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Advisory Council Members

Catherine Bartels '77

Portrait of Catherine Bartels

General Manager
McLean, Virginia

Catherine Bartels is currently the General Manager at Bloomingdale’s. Prior to her current position, Catherine was the District Vice President for Macy’s in the St. Louis North District. Previous to this position, she was the Vice President and General Manager at Macy’s Union Square in San Francisco, California.

Catherine started her retail career in May 1980 at Lord & Taylor as a Department Manager, and during her professional career she consistently continued to move up the ranks. Catherine joined the I. Magnin franchise in 1986 and successfully transitioned to Macy’s when the company purchased I. Magnin in 1995. Ms. Bartels has been a buyer of women’s and men’s sportswear, a store manager, and worked in several stores ultimately returning to manage the Macy’s in the same building where she began. She has also worked as a store manager and Vice-President for Saks Fifth Avenue.

Catherine holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration from Illinois State University.

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Duane W. Bell '74

Portrait of Duane W. Bell

Chief Operating Officer
Stephens Richardson, Texas

Bell, a Certified Public Accountant, began his career with Peat, Marwick, Mitchell & Co. (now KPMG) in 1974 after receiving his B.S in Accounting from Illinois State University. He spent 20 years with KPMG during which he advised numerous clients on various strategy and business matters. After leaving KPMG, Bell served as Chief Operating Officer and/or Chief Financial Officer for several services organizations, two of which successfully completed initial public offerings of common stock during his tenure.

From 2006 through March 2014 he was with Tectura Corporation, first as Chief Financial Officer and, since 2010, Chief Executive Officer. Tectura Corporation is a leading worldwide provider of business consulting and implementation and integration services relating to Microsoft Dynamics ERP and CRM products.

Throughout his career Bell has served on the Boards of Directors of various civic, social and business organizations

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Julie Dobski

Portrait of Julie Dobski

Little Jewels Leaning Center
Bloomington, Illinois

Julie Dobski, along with her husband Bob, is the owner of Little Jewels Learning Centers in Bloomington and Normal, as well as 10 McDonald’s locations in Bloomington, Normal, McLean & Gibson City.

Julie believes their success is due to the support of many people and because of this, they make giving back to her community a top priority firmly advocating that this leads to a stronger community. They encourage and inspire others to become involved, quoting McDonald’s founder, Ray Kroc - “None of us is as good as all of us.”

Julie has been awarded an honorary doctorate from Illinois State University.

Julie’s current community involvement includes Chair of the United Way of McLean County Board of Directors, Past President of the Chamber of Commerce, Trustee of the Holy Trinity Catholic Church, Member of the Board of Directors for the Baby Fold, and President Elect for the Bloomington/Normal Sunrise Rotary.

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Janette Egbers

Portrait of Janette Egbers

Owner/CEO and Chairwoman
Commercial Packaging
Bloomington, Illinois

Janette Egbers is Owner/CEO and Chairwoman of Commercial Packaging, a Bloomington, IL based company. Commercial Packaging is a global provider of packaging materials serving customers throughout the world.

Jan was born in Bloomington, Illinois and has four children: Aaron Egbers, Lori Morris, Thomas Egbers and Harrison Egbers. While managing the responsibilities as wife and mother, Jan did not shy away from the challenges of entrepreneurship. After her husband’s death in 2004, Jan continued to operate the business. The company has experienced tremendous growth and continues to expand. The company is a certified woman-owned business by the Women’s Business Enterprise National Council.

Jan and her company, Commercial Packaging, are active supporters of Illinois State University.

Jan enjoys serving the local area that has been her home for so long. Giving back to the community has always been a way of life for the Egbers family.

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Mike Emmert '75

Portrait of Mike Emmert

Managing Director | Disputes & Investigations Practicen
Navigant Consulting, Inc.
Chicago, Illinois

Prepared for the rigors of the corporate world thanks to four years of Illinois State Rugby and his accounting degree, Mike Emmert began his career as an auditor and system design consultant for Arthur Andersen & Co. In the early 1980’s he formed a litigation consulting company and success has continued to follow.

Emmert has led complex consulting engagements for Fortune 100 companies including General Electric, Citibank, AIG, Caterpillar, Exelon, and Allstate. He provides accounting, finance and other areas of expertise to corporations and corporate law firms in the resolution of litigation, other business disputes or regulatory investigations. Mike has presented expert testimony in Federal and State courts. In addition to being involved in several of the large financial statement investigations of the last 5 years, Hurricane Katrina losses and other news-related matters, Mike has led multi-year client engagements involving hundreds of professionals and the resolution of financial claims and losses totaling tens of billions of dollars. Most recently, his client responsibilities have included the evaluation of billions of dollars of property damage and other business losses suffered in New York City as a result of the events of September 11, 2001.

Mike was the Managing Partner of Ernst & Young LLP’s Global Disputes & Investigations Practice. In five years he grew the firm’s domestic practice from $15 million to $130 million, while tripling partnership profitability. Emmert achieved these results by implementing unique marketing programs, branding campaigns, thought-leadership initiatives, integrated culture enhancements, career management and staff enrichment. Throughout this period the practice was named the Ernst & Young LLP Consulting Practice of the Year. Mike also led the expansion of similar consulting practices at the global level for the company.

Mike lives in Hinsdale with his wife, Jan. Their son Phil resides in Nashville. Mike is a member of the AICPA, the ISCPA, the Vanderbilt University Masters in Accountancy Advisory Board, and the Information Integrity Coalition, among other professional and civic organizations. He also serves as a Trustee and is the Treasurer of the Chicago Zoological Society.

