Executive Forum in Action


EF’s Investing Special Interest Group (SIG) hosted a discussion with Joe Zidle, Chief Investment Strategist in the Private Wealth Solutions group at Blackstone. He shared insights from Blackstone’s list of the Ten Surprises of 2023, an annual series Byron Wien, Vice Chairman in the Private Wealth Solutions group at Blackstone, and Joe publish. This is the 38th edition. Drawing on data from all over Blackstone, these lists include views on several economic, financial market and political surprises for the coming year. A “surprise” is an event that the average investor would only assign a one out of three chances of occurring, but which Byron and Joe believe has a better than 50% likelihood of happening. 

Prior to his position at Blackstone, Joe worked at Richard Bernstein Advisors, an independent investment advisor, where he was responsible for portfolio strategy, asset allocation, investment management and marketing to major wealth management firms and independent RIAs. Prior to that, Joe spent nearly a decade at Bank of America Merrill Lynch, most recently serving as Head of Investment Strategy for Global Wealth Management and Deputy Director of the Research Investment Committee. EF member Gary Liberman facilitated the discussion.

 Insights from Ten Surprises of 2023:

There will be new names on each party’s respective ticket for the presidential nomination for 2024. Not Trump, not Biden, but surprises on both sides.

The Fed won’t pivot in 2023. Inflation will run hotter. It won’t cut rates. The market will be challenged. But as they say, the key to a successful portfolio, and to keep on the right side of history, “don’t fight the Fed.”

The US dollar remains strong against major currencies, including the yen and the euro. This creates a generational buying opportunity for dollar-based investors to invest in Japanese and European assets.


EF’s New Members/MIT Group hosted speaker Nicole Resch, Co-Founder of Imperative, a collaboration platform. In an interactive discussion titled Power Your People with Values-Based Leadership, Nicole shared insights on the purpose economy and the importance of employees finding meaningful connections and fulfillment at work. Imperative helps organizations build employee connection through conversations and relationships through their platform so organizations can easily scale connections across all their employees. The platform enables video-based peer coaching conversations across organizations that increase leadership abilities, productivity, and fulfillment.

Prior to Imperative, Nicole created and managed talent development programs for Microsoft. While there, she also partnered with Microsoft Philanthropies to globalize the annual giving campaign. She is also the founding chair of Upwardly Global, a nonprofit that connects highly skilled new Americans to jobs in their professions. EF members Jim Cornehlsen and Sean O’Toole facilitated.

Types of Relationships People Want at Work

People want someone at work with whom they can collaborate on projects, work through challenges, offer different perspectives, and feel safe. So why don’t people just do it? There’s still a watercooler, right? People don’t know how to bridge from “how was your weekend?” to “tell me about the philosophy of your approach to work.” The Imperative platform gives people the scaffolding they need to have conversations that build the kinds of relationships they want.

Fast Track to Trust

Value is having a trusted relationship in your organization, feeling seen and heard. The Imperative platform can take two people at the same level in an organization who may be across the world from each other and connect them. It provides them with the questions to ask each other so initially they can get to know each other. From there they might share what they are working on. Then collaboration develops organically. And as trust develops some risk taking may follow. This process allows people to own their growth, engagement, and fulfillment.


Like all the Executive Forum (EF) Special Interest Groups (SIGs), the Private Equity SIG provides its members learning and networking opportunities through thought leadership, events and meetings. Specifically, the Private Equity (PE) SIG creates opportunities for EF members to approach and meet with PE principals.  EF members can network with PE companies as executives who have the experience and skills required in their potential deals. The PE SIG acts as an adjunct to regular EF activities, providing a supplemental means of improving members' understanding of, and access to, PE-related opportunities. It is an important source for leading edge insight​ into the sector. EF members Allan Grafman, Tate Pursell, and Greg Libertiny serve as Chairs of the PE SIG.

In addition to helping EF members stay abreast of current happenings in the PE sector, the PE SIG will facilitate introductions between EF members and PE firms. This benefits all those involved in terms of deal flow, career development, and networking opportunities. All the participants in these meetings gain a deeper understanding of each other, sharing interests, insights, and transactional opportunities.

Whether taking advantage of educational opportunities offered by the PE SIG on topics such as market trends, disruptions, innovations, and investments or networking or introductions to or meetings with PE firms, EF members can gain a competitive advantage by leveraging the knowledge gained as well as new contacts made to succeed in their career.



