Speaker Bios

Lee A. Arbus, CPA, JD, LLM
Lee A. Arbus, JD, LL.M. (Taxation), CPA, joined Levun, Goodman & Cohen, LLP as a partner in 1995. After graduating from law school in 1978, he worked in the tax department of a major international accounting firm. He began practicing law in 1980 and devotes the majority of his time to representing individuals and entrepreneurs in estate planning and business planning activities. Mr. Arbus also represents trustees and executors in complex estate and trust administration matters and helps these individuals with various trust accounting issues and tax return preparation issues. In addition to representing individuals, Mr. Arbus has also been providing business and legal advice to closely-held businesses.

Mr. Arbus has been a frequent lecturer and presenter for the Illinois Institute of Continuing Legal Education and the Illinois CPA Society. He has also been a member of the Illinois CPA Society’s Estate and Gift Tax Planning Sub-Committee since 1982 and has also served as Chair of that Committee. He has chaired Illinois CPA Society Task Forces in presenting the Annual Tax Conference and the Annual Estate and Gift Tax Conference. In addition, Mr. Arbus has spoken at the AICPA’s Annual Tax Conference in Washington, DC and has also appeared at the AICPA’s Practitioner’s Symposium in Las Vegas. He has also given a number of presentations for local CPA Society chapters, the Chicago Estate Planning Council and the Greater North Shore Estate and Financial Planning Council, where he formerly was the President and a member of the Board of Directors. Mr. Arbus is currently a member of the Lurie Children’s Hospital Legacy Board.

Stephanie Ballard, CPA (she/her/hers)

Jonathan K. Beer, JD, LLM
Jonathan K. Beer, JD, LLM practices in estate planning and taxation at Levun, Goodman & Cohen, LLP in Illinois and West Michigan. Mr. Beer has previously worked in law practice and in the private client group at an international tax and advisory firm. He has worked closely with settlors and fiduciaries in all aspects of the life of a trust: design and formation, administration, compliance, and termination.

Mr. Beer received a Juris Doctor from BYU J. Reuben Clark Law School (2013) and spent his third year of law school visiting the Northwestern Pritzker School of Law, where he earned a Master of Laws in Taxation (2013). Mr. Beer is fluent in German and enjoys baking.

Ranga Bodla, VP
Ranga has over 20 years of combined product management and marketing experience in the software technology industry. As VP of Industry Marketing for NetSuite, Ranga Bodla is chartered with driving the overall strategy and go-to-market for success across all of NetSuite’s industries including Wholesale Distribution, Manufacturing, Software, Services, Non-Profit, Advertising, Media and Publishing. Prior to joining NetSuite, Ranga led a global team focused on the successful go-to-market of SAP’s Governance Risk and Compliance Solutions. Prior to his role at SAP, Ranga led Product Management and Marketing at Pilot Software (acquired by SAP). Ranga received a BS in Engineering from Trinity University in San Antonio. Follow Ranga on Twitter @rangabodla.

Matt Booth, CPA, MBA (he/him/his)
Matt Booth, CPA, MBA, is an executive coach, certified by the Hudson Institute of Coaching. He combines his experiences as a PwC partner (retired) with his passion for helping people achieve success to deliver a client-focused coaching experience. Matt focuses on C-suite executives and finance professionals at all levels, utilizing a variety of coaching techniques to enhance capabilities and personal resiliency, enabling greater career growth and organizational value.

Geof Brown, CAE
Geoffrey ‘Geof’ Brown, CAE, is president and CEO of the Illinois CPA Society (ICPAS), one of the largest state CPA societies in the nation. Brown also serves as president and CEO of CPAs for the Public Interest and ex-officio board member of the CPA Endowment Fund of Illinois.

A seasoned certified association executive (CAE), Brown has more than 23 years of experience as an association professional. Before joining ICPAS in 2022, he served as CEO of the National Association of Personal Financial Advisors (NAPFA), the nation’s leading professional association of fee-only financial advisors, for nine years. Prior to NAPFA, Brown was an account executive with Sentergroup, an association manager at SmithBucklin Corporation, and held multiple positions with North-American Interfraternity Conference.

Brown served as the board chair for Association Forum and is an active member. He is also an active member in the American Society of Association Executives and is a board member for the AIDS Foundation of Chicago and the Association of Fraternal Leadership & Values. Brown earned his bachelor’s degree in government and politics from the University of Maryland.