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Melanie Ferengul '93

Portrait of Melanie Feregul

Vice President
The Northern Trust Company
Chicago, Illinois

Northern Trust is one of the world's leading asset management, asset servicing and banking firms, serving successful individuals, families and institutions around the globe. They provide trust, custody, investment management, and banking services to individual and institutional clients throughout the world. As of June 30, 2012, Northern Trust has a network of offices in 18 U.S. states and has international offices in 16 locations in North America, Europe, the Middle East and the Asia-Pacific region.

Melanie joined Northern Trust's Internal Audit department right after graduating from Illinois State. Currently she works in Risk Management focusing on regulatory compliance within the Corporate & Institutional Services business.

Melanie earned her Bachelor’s Degree in Accounting from ISU became a CPA and CIA in 1993. In 1997, she earned an MBA from DePaul University.

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Ben Hart MBA '95

Portrait of Ben Hart

President and Chief Executive Officer
Heritage Enterprises
Bloomington, Illinois

Hart is President and Chief Executive Officer of the Bloomington-based Heritage Enterprises Inc. Founded in 1963, Heritage focuses on serving the health care and therapy needs of seniors. With over 50 years of experience, Heritage now operates and manages over 55 facilities throughout Illinois, and one community in Indianapolis.

As a respected leader in the long-term care industry, Heritage provides comprehensive skilled nursing care, including Alzheimer’s and dementia memory care support, nutrition services and much more. Heritage’s exclusive RESTORE to Home Therapy program boasts licensed therapists trained to provide top-level physical, occupational and speech therapy tailored to seniors’ unique needs. In conjunction with a cutting edge long-term care pharmacy, Green Tree Pharmacy, Heritage fulfills a broad spectrum of senior care needs. From skilled nursing facilities to assisted living, supportive living and independent living communities, Heritage Enterprises raises the bar in senior health care.

Hart earned a Bachelor’s of Science in Accountancy from the University of Colorado at Boulder. He proceeded to earn a Master’s Degree in Business Administration from Illinois State University (1995). Hart’s career in health care began in 1996 when he joined Heritage Enterprises, Inc. There he took on responsibilities for new development, acquisitions, and capital reinvestments of projects in excess of $100 million. Additionally, Hart oversaw the functions of facility management, information technology, environmental services and marketing.

Hart serves on the Illinois State University Foundation Board and the Illinois State University College of Business Advisory Council. He also serves on boards for several business organizations, including the Health Care Council of Illinois, Affordable Assisted Living Coalition and the Advocate BroMenn Philanthropy Council.

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Jeff Hobbs

Portrait of Jeff Hobbs

Executive Director | Business Solutions
Afni Inc.
Bloomington, Illinois

Afni, Inc. provides customer interaction solutions for markets leaders primarily in the communications, insurance and healthcare industries. A privately held company, headquartered in Bloomington, Afni's presence spans the United States providing a tailored call center, collections insurance and debt purchase services to the nation’s leading companies. Afni is located in 5 states domestically and has a presence in Manila, Philippines.

Jeff started with Afni in 1995 and graduated from Illinois State University in 1999 with a degree in Criminal Justice Sciences. In his current role as the Executive Director of Business Development and Client Services, Jeff is responsible for the maintenance and growth within the telecommunications and healthcare verticals. Having spoken at industry conferences on website optimization, customer interaction channels and debt sales, Jeff's focus is on adding value for Afni's clients while ensuring a positive customer experience for their customers.

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Kate King Wu '76

Portrait of Kate King Wu

Adjunct Professor, CPA
University of Nebraska - Omaha
Omaha, Nebraska

Kate King Wu, a Certified Public Accountant in Omaha, Nebraska, is also a faculty member at the University of Nebraska – Omaha. Kate has over twenty years of teaching at the college level and has also taught at the College of Saint Mary, Metropolitan Community College and Bellevue University.

Prior to joining the University of Nebraska – Omaha, Kate held over seven years of auditing and consulting experiences with the Big-Four accounting firms in both United States and Hong Kong. She has been appointed by the Governor of Nebraska to serve on the Nebraska State Board of Public Accountancy (NBPA) and is now in her second 4-year-term.

Kate has been appointed by the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants’ Board of Examiner to serve on the Board of Examiner’s Content Committee and also on one of its four subcommittees. She has served on the Board of Trustees of the Foundation of The Nebraska Society of Certified Public Accountants, the Board of Directors of The Nebraska Society of Certified Public Accountants. Additionally, she was the President of the Midwest International Trade Association Inc. and has also served on the Board of The Great Plains Girl Scout Council Inc. where she is a Lifetime Member. She is currently a member of both the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants and the Project Management Institute. Kate is also currently on the Creighton University Medical Center Service League Board.

Kate has both a Bachelor of Science and an MBA degree in Banking and Finance from the University of Nebraska – Omaha and also a bachelor’s degree in Accounting from Illinois State University. She is licensed to practice as a Certified Public Accountant in the United States.

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Jesse Kohlbecker

Portrait of Jesse Kohlbecker

Vice President of Client Services
Bloomington, IL

Jesse Kohlbecker was named vice president of Client Services in November 2019. He had served as director of Agency Recruiting and Development (AR&D) since February 2018. Prior to this, he was director of Client Services for two years.

