Gary L. Burge
Gary Burge graduated from Northern Illinois University (NIU) in 1976 with a degree in accounting. Gary obtained his CPA that same year and began his professional career with Haskins & Sells (now Deloitte).
Gary has spent the majority of his career in senior financial positions in the professional services, telecommunications and cable television industries primarily with startup and early-stage growth companies. In addition to his financial background, he has had business experience managing merger and acquisition, information technology and engineering functions at various stages of his career. While helping companies progress from startup into the growth phase of their business cycles, he has had substantial experience raising capital in the debt and equity markets. Career highlights include private equity fundraising for three companies as well as taking three companies public. In addition to Deloitte, Gary has worked for Huron Consulting Group Inc., PrimeCo Wireless Communications Company, Morningstar Inc., 360° Communications Company, Sprint Corporation and Centel Corporation.
Gary is a member of the Financial Executives Institute and the Illinois CPA Society and has been recognized as the NIU Department of Accountancy Outstanding Alum in 2004-2005 and as a Distinguished Alumnus for the NIU College of Business in 2008. He also serves on the NIU Department of Accountancy Executive Advisory Council.
M. Chryss Crockett
Chryss Crockett is a 1987 graduate of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and CPA. Chryss began her career in Public Accounting ( Laventhol & Horwath / Grant Thorton). Chryss clients included manufacturing, distribution and banking while in Public Accounting. After working in Public Accounting for 9 years, Chryss has held roles as Manager of Corporate Reporting, Director of Finance and Chief Financial Officer.
In industry, Chryss has worked in publicly traded and privately held entities. Chryss has extensive experience in the consumer products, retail, distribution and service industries working for Alberto- Culver, Romano Brothers and Southern Wine and Spirits. Currently, Chryss is the Chief Financial Officer for Cook-Illinois Corporation. Cook-Illinois Corporation is a 2800 employee private school bus contractor operating mainly in Illinois and surrounding regions. As Chief Financial Officer, Chryss is responsible for financial operations and strategic sourcing including accounting, treasury, budgeting, human resources and information technology.
Chryss's accounting, finance, technology and business expertise includes audit, SEC reporting, activity based costing, budgeting/forecasting, strategic planning, treasury, ERP implementations and establishing a human resource department for a 2800 employee company.
Chryss is a member of the AICPA and ILCPA Society.
Gini Dietrich is the founder and chief executive officer of Arment Dietrich, Inc., a firm that uses non-traditional marketing in a digital world.
The author of Spin Sucks, the 2010 Readers Choice Blog of the Year, a Top 42 Content Marketing Blog from Junta42, a top 10 social media blog from Social Media Examiner, and an AdAge Power 150 blog, Gini has delivered numerous keynotes, panel discussions, coaching sessions, and workshops across North America on the subject of using online technology in communication, marketing, sales, and HR.
One of the top rated communication professionals on the social networks, Gini was recently named the number one PR person, according to Klout and TechCrunch, on the channels, and number one on Twitter, according to TweetLevel. She also can be found writing at Crain's Chicago Business, AllBusiness, and Franchise Times.
Donald W. Pearson
Donald Pearson earned his B.A. in Accounting from Augustana College in 1984, CPA in 1986 and his MBA from the University of Chicago in 2000. Don began his career at Coopers and Lybrand (now PricewaterhouseCoopers, PWC) as an Auditor. Don's clients included manufacturing, business services, real estate and construction in both the public and private sectors. After seven years in public accounting, Don has held roles as Chief Financial Officer and Treasurer, Vice President of Finance, Controller, Senior Vice President of Business Planning and Director of Internal Audit.
In industry, Don has worked in domestic and foreign owned public companies both at corporate and in operating units. Don has extensive experience in the business services, forest and paper products, mining, construction and manufacturing industries working for Information Resources, Inc., UPM – Kymmene Corporation North America and PM Ag Products Inc. (Unit of Tate & Lyle). Since May 2008, Don has been the Chief Financial Officer and Treasurer of Amcol International Corp. Amcol is a leading international producer and marketer of value added specialty minerals and related products. The company has over 2,000 employees worldwide operating in 26 countries and currently trades on the NYSE. As Chief Financial Officer and Treasurer, Don is responsible for all financial operations including accounting, finance, financial reporting, forecasting and budgeting, tax, treasury, planning, and banking and investor relations.
Don's accounting, finance and business expertise include audit, SEC reporting, IFRS, treasury management, strategic planning, forecasting and budgeting, ERP implementations, shared services and mergers and acquisitions.
Michael D. Romano
Michael received his undergraduate degree in 1987 from the University of Notre Dame and MBA from Northwestern University (Kellogg) in 2003. Michael's professional career includes leading companies, managing operations and business development. Michael has worked in financial services, commercial real estate, distribution, food/liquor/beverage and service industries. Michael has worked in management and business development roles for Van Kampen Merritt, Cushman and Wakefield, E & J Gallo Winery and Romano Brothers. In addition, Michael has extensive international experience working in Mexico for E & J Gallo Winery and Cushman and Wakefield.
Michael's leadership business experience includes serving as the President of Power Distributing LLC (Illinois Red Bull Distributor) and MTY San Miguel (a Hispanic Food Company). Currently, Michael is the President/COO of Armstrong Aerospace.
Michael serves on the board for several companies and non- profit organizations : Leaders Bank, Red Hen Bread, Armstrong Aerospace, Power Distributing, MT San Miguel, The Gow School and past Chairman of Friends of Orphans. Michael is also a Member of YPO.