Elizabeth Buffardi, CFP, CPA (she/her/hers)
I am a fee-only, holistic financial planner. In English, that means I look at your entire financial life and advise you on it. I do not sell products. I look at your retirement, investments, spending, etc. and formulate a plan so that every part of your financial life works in harmony with the others. My goal is to be your trusted advisor. I work with number-phobic people and busy professionals who need help and guidance in their financial life.

Amy Chamoun

Jamar Cobb-Dennard, J.D.
Jamar Cobb-Dennard values, markets, and sells manufacturing, business service, and building service companies. Selling your business is his business. Jamar’s experience as an attorney and business consultant helped him guide clients through $5.7M of liquidity events in 2021. Jamar partners with the following professionals to help their clients achieve their mid-career or retirement “happy endings:”

  • CPAs
  • Attorneys
  • Wealth Advisors

Jamar works for Indiana Business Advisors (IBA)–the state’s 40-year old leader in business brokerage. IBA specializes in valuing, marketing, negotiating, and closing the sale of thousands of small businesses. The firm’s team is stocked with the Industry’s best attorneys, CPAs, investment bankers, valuation specialists, and entrepreneurs who bring their networks and expertise to bear when a new client walks through the door. Jamar earned his law degree at the Indiana University Robert H. McKinney School of Law and is licensed to practice in Indiana.

In addition, Jamar was recognized as an:

  1. Indianapolis Business Journal Forty-Under-40 honoree,
  2. 2013 Emerging Leader by 100 Black Men, and is a
  3. Stanley K. Lacy Executive Leadership Series graduate.

Lester Cook, CCSP
Lester has nearly 20 years of experience in the tax specialty service industry. He is a Principal of KBKG’s Fixed Asset Review Practice. He is a certified member of the American Society of Cost Segregation professionals, a group that he has been a part of since 2008. Throughout his career, Lester has completed cost segregation analyses on thousands of properties ranging from office space leasehold improvements to multi-billion dollar industrial complexes and hotel and resort projects. He has worked with many Fortune 500 companies successfully representing his claims to both IRS and Financial Auditors.

Prior to KBKG, Lester led the PwC Central Region Cost Segregation Center of Excellence; providing engineering-based Cost Segregation project management, oversight, and expertise to all other fixed assets teams throughout the U.S. and Canada. He was a recipient of the 2008 PwC Greater Chicago Market Chairman’s Award for Outstanding Leadership.

Lester was born and raised in Northwest Indiana and is the head of the KBKG Chicago Office. He earned a Bachelor in Construction Management from Purdue University.

Laura Cronkhite, CPA, CISA
Laura Cronkhite, CPA, CISA is a Partner in the IT Assurance practice of Crowe LLP, and is the IT Assurance Methodology Leader located in South Bend, IN. Laura oversees SOC 1 and 2 engagements and performs audits of IT controls in relation to SOX-404 financial audit engagements. Laura is a member of the AICPA, IN CPA Society and ISACA.

Meghan Depp, CPA
Meghan has over ten years of experience leading teams and building client relationships with an emphasis on providing quality services to efficiently and effectively complete projects. Meghan has extensive transactional experience with initial public offerings (IPOs), reorganizations, as well as debt and equity offerings. Meghan focuses on the review of registration statements and periodic filings for compliance with generally accepted accounting principles (GAAP), and Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) rules and regulations.

Leah Donti, CPA, CMA, MBA
Founder and President
Advantage Montreal Seminars Inc.
e-mail: Ldonti@AdvantageMontrealSeminars.com
website: www.AdvantageMontrealSeminars.com

Leah Donti, an internationally recognized seminar leader and speaker in accounting and auditing, has been doing seminars full time for 32 years through her seminar business. She conducts in-house training at CPA firms and various multinationals and does CPE courses through the CPA societies. As well, she speaks at numerous conferences across North America each year. She speaks on FASB update, Private company GAAP developments, IFRS, Accounting and Auditing Update, SEC and PCAOB update, Leases, Digital Assets, Cannabis, Data Analytics, Digital Transformation, Compilation and Review Update, and Fair Value Accounting. She also provides proprietary prep seminars for the IQEX reciprocity exam where foreign accountants obtain the US CPA credential.