Kohlbecker began his career in 2001 as a claims intern. He served in various claims and ITS analyst roles from 2002-2011. Later, he held several Client Services leadership positions prior to his promotion to director in 2016.

Under his leadership, the Client Service Center (CSC) earned the prestigious J.D. Power certification for commitment to client satisfaction and operational excellence. Additionally, the CSC transformed into a multi-line, multi-channel contact center.

In addition, the AR&D division implemented an enterprise Learning Center of Excellence and amplified recruiting efficiency by 30% while improving the rep candidate experience.

Kohlbecker received a bachelor’s degree in business administration from Illinois State University, Normal, and is a Leadership Development Program I and II graduate. He was awarded a “Rising Star Under 40” by LIMRA earlier this year and serves on the McLean County Chamber of Commerce board. Kohlbecker earned the Associate in Claims (AIC) and Certified Business Continuity Professional (CBCP) designations.

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Al Lewis '90

Portrait of Al Lewis

Metro District Sales Manager
The Sherwin Williams Company
Schaumburg, Illinois

Al began as Assistant Store Manager in 1991. By August 1993, Lewis had been promoted to Sales Representative, in which he beat the previous year’s territory sales volume by over 20%. Lewis has received the Master’s Club Award, President’s All-Stars in 1996, Top 50 Sales Representatives in the entire United States, and the Leader’s Club Award.

Lewis has achieved seven Circle of Excellence awards, which recognized the top management performance achievement amongst peers for the entire community. Lewis also closed a $1.2 million dollar deal with the Chicago Housing Authority. He served in district management for multiple store units in Chicago and National Accounts, where he directed a team of account executives to foster sales growth and strategic partnerships with national clients across the U.S. and Canada and emphasized relationship development with Top 50 Multi-Family, Home Builder and Healthcare customers within designated markets.

Currently he is a Metro District Sales Manager, responsible for leading a talented sales force to grow market share within the commercial property maintenance and contractor market segments.

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J. William Lin '60 MBA '70

Portrait of J. William Lin

President and CPA
Lin & Lincoln CPAs Ltd.
Glenview, Illinois

Lin & Lincoln CPA’s LLC was founded in 1980 by William Lin and has since been growing rapidly into a full service CPA firm serving business as well as personal for more than 30 states and 10 countries internationally for: auditing, taxation, accounting, financial planning, and management advisory.

William received an M.S. in Business Administration from Illinois State University in 1970, and in 1960 he received B.A. from National Chung-Hsing University, Taipei, Taiwan. With an American dream in his mind, he came to ISU for a master’s degree in 1969.Prior to attending ISU, he worked as a high school teacher, and also worked for the National Bank of Communications in Taiwan. As soon as he graduated from ISU, he concurrently served as chief accountant for Computer Service Inc., Maxium De Paris, and Bistrol Restaurant under the same owner. In 1987, he organized the New Asia Bank, the biggest Chinese Bank in the Chicago area and he served on the board of directors for 18 years. During that time he chaired the loan committee which contributed to the success of the bank and helped communities and people with a low credit rate.

William is serving as Board of Directors for: Taiwanese World Chamber of Commerce, Taiwanese American CPA Association of North America, Taiwanese American Chamber of Commerce of North America, and Taiwanese American Chamber of Commerce of Greater Chicago. He served on the Board of Directors for: New Asia Bank, AA Investment LLC, Executive Building II Corp., Mt. Jade Technological Association, Wilmette Family Services, and Asian American Advisory Council.

Besides Lin & Lincoln CPA’s LLC, he is serving as president of AA Investment II LLC, and Executive Building Corporation, Best Group LLC, and AA Triple LLC. Furthermore, he served as president for: Hsing-Pei University Alumni Association Mid-West Chapter (Alumni Combination of National Chung-Hsing University in Taichung, Taiwan, and National Taipei University in Taipei, Taiwan. He was awarded as outstanding alumni by both universities), Taiwanese CPA Association of North America, Taiwanese American Chamber of Commerce of Greater Chicago.

William Lin also contributes effort in helping communities and people.

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Kris Lutt

Portrait of Lutt

President | Sweeteners and Texturing Solutions Carbohydrate Solutions
Archer Daniels Midland Company
Decatur, Illinois

Kris Lutt is president, Sweeteners and Starches, in Archer Daniels Midland Company’s Corn Processing business unit. In that role, he is responsible for all commercial activities of the company’s North American sweetener, starch and acidulant businesses.

Kris joined ADM in 2002, and most recently served as president of ADM subsidiary Golden Peanut and Tree Nuts, a leading handler, processor and exporter of peanuts and tree nuts, with processing facilities in major growing areas in the United States, Argentina and South Africa. Before that, Lutt was president of ADM’s Milling business, and before that, adviser to the Office of the Chairman. Within ADM’s Corn business, he has served as general manager, Specialty Feed Ingredients, and vice president, Corn Processing. Before joining ADM, Lutt worked for Minnesota Corn Processors, which ADM acquired in 2002.

Kris holds a bachelor’s degree in biochemistry from the University of Nebraska and an MBA from Illinois State University. Kris also serves on the Acacia Fraternity Foundation and the Community Foundation of Macon County.