EF’s Technology Special Interest Group (SIG) hosted Jonas Block, Chief Product Officer, and Michel Botbol, Chief Financial Officer, both of IPwe, Inc., in an engaging presentation where they discussed IPwe's Smart Intangible Asset Management platform and how it utilizes blockchain technology, AI and patent #NFTs (IPwe Digital Assets) to simplify intellectual property portfolio management. Jonas leads development of IPwe's technology using novel approaches to dissolve the existing access restrictions and open the global IP commercialization markets for everyone. Michel has over thirty years of successful financial, strategic and commercial planning, information technology, operations and vendor negotiations experience for both domestic and international organizations. EF member Walter Yosafat facilitated the presentation.

The world is going intangible. But it’s difficult to value intangible assets like intellectual property It can be very subjective. And the overhead costs can be substantial. There’s a need to make the connection between intellectual property and financials more transparent. Understanding the financial metrics of intangible assets is critical for decisions-makers. IPwe’s Smart Intangible Asset Management Platform fulfills this need in one single product.

Artificial Intelligence (AI) drives this product. IPwe is creating NFTs and tokenizing patents and other intangible assets into digital assets. The NFT is like a decentralized data warehouse that holds the asset. The tokenization of intellectual property makes it easier to trace, license, commercialize and transact, with verified information, and greater transparency.


EF’s Media, Marketing & Insights (MMI) Special Interest Group (SIG) hosted a discussion with Mauro Porcini, Chief Design Officer at PepsiCo. He shared insights from his new book, The Human Side of Innovation – The Power of People in Love with People, which focuses on innovation, design and leadership. Mauro joined PepsiCo in 2012. He continues to instill design thinking into PepsiCo’s culture and leads innovation by design that impacts the company’s brands, which include Pepsi, Lay’s, Mountain Dew, Gatorade, Sodastream, Doritos, Lifewtr, Bubly, Aquafina, Cheetos, Quaker, and many others. Prior to joining PepsiCo, Mauro served as the Chief Design Officer at 3M. He began his professional career at Philips Design and then created his own design firm, Wisemad Srl, in Italy. EF member Eugenio Perrier facilitated the discussion.

Insights from The Human Side of Innovation – The Power of People in Love with People:

“Innovation is an act of love”

Observe the people we serve. Understand them. Create a solution for them - innovate. Focus on their needs, wants, frustrations, and desires. It all starts with caring for the people we serve. At one time we could grow our businesses focusing on different variables, never actually touching the product.  This model worked for a while. But no longer. Today anyone can compete, and anyone can disrupt. Look no further than Uber or Airbnb as examples.  We need to be excellent. We need to go beyond setting goals and attaining them. We need to constantly set new goals. Today we need to love the people we serve to be competitive. Target calls their customers “guests.” In one word they’ve defined how they view their customers and how their employees will treat them.


Putting people first requires unicorns - people who love people, who genuinely want to create meaningful solutions for actual human beings. Unicorns are folks you want to hire to innovate. They have many characteristics, including the ability to dream, optimism, kindness, and curiosity, to list a few. We are at a pivotal moment, moving from thinking about financial goals, market share, and technology as competitive advantages to focusing on the needs, wants, and dreams of people in everything we do in our business. Smart companies will invest in the people they serve to future-proof the business.



The Executive Forum Honors Chris Craig and Marie Meliksetian  with the Robert C. Sloan Award

The Executive Forum (EF) presented Chris Craig and Marie Meliksetian with the Robert C. Sloan Award at the Fall 2022 Leadership Conference “Leading with Guts, Grit, and Grace” in Greenwich, CT in recognition of their outstanding contributions to the EF this year.

Craig joined the EF in 2014. He has been the Chairman of the EF Angels Group since 2016, actively recruiting New Members to engage with the EF Angels. He was a Founding Committee Member of the Consumer Products Special Interest Group, serving from 2015-2016. Craig has been an independent consultant for the past 10 years and serves on several Advisory Boards. His expertise includes marketing, branding, and digital transformation for start-ups through mid-cap companies.

Marie joined the EF in 2016. She became a Board Member in 2018 as Chair of Special Interest Groups and took on the role of Board Vice President earlier this fall. She co-led the EF Board in the development of its strategic plan and has made significant contributions to the EF’s diversity initiative by facilitating the partnership between the EF and the International Women’s Forum of Connecticut. She serves as a member of the Board Nominations Committee supporting the Board’s succession plan and currently leads the team on the implementation of the EF’s Vision, Mission and Values and the strategic implications to support it.

The Robert C. Sloan Award has, in each instance, been presented to an individual who has taken the EF to “a new level” and contributed significantly to the overall value of being an EF member. After the first such award was created and presented by the Board in 2004 to Bob Sloane, one of the EF’s three co-founders, each subsequent winner has played a significant role in advancing the EF. 