Prior to beginning her seminar business in 1991, Ms. Donti worked for a major information management consulting organization, where she provided training to offices across North America. She also worked with an accounting software firm, offering accounting education courses to clients on site. In addition, she held positions in internal audit and Accounting with Canadian Pacific, one of the largest companies in Canada, dual listed in Toronto and New York.

For 11 years in a row, Leah has received the AICPA Outstanding Discussion Leader Award for her passion, energy and ability to speak at all levels of professionals and made her a most sought-out speaker.

Rob Drover, MBA
Rob Drover is Vice President of Business Solutions with Marcum Technology. Based in Philadelphia, Mr. Drover leads the Firm’s National Digital Advisory Practice. This practice offers a wide range of next-generation technical services and solutions, enabling our clients to grow and transform their business, through digital transformation. These solutions include block chain & digital assets, data analytics, cloud-based ERP and robotic process automation. Marcum’s Digital Advisory practice also offers a number of back-office solutions such as cloud-hosting, 1099 preparation and automated sales and use tax processing to complement the overall offering.

With over 30 years of experience in accounting & finance, sales and marketing, and information technology, Mr. Drover offers expertise in project management, operations support and technology transformation. His industry experience includes over 10 years in the chemical, agricultural and pharmaceutical business units at the DuPont Company. He has delivered both domestic and international engagements in many different industries, including distribution, healthcare, pharmaceuticals, real estate, telecommunications and the public sector.

As a technologist, Mr. Drover specializes in delivering technical solutions to support re-engineering and process improvement initiatives using next-generation artificial intelligence, machine learning and robotic process automation. As a self-taught IT professional, he has extensive experience managing application development, implementing large-scale commercial software installations, working with a wide-range of SQL-based databases and is a certified RPA Solution Architect.

Mr. Drover brings a unique perspective to client engagements with a blend of practical direct sales along with accounting and financial experience combined with a strong background in Information Technology. He has worked with clients ranging in size from small to mid-size private businesses up to multiple engagements with Fortune 200 public companies.

Jennifer Dzierzak, CPA, MBA
Jennifer Dzierzak, CPA, MBA, Audit Partner at Crowe LLP.

Jennifer has worked in public accounting for over 18 years and has extensive experience with both public and private companies ranging in size from less than $10 million to more than $500 million in revenues. She is the industry lead for the metals manufacturing vertical, and her industry specialization also includes working extensively with private equity companies, software companies, services and non-profit organizations. She has spent time working in Europe and has experience in IFRS as well as US GAAP reporting requirements.

Rebekuh Eley, CPA, MST
Rebekuh joined RSM in 2019 and serves as the National Tax Exempt Healthcare Industry Leader and Great Lakes Exempt Organizations Practice Leader. Rebekuh has 20 years of experience advising tax exempt organizations. Rebekuh concentrates on tax issues impacting tax exempt organizations including the complex rules governing exempt status and 501(r), excise taxes, unrelated business taxable income, joint venture structuring, intermediate sanctions, private inurement, lobbying and political activities, compliance and information reporting, alternative investments, charitable gifts, ASC 740 (FIN 48) documentation and tax controversies.

Rebekuh is a national speaker at various forums where she speaks on topics affecting exempt organizations including the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants, Illinois CPA Society, Healthcare Financial Management Association, National Association of College and University Business Officers and The Central Association of College and University Business Officers. In addition to speaking, she has written several articles and participates on webcasts related to relevant exempt organization tax issues.

Eric Fader, JD, CPA (he/him/his)
Eric is a Special Counsel in Duane Morris LLP’s Chicago office. He has over 25 years of experience that includes sales/use tax and state income/franchise tax consulting, planning, and audit defense nationwide. Eric has taught accounting and tax classes at various colleges. Eric is the past President of the ICPAS’s Fox Valley Chapter.

Rebecca Freeman

Monica Funk, MBA, CPA (she/her/hers)
Monica Funk (CPA, MBA) is a Tax Manager in the Exempt Organizations practice at RSM US LLP. She specializes in reviewing tax returns for cultural institutions, human services agencies, health care systems, schools, foundations, and other nonprofit organizations. She has over 5 years experience working exclusively on tax exempt clients.

Paula Goedert, JD
Paula serves as general or lead counsel for many national associations that represent prominent economy-drivers, industries and professionals. A selection of her clients includes the American Architectural Manufacturers Association, American College of Surgeons, Bank Administration Institute, National PTA and the American Library Association. In representing a wide variety of nonprofits, she has developed the ability to focus on solutions when analyzing the problems, issues and challenges of her clients.