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Catherine L. Lynch '80

Portrait of Catherine L. Lynch

Chief Financial Officer
Inland Real Estate Investment Corporation
Oakbrook, Illinois

Lynch is the Chief Financial Officer of Inland Real Estate Investment Corporation, and a member of the board of directors of The Inland Group, Inc. Headquartered in Oak Brook, Illinois, The Inland Real Estate Group of Companies, Inc. is one of the nation’s largest commercial real estate and finance groups, representing more than 45 years of expertise and integrity in the industry, and has received the Better Business Bureau’s Torch Award for marketplace ethics in 2009 and 2014.

Lynch graduated from Illinois State in 1980 with a Bachelor of Science degree in Accountancy. She went to work for Peat Marwick Mitchell and Co (currently KPMG LLP) as an auditor for nine years, and then joined Inland in 1989. She has held various accounting positions at Inland, eventually becoming CFO in 2011, where she is responsible for all of the finance and accounting activities for multiple Inland entities. In 2012, she was the first woman and non-founding principal appointed to the board of directors of The Inland Group, Inc.

As a strong believer in the benefits of mentoring, Lynch was a founding member of the Women’s Initiative Network at Inland, a program offering career education and advice for employees, and is an active mentor for several women in the Inland organization.

Lynch is a certified public accountant, and is a member of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants and the Illinois CPA Society, and is also registered with the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority as a financial operations principal.

She and her husband divide their time between their home in Wheaton, Illinois and their farm in southwestern Wisconsin.

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Joseph E. McNeely '86

Portrait of Joseph E. McNeely

President and Chief Executive Officer
FreightCar America, Inc.
Chicago, Illinois

Joseph is a successful leader with comprehensive rail industry experience and diverse business background with a track record of driving value in manufacturing, leasing, and distribution industries. Joseph has significant rail, mergers, acquisitions and international experience. He has a CPA/MBA with major audit and consulting firm experience, including performance management, operational excellence, and Activity Based Management.

Joseph assumed FreightCar America’s President and Chief Executive Officer position in October 2014. Prior to the promotion, he served as FreightCar America’s Chief Financial Officer since September 2010. Joseph served 13 years in a variety of managerial and leadership positions in the rail industry which included responsibility for sales, marketing, business development and IT and well as finance at two railcar lessors. Currently, he is serving on the American Association of Railroads Associates Advisory Board, and is the President of the RSI American Railway Car Institute Committee (ARCI).

Most recently, Joseph held a position of Vice President Sales and Marketing at Mitsui Rail Capital, focusing on railcar leasing sales and marketing, business development, and diversification of their railcar product portfolio. During this time, he implemented best practices in the sales and marketing functions, purchased over $100 million of new and used railcars and sold over $80 million worth of existing railcars.

Previously, Joseph held positions at GATX Corporation, including Vice President of Finance for GATX Rail, and was responsible for managing and leading the consolidation of a global rail finance team, implementing best practices to drive down costs, and improved finance processes across the board.

Joseph began his career with Arthur Andersen, LLP and was a senior manager on numerous accounting, audit and consulting engagements serving the manufacturing and distribution industries. He successfully led activity based management, information systems, strategy development, mergers and acquisition projects.

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Miron Marcotte '85

Portrait of JMiron Marcotte

Managing Director | Minneapolis Market Leader
Protiviti Inc.
Minneapolis, Minnesota

Miron is a Managing Director and the Minneapolis Market Leader for Protiviti Inc., a global internal audit, risk, business and technology consulting firm. Prior to relocating to Minneapolis in 2008, Miron worked in Protiviti’s Chicago Office and was previously an Assurance and Business Advisory Partner with Arthur Andersen.

Miron has a B.S. in Accounting from Illinois State University (’85). He is a 2011 Illinois State University College of Business Hall of Fame Inductee and a 2009 Outstanding Alumni for the Illinois State University Department of Accounting.

Miron has been active in the Illinois State University (ISU) Department of Accounting Advisory Council, he was the Founding President of the ISU Chicago West Alumni Chapter, he assisted in planning some ISU Alumni events in the greater Minneapolis area, he provides three scholarships annually to ISU Department of Accounting students, he helped establish the ISU Arthur Andersen Distinguished Professor Endowment Fund for the Department of Accounting, he participates in the ISU Department of Accounting Mentorship Program and has presented to various Department of Accounting classes.

Miron currently resides in Excelsior, MN with his wife, Anne, and his daughter, Nicole.

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Erick Miner '70

Portrait of Erick Miner

President/Dealer Principal
Central Illinois Truck Inc.
Normal, Illinois

Erick W. Miner is President and CEO of CIT Group, Inc., a group of 15 retail heavy and medium-duty truck dealerships representing franchises for Kenworth Truck Company, Volvo Trucks North America, Mack Trucks, Isuzu Commercial Trucks of America, and Mitsubishi Fuso Truck and Bus Corporation in sales territories throughout all of Illinois, half of Missouri, and northwestern Indiana. The company also owns a finance company, CIT Equipment Finance, Inc. and a truck leasing company, CIT Group Leasing, Inc. The company was founded in 1975 in Normal, Illinois.

Miner graduated from Illinois State University in 1978 with a degree in accounting. He obtained his CPA certification and worked in public accounting until joining CIT Group, Inc. as Controller in 1984. He became President of the company in 1991, purchasing the company in 1992. In the past two decades, CIT has grown from two dealership locations generating $12 million in annual sales to its present size, becoming a consistent market share leader with annual sales in excess of $300 million and employing over 500 people. The company has received a number of industry awards over the years, most recently winning three Kenworth Truck Company North American Dealer of the Year awards in the past four years.

