and works as a developer, writer and editor of industry white papers and research studies for FOX members. Some of her recent works include: The FOX Guide to the Professional Family Office, Financial Reporting in the Family Office, and 50 Best Practices for an Enduring Family Enterprise. Jane also monitors the FOX listserv and serves as a content resource for the Membership and Consulting Teams at FOX.
Prior to joining FOX, Jane worked as a global custody Relationship Manager at the Northern Trust Company. She served as the liaison between her foundation and endowment clients and the bank, coordinating all of their master custody needs.

Amy Hart Clyne, Executive Director, Knowledge Center

Amy Hart Clyne is Executive Director of the Knowledge Center for Family Office Exchange (FOX), supporting the firm’s extensive global community of ultra-wealthy families and advisors. Her effort is concentrated on knowledge acquisition, development, management and distribution. Focused on transforming creative, best practice and innovative ideas into practical solutions, Amy collaborates with all of the teams within FOX to ensure that the firm’s collective learning is used to enhance existing member relationships, attract new members, and support the work of the consulting practice. Amy is also responsible for program design & development at FOX, including all forums, events and webinars. She is actively engaged in FOX strategic planning, relationship management, marketing and research planning, sales and training meetings, member events and workshops, and new product launch.
Leveraging over 25 years of extensive experience in private wealth management, Amy joined Family Office Exchange in 2012. Over the prior dozen years, she has worked as a consultant to some of the country’s leading private wealth management firms and private family foundations. Previously, Amy was appointed Global Marketing Director of The Chase Manhattan Private Bank for seven years. Prior to joining Chase, Amy worked in Marketing and Training at Bankers Trust Private Bank and previously served as a Portfolio Manager for Lehman Management Company, a subsidiary of Lehman Bros. Kuhn Loeb, for six years, in the ultra-wealthy individual area. 

Kasey Mueller, Human Capital Network Moderator

Kasey Mueller has brought to FOX over 30 years of experience in innovative people practices at many organizations. She believes that the role of human resources is one of supporting and facilitating the mission and vision of the organization. Her skill set includes creating and defining performance management systems and processes, talent management, employee engagement, organizational change management, organizational development, instructional design, culture shifting, leadership development, large scale strategic meeting design/facilitation, change management/communication and succession planning.

Mariann Mihailidis, Managing Director, Councils

Mariann Mihailidis serves as managing director and consultant to family office members of the Family Office Exchange. In her role she oversees the management of all domestic family office relationships. As a practicing tax and estate-planning attorney, she develops strategies in wealth transfer issues, taxes, and corporate structures. Ms. Mihailidis has served as an executor and trustee, and her fiduciary responsibilities included administrative, legal, and accounting duties of various trusts and estates.
Prior to joining FOX in 1996, Ms. Mihailidis worked in one of America’s leading family offices for four years as an accounting manager for the family’s investment partnerships and operating companies.

Alexandre Monnier, President

Alexandre Monnier is President of Family Office Exchange (FOX), a global organization that helps wealthy families and their advisors master the unique challenges inherent to wealth ownership. FOX’s support includes networking opportunities, knowledge, advice and education on key topics such as managing wealth, family governance, legacy, succession and best practices for running family offices. 
Alexandre oversees FOX globally and has extensive experience in creating, marketing, and delivering premium services to families of wealth in the wealth management, private aviation and healthcare industries—both in the US and internationally. 
He joined FOX from PinnacleCare, a leader in private health advisory services, where he led the development of the business in the U.S. and in Europe. Earlier Alexandre ran Skyjet, Bombardier Aerospace’s private jet charter business, transforming the business from an emerging player to a leading private jet travel provider. Previously, he spent 10 years as a management consultant serving some of the most widely recognized firms in the U.S. and Europe on issues ranging from strategy to operational and organizational effectiveness. He started his career in finance with Societe Generale.

Karen Rush, Director of Membership

Karen Rush is Director of Membership 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.

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