Paula personally strives to consistently bring creativity and insight to structural and governance initiatives. Her guidance includes advising nonprofits on entity formation and tax issues, as well as strategic development and regulatory compliance. Paula is a frequent lecturer and has authored many articles on nonprofit and association topics including governance, antitrust, copyright issues, lobbying by exempt organizations, human resource issues, legal status of chapters and the unrelated business income tax. Regardless of the matter at hand, Paula is dedicated to renderingimpactful and productive counsel for charitable organizations and associations. Given her decades of practice, Paula knows from hands-on and hard-earned practical experience what nonprofits need to remain viable and successful.

Ben Golden, EA

Lori Goldstein, JD
Lori Goldstein, an employment lawyer since 1984, has a unique business and perspective, representing both employers/business owners and employees through her solo practice, the Law Office of Lori A. Goldstein LLC. After receiving her undergraduate and law degrees from University of Illinois, Lori worked as a management-side employment and litigation attorney for two mid-sized Chicago law firms before starting her own firm in 2011. Her advice on workplace rights and issues ranges from discrimination, harassment and retaliation, to equal pay, leave of absence and wage-hour matters. Lori also drafts, negotiates, and reviews contracts, including employment, non-compete, independent contractor, and severance agreements. Employer compliance audits and training – including sexual harassment training now required for all Illinois employers, plus administrative claims, and defense of charges of employment law violations are also a regular part of her practice. Lori also regularly presents and writes on employment law topics. Lori is practical and passionate about helping organizations and individuals achieve peaceful solutions to workplace issues, find closure, and move forward.

Giving back to the community is also very important to Lori. She’s held several volunteer and nonprofit board positions, including New Trier High School Board of Education (Vice President), Governing Board (and Secretary) of the North Suburban Special Education District (NSSED), and Board Member at Career Resource Center in Lake Forest. Lori is an active member of professional networking groups EPWNG, North Shore LAW, and Trusted Advisors’ Council (TAC), and serves as a volunteer attorney with the Lawyers for the Creative Arts.

Lori has been honored by several awards, including Superlawyers Illinois 2016-2023, Superlawyers Illinois 100 Top Lawyers 2017, 2019, 2020, 2022, 2023 and Superlawyers Illinois Top 50 Women Lawyers 2017, 2019-2023. Rated “Superb” by AVVO and “Distinguished” by Martindale-Hubbell.

Brian Greer (he/him/his)
A graduate of Purdue University, Brian’s entire career has been focused on selling technology solutions and services with the last 20+ years focused on selling sales tax services. Brian began his career as an Account Manager for Firstwave Technologies, selling customer relationship management solutions to large, nationwide businesses. Later he joined JD Edwards (subsequently acquired by Oracle) where he sold enterprise solutions to Fortune 1,000 business. Brian subsequently joined Tax Partners initially managing their alliance channel consisting mainly of Big 4 Accounting Firms. He later led the sales and use tax sales team after the The Thomson Corporation (Thomson Reuters) acquisition, growing the revenues to multi-million dollar levels. Brian joined TaxConnex® as a partner in 2010. Brian currently focuses on partner development and oversees the marketing department.

Michael A. Gregory, BS, MS, MBA (he/him/his)
Michael Gregory, NSA, ASA, CVA, is the founder of Michael Gregory Consulting, LLC. Mike works with accountants, attorneys, and businesses that want to grow their businesses, be more productive and overcome conflict with others by enhancing collaboration. Mike also works with meeting planners looking for an engaging, relevant, and fun speaker with customized presentations. As background, Mike has been a controller and run an organization with 1,200 employees in his career and completed over 2,500 mediations, negotiations, and facilitations. As a result of his collaborative approach clients have saved hundreds of millions of dollars. It has been his pleasure to give over 700 presentations in the U.S. and Canada based on the 12 books and over 45 articles he has written over the last 10 years.

Clients often share that their people are more focused on the tasks at hand, more confident when making difficult decisions, and more at peace in their professional and personal lives after attending Mike’s presentations. Mike has served on over a dozen boards and including having served as the past Chair on the Ethics and Oversight Board of National Association of Certified Valuers and Analysts and currently serves on the Minnesota State bar Alternative Dispute Resolution Section Board. Mike is a Qualified Mediator with the Minnesota Supreme Court.