In addition to serving on the boards of several community organizations and industry groups over the years, Miner has held positions on the Volvo Trucks North America Dealer Advisory Board, and the Kenworth Truck Company North American Dealer Council, ultimately serving as Chairman of the Kenworth Truck Company North American Dealer Council in 2003. In 2011, Miner was a finalist for the American Truck Dealers Association Dealer of the Year, the industry’s top dealer award. CIT has worked closely over the years with Illinois State University’s Professional Sales Institute and is proud to be a Platinum Partner with the Institute. Miner is on the Institute's advisory board and enjoys speaking to sales, marketing, and business administration classes at the university. CIT employs a number of Illinois State University graduates.

Miner and his wife Jada have six children and live in Bloomington, Illinois. Two of their children are Illinois State University graduates.

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Charlie Moore

Portrait of Charlie Moore

President and CEO
McLean County Chamber of Commerce
Bloomington, Illinois

Charlie Moore, President & CEO of the McLean County Chamber of Commerce, is a focused leader for the continuing advancement of business in McLean County. An Illinois native, Moore has devoted his career to promoting local commerce and business advocacy efforts and initiatives for both business and community success.

Before joining the McLean County Chamber of Commerce in 2008, he was the Executive Director of the East Peoria Chamber of Commerce, the Vice President of Programs for the Northwest & Schaumburg Association of Commerce & Industry, and the Operations Manager for Small and Minority Business Services and Illinois Business Financial Services, which were partners with the Peoria Area Chamber of Commerce. 

A graduate of Bradley University, Moore holds an IOM designation (Institute for Organizational Management) from the US Chamber of Commerce Colorado College and the designations of both the ACE (Accredited Chamber Executive) from the Illinois Association of Chamber of Commerce Executives and the CCE (Certified Chamber Executive) from the Association of Chamber of Commerce Executives Association. 

He’s married to Coleen, and they have two boys Andrew and Adam.  They live in Bloomington and are a part of the Tri-Valley Community.  In his spare time, he enjoys working outside, travel, and cheering his boys on in football and wrestling. 

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William J. Motchar '85

Portrait of William J. Motchar

President and Chief Executive Officer
Navis Global
Charlotte, North Carolina

After graduating Illinois State University, Will spent 13 years in progressing responsibilities in sales, marketing, and global business unit management with National Starch and Chemical Company. During this time Will also earned an M.B.A. from Wake Forest University.

Will joined Navis Global in 1998 as Vice President, Global Sales and Marketing. In 2005, he was promoted to President and CEO. In 2011, Will purchased the company from the private equity group that owned Navis Global. Founded in 1929, Navis Global is the leading finishing machinery supplier to the global textile industry. Based in Lexington, North Carolina, Navis designs, engineers and manufactures high tech machinery for the global knit, woven, nonwoven, technical and geotextile industries. Navis has sales and service offices in over 60 countries with manufacturing facilities in the U.S. and Taiwan.

Will also serves as Chairman and member of the Board of Directors of the American Textile Machinery Association.

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J. Phillips

Portrait of J. Phillips

President - Bloomington/Normal Branch
Commerce Bank
Bloomington/Normal, Illinois

J. Phillips, a native of the Bloomington-Normal area leads the Bloomington-Normal market in growing and retaining clients for Commerce Bank. His 13-year career spans all areas of the bank including retail banking, wealth management, private banking and commercial banking. Phillips has a history of recognition for exceptional work and has been awarded several Commerce Bank and community awards including 40 Leaders Under 40 by InterBusiness Issues (iBi). J. focuses his efforts on commercial banking and payments solutions, as well as assuming additional leadership responsibilities by providing custom solutions to evolving challenges in the Bloomington-Normal market.

Recently, J served as the President of the Alzheimer’s Association, Central Illinois Chapter as well as a member of the Public Policy and Walk to End Alzheimer’s Committees. Additionally, he serves on the board of directors for Junior Achievement of Central Illinois, Illinois State University College of Business, and Illinois Wesleyan Associate Board of Directors.

J graduated from Southern Illinois University at Carbondale with a Bachelor’s of Science in aviation management, with a specialty in airport management and planning. J also is a certified commercial pilot and part-time flight instructor. J and his wife Crystal live in Bloomington-Normal and have 2 children, Liam and Piper.

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Thomas Reedy '81

Portrait of Thomas Reedy  '81

Senior Managing Partner
Dillon Kane Group LLC
Chicago, Illinois

Thomas Reedy is Senior Managing Partner of Dillon Kane Group LLC, and Chairman and CEO of Kava Restaurants LLC. With more than 35 years of entrepreneurial experience merging business, finance, and technology into high-growth commercial ventures, Tom’s leadership empowers professionals within organizations to act as a stimulus for growth strategies. Tom’s demonstrated expertise includes cultivating opportunities in new and existing markets, manifesting portfolios of innovation, and managing to success.

Technology and Finance: Tom’s management expertise spans business creation and acquisition, enterprise technology, operations, capital markets, investment banking, and executive consulting. As a leader at Dillon Kane Group, Tom is renowned for building and managing balanced portfolios of diverse technology-based businesses to create long-term value for shareholders, partners, and customers. Tom has a reputation for establishing and tapping into a rich diversity of business, technical, and entrepreneurial IQ to nurture disruptive innovations and speed time-to-market with impeccable integrity and transparency. He has launched technology entities, managed software “lift-outs” from corporate parents, created equity funds, and cultivated a network of business partnerships that connect talent to opportunity. Prior to joining the Dillon Kane Group, Tom served as CEO and Chairman of iTRACS Corporation, a market leading infrastructure technology management company acquired by CommScope under Tom’s leadership. Prior to iTRACS, Tom spent 20 years as a senior leader in the investment business. During this period, Tom served as Senior Executive Vice President at EVEREN Securities, the tenth largest brokerage firm in the U.S., where he had responsibility for all Capital Markets activities.

