2019-2020 Executive Committee


Debra A. Cafaro
Chairman & CEO
Ventas, Inc.

Debra A. Cafaro is the chairman of the board and chief executive officer of Ventas, Inc., an S&P 500 company that owns nearly 1,300 healthcare and senior living properties in North America and the United Kingdom. Under Ms. Cafaro’s leadership, begun in 1999, Ventas’s market capitalization rose to $26 billion from $200 million. The company’s compound annual total shareholder return (TSR) has exceeded 25 percent since January 1, 2000.

In 2016, Forbes named Ms. Cafaro as one of the 100 “World’s Most Powerful Women,” the Harvard Business Review recognized Ms. Cafaro as one of the top 50 “Best-Performing CEOs in the World” (third consecutive year), Modern Healthcare listed her as one of the “100 Most Influential People in Healthcare” (third time) and Real Estate Forum identified her as one of “The 70 Elite” real estate executives who shaped the industry for the past 70 years. She was also named by GlobeSt.com as one of nine “Game-Changers” in commercial real estate since 2000, and by Crain’s Chicago Business as one of the “Most Powerful Women in Business.” CNBC Mad Money host Jim Cramer listed Cafaro as one of the “Bankable 21” CEOs in Get Rich Carefully.  Ms. Cafaro was voted numerous times, most recently for 2017, to Institutional Investor’s “All America Executive Team” and Modern Healthcare’s “Top 25 Women in Healthcare” and was selected as one of the “Top 50 Women in World Business” by the Financial Times.

Ms. Cafaro serves on the Executive Committee of the boards of the Real Estate Roundtable and The Economic Club of Chicago. She is an owner and member of the Management Committee of the Pittsburgh Penguins, a National Hockey League team.  Ms. Cafaro is also a member of the boards of University of Chicago, Chicago Infrastructure Trust, Executives’ Club of Chicago, Chicago Symphony Orchestra and World Business Chicago. In 2010, Ms. Cafaro served as chair of the National Association of Real Estate Investment Trusts (NAREIT), where she was honored with NAREIT’s Industry Leadership Award. She served on the board of directors of the Weyerhaeuser Company (NYSE: WY) from 2007-2016. She is a member of the Business Council.

Prior to joining Ventas, Ms. Cafaro was president and a director of Ambassador Apartments, Inc., a practicing lawyer for 13 years and a judicial clerk for the Hon. J. Dickson Phillips, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit in 1982-83.     

Ms. Cafaro received her JD cum laude in 1982 from the University of Chicago Law School, where she was named its Distinguished Alumna in 2011, and her BA magna cum laude from the University of Notre Dame in 1979. She is married and has two children.

First Vice Chair, Programs

Ted Souder
Head of Industry - Retail
Google, Inc.

A 18-plus-year veteran at Google, Ted Souder is currently the head of industry, retail. In this role, he oversees a team that helps the largest retailers in the world make the transition from traditional to digital using various Google tools and platforms. The age of data and constant disruption is here and the status quo is no longer acceptable. Though the future isn’t always clear, Mr. Souder’s team helps business leaders cut through clutter and develop winning strategies that enable them to thrive in the digital age.

Prior to his role in retail, Mr. Souder lived in Paris, France as part of an exclusive rotation program for senior leaders in the company.  While in Paris, he oversaw key efforts in Southern and Eastern Europe, the Middle East and Africa as the head of international strategic sales and operations. Mr. Souder also served as a regular industry speaker, an employee mentor and was a member of the executive management team for the region.  Earlier in his career at Google, Mr. Souder held a number of different leadership roles in sales and account management and was responsible for helping open and run Google’s offices in Chicago, Dallas and Detroit. 

Mr. Souder is an early adopter having worked in the mid-and-late 90s at early online brands AOL and Excite, as well as a groundbreaking social music start up, Echo Networks.

Currently he is vice chairman of the Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce and on the board of directors at both The Economic Club of Chicago and at 1871, the No. 1 technology incubator in the world.

Mr. Souder lives in Lincoln Park with his wife and two children.

Second Vice Chair, Forums

Mary Louise Gorno
Managing Director
Ingenuity International

Mary Louise Gorno is managing director of Ingenuity International and leads the CEO and board practice for Fortune 500, mid-cap, and privately owned companies. As a board advisor, she specializes in organizational governance, succession planning, and leadership issues.

Ms. Gorno joined the executive search profession with more than two decades of experience in marketing, media, and strategic planning. As a senior executive at Leo Burnett Worldwide, an advertising agency and part of Publicis Groupe, Ms. Gorno assumed global business-building responsibility for Reebok Inc., Walt Disney Company, and the Procter & Gamble Company.