EF’s New Members/MIT Group hosted speaker Greg Monaco in an interactive presentation titled Market Yourself Like a CMO, where he shared insights on developing your personal brand and becoming a magnet for the kind of work you love. He broke down the journey into four “musts” discussed below. Greg is a brand and story coach, who works with authors, entrepreneurs, executives, and artists. Previously, he was a Founding Partner of Monaco Lange, an independent global brand consultancy, and was a Senior Copywriter at Ogilvy helping tell stories for clients like Girl Scouts of the USA, American Express, AT&T Wireless, SAP, and IBM to name a few. EF member Sean O’Toole facilitated this event.

Four “musts” in developing your personal brand:


Figuring out what fuels you beyond the result is key. It’s not what you do, but why you do it that is the foundation of your story. Be the specific solution to a specific problem so you can uniquely deliver it by telling magnetic stories.


Determine who you want to work with, who needs you most and who can afford you. The intersection of those three is your target audience, your bullseye.


Your story is the connective tissue that builds the bridge between you and your audience. Develop a point of view. That’s what people buy. The confidence you have in your point of view will differentiate you.


Get your story out there, making it the foundation of each part of your journey. Lay the groundwork for awareness so folks know who you are, they’ll then show interest in you, which will lead to a hire and others advocating for you.


Executive Forum Launches My Board Journey

The Executive Forum has launched My Board Journey, a product designed to aid members in pursuing board roles. In alignment with their mission to empower senior executives to reach their fullest career potential, this tool is EF’s latest offering. EF surveyed its members and discovered that more than half expressed interest in serving on a board. It’s that very interest that drove the development of this innovative tool. And the timing is perfect. As businesses rise from the pandemic crisis, they are reevaluating the opportunities that will carry them into their next growth moment. As part of that assessment, many organizations are evaluating their boards and adjusting their focus and agenda.

My Board Journey gathers the best of both EF and external resources in a single place. Information is divided into sections, including, a proprietary Board Assessment tool that helps determine if board service is the right move, Board Fundamentals to help expand one’s knowledge base, Compensation & Hiring Trends to help understand the latest hiring trends and sought-after skillsets, and Board Certification which summarizes the best of a multitude of options.


EF’s Fall Leadership Conference “Leading with Grit, Guts and Grace” brought its members and guests the opportunity to listen to, engage with, and learn from some of the best, including EF Members Zara Ingilizian, Head of Consumer Industries, The World Economic Forum; Randall Beard, CEO, RSB Advisory LLC; and, Michelle Bottomley, Founder, CEO, Modern Growth Exchange who came together to present a roundtable discussion on how to find new patterns in this time of uncertainty and how to execute on  new opportunities. 

Zara addressed the importance of building resilience in an organization, especially as we face a future of volatile politics and economics. Zara described five pillars of resilience, including operational, strategic, financial (risk management), social, and organizational. Having deconstructed resilience, she offered a framework to achieve it including four drivers, resolve (gaining commitment from employees), communications (planning), agility (ability to execute a plan), and empowerment (creating a culture of empowerment, trust, and ownership).

Michelle shared practical approaches to ensure future growth melds purpose with customer-centric insight, all supported by metrics.  The key to resilience is creating and keeping customers. Digital transformation is important but it’s the customer who counts. Determining who are your high value customers (HVC) is the first step. These are customers who represent your highest percentage of revenue and drive most of the category profits. Knowing who they are will help an organization weather the uncertain future. Michelle shared a framework for growth, keeping at its center the importance of a customer centric strategy.

Randall provided insight on the emerging use of agile and AI fueled tools and methods to optimize business planning and product design. He identified three trends, including businesses’ increased use of agile methods; utilization of AI in production, design, and packaging of products; and movement beyond past ROI to market measurement encompassing future predictions.

Following the presentations, the audience was broken up into discussion groups to tackle one of three questions regarding resilience, growth, and agile methods.   


EF’s Fall Leadership Conference “Leading with Grit, Guts and Grace” brought its members and guests the opportunity to listen to, engage with, and learn from some of the best, including Jason Feifer, Editor in Chief, Entrepreneur Magazine and author of Build for Tomorrow, who shared insights on finding the greatest opportunity in times of great change.

Jason delivered a presentation on change and disruption and how we must identify opportunities in our quickly changing world. Jason shared stories and insights from business leaders and innovative CEOs. He also drew lessons from history – from the bubonic plague to Nintendo’s launch of the Wii. He described four phases of change - panic, adaptation, new normal, wouldn’t go back - and how to navigate through them, including widening our lenses so not to miss opportunities simply because our view is too narrow.