Quick-Service Restaurant: Tom established Kava Restaurants LLC in 2017 and has quickly grown it into one of the largest Tim Horton franchise operators in the world. Tom’s strong belief in the quick-service restaurant (QSR) business reaches back to the early 1980s, when he worked as an Internal Auditor at McDonald’s Corporation. Even as Tom’s career flourished in finance and investment banking, he maintained QSR relationships as a banker or overseeing a restaurant group at EVEREN. Today, the Kava Restaurants LLC franchise group operates 75 Tim Hortons and 12 Cold Stone Creamery restaurants across Michigan, Ohio, West Virginia, Kentucky and Indiana.

A committed community leader, Tom’s public service includes a Presidential appointment (1997-President William J. Clinton) to the Board of Trustees of the Woodrow Wilson Center for International Scholars. Shortly after, Tom was appointed Chairman of The Center’s Investment Policy Committee. During Tom’s six-year term as Chairman, he orchestrated comprehensive change in investment policy and focus of the Center’s endowment funds.

Tom lives in Hinsdale, Illinois with his wife of 30 years and has four children. Tom holds a bachelor’s degree in accounting from Illinois State University, and an MBA in finance from the University of Michigan. He is a certified public accountant, certified managerial accountant, and has multiple securities industry accreditations.

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Sharon Rossmark '78 MBA

Portrait of Sharon Rossmark

Chief Operating Officer
AeroVista Innovations
Chicago, Illinois

Sharon Rossmark, MBA is the CEO and Founder of Women And Drones, the premier global platform featuring women who are disrupting, innovating and shaping the future of the drone industry. She is also a Certified Part 107 Remote (Drone) Pilot. In 2018, the company was listed as one of the “Top 100 Companies To Watch” in the drone industry by UAV Coach, a leading online drone educational site.

The organization’s educational theme centers on “learning through the wonders of flying robots.™” The focus is on collaborating with community and educational programs to incorporate drones into STEM programming for youth with an emphasis on engaging girls. Most of the characters in their books are girls which is a purposeful, important part of their commitment to engaging more girls in STEM and aviation.

Sharon is an international speaker, panelist and facilitator on the topics of drones, board governance and executive mentoring. She has taken the stage to share her passion for drones from the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum in Washington, DC to the World of Drones Congress in Brisbane, Australia.

She is the co-author of several books introducing young children to drones. The first three book “Fun with Drones”, “Drone Girls and the Air Show Adventure” and “Drone Girls And The Wonders Of Whale Snot” are available on Amazon.

Ms. Rossmark serves in leadership roles on various boards, including Special Olympics Illinois (Vice Chair) as well as the Washington DC based organization Board Source (Treasurer) and the board of trustees at Illinois State University. She also serves on the advisory board for InterDrone an international drone industry conference.

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Stuart Schuette '86

Portrait of Stuart Schuette

Chief Executive Officer
American Tire Distributors
Huntersville, North Carolina

Stuart Schuette is currently Chief Executive Officer at American Tire Distributers.

Stuart was Chief Operating Officer of US Foods. In his role, he oversaw the operational and administrative functions of more than 70 divisions. Stuart also planned and directed all operational strategies, policies, objectives and initiatives to achieve the goals of US Foods while positioning the company for future growth.

During his 20-year career at US Foods, Stuart has held a variety of executive positions including Region President; Zone President; Division President; Division Vice President, Finance; Manager, Financial Operations; and Manager, Planning.

Prior to joining US Foods, he was an executive at Martin Brower, a subsidiary of Reyes Holdings, LLC, the world’s largest distributor of products to more than 8,400 McDonald’s restaurants. Stuart was also Senior Financial Analyst at Heller Financial and began his career in the Small Business Division of Arthur Anderson in Chicago.

Stuart holds a Bachelor of Science degree in accounting and business administration from Illinois State University

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James L. Svab , CPA '92

Portrait of James L. Svab

PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP
Chicago, Illinois

PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) is a global professional services firm providing assurance, tax and advisory services. It is the world's largest professional services firm and the largest of the Big Four accounting firms.

Jim is an Assurance partner in the Chicago office focusing on insurance companies and the financial services industry. In addition to leading audit engagements, he provides accounting advice and has assisted companies with IPOs and capital market transactions, internal control implementations, due diligence projects and forensic accounting investigations. He has served clients of all types and sizes, including SEC and foreign registrants, mutual insurers, multinationals and private companies.

Jim is the past co-leader of PwC’s IFRS practice for the insurance industry where he assisted companies in accounting conversions and other IFRS-related activities. Earlier in his career, Jim served a three-year tour with PwC Switzerland in the Zurich office, where he provided accounting advisory and IPO services to companies seeking access to the U.S. capital markets

Jim received a degree in accounting from Illinois State University and became a certified public accountant in 1992. He has previously been a member of ISU’s Advisory Council to the Department of Accounting (2006-2012) and the Board of the United Way of DuPage/West Cook County.