She earned a BA from Saint Mary’s College, an MS in journalism from Northwestern University, and an MBA from the University of Chicago. She was honored with a Professional Achievement Citation, which the University of Chicago created to recognize alumni whose vocational achievements have distinguished them in their fields and have brought credit to the university. She served as the chair of the board of trustees and chair of the Capital Campaign at Saint Mary’s College, and received an honorary doctor of humanities.

Ms. Gorno was elected to the board of trustees of the University of Chicago and serves as vice chair and member of its Executive Committee. Her philanthropic work also includes serving as vice chair and a member of the Executive Committee of the board of trustees of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. In addition, Ms. Gorno is chair of the Smart Museum of Art Board of Governors and a trustee of the National Opinion Research Center (NORC).





Mohan Rao, PhD
Chief Executive Officer
Epsilon Economics, LLC

Dr. Mohan Rao is the chief executive officer of Epsilon Economics and specializes in antitrust and intellectual property economics, with an emphasis on life sciences and technology.

Additionally, he is the chief financial officer of Expression Therapeutics LLC, a biotechnology firm based in Atlanta that is focused on developing advanced therapies for treating hemophilia, a bleeding disorder.

Dr. Rao is a faculty member of Engineering Management at Northwestern University. He was previously a professor at UCLA and a teaching fellow at Harvard University. Prior to Epsilon Economics, he managed Navigant Economics.

Dr. Rao serves on the board of directors of the Lurie Children's Hospital of Chicago, the Stanley Manne Children's Research Institute, and The Economic Club of Chicago, on the board of trustees of the Rotary/One Foundation and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, and is a member of The Chicago Club.



Sid Bala
President & CEO

Sid Bala drives the vision and direction of an award-winning software firm dedicated to solving business challenges with technology. alligatortek was established in 1993 to build custom enterprise applications. These solutions address process bottlenecks to improve efficiency, productivity, and the bottom line for clients. alligatortek opens the possibilities for new strategies and business opportunities with software technologies.

Under Mr. Bala’s leadership, the company has been recognized as a best-in-class partner, employer and innovator. A Microsoft Gold Managed Partner, alligatortek was the winner of the 2015 Microsoft Partner of the Year Award in the category of Innovative Technology for Good Citizenship. The firm is a two-time recipient of the Chicago Innovation Awards for its game-changing solutions. alligatortek has received elite recognition for four consecutive years by the 101 Best and Brightest Companies to Work For and was listed as one of the “Top 50 Employers for Gen Y Emerging Talent.” Mr. Bala learned early on the importance of hiring talented and amazing team members as early as possible, and he believes that the company’s most valuable investment is human capital.

Throughout the years, Mr. Bala has remained an active member of the community. He has served on various charitable foundation boards and business councils.

A Chicago native, Mr. Bala attended the University of Chicago for his bachelor’s degree in applied mathematics and went on to the State University of New York, Stony Brook for a graduate degree in computer science. He holds a master’s degree from MIT’s Entrepreneurial Masters Program.

President & CEO

Donna F. Zarcone
The Economic Club of Chicago

Donna F. Zarcone is president and chief executive officer of The Economic Club of Chicago (ECC). Prior to the ECC, Zarcone was founder and president of D.F. Zarcone & Associates LLC, and previously served for 8 years as president of Harley-Davidson Financial Services, Inc.

Ms. Zarcone currently serves on three corporate boards, Cigna Corporation, CDW and The Duchossois Group, and previously served on the board of The Jones Group and Wrightwood Capital. Ms. Zarcone also serves on the board of the Polsky Center for Entrepreneurship at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business, and is a member of the Commercial Club of Chicago; Committee of 200; Chicago Network; and Young Presidents’ Organization.

Ms. Zarcone holds a MBA from the University of Chicago Booth School of Business and a bachelor's degree in accounting from Illinois State University.


Mellody Hobson
Ariel Investments

Mellody Hobson is president of Ariel Investments. Headquartered in Chicago, the firm offers six no-load mutual funds for individual investors and defined contribution plans as well as separately managed accounts for institutions and high net worth individuals. As president, Ms. Hobson is responsible for firm-wide management and strategic planning, overseeing all operations outside of research and portfolio management. Additionally, she serves as chairman of the board of trustees for Ariel Investment Trust.

Beyond her work at Ariel, Ms. Hobson has become a nationally recognized voice on financial literacy and investor education. She is a regular contributor and analyst on finance, the markets and economic trends for CBS News. She also contributes weekly money tips on the Tom Joyner Morning Show and pens a regular column for Black Enterprise magazine. As a passionate advocate for investor education, she is a spokesperson for the Ariel/Hewitt Study: 401(k) Plans in Living Color and the Ariel Black Investor Survey, both of which examine investing patterns among minorities.

Ms. Hobson is vice chair of the Board of Starbucks Corporation and a director of The Estée Lauder Companies Inc., and JPMorgan Chase. Her community outreach includes serving as chairman of After School Matters, a non-profit that provides Chicago teens with high-quality, out-of-school time programs. She is chair of The Economic Club of Chicago’s board of directors, co-chair of the Lucas Museum of Narrative Art, and a board member of The Chicago Public Education Fund and George Lucas Education Foundation. She is also a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, The Rockefeller Foundation Board of Trustees, and serves on the executive committee of the Investment Company Institute’s board of governors. In 2015, Ms. Hobson was named to Time Magazine’s annual list of the one hundred most influential people in the world.

Ms. Hobson earned her AB from Princeton’s Woodrow Wilson School of International Relations and Public Policy. She has also received honorary doctorate degrees from Howard University, St. Mary’s College, University of Southern California and Johns Hopkins University.


Sean Connolly
President & CEO
Conagra Brands, Inc.

Sean Connolly is president and CEO of Conagra Brands. Mr. Connolly joined Conagra Brands, formerly known as ConAgra Foods, in March 2015.

Prior to joining Conagra Brands, Mr. Connolly was president and CEO of The Hillshire Brands Company from the time of its formation as an independent company in 2012, to its sale to Tyson Foods in August 2014. Prior to his Hillshire Brands leadership, Mr. Connolly was CEO for Sara Lee North American Retail and Foodservice, as well as president of Campbell Soup North America. He also managed numerous brands in the food and beverage division at Procter & Gamble. Mr. Connolly has used his general management, marketing and innovation skills to improve business performance across a diverse range of food and beverage categories and channels of trade, with a focus on innovation and disciplined execution.

Mr. Connolly earned his bachelor's degree in economics from Vanderbilt University, and his Master of Business Administration from the University of Texas at Austin. He serves on the Northwestern Memorial HealthCare board of directors and The Economic Club of Chicago board of directors.


Dean M. Harrison
President & CEO
Northwestern Memorial HealthCare

Dean M. Harrison is the president and CEO of Northwestern Memorial HealthCare, the primary teaching affiliate of Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine. Since joining Northwestern Memorial HealthCare in 1998, Mr. Harrison has been instrumental to the creation and success of Northwestern Medicine, now an integrated academic health system anchored by Northwestern Memorial Hospital and Northwestern Medical Group. Northwestern Medicine comprises 10 hospitals, over 130 ambulatory and diagnostic sites, and more than 4,400 physicians.

Mr. Harrison serves on the boards of directors of the Center for Medical Interoperability, The Economic Club of Chicago, Executives’ Club of Chicago, Illinois Hospital Association, Navy Pier, Northern Trust, Northwestern University and World Business Chicago. He is a member of the Commercial Club of Chicago, its Civic Committee and the Institute of Medicine of Chicago.

Mr. Harrison was honored by B’nai B’rith International with the National Healthcare Award in 2008. He also received the 2010 CEO Leadership Circle of Excellence Award for Diversity by the U.S. Department of Commerce Minority Business Development Agency and Chicago Minority Enterprise Development Council and the 2015 March of Dimes Healthcare Management Award.

Mr. Harrison earned a Bachelor of Science from Indiana University and a Master of Business Administration from St. Francis College.


Roxanne M. Martino
Managing Partner

Roxanne Martino is the managing partner of OceanM19, and serves as a director of Ventas, Inc., a S&P 500 company which is a leading real estate investment trust.

Ms. Martino was the chief executive officer and Investment Committee chairperson of Aurora Investment Management L.L.C., managing $14 billion at Aurora’s peak. For over 28 years, Aurora provided portfolio solutions, through hedge fund investment management, to investors worldwide.     

Ms. Martino is co-chairperson of The University of Chicago Booth School of Business Council, and past chairperson of The Mendoza College of Business of the University of Notre Dame Business Council. Ms. Martino is the Chairperson of the boards of Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago and its Medical Center, as well as chair of its Executive and Governance Committees. She is a member of The Chicago Network and is on the board and the Executive and Nominating Committees of The Economic Club of Chicago. She served three terms as a director of The Investment Analysts Society of Chicago. For over 26 years, she has been a director of Thresholds (a past chairperson). Ms. Martino serves on the board of Bottom Line Chicago. She is a life trustee of Fenwick High School. 