He asked us to reconsider the impossible. A change can offer new opportunity. We just may need to shift how we look at the opportunity. Change may force us to step outside the box, but we may find that the best opportunity was outside the box all along. Change shifts the window on options that we are willing to consider.



EF’s Fall Leadership Conference “Leading with Grit, Guts and Grace” brought its members and guests the opportunity to listen to, engage with, and learn from some of the best, including Sharon Prince, CEO and Founder, Grace Farms Foundation and Adam Thatcher, CEO, Grace Farms Foods.

Sharon and Adam took the stage to share the story of Grace Farms from inception into the future.  Sharon shared their humanitarian mission to pursue peace though nature, arts, justice, community, faith, and advancing good in the world.

Grace Farms is a cultural and humanitarian center in New Canaan, CT, sitting on 80 acres of reserve land. The River building, embedded in a natural landscape, is designed to break down barriers between people and sectors. It contains a 700-seat amphitheater, a library, a commons area, a tea pavilion and a subterranean basketball court.

“Design for Freedom,” one of their new initiatives, aims to eliminate forced labor from the building materials supply chain. There are 50 million people enslaved today, and that number is growing because of a weak response and a lack of accountability. Grace Farms intends to change that.

Adam runs Grace Farms Foods, a subsidiary that educates the public about the charitable work of Grace Farms Foundation. The brand demonstrates what the Foundation advocates for - ethical and sustainable supply chains in all teas and coffees they sell. They trace the entire supply train from tea gardens in India to the product sold at Grace Farms to ensure every step has a fair-trade international rating, the gold standard.


At a time when good leaders are needed, EF’s Fall Leadership Conference “Leading with Grit, Guts and Grace” brought its members and guests the opportunity to listen to, engage with, and learn from some of the best. Sharon Prince, CEO and Founder, Grace Farms Foundation, and Adam Thatcher, CEO, Grace Farms Foods described how they turned a heartfelt mission into concrete impact. Jason Feifer, Editor in Chief, Entrepreneur Magazine shared insights on finding the greatest opportunity in times of great change. EF Members Zara Ingilizian, Head of Consumer Industries, The World Economic Forum, Randall Beard, CEO, RSB Advisory LLC, and Michelle Bottomley, Founder, CEO, Modern Growth Exchange, discussed the importance of building resilience to future volatility and a framework for growth. The conference opened with introductions from EF member Barbara McCartney, CEO, Trofi Nutritionals, news from around the EF from EF Board Chairs Cheryl Palmer, Director, B&G Foods, Inc. and Scott Smith, Managing Partner, SSmith Advisors, and EF landings from New Member Chair, Sean O'Toole, Partner, Forge.

Heard from around the conference:

“This is the best EF conference I’ve attended in years.”

“The speakers are phenomenal!”

“It’s so good to catch up with everyone.”

Profile photo of Vivek Shah


EF’s Media, Marketing & Insights (MMI) Special Interest Group (SIG) hosted a discussion with Vivek Shah, CEO of Ziff Davis, where he shared his personal journey and insights on a variety of topics which included the struggles media incumbents had pivoting to digital from print media, the importance of “owning your balance sheet,” and the potential of “non-traditional” tie-ups between brands and content organizations. Vivek Shah is CEO of Ziff Davis, Inc., a digital media and internet company whose portfolio includes leading brands Mashable, IGN, PCMag, Speedtest, RetailMeNot, Everyday Health, BabyCenter, Moz, and Vipre, among others. EF member Josh Rucci facilitated the discussion.

Personal Journey

Vivek graduated from Tufts thinking he’d go into foreign policy, but a last minute and unforeseen complication changed his plans. He had been involved in campus publications and decided to pursue that industry. A year later he was at Time, Inc. as the pivot from print to digital was painfully unfolding. The problem the incumbent faced was the “trade of dollars for dimes.”  Time did not “own its balance sheet,” so it couldn’t use its capital to invest in itself. For a startup it would have been an easier transition, but it was a struggle for Time, Inc.

Vivek was given big jobs at an early age. Running Fortune at age 32 enabled him to meet CEOs and global thinkers. In 2009, Vivek was advised to change his path. He’d only ever worked at Time, Inc. and if he stayed too long, he’d never leave. It was time to change his narrative and look for something where he’d be an owner. Vivek looked for a company going digital and struggling. He knew Ziff Davis and brought it to a private equity concern. If he could turn it around – great. If he failed, he’d be seen as a risk taker. Vivek led the acquisition of Ziff Davis when it was a private company and its subsequent sale to publicly traded J2 Global which was later renamed Ziff Davis. Since then, there have been 80 acquisitions. Revenue has grown to $1.4 billion. And Ziff Davis “owns its own balance sheet.”