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Matt Taphorn, '88

Portrait of Matt Taphorn

Division CFO
Caterpillar Inc.
East Peoria, Illinois

Matt is currently a Division CFO with the Resource Industries Operations and Products Division of Caterpillar, Inc. located in East Peoria, Illinois. Prior to his current role, Matt has held positions in Corporate Accounting, Remanufacturing, and in Global Mining with leadership roles in the integration of the Bucyrus acquisition and subsequent divestiture of the related distribution businesses, and the integration of the Siwei acquisition. Matt joined Caterpillar in 2004.

Matt started his career at Price Waterhouse in Peoria from 1988 to 1991 as a Senior Auditor. He was the Controller for PJS Publications, a publishing company located in Peoria from 1991 to 1998. Matt was a Financial Advisor for AG Edwards in Peoria from 1998 to 2002, and a Financial Consultant for Robert W. Baird and Co. in Peoria from 2002 to 2004.

Matt currently serves on the Illinois State University College of Business Advisory Council, The Peoria Salvation Army Advisory Board, and the Caterpillar Chinese Resource Group Advisory Board.

Matt holds a bachelor’s degree from Illinois State University and is a Certified Public Accountant.

Matt currently resides in Morton, Illinois along with his wife of 31 years, Kelly (Nimmo) Taphorn (ISU ’89). His son Drake (BS/MPA ISU ’15) is employed as an accountant with Caterpillar in Deerfield and is engaged to be married to Emma Tully on June 18, 2021. His daughter Karson (Taphorn) Schall (BN Illinois Wesleyan University ’16) is employed as a labor and delivery nurse by Good Shephard Lutheran Hospital in Barrington, and her husband Paul Schall (BS in Accounting Illinois Wesleyan University) is also employed as an accountant with Caterpillar in Deerfield. Karson and Paul have a son Luke who is 14 months and are expecting their second child in December. Matt also has twin sons, Chase (North Central College ’17) who is employed as an account representative with Stryker in Peoria and is married to Alex (Shadid) Taphorn, and Drew (BS BIS ISU ‘20) who is employed at Reditus Laboratories in Pekin. Drew and his wife Erika (Anderson) Taphorn have three sons, Kainen 4, Jairus 2, and Eli who will be 1 in September 2021.

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Mark Thorndyke '85

Portrait of Mark Thorndyke

Managing Director – Wealth Management
Senior Portfolio Manager, PIA Program
Wealth Management Advisor
Thorndyke Wealth Management Group
Chicago, Illinois

With Merrill Lynch since 1986, Mark manages client portfolios within the Personal Investment Advisory Program®. After receiving his undergraduate degree from Illinois State University, he has participated in post-graduate programs over the years at Harvard University, London School of Economics and Wharton Business School. He lives in Lake Barrington with his wife Susan, and their four children.

Mark was named to Barron’s Top 1,200 Financial Advisors in 2014; an honor he has held for the past six consecutive years. He is currently ranked 26th in Illinois.

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Katrin Watkins '97

Portrait of Katrin Watkins

Finance Director, JDF Corporate Consolidation and Reporting
Deere and Company
Johnston, IA

Deere and Company (NYSE: DE) is a world leader in providing advanced products and services and is committed to the success of customers whose work is linked to the land—those who cultivate, harvest, transform, enrich, and build upon the land to meet the world’s dramatically increasing need for food, fuel, shelter, and infrastructure. Since 1837, John Deere has delivered innovative products of superior quality built on a tradition of integrity.

Katrin Watkins is a Financed Director with John Deere Financial (JDF), a position she has held since December 2017. In her role she is responsible for JDF consolidations, regulatory reporting, tax, consolidated forecasting and consolidation software business support. This includes responsibility for John Deere Capital Corporation’s external 10-K and 10-Q reporting.

After graduating from Illinois State with a degree in accounting she began her career with Deere and Company as a factory accountant in Augusta, GA. She also holds an MBA from Indiana University and received her CPA and CMA certifications. Katrin has held accounting and finance positions of increasing responsibility in multiple divisions and locations including multiple rotations in Treasury and an assignment as Accounting Manager and later Director, Finance and Treasury at John Deere Bank in Luxembourg. In 2012, she returned to JDF as Manager, Financial Planning and Analysis. Prior to accepting her current position, she was Director, Global Internal Audit for JDF.

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Andrew Watts '91

Portrait of  Andrew Watts

Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer
Brown and Brown Inc.
Daytona Beach, FL

Andrew Watts is Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer for Brown and Brown, Inc. Brown and Brown is a $3.1B diversified insurance agency, offering a broad range of insurance products and services including coverage for property and casualty, employee benefits, professional liability, public entity, personal lines as well as claims administration and medical management. Brown and Brown’s business is divided into four reportable divisions: Retail, Wholesale Brokerage, National Programs and Services. The Company is ranked by Business Insurance magazine as the United States’ fifth largest independent insurance intermediary. The company operates throughout the United States, Canada, Ireland, United Kingdom, Bermuda and the Cayman Islands. Andrew joined Brown and Brown in February 2014. He is responsible for all aspects of the financial organization, treasury, capital management, and investor relations, as well as supporting overall company strategy, acquisitions and the Board of Directors.