In addition to speaking at investment conferences and guest lecturing at various universities, Ms. Martino has appeared on CNBC and Bloomberg TV. Ms. Martino is also a contributing author of a chapter titled “The Due Diligence Process” in the book, Evaluating and Implementing Hedge Fund Strategies: The Experience of Managers and Investors, Third Edition. In 2015, Ms. Martino was inducted into the InvestHedge Fund of Hedge Funds Hall of Fame in London and was recognized as one of “50 Leading Women in Hedge Funds” by the Hedge Fund Journal.

Ms. Martino spent the first seven years of her career at PricewaterhouseCoopers. She then spent over six years at Grosvenor Capital Management, where she was a general partner.

Ms. Martino received a bachelor’s of business administration from The University of Notre Dame in 1977 and a master’s of business administration from the University of Chicago in 1988.


Charles R. Matthews
President & CEO
Peoples Gas

Charles R. Matthews was named president and CEO of Peoples Gas and North Shore Gas in June 2015.

In this role, Mr. Matthews oversees the daily operations, strategy, growth and administrative activities of WEC Energy Group’s two Illinois utilities that collectively provide natural gas service to nearly 1 million customers in the city of Chicago and 54 communities within the northern suburbs.

Mr. Matthews possesses more than 30 years of energy industry experience in operations, finance, marketing, risk management, and mergers and acquisitions. Prior to taking the helm at Peoples Gas and North Shore Gas, Mr. Matthews spent nine years in executive and leadership positions at We Energies and served as senior vice president – wholesale energy and fuels and customer solutions.

While at We Energies, Mr. Matthews was responsible for the procurement of natural gas, coal and other commodities used in electric generation, long-term wholesale marketing activities, and the management of the relationships with the company’s largest commercial and industrial customers.

Prior to joining We Energies, Mr. Matthews served as president and CEO of Jamaica Public Service Co. Limited, a subsidiary of Mirant Corp. He helped structure and then led the company’s transition from government-owned to private ownership.

Mr. Matthews earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in economics from Talladega College and a master’s degree in finance from Clark Atlanta University School of Business. He also completed the University of Pennsylvania Wharton Business School’s executive program in utility finance.

Mr. Matthews is a member of the board of directors of Chicago Urban League, The Economic Club of Chicago, Illinois Utility Business Diversity Council, Navy Pier, Ounce of Prevention Fund, Talladega College, United Way of Metro Chicago and World Business Chicago. He also is active with several organizations and nonprofits in Chicago, including Chicago United, Commercial Club of Chicago and its Civic Committee.


Reeve B. Waud
Founder & Managing Partner
Waud Capital Partners, LLC

Reeve Waud is the Founder and Managing Partner of Waud Capital Partners, a private equity firm based in Chicago, Illinois.  He founded the firm almost 25 years ago and today the firm has approximately $2.1 billion of capital under management. Over Mr. Waud’s 30 year private equity career, he has acquired more than 250 companies in a variety of industries with a special focus on healthcare, business and tech services.  Today, Waud Capital’s portfolio companies have revenues of approximately $7 billion and approximately 50,000 employees.  In addition, he has oversight and shares investment responsibility for an additional $15 billion of investments.

Prior to founding Waud Capital Partners, Mr. Waud was an investment professional at Golder, Thoma, Cressey, Rauner, Inc. (GTCR), a private equity investment group based in Chicago.  At GTCR, Mr. Waud had investment responsibility for a wide range of portfolio companies that were built through more than 30 acquisitions.

Before joining GTCR, Mr. Waud was in the Corporate Finance Group of Salomon Brothers Inc., and was a founding member of its Venture Capital Group.

Mr. Waud is a trustee of St. Paul’s School in Concord, New Hampshire and is a member of the Executive Committee and is chairman of the Audit and Risk Committee.  He serves as a trustee, chairman of the Audit and Finance Committee, and member of the Executive Committee of the John G. Shedd Aquarium.  He is a member of the Finance Committee of Northwestern Memorial HealthCare and serves on the board of Northwestern Memorial Foundation.  He serves as the first vice chair of programs of The Economic Club of Chicago and is a member of the Executive Committee and leads the Programs Committee.  He is a trustee of The Art Institute of Chicago as well as serving as a member of the Finance Committee.  In addition, Mr. Waud is chairman of the Illinois State Police Merit Board, which has oversight responsibility for the state police.  He was appointed by the governor of Illinois and confirmed by the senate.

Mr. Waud holds a BA in economics from Middlebury College and an MBA from the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University.