Mike has a BS from Valparaiso University, a MS from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and an MBA from DePaul University. On a personal note, he has the pleasure to see two little granddaughters at least weekly. Mike may be reached at mg@mikegreg.com, and 651-633-5311. Check out all of his books on Amazon. [NSA, ASA, CVA]

Jonathan Hauser

Mark S. Heroux, JD
Mark Heroux, Partner in the Specialty Tax Services group at Baker Tilly US, LLP, joined the firm in 2008. He has more than 35 years of tax litigation, technical, and program management experience. Mark specializes in IRS procedures, controversy, and dispute resolution. He began his career with the IRS Chief Counsel in 1985 where he litigated cases around the world for the IRS. When Mark left the IRS in 2000 he was a Special Assistant United States Attorney, Industry Counsel for the nation for the Insurance Industry, and a Senior Trial Attorney who helped litigate the two largest transfer pricing cases in history. At Baker Tilly, he leads the IRS Practice and Procedures group, and provides tax and business advisory services to middle-market and large companies, and high net worth individuals that operate in the real estate and other industries.

Adam J. Ivezich, CPA (he/him/his)
Adam J. Ivezich, CPA, Director, FORVIS LLP.

Adam is a director within FORVIS’ Chicago audit team. He has more than 12 years of experienc providing audit and other attestation services to both private and public companies. His experie includes middle-market companies as well as Fortune 500 and Fortune 1000 companies across wide range of industries, including commercial products, wholesale and retail, real estate, construction, technology (including SaaS), and professional services. Adam has extensive SEC experience serving both domestic and foreign registrants and assisting with a variety of transactions, including initial public offerings, secondary offerings, and mergers and acquisitions. He is a member of the American Institute of CPAs and Illinois CPA Society. Adam is a graduate of Valparaiso University, Indiana, with a B.S.B.A. degree in accounting and marketing.

Marcy Johnson (she/her/hers)

Tom Kelly

Roman Kepczyk, CPA, CITP, CGMA, LSS BB
Roman H. Kepczyk, CPA is Director of Firm Technology Strategy for Right Networks. His primary focus is helping firms throughout North America effectively use information technology and accounting applications to transform their practices by optimizing their tax, audit, CAAS, and administrative production workflows. He has spent the past twenty-six years consulting exclusively with CPA firms and prior to that, ten years with the CPA firm of Henry & Horne, (Arizona’s largest regional firm) where he was the partner in charge of the firm’s Management Advisory Services and Consulting practices. Roman also served as the firm’s Administrative partner where he oversaw Internal Accounting, Marketing, Human Resources, and was responsible for the creation and implementation of the firm’s technology plan and budget.

Roman has been named by INSIDE Public Accounting as one of the profession’s Most Recommended Consultants for the seventeen years through 2022, CPA Practice Advisors Top 25 Thought Leaders from 2011 through 2023 and Accounting Today’s Most Influential People in Accounting seventeen times. On a technical level, Roman is a Certified Lean Six Sigma Black Belt (LSS BB), an AICPA Certified Information Technology Professional (CITP) and has earned the AICPA’s Robotic Process Automation and Data Analytics credentials. Roman has also earned the CPAFMA’s Professional Accounting Firm Manager designation for internal CPA firm practice management.

He has served on AICPA Council and is a former member of the AICPA PCPS Executive Committee, and a former Chairman of the AICPA’s Information Technology Executive Committee. He has served as a member of other AICPA initiatives, including the Special Committee on Enhanced Business Reporting, eBusiness Task Force, IT Best Practices, IT Research, IT Practices Committees, and Group of 100 projects. In addition, he is a former Chairman of the AICPA Top Technologies Task Force.

Zach Lambert, CPA

Joshua Lance, CPA, CGMA
Joshua Lance, CPA, CGMA is the founder and Managing Director of Lance CPA Group, a virtual CPA firm that focuses on providing accounting and consulting services to craft breweries and digital agencies. A licensed Certified Public Accountant and Chartered Global Management Accountant, Josh is also a family man who calls Chicago home. Before venturing on his own with a mission to help small businesses, Josh spent his early career at Crowe LLP before working as a Controller at an ultra high net worth family office. Josh is also an adjunct professor at Northwestern University in Evanston, IL teaching accounting in the Farley Center for Entrepreneurship and McCormick School of Engineering at the University of Vermont teaching in the Business of Craft Beer program. Josh also serves as the Head of Accounting at Ignition. He enjoys making wine and beer at home, cooking, traveling, and cheering on his favorite football and soccer teams. Josh was honored by being selected to the 2017 class of the AICPA Leadership Academy and was named as one of the 40 under 40 in 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020, 2021, and 2022 by CPA Practice Advisor. Josh is also a director in the llinois CPA Society Board of Directors.