Prior to joining Brown and Brown, Andrew worked at Thomson Reuters for 12 years, most recently as the Global Head of Customer Administration, where he was responsible for leading a global team focused on transforming the end-to-end delivery of the customer buying experience and product fulfillment through utilization of process redesign and system implementation. Prior to this role, Andrew was CFO for the Investment and Advisory Division of Thomson Reuters Markets, where he was responsible for all financial functions as well as helping to set the strategic direction and operations for the division. He joined Thomson Financial in 2001. During his tenure, he served in multiple CFO roles, held operational responsibilities, oversight for certain technology functions and led numerous MeA activities along with subsequent integration into the company.

Prior to his career at Thomson Reuters, Andrew was co-founder and CFO of an internet start-up company. He started his career with PricewaterhouseCoopers where he worked for approximately 10 years in Chicago, Milan Italy, and Florham Park New Jersey.

In addition to his commitments, Andrew is a Board Member for the Museum of Arts and Science in Daytona Beach Florida, a member of Florida Institute of CFOs, has held board leadership positions with a Make-a-Wish office and a community theatre, as well as used to sit on the NYSE corporate advisory board.

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Mary Ann Webb '78

Portrait of Mary Ann Webb

Principal Partner
Sulaski and Webb, CPAs
Bloomington, Illinois

A 2006 College of Business Alumni Hall of Fame honoree, Mary Ann Webb was the first woman to be admitted to partnership in a CPA firm in McLean County. She was named a Woman of Distinction in 1992 by the YWCA in recognition of her career achievements and is currently a member of the board of directors of the Illinois CPA Society and the Illinois CPA Endowment Fund. Mary Ann has shown tremendous support for Illinois State University with many years of service on various advisory councils, steering committees. She has also held leadership positions in the Redbird Club.

A long record of service to others is evident in Mary Ann’s community involvement. She has been a director of Citizens First Financial Corporation and Citizens Savings Bank and is currently a director of Main Street Bank and Trust. Mary Ann has served as President of the Children’s Foundation, Chair of the Workforce Investment Board, as Treasurer of the Bloomington Rotary Club, and as an officer of the McLean County Chamber of Commerce. Other commitments include her work with the Chestnut Health Systems Board, Busey Wealth Management Board, Illinois CPA Society Endowment Fund Board, and Bloomington Public Library Foundation Board.

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Ron Whitton, Jr. '80

Portrait of Ron Whitton

Groveland, Illinois

Ron Whitton graduated from Illinois State University in 1980 with a major in business administration, a minor in economics, a partial in accounting. That same year, Whitton started working as sales rep for Standard Brands—Food Manufacturer. A year later, he went to work for PMI, a food broker headquartered in Chicago. In 1988, Whitton purchased Spring Green Lawn Care in Peoria and completed the Account Executive College Program at Northwestern University. In 1991, he purchased Jimbos Jumbo, a takeout restaurant located in Pekin. In 1998, Whitton won the Peoria Chamber of Commerce Small Business of the Year award with SpringGreen.

In 2001, he purchased a commercial building in Peoria and started Dentsmart with Dave Haxton. In 2002, Whitton started developing body shop and insurance company partnerships in Illinois and had one Dentsmart technician in Illinois, and in that same year Whitton won the account executive of the year award while still working in the brokerage business. In 2005, he sold Jimbos restaurant and Spring Green Lawn Care to focus on growth of Dentsmart. Soon after, Whitton started developing the Dentsmart brand in Iowa. In 2006, Whitton began licensing the Dentsmart brand in other states including Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota, Missouri, Indiana, Ohio, and Tennessee, in addition to Illinois and Wisconsin. In 2011, Dentsmart was approved by the federal government to change to a franchise system in all active markets. In 2016, Dentsmart had more than 100 people serving 12 markets, including newly added Nebraska and Arkansas. In 2010, Whitton’s daughter Andrea started attending ISU as a first year student. Her attending ISU got Whitton involved in supporting the school with time, talent, and treasure.

Here is a recap of his ISU involvement: Established the Ron and Cathy Whitton endowed scholarship program for an incoming first year student or transfer student majoring in business, established the “Pay it Forward” College of Business endowed scholarship for a student involved in COB Registered Student Organizations, established a marketing scholarship and entrepreneur scholarship and is a member of the Alumni Board, College of Business Advisory Council, the MQM and Means Center advisory councils and participates in the Alumni Scholarship program, hired and worked with interns from PSE business organization to facilitate the Dentsmart social media presence. Whitton also enjoys supporting his church and other charities.

Whitton has been married to his wife Cathy since 1981, and she has been on this journey with him since the beginning. They have two children, Derek, lives in Pekin and Andrea, lives in Baltimore.

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Robert A. Zmudka '89

Portrait of Robert A. Zmudka

Senior Vice President and Chief Commercial Officer
GATX Corporation

Rob Zmudka is Senior Vice President and Chief Commercial Officer for GATX Corporation. He is responsible for all commercial activities for the North American Railcar Division. Rob has served in a number of increasingly responsible commercial roles since joining GATX Corporation in 1989 following his graduation from Illinois State. Prior to the most recent appointment, he was Vice President and Group Executive, North American Sales and Marketing.

GATX strives to be recognized as the finest railcar lessor in the world by their customers, their shareholders, their employees and the communities that they operate. GATX has been providing quality railcars and services for more than 120 years and has been headquartered in Chicago, Illinois since its founding in 1898. GATX has paid uninterrupted quarterly dividends since its initial listing in 1919.

In addition to his role at GATX, Rob serves on the Board of Trustees for the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton Ohio.

Rob holds a Bachelors Degree in Marketing from Illinois State and a MBA from Dominican University. Rob and his family live in Winnetka, Illinois.

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