Insights and Takeaways

  • Important for organizations to “own their own balance sheet” to drive growth through acquisition and make investments.
  • “Multiple Rents” – extract multiple, meaningful revenue streams among advertising, subscriptions, events.
  • Potential of “non-traditional” tie-ups between media and content owners to drive audience acquisition and engagement (examples Penn Gaming/Barstool, Optum/Healthgrades).
  • CMOs are not interested in funding journalism. They want to advance goals for their brands. Deliver real value (e.g., customer acquisition) to marketing partners.
  • Content is consumed via topic searches. Navigation is search based. SEO is key.


EF’s Technology Special Interest Group (SIG) hosted speaker Michael Leckie in an insightful presentation and workshop titled Escape from the Emerald City - The 7 Myths of Change & Transformation, where he dispelled common misperceptions about change in organizations, including those below. Michael is the former Chief Learning Officer for the Digital Industrial Transformation at General Electric (GE) and is currently founding partner of Silverback Partners, LLC, an organizational consultancy. He also held the position of Managing Vice President in Gartner's Executive Programs business. EF member Steve Adler facilitated this presentation.

Change management is about technology

No, it’s not. It’s human. Change is a human capability everyone possesses. Embracing change or rejecting change occurs at the individual level. Change behavior, change the conversation, and the systems and technology will follow. 

Change Leadership means establishing the path and ensuring people stay on it

Sure, establish a goal, but do NOT lay out all the steps to attain it. Leaders should go first and make the path safe.

Leaders articulate changes and followers make the changes

Leaders need to experience the change first so they can empathize with those who follow. They need to talk about their own change journey so others can see a way through. People tend to do what they see, not what they’re told.

Leaders institute new beliefs to drive change

Behaviors change beliefs—not the other way around. New beliefs don’t take hold until old beliefs are discovered and disconfirmed one person at a time. So, start with pockets of least resistance, create legends and stories, and gain momentum over time.


Additional speakers include Sharon Prince, Founder of Grace Farms Foundation, Adam Thatcher, CEO of Grace Farms Foods, as well as Executive Forum leaders Michelle Bottomley, Randall Beard and Zara Ingilizian

NEW YORK (October 31, 2022) – The Executive Forum (EF) announces that Jason Feifer, Editor in Chief of Entrepreneur Magazine will be the lead speaker at its 2022 Fall Leadership Conference. Jason is one of the most dynamic leaders in the media and technology space. He is a podcast host, book author, speaker, startup advisor and previously held senior positions at Maxim, Fast Company and Men’s Health. Barbara McCartney, Board Chair, Leadership Conference & Events for the Executive Forum noted that the “Executive Forum is honored to host Jason Feifer, as his experiences, thought leadership and dynamism will be intriguing to our members who are business, tech and investment leaders.” Jason will be speaking on the topic of leadership agility and will share how successful leaders use the power of change to their advantage.

In addition, there will also be several other influential leaders participating in the Executive Forum Leadership Conference including Sharon Prince, the CEO and Founder of Grace Farms Foundation. The Foundation’s interdisciplinary humanitarian mission is to pursue peace through nature, arts, justice, community, faith and Design for Freedom (a new movement to eliminate forced labor from the building materials supply chain). In addition, Adam Thatcher the CEO of Grace Farms Foods, an impact-focused business will speak. Sharon and Adam will be speaking on “Advancing Global Good”.

Finally, there will be a “Future First” roundtable with three leading business leaders, visionaries and strategists - Michelle Bottomley, Randall Beard and Zara Ingilizian.

Executive Forum Leadership Conferences are highly anticipated events, offering all members an opportunity to learn the latest on a wide range of business trends and topics, including leadership, communications, innovation, globalization, culture shaping, private equity, and strategy, all while networking and renewing business affiliations with fellow EF members and invited guests.  Leadership Conferences are held semi-annually, in spring (April/May) and fall (October/November). Speakers range from highly regarded corporate leaders to authors, analysts, and other thought leaders. 

About the Executive Forum

The Executive Forum is a volunteer-led organization for accomplished top executives who are a premier source of modern executive talent and see their careers as a journey and not a destination. A community of C-suite-level executives from leading corporations, private equity firms, boards, and independent consultancies, the EF provides an unparalleled, diverse network of collaborative, connected, and growth-focused leaders and experts who are committed to - supporting one another. For more information, visit https://www.executiveforum.org


The Beach Point Club, Mamaroneck, NY was the perfect setting on October 27th for this distinguished group of EF members to enjoy a wonderful evening with one another during the Professional Enrichment Dinner.

Seated Left to Right: Barbara Karpinska, Alison Walsh, Denise Denson, Dave Nelson
Standing Left to Right: Kevin McGahren, Peter Santry, Co-Host Bob Sloane, Ted Stone, Tom Morton and Co-Host Andy Glaser


The Rails Steakhouse, Towaco, NJ was the perfect setting on October 27th for this distinguished group of EF members to enjoy a wonderful evening with one another during the Professional Enrichment Dinner.

Left Side - Front to Back: Sam Recenello, Co-Host Mark Pettie, Gordon Stewart, Susan Comparato, Robyn D'Elia
Right Side - Front to Back: Mark Mishler, Michael Epstein, Co-Host Jerry Fragetti, Phil Harvey, Nicholas Nocca


EF’s Investing Special Interest Group (SIG) hosted an engaging and educational panel discussion titled Energy Industry in Crisis.  EF members and industry experts Nick Alexander, Mark Gibbens, and John Hartig shared their thoughts on pressing issues; Hassan Tabbah facilitated and John Margaritis hosted.

On the road to zero emissions – is it feasible … by 2050?

In a word – no. At least not in the short term. There’s lots of money being poured into relevant technology but the government incentives in place will last 20 years, so strides will be made but not immediately. Another challenge we face is infrastructure. It’s not set up to move renewable energy around the country and into the homes of the consumers. We need that transformation to take place. Oil companies are heading toward clean energy by advancing research on energy storage technology, but it’s just the start.

What’s the outlook on electric vehicles?

Once upon a time energy used in the consumer’s home was predictable. Not anymore. Distribution must be increased so folks can charge their Tesla. Energy companies will need to forecast how much energy will be needed. They will need to invest in AI to gauge how customers are using energy so they can accommodate that use.

EV’s rely on the lithium battery and the technology is constrained. Producing those batteries is not a green endeavor, and it’s difficult to find the raw materials, not to mention the recycling issues.

Where do we invest in this industry – what are the “picks and shovels”?

Natural gas will play a large role in this sector. There is high demand for this fast and flexible, instantly available energy. The US is the largest LNG exporter in the world. Only about 30% of the gas in the ground gets to consumer’s homes, so investment in technology to increase that efficiency is smart.


Great food, wine and conversation were enjoyed by 10 EF members at the October 13, 2022 Penn Club Professional Enrichment Dinner! Seated from left to right: Michael Neuwirth, co-host Stefanie Shelley, Torry Burdick and Zara Ingilizian. Standing from L to R: Chitra Balireddi, Kelly Christiano, co-host Lori Tauber Marcus, Peter Stearn, Randi Schatz and Michelle Crecca.


The Wee Burn Country Club in Darien, CT was the perfect setting on October 12th for this distinguished group of EF members to enjoy a wonderful evening with one another. From left to right: Mark Breene, Gretchen Garrigues, Pat Matteson, co-host Rick Routhier, Jim Ranton, co-host George Russell, Sean O’Toole, Lisa Yarnell and Bruno Perreault.


The weather could not have been better on October 6, 2022 when a small group of EF members shared an awesome evening at the Shenorock Shore Club in Rye. From left to right: Bruce Perlmutter, Jim Sullivan, dinner co-hosts Steve Zales and John Hopper, Judy Levin, Steve Mason, Nicholas Nocca, David Cox and Tim Daniels.


Some serious Executive Forum bonding occurred at the Country Club of Darien Professional Enrichment Dinner on September 28, 2022. Attendees included (seated from left to right) Gary Cohen, Gerry Mintz and Katherine Skinner. Standing from left to right are Jon Rubin, dinner co-hosts Don Foscato and Mike Lorelli, Don Ross and David Gitow.


The Executive Forum is grateful to #PeterGleason, President & CEO of the National Association for Corporate Directors, for speaking at our Spring Leadership conference.

Interviewed by EF Member Allan Grafman, Peter shared his wisdom on a range of topics, including the issues that are top of mind for boards today:

  • Economic uncertainty and inflation, including people issues/the “great resignation”
  • War in Ukraine and its impact on trade, embargoes, and energy
  • ESG and compliance, as well as cyber-security
  • Board make-up and longevity – attracting diversity and how quota help or hurt, how long board members should serve, and the cost of retaining board members who are no longer adding enough value



The Executive Forum was honored to feature an enlightening discussion by #VikMalhotra, Head of Americas for McKinsey and co-author of the book CEO Excellence: The Six Mindsets that Distinguish the Best Leaders from the Rest, at our Spring Leadership Conference.

Vik reiterated how important the role of CEO is, yet how few excel. Interviews with 67 elite CEOs yielded six mindsets that separated the best from the rest – and all the elite CEOs excelled at all six mindsets – all the time

Spoiler alert -- the six CEO duties and winning mindsets are below (but don’t miss Vik’s book for the compelling stories that bring these mindsets to life):

  1. Duty: Set the Direction. Mindset: Be bold. Push the envelope and do more than just get the organization to the next level. Set the vision early on
  2. Duty: Align the Organization. Mindset: Treat the soft stuff as the hard stuff. Pay close attention to culture and talent. Think through key roles and assign top performers accordingly.
  3. Duty: Mobilize through Leaders. Mindset: Solve for the team’s psychology. Don’t create a team of stars, create a star team. These CEOs’ biggest regret is they didn’t act fast enough to find the right talent.
  4. Duty: Engage the Board. Mindset: Help directors help the business. Build foundations of trust and engage them in an effective manner.
  5. Duty: Connect with Stakeholders. Mindset: Start with “why”. Spend significant time with customers and/or clients, and always look to learn.
  6. Duty: Manage Personal Effectiveness. Mindset: Do what only you can do. Be relentless on managing your calendar and energy management. Excel at compartmentalizing issues and stay humble.



Yet another insightful session from the Executive Forum Spring Leadership Conference featured EF members Christine Dellecave (Thought Leader and CEO of Dellecave Consulting) and Karon Joyner on the New World of Work.

A few best practices shared by these experts:

  • Talent acquisition and engagement - There is no silver bullet and compensation is just one of many levers. Walk the talk with a clear purpose, mission, and values.
  • Development: invest in training and skills to create a talent marketplace internally and save the time (and potential costs) of looking outside first.
  • Diversity and inclusion – work hand in hand with equity and belonging. Every leader needs to be accountable for DEI.
  • Focus on why people stay: use “stay interviews” to give people a voice and be deliberate about your commitment in the employee value proposition.
  • Workplace: In most industries hybrid is here to stay, so continue to find ways to adapt to this since employees are demanding this and want the continued flexibility.
  • Leadership: Every leader is an HR leader. The CHRO is a facilitator of people programs and a trusted partner for all leaders. Don't think of HR as the team “responsible for people”.


NEW YORK (May 9, 2022) – The Executive Forum (EF) announced Peter Gleason, President and CEO of the National Association of Corporate Directors (NACD) will be the keynote speaker in conversation with Allan Grafman at its 2022 Spring Leadership Conference. The NACD is a nonprofit membership organization for corporate board members and has been on the leading edge of corporate governance, setting standards of excellence that have elevated board performance.

EF member Allan Grafman will sit down with Gleason for a fireside chat that explores Gleason’s journey to board leadership, the importance of exemplary board governance, leadership issues and the Ukraine situation and related corporate leadership challenges. “Peter Gleason joins an exceptional group of Executive Forum speakers that have enriched our members as we strive to improve ourselves, our companies and even our communities,” said Grafman. “I’m excited to sit down with the Executive Forum and its members,” followed Gleason. “I anticipate finding numerous common interests and challenges to discuss with an exceptional group of business leaders.”

Executive Forum Leadership Conferences are highly anticipated events, offering all members an opportunity to learn the latest on a wide range of business trends and topics, including leadership, communications, innovation, globalization, culture shaping, private equity, and strategy, all while networking and renewing business affiliations with fellow EF members and invited guests.  Leadership Conferences are held semi-annually, in spring (April/May) and fall (October/November). Speakers range from highly regarded corporate leaders to authors, analysts, and other thought leaders. 

About the Executive Forum

The Executive Forum is a volunteer-led organization for accomplished top executives who are a premier source of modern executive talent and see their careers as a journey and not a destination. A community of c-suite-level executives from leading corporations, private equity firms, boards, and independent consultancies, the EF provides an unparalleled, diverse network of collaborative, connected, and growth-focused leaders and experts who are committed to - supporting one another. For more information, visit https://www.executiveforum.org


NEW YORK (February 16, 2022) – The Executive Forum (EF) announced the appointment of seven new board members, each having made significant contributions to the growth and evolution of the organization.

New board members include Stephen Cassell, EF Brand & External Marketing; Mark DeGennaro, Secretary; Robyn D’Elia, Treasurer; Barbara McCartney, EF Leadership Conference, and Member Events; Jessica Perry, Member Engagement; Lisa Rosenberg, EF Brand & External Marketing and Andy Yost, Member Engagement.

“We could not be more excited by the energy and new ideas that each of them brings to the organization. By combining the talents of Stephen, Mark, Robyn, Barbara, Jessica, Lisa, and Andy with those of the existing members of the Board, we know that the Executive Forum will continue to add tremendous value to the organization and its membership,” said newly elected Co-Chairs, Executive Forum Cheryl Palmer and Scott Smith.

  • Mark DeGennaro will serve as EF Secretary with immediate effect. In his career as an Attorney at White & Case; Chief Operating Officer for boutique investment bank Gruppo, Levey & Co.; Managing Director for the financial services firm Collingwood Group and its successor firm SitusAMC; and Managing Director of Edvantage Initiatives, an Edtech accelerator at the University of Southern California, Mark is both a strategic business executive and accomplished attorney.
  • Robyn D’Elia succeeds Kevin McEnery as EF Treasurer. Robyn is a strategic financial leader and the former CFO of Bed Bath & Beyond, a Fortune 500 omnichannel retailer. During her 20+ year career with the Company, Robyn took on progressive responsibility for every aspect of the accounting and finance function while the Company’s revenue grew from $800M to over $11.5B through organic growth, acquisitions, digital transformation, and international expansion. 
  • Lisa Rosenberg and Stephen Cassell will co-lead the newly created EF Brand & External Marketing committee. Both Lisa and Stephen have enjoyed successful careers in strategic leadership roles at major global companies. Lisa held key roles with both Havas PR and Porter Novelli, a global PR firm within Omnicom, and is currently Partner and President, Consumer Brands, at Allison + Partners, a global marketing and communications agency. Throughout her career, Lisa has worked with some of the world’s leading brands including Budweiser, Gillette, M&M/Mars, PepsiCo, Ford, Mercedes-Benz, and American Airlines. A noted industry leader, Lisa is often quoted on brand and marketing trends and has served on numerous award juries, including Cannes Lions, The Clios, Brand Film Festival, Sabre Awards, Silver Anvils, Snackable Content, and PRWeek Awards, among others. She has been recognized by PRovoke Media as an Innovator 25, by PRWeek as a Hall of Femme, and a Champion of PR and has won more than 40 awards on behalf of her clients. Stephen has spearheaded transformative, global growth for some of the world’s most recognizable brands, including Cigna, J.P. Morgan Chase, American Express, and HSBC. Most recently Stephen, as Fortune 13 Cigna’s Enterprise Chief Brand Officer, led efforts resulting in the establishment of the new brand operating structure for the $165B revenue enterprise and the launch of the data-driven, digital-first Evernorth, a new $100B health services organization under the Cigna umbrella. An industry thought leader, Stephen has received multiple Cannes Lion (Gold, Silver, Bronze), Shorty, Webby, Gold Pencil, and Effie awards for growth-oriented business and marketing innovations.
  • Jessica Perry and Andy Yost will co-lead Member Engagement. In addition to serving on the former Community Platform committee since joining the EF and on the EF Brand committee since its formation earlier this year, both are also exceptionally well-qualified professionally for their new roles on the EF Board. After foundational roles in digital marketing, business development, content, and product development at Dow Jones, Jessica served as VP, Product Planning & Operations at Conde Nast, VP/General Manager for Atlantic Media, and SVP Publishing and Media and Chief Digital Officer at SHRM (Society for Human Resource Management) for 5+ years. Following his career foundation in increasingly responsible marketing roles at American Express, Andy served as SVP Marketing at Columbia House, Dow Jones, and Viacom before taking on CMO roles at Gannett, future of work startup HighPerformFlex, and, since June 2021, with healthtech start-up Kinsa.
  • Barbara McCartney succeeds Angus Gephart as Chair, EF Leadership Conference and Member Events. Prior to accepting her new role, Barbara served as Co-Chair for the EF Member-In-Transition program, working closely with EF Board member Sean O’Toole to revitalize and modernize that program. In her professional life, she is the founding CEO of Trofi Nutritionals which is on a mission to optimize personal health through next-generation nutritional solutions.  Before founding Trofi, Barbara established an outstanding record of accelerating growth in the food, nutrition, and wellness industries in executive, marketing, and innovation leadership roles at Nestle, Pillsbury, Abbott, Unilever, and Hyde Park Group Food Innovation which helps early to midsize companies increase momentum via disruptive product news and channel expansion.

In addition to these recent appointments; and, after successfully leading the EF’s Community Platform initiative, current board members Mitch Gross and David Steward are elected to co-lead Executive Forum’s New Business Development and are charged with shaping the organization’s growth initiatives and ensuring continued value for all members.

About the Executive Forum
The Executive Forum is a volunteer-led organization for accomplished top executives who are a premier source of modern executive talent and see their careers as a journey and not a destination. A community of c-suite-level executives from leading corporations, private equity firms, boards, and independent consultancies, the EF provides an unparalleled, diverse network of collaborative, connected, and growth-focused leaders and experts who are committed to - supporting one another. For more information, visit