Phillip Levsky, CPA

Jon Lokhorst, CSP, CPA, PCC
Jon Lokhorst, CPA, ACC, is a leadership coach, keynote speaker, corporate trainer, and author of Mission-Critical Leadership: How Smart Managers Lead Well in All Directions. He works with organizations to develop leaders everyone wants to follow, build teams no one wants to leave, and deliver exceptional results. Before launching Lokhorst Consulting LLC, Jon enjoyed a 30-plus year career as a CPA, CFO, and organizational leader. He has a Master’s in Organizational Leadership and is recognized by the International Coach Federation as a Professional Certified Coach. He also serves as adjunct faculty in the School of Business and Nonprofit Management at North Park University. Jon is a member of the National Speakers Association and serves as President of the Minnesota chapter. On a personal note, Jon loves grandparenting and being “Papa” to his four adorable littles, as he calls them.

Damien R. Martin, CPA
Damien R. Martin, CPA is a partner in the Private Tax practice within the Financial Services Organization at EY. He provides tax compliance, consulting, and planning services to high-net-worth individuals, families, and fiduciaries. Damien formerly hosted Simply Tax®, a podcast dedicated to delivering practical and timely content to simplify tax challenges, and his opinions and commentary on important tax issues have been quoted by Tax Notes®, Bloomberg®, and other sources.

Damien is a member of the American Institute of CPAs, where he currently serves on the Tax Practice Resiliency Task Force and the Tax Profession Strategic Advisory Group. He also serves on the Board of Directors of the CPA Endowment Fund of Illinois and is a member of the Illinois CPA Society.

Dorri C. McWhorter, CPA, CGMA, CIA, MBA
Dorri McWhorter became President and CEO of YMCA of Metropolitan Chicago in August 2021. Prior to joining the YMCA, Dorri served for 8 years as the CEO of YWCA Metropolitan Chicago transforming the organization from a traditional social service organization to 21st Century social enterprise. Increasing impact and organizational sustainability, YWCA Metropolitan Chicago’s operating budget grew 4x over her tenure. The organization has been an active contributor to many critical initiatives across the region. YWCA Metropolitan Chicago expanded its service footprint to 10 new locations, completed seven mergers and acquisitions, implemented paid family leave and developed a retirement plan to include retirement options for thousands of childcare providers and small business owners. Dorri led the effort to develop an exchange traded fund (ETF) for women’s empowerment (NYSE: WOMN) in partnership with Impact Shares, which is the first non-profit investment advisor to develop an ETF product.

Dorri prides herself on being a socially-conscious business leader and is committed to creating an inclusive marketplace by leveraging a cross-sector approach of engaging business, civic and community partners. Dorri serves on the Board of Directors for several companies including, Lifeway Foods, William Blair Funds, NexPoint Capital and Skyway Concession Company (Chicago Skyway). Dorri is also active in the accounting profession and serves on the Financial Accounting Standards Advisory Council and has served as a member of the Board of Directors of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) and a past Chairperson of the Board of Directors for the Illinois CPA Society. Dorri also serves as Co-Chair of the Advisory Board of the First Women’s Bank. Dorri received a BBA from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, an MBA from Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management, and an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters from Lake Forest College.

Kari L. Natale, CAE
Kari Natale, CAE, joined the Illinois CPA Society in 2011 and is their Senior Director of Planning and Governance and she is also the Senior Director of the CPA Endowment Fund of Illinois. She is responsible for the governance activities and strategic direction of the Society, and for the student engagement and diversity initiatives. Kari was recently honored with the Association Forum’s 2020 Inspiring Leader Award.

Arpit Parikh, CISA
Arpit Parikh, CISA is a Senior Manager in the IT Assurance practice of Crowe LLP, and is the Co-National Leader of the Asian Business Resource Group located in Peoria, IL. Arpit oversees SOC 1 and 2 engagements and performs audits of IT controls in relation to SOX-404 financial audit engagements. Arpit is a member of IL ISACA chapter and Ascend Midwest Chapter.

Luis V. Plascencia, CPA, MST
Luis Plascencia is a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) licensed in Illinois. His firm specializes in IRS Representation Services and Financial Statement Services to entrepreneurs, small businesses to mid-size businesses, non-profit organizations, and cannabis businesses. Mr. Plascencia is a member of the faculty at Harold Washington College, one of the City Colleges of Chicago. Luis previously served as the Chairperson of the Illinois CPA Society (ICPAS) Tax Practice and Procedures Committee and currently serves has served on multiple ICPAS Committees and American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) Committees. Mr. Plascencia currently serves on the State of Illinois Board of Examiners (Accountancy).

Luis is a frequent speaker at ICPAS and AICPA Continuing Professional Education (CPE) events. He is also a frequent guest on the Chicago Legal Clinic Immigration Issues Show where he discusses tax issues that affect immigrants. He is an avid distance runner and cyclist. Luis has volunteered his time to Chicago Area Runners Association and is a frequent charity runner for Organization for Autism Research.

Michael N. Ripani, CPA, JD, CFE
Michael Ripani, JD, CPA, CFE, is a Senior Counsel with the law firm of Handler Thayer, LLP. Michael has nearly 30 years of legal experience in the area of complex commercial litigation and is chair of the firm’s complex commercial litigation practice. Michael is a member of the Illinios CPA Society and former Trustee for the Village of Hinsdale. FUN FACT: After living in the suburbs of Chicago his entire life, when his youngest child went to college, Michael moved downtown and is enjoying living in the city and he loves to kayak.

Deborah K. Rood, CPA, MST (she/her/hers)
Deb is a Risk Control Consulting Director for the Accountants Professional Liability Insurance Program of Continental Casualty Company, a CNA company and the underwriter of the AICPA Professional Liability Insurance Program. She previously practiced public accounting for 19 years with regional public accounting firms.

As a state and local tax (SALT) practice leader with a regional public accounting firm, Deb provided consulting and compliance services to clients in a variety of industries including but not limited to manufacturing, distribution, professional services and transportation. She has conducted presentations at various AICPA and state CPA society conferences and has authored numerous articles.

Deb provides risk control consulting services for CPA firms in the AICPA program. She participates in the development and delivery of risk management training and education products including the live risk management seminar and self-study programs.

John Sanchez, Business Coach
Some people have referred to John Sanchez as has come to be known as a “Recovering Accountant”. He isn’t in a 12 step program, but his communication skills sure needed rehab before he embarked on a lifelong journey of self-development. He first realized his communication needed some serious rehab when a coworker let him in on a not-so secret fact: people he worked with thought he was a jerk because of how he communicated with them. John’s journey took him from being socially exiled to being sought after to train accountants and others.

John runs the training and FP&A consultancy FPA Group, LLC. He has more than 20 years’ experience that started at a top ten accounting firm, progressed to mergers and acquisitions work for Fortune 500 companies, and culminated in significant roles in world-class business organizations including Royal Caribbean Cruises and AutoNation. Since transitioning into the development and delivery of training courses for accounting and finance professionals, John has established a clientele including solo start-ups and multi-billion dollar conglomerates in an eclectic array of industries. John has experience delivering courses using a variety of formats and platforms including webinars, recorded online self-study courses and live face-to-face delivery.

John’s specialty topics are focused on the “soft skills”, mainly communication, that allowed him to transition from working mostly in spreadsheets to speaking to audiences of hundreds from all over the world, imparting lessons learned from his personal and business experiences. He also hosts the More Than Words Show podcast and YouTube show, which brings a variety of experts from different industries and professions to talk about C.L.E.A.R. communication. John holds a bachelor’s degree in accounting and has served as a member of the board of directors for several organizations.

Derek Sasveld, CFA
Derek began his career in the investment industry in 1993 and has served in various asset allocation and economic analysis roles. He currently serves as Head of Research and Investment Strategy at Busey Wealth Management. Previously he was Director, Investment Solutions and Sr. Investment Strategist at BMO Global Asset Management, CIO of retail multi-asset solutions at Nuveen, a senior portfolio manager and head of asset allocation at ING (later Voya) Investments, and a portfolio manager and strategist, global investment solutions, at Brinson Partners (later UBS Global Asset Management). He holds an M.B.A. from the University of Chicago Booth School of Business and a B.S. in finance from the University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign. In addition, Derek is a CFA® charterholder.

Carl Seidman, CPA/CFF, CSP CIRA, CFE, CGMA, AM (he/him/his)
Carl Seidman is a trusted business advisor specializing in financial planning & analysis (FP&A), business strategy, and finance transformation. He works with Fortune 500 corporations and middle-market companies, helping establish effective FP&A practices, processes, and teams. At the same time, he brings finance professionals greater control over their careers by helping them build their competence and confidence while eliminating time-wasting activities and mistakes. His skills enhancement and development methodologies are frequently utilized by leading companies as part of their financial leadership development programs. Carl serves as an FP&A and CFO advisor to a select number of entrepreneurial businesses throughout North America and Europe and assists them with strategic financial planning, value enhancement, and revitalization.

Carl is a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) in the State of Illinois, has earned other professional credentials including the CIRA, CFF, CFE, CGMA, AM (Accredited Member in business valuation) and Anaplan Model Builder, and was a 2020 National Association of Certified Valuators and Analysts 40 Under Forty honoree. Prior to founding Seidman Financial, Carl was a Director of Turnaround and Restructuring at Conway MacKenzie (acquired by Riveron) and a Senior Associate in the Business Analytics & Strategy and Dispute Analysis & Investigations practices at PwC. Carl lives in metro Chicago with his wife and twin sons.

DIRK Shimpach, CPA (he/him/his)
Founding Partner, goVirtualOffice

A former Controller, Financial Analyst and CPA, Dirk spent over a decade in business management roles. This allows him to quickly understand opportunities for improvement across all business departments from sales and marketing to finance and operations. He has over 20 years in CRM, ERP and Accounting software.

Michael J. Singer, CPA (he/him/his)
Michael J. Singer is a principal in the firm of Michael J. Singer and Company, P.C., which he founded in 1970. Michael attended Roosevelt University, in Chicago, Illinois, where he completed several graduate level accounting courses. He has worked in the field of accounting for over 50 years, was the controller of a medium sized retailer for two years and in public accounting for the remainder of his years. He has concentrated on special problems of individuals and small businesses, primarily in the area of taxation. Michael served as the treasurer of the Arlington Heights Historical Society for over six years.

Michael has been a member of numerous senior committees of the Illinois CPA Society; chair of the IRS Practice and Procedures Committee for four years; is an active member of that committee, as well as State and Local Tax Committee and the Committee on Individual Taxation. He is also, a member of the Illinois Department of Revenue Processing Advisory Board. He has received numerous Distinguished Service Awards and the prestigious Lifetime Achievement Award and is an active member of the O’Hare Chapter of the Illinois CPA Society, of which he is currently the Legislative Committee Chair. He has been a past President for three yearly terms, two of the years were consecutive. He provides a monthly tax update at each of the monthly meetings and continues to serve on the Chapter Board of Directors.

Michael has been active in teaching many tax programs for the Illinois CPA Society, spanning numerous years. He continues to participate in presenting many seminars covering the areas of Ethics (Circular 230), Exam procedures, Collection procedures and the Appeals process in both areas. In addition, he has been an active presenter at the yearly IRS Practitioners Symposium for over 18 years.

Elizabeth Sloan, CPA, MAS (she/her/hers)
Elizabeth Sloan, CPA, serves as a Managing Director within Grant Thornton LLP’s ESG & Sustainability practice. Elizabeth has twenty years of experience, including four years with the Grant Thornton International group working with member firms throughout the world. Elizabeth focuses on providing assurance over ESG metrics and participating in the dynamic regulatory and standard setting environment in the US and abroad.

LeeJay Stewart
After spending over two decades working for large organizations in senior leadership roles for Information Technology, LeeJay built an extremely successful career in the technology field. In 2018, he decided to change from the large corporation role to found StratusComm – Managed IT Services. Through LeeJay’s management, the company has established a reputation for IT expertise, integrity and client satisfaction, and has helped small and midsize organizations in several industries successfully manage and navigate their IT environments.

LeeJay’s knowledge base spans from desktop troubleshooting to setting up a global complex IT environment for a company with 50+ locations and over 13,000 users. The first part of his career was focused primarily on Network, Cyber Security, and Server Administration but as his career developed so did his responsibilities into other areas like Application Development, Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP), Manufacturing Execution Systems, Project Management, Architecture design, Process Development and overall management.

Roger Yule



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