We are a non-profit membership organization dedicated to educating and inspiring New York City family enterprises and their families to build long-term, sustainable enterprises and healthy family relationships.

WHO WE ARE

NYCFEC is a 501(c)3 nonprofit membership organization governed by its family enterprise members along with a very experienced team who fully understands family enterprises. Click the tabs below to learn more about our Boards and Staff.

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PATRICIA ANGUS
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Warner Babcock
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JUDITH BALCERZAK, VICE PRESIDENT, OPERATIONS AND EVENTS
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FREDDA HERZ BROWN
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JOHN D'ADDARIO, III
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JOHN D. DADAKIS
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MARY K. DUKE
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HELENA ESCALANTE
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BARBARA R. HAUSER
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CHRISTINA HO, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, PROGRAMS
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DENNIS T. JAFFE
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ANDREW KARLEN
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ROGER KING
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RANIA LABAKI
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MARK LERNER, COO/CFO
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EDWARD G. ROGOFF
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SUSAN R. SCHOENFELD
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E. DAVID SMITH
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MARCY SYMS
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ELIZABETH VELEZ

PATRICIA ANGUS

BIO

Patricia Angus is Founder and CEO of Angus Advisory Group LLC, and an Adjunct Professor at Columbia University. A recognized thought leader in multi-generational family governance and wealth, she has advised families with businesses, trusts, and charitable foundations for more than two decades. Ms. Angus helps clients navigate some of life's most complex issues, through critical analysis, strategic planning, and compassionate guidance.

Ms. Angus practiced law at trusts and estates boutique Hughes and Whitaker (now Day Pitney) and Coudert Brothers international law firm (now Baker & McKenzie). She also served as Principal/ Chief Wealth Advisory Officer of Shelterwood Financial Services LLC and Family Wealth Advisor at GenSpring and JP Morgan Private Bank. Ms. Angus launched the Family Enterprise and Wealth MBA course at Columbia University Graduate School of Business and writes the "Building Bridges" column on www.wealthmanagement.com. She is a member of the Advisory Board of Trusts & Estates and the Carter Center Planned Giving Advisory Council. She has also served on the Editorial Advisory Board of Campden's Private Wealth Management and on the Board of Directors of the Collaboration for Family Flourishing, as well as the New York Women's Foundation Allocations Committee and Citizens Committee for Children of New York's Advocacy Council.

Ms. Angus has been named one of the Top 50 Women in Wealth Management by Wealth Manager, a Rising Star by Private Asset Management, and twice named in the Top 100 North American Wealth Advisers by City Wealth. She received a B.A. cum laude from Amherst College, a M.A. in International Affairs from Columbia University School of International and Public Affairs, and a J.D. from George Washington University Law School.

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WARNER BABCOCK,
PRESIDENT AND CEO

BIO

Warner King Babcock is President and CEO of NYCFEC and a member of the Board of Trustees. He is a Family Firm Institute Fellow and National Association of Corporate Directors Governance Fellow, and has been a family council member, family business CEO, board member, and a trustee of family trusts controlling family businesses, investments and special needs trust. Mr. Babcock has served on several boards over the past 25 years and was a recent member of the Board of Directors of Attorneys for Family-Held Enterprises, Inc. He has served as Chairman of Endowment, Governance, Nominating, Bylaws, Membership, Enrollment and Financial Aid Committees on nonprofit educational and membership organizations. He was also President of the Board of Governors for a 200+ membership-based nonprofit.

Previously, Mr. Babcock founded a leading corporate strategy and development firm, Advanced Materials Partners, and led many teams of senior professionals from 1987-2011, working with very large and small family businesses, public and private companies. Mr. Babcock was also the Founder, Chairman and CEO of AM Private Investments, a registered investment advisor focused on working exclusively with next generation family members and family office personnel on forming new ventures and making direct investments, beginning in the early 1990s. Mr. Babcock merged these two firms in 2011, forming AM Private Enterprises, Inc. to focus on new forward thinking initiatives to assist family enterprises.

Earlier in his career he founded a manufacturing company based on his patented inventions. He has taught MBA and undergraduate courses on boards, family business and governance in NYC, and he has published in Family Business magazine, Trusts & Estates and other leading publications. He has also been featured in the New York Times.

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JUDITH BALCERZAK,
VICE PRESIDENT, OPERATIONS AND EVENTS

BIO

Judie Balcerzak is Vice President of Operations and Events at NYCFEC. She has over 25 years of experience working with small privately held businesses in the financial and computer industries. She excels in business planning, administration and personnel supervision and is skilled in event planning, task management and project follow-through. She understands the dynamics and importance of superior membership servicing at membership organizations and spent almost two decades leading the Institute for Private Investors (IPI) through a period of rapid growth, development and transition. In her role as Director at IPI, she oversaw day-to-day financial operations, forecasting and budgeting, managed the New York and San Francisco offices, oversaw production for more than 75 events throughout the country each year, and negotiated contracts for a wide variety of programs and vendor relationships. She consistently stayed at or below budget for all programs, and IPI remained profitable throughout her entire tenure. Ms. Balcerzak joined the Board of the Council of Protocol Executives (COPE) in 2010 and continues to serve as a Board Member.

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FREDDA HERZ BROWN

BIO

Fredda Herz Brown, Ph.D., is a pioneer in the field of family enterprise. Her numerous contributions over 25 years have helped to establish the standard for families and their trusted advisors and develop the body of knowledge that defines the field of study to this day. In 2006 she became a founding principal of Relative Solutions LLC, a firm that is a recognized leader in helping multigenerational families manage the complex decisions related to their shared assets.

Dr. Herz Brown is the co-author of the highly acclaimed and innovative The Family Wealth Sustainability Toolkit, an online assessment and action tool developed to help families and their advisors better understand the behavior that defines a family’s evolution and helps them to develop a roadmap for reaching their goals. She is also the author of Reweaving the Family Tapestry, which encapsulated her model for understanding and working with families as they evolve through their life cycles.

Dr. Herz Brown’s work has been honored with several awards from the Family Firm Institute, where she is a Fellow and founding board member, and from Family Office Exchange.

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JOHN D'ADDARIO, III

BIO

John D’Addario, III is the President of D’Addario & Company, Inc., the world’s largest manufacturer and distributor of musical instrument accessories. As one of a dozen D’Addarios actively working in the company today, he represents the fourth generation of the family business in America. Going back even further, he is part of the ninth generation of D’Addario string makers, dating back to the late 1600s in Salle, Italy.

He began his career in the cosmetics industry, where he learned various disciplines within the business world, from customer service, to production planning, to management. After three years, he decided to take his experience in beauty and apply it to the world of musical accessories, joining the company in a product planning and brand management capacity. He eventually ascended to the role of Vice President of Worldwide Sales in 2001; for the next six years he played a crucial role in restructuring D’Addario’s global sales and marketing. Beginning in 2007, he served as the company’s Executive Vice President, in which he primarily focused on the company’s global operations, including manufacturing, sourcing, human resources, and distribution.

He obviously is no stranger to the ins and outs of D’Addario. Starting at the age of twelve, he worked every summer in the factory, seizing this unique opportunity to work in many facets of the business. Despite his relative youth and inexperience, he learned various practices that help define the company’s meticulous perfectionism; different projects included receiving and inspecting raw materials, industrial engineering projects, and picking and packing orders. Along the way, his business acumen and understanding grew exponentially as the company did, as today D’Addario is literally ten times the size it was during his childhood. In addition to his duties as President, he also serves on the company’s Board of Directors, as well as an industry board called the Music Achievement Council. A 1993 graduate of the University of Richmond, Mr. D'Addario holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration, majoring in both Marