Member Engagement Committee Chair
Paul Williams coleads Allegis Partners' North America CEO and Board Practice and is also a partner with legal search firm Major, Lindsey & Africa, based in Chicago. He focuses on identifying top board candidates and assessing organizational corporate governance as well as conducting corporate in-house searches for general counsel and other senior-level positions.
Williams is a member of the board of directors for two public companies, Essendant Inc. (a Fortune 500 company) and Compass Minerals Inc. He currently is the Compensation Committee chairman for Compass Minerals and the Nominating and Governance Committee chairman for Essendant. Williams is the president of the Chicago Chapter of NACD, as well as the former lead independent director of State Auto Financial Corporation and the former Compensation Committee chairman of Bob Evans.
Prior to joining Allegis Partners, he served as executive vice president, chief legal officer, and secretary of Cardinal Health Inc., a Fortune 20 healthcare services company.
Williams graduated cum laude from Harvard and received his JD from Yale Law School. He speaks frequently on diversity-related issues and has been recognized by national publications as one of the country's most influential, diverse directors. He is an avid fitness enthusiast and the proud father of two grown sons.
Member Engagement Committee Chair
Sara Sirotzky is a managing director at Marsh, the insurance brokerage and risk advisor subsidiary of Marsh & McLennan Companies. She is a senior client executive who oversees several teams to identify, analyze, and craft solutions to address clients' strategic, operational, financial, and hazard risks. To understand and mitigate risk exposures, she travels with her clients in and outside the Unites States.
Sirotzky joined Marsh in Peru, her country of birth. Because of her global enterprise risk management expertise, she was invited to join Marsh in Chicago. During her extensive career with the organization, she has served in multiple senior roles including leading a Financial Analyst Unit and becoming the first Central Region Manufacturing Practice leader.
Sirotzky is on the board of the National Association of Corporate Directors (NACD) Chicago Chapter and leads the Member Engagement Committee. She also facilitates the chapter's peer-to-peer annual dinner and frequently attends the NACD annual Summit in Washington, D.C. Sirotzky is a member of and has held leadership roles at The Chicago Club, The Economic Club of Chicago, Financial Executives International, The Chicago Network, International Women's Forum, and The Chicago Finance Exchange.
Sirotzky has received numerous awards for service excellence and business growth including consecutive "Top Performer" awards, the Global Power Broker Award from Risk & Insurance magazine, and the 2018 Winner President's Award. For the last 10 years, she has hosted a November Networking Luncheon (NNL) for Chicago Senior Leaders. The luncheon features a panel discussion of timely topics.
Sirotzky holds an MBA from Northwestern University (Kellogg) and an MS in Financial Markets and Trading from Illinois Institute of Technology. Her BA degree is in Business from Mundelein College (now Loyola University). In addition, she attended Kent Law School for one year.
She is the author of Red Rose and Blue Butterfly, has run 12 marathons, and is currently learning how to play golf.
Mark Zorko chairs the Nominations/Governance Committee, previously chaired the Audit and Strategic Advisory Committees, and is on the Audit and Compensation Committees of Perma Pipe International Holdings (NASDAQ: PPIH). He is also on the Board and chair of the Audit Committee for Westell Technologies (NASDAQ: WSTL).
He has been a public company CFO and CIO for manufacturing, service, healthcare, and high-tech firms. His background includes over 20 years of board experience. He has also been the interim CEO of Well Services Ltd.
Zorko serves on the Audit Committee for Opportunity International and was previously on the Board of Directors for St. Alexius Medical Center. He is an active member of the National Association of Corporate Directors and its Chicago Chapter Board and has completed the credentialing for his Leadership Fellow certification.
Zorko began his career as a CPA at Arthur Andersen and Honeywell in the United States and Europe. He received his MBA in IT from the University of Minnesota and his BS in Accounting from The Ohio State University.
Margaret "Shan" Atkins is a public company director with deep experience in the consumer, retail, and healthcare sectors. She is a Canadian, United States, and British citizen. Most recently, she cofounded Chetrum Capital LLC, a private investment firm where she served as managing director from 2001 to 2017.
Atkins began her career as a public accountant in Toronto at what is now PriceWaterhouseCoopers LLP. She qualified initially as a Chartered Accountant/Chartered Professional Accountant in Canada and later as a Certified Public Accountant in the United States (Illinois Society of CPAs).
Subsequent to her time in public accounting, Atkins spent 14 years with Bain & Company where she became a partner and leader in the firm's global consumer and retail practice. She also maintained a secondary concentration in the firm's healthcare industry practice, working with clients in a variety of sectors including Rx pharmaceuticals, hospitals, and non-prescription medications/health and beauty aids.
From 1996 to 2001, Atkins served as a senior executive of Sears, Roebuck & Company (USA), ultimately as executive VP. While at Sears, she led a multi-billion dollar hardlines business to record results, oversaw global product sourcing for both softlines and hardlines, and created an intrapreneurship team that generated a number of chain-wide innovations in the company's retail footprint.
Since 1999, Atkins has served as an independent director on 10 public and private corporate boards in the United States and Canada. Her current public directorships include SpartanNash Company (NASD: SPTN), a major grocery wholesaler and retailer; Darden Restaurants (NYSE: DRI), a leading operator of restaurant brands including Olive Garden, The Capital Grille, Longhorn Steakhouse, and Cheddar's Scratch Kitchen; SunOpta (NASD: STKL and TSX: SOY), a global supplier of natural and organic foods; and LSC Communications (NYSE: LKSD), one of the largest book, catalog, and magazine printers in America. In addition to these public company roles, Atkins is the current Audit Committee chair at True Value Hardware, a leading private co-op of independent hardware stores in the United States. She also previously served as an independent appointee to the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association's board committee, charged with stewardship of their iconic "Blue" brand, the number-one health insurance brand in America.
As an independent director, Atkins has chaired several audit and compensation committees and served on many special committees including several for CEO search. She is an SEC-designated audit committee "financial expert," is recognized as a Board Governance Fellow of the National Association of Corporate Directors (NACD), and volunteers her time as a board member of NACD's highly regarded Chicago Chapter. She has also served as a volunteer trustee, director, and board chair of various hospital and literacy organizations on the local and national levels. She is a frequent speaker at corporate governance programs in North America for both novice and experienced directors.
Atkins is a graduate of the commerce program at Queen's University, Kingston, Ontario, where she serves on the Dean's International Advisory Board. She earned her MBA from the Harvard Business School.
Dennis Chookaszian is the retired chairman and chief executive officer of CNA Insurance Companies. He served as CNA's chairman and chief executive officer from 1992 until 1999. He also served as chairman of the executive committee of CNA from 1999 to 2001. From 1990 to 1992, Chookaszian served as CNA's president and chief operating officer, with responsibility for all property and casualty, life, health and investment operations. He joined CNA in 1975 and served as chief financial officer until 1990 when he was named president. He also served as chairman and CEO of mPower Inc., an internet financial advisory service, from 1999 to 2001. Prior to joining CNA, he was a management consultant with Deloitte for eight years working on various financial and systems related assignments.
Mr. Chookaszian served as chairman of FASAC (Financial Accounting Standards Advisory Council), which provides guidance to the FASB (Financial Accounting Standards Board) on accounting matters, for five years and completed his term in 2012. He was also a member of the FCAG (Financial Crisis Advisory Group), which was the international commission created to develop recommendations to solve the financial reporting problems associated with the financial crisis of 2008.
During his career, he has served as a director on the boards of 13 publicly traded corporations and 50 private corporations. He is currently a director of four public companies including the Chicago Mercantile Exchange, the world's largest financial futures and derivatives exchange; Career Education, a private post-secondary education provider; Maxar Technologies, a space satellite technology company; and Pillarstone Capital, a real estate investment trust. He also serves as a director of a number of private corporations and has served as an arbitrator in 11 diverse cases and as an expert witness in 12 cases.
Mr. Chookaszian is an adjunct professor at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business and teaches courses in corporate governance. He also teaches a course in international corporate governance at Cheung Kong University in China, Shanghai Advanced Institute of Finance in China, and at IIPM in India.
Mr. Chookaszian is a member of the national board of the Boy Scouts of America, a trustee of Northwestern University, a member of the advisory board of the University of Chicago Booth School of Business, and a member of the advisory board of Kellogg Graduate School of Management. He is also a director of Northwestern Memorial Hospital and president of the Foundation for Health Enhancement.
Mr. Chookaszian has a bachelor's degree in Chemical Engineering from Northwestern University, an MBA from the University of Chicago Booth Graduate School of Business, and a Master of Science in Economics from the London School of Economics. He is a Certified Public Accountant, a Chartered Global Management Accountant, Chartered Property Casualty Underwriter, and a Certified Management Consultant, as well as a member of the directors' table of Beta Gamma Sigma, an honorary fraternity. In 2010, Chookaszian received the Outstanding Director Award from the Financial Times Outstanding Directors Exchange.
Frank Jaehnert was president and CEO of Brady Corporation (NYSE), an international manufacturer of identification solutions from 2003 until 2013. Before that, he served as its CFO and as a divisional president.
Prior to joining Brady in 1995, Jaehnert held various financial positions in Germany and the United States at Robert Bosch GmbH, a multinational engineering and electronics company.
He received the equivalent of an MBA from the University of Stuttgart, Germany.
He serves on the boards of Nordson (NASDAQ: NDSN), Briggs & Stratton (NYSE: BGG), Itron (NASDAQ: ITRI), National Material LP, NACD Chicago, and the Milwaukee School of Engineering (MSOE).
Jaehnert was a regional winner of the EY Entrepreneur of the Year program in 2008 and has been a national and regional judge of the program for many years.
Kay McCurdy is a seasoned board director and general corporate and corporate finance legal expert with deep expertise in compensation, finance, M&A (both in the United States and internationally), and governance issues. She has more than 50 years collective experience serving on governing boards of public, private, family owned, and major nonprofit boards and is a Governance Fellow of the National Association of Corporate Directors.
Ms. McCurdy was a partner at Locke Lord LLP (and its predecessor Lord Bissell & Brook) from 1983 to 2012. She now serves as Of Counsel to the firm. She specialized in corporate and corporate finance and served on its Executive Committee.
Since 2005, McCurdy has served as a director of Arthur J. Gallagher & Co. (AJG), an NYSE global insurance broker and risk manager (fourth largest in the world and included in the S&P) located in Itasca, Illinois, with revenues in excess of $5 billion and market cap exceeding $7 billion. She currently chairs the Nominating/Governance Committee and serves on the Compensation Committee. Ethisphere named AJG as one of the World's Most Ethical Companies for five consecutive years.
Ms. McCurdy also served on the board of Trek Bicycle Corporation, a large, global, family-owned, world-class bicycle manufacturer located in Waterloo, Wisconsin, for eight years from 1998 to 2006. She simultaneously served on the board of the Trinity Foundation, which is the foundation started by Trek's founder. McCurdy served as a director of Roberts & Porter Inc., a Midwestern company engaged in the printing supply business, from 1984 to 1986 as a representative of the secured creditors committee after it emerged from Chapter 11 bankruptcy proceedings.
Ms. McCurdy has chaired the board of Chicago Public Media Inc. and WBEZ 91.5 FM and recently chaired the Nominating and Governance Committee. She currently sits on its Finance and Executive Committees. McCurdy also served on the Board of Trustees of Bradley University, Peoria, Illinois, for 12 years, and chaired its Governance and Nominating Committee where she led a total review of its governance and executive compensation practices. She also served on its Executive and Finance Committees, and on the board of The Chicago Network, University of Chicago Law School Advisory Committee, and Governors State University Advisory Committee.
Ms. McCurdy is a member of the National Association of Corporate Directors, Women Corporate Directors, the Economic Club of Chicago, and The Chicago Network. She earned a JD from the University of Chicago and a BA from Bradley University.
Joan Steel is CEO and founder of Alpha Wealth Advisors LLC, an independent financial consulting firm advising ultra-high-net-worth clients, private foundations, and endowments. Prior to founding the firm, she had a successful investment career at The Capital Group, a global asset manager. She was also a senior executive officer at Aon where she led investor relations and global marketing and served as the spokesperson to Wall Street and the press worldwide. Earlier in her career, she was involved in operating her family's privately held water treatment chemical manufacturing and distribution business that was later sold to Olin Corporation. She started her career at Salomon brothers as an institutional fixed income broker.
Steel was an independent director of the Hershey Trust Company (Trust) from 2012 to 2016 and a member of its Audit/Risk Management and Investment Committees. This $13 billion private company owns controlling interest in The Hershey Company (NYSE: HSY) and manages a $4.5 billion portfolio of other investment assets. She also served as a trustee of the Milton Hershey School, a residential school serving 2,000 at-risk K-12 children.
Steel is a trustee of Loyola University Chicago and former chair of the Investment Committee. She is a trustee of Rush University Medical Center, cochair of the Orthopedic Leadership Committee, and member of its Investment and Risk Management Committees. As a director of the Cuneo Foundation, she serves as treasurer and investment chair. Steel is on the National Association of Corporate Directors Chicago Chapter board and is a member of Women Corporate Directors and cochair of its 2018-2019 Visionary Awards Committee.
She holds an MBA from the University of Chicago and a BS from Georgetown University, she and has completed director education programs at Harvard Business School and Stanford Law School's Directors College.
Kathy has been with NACD and the NACD Chicago Chapter since June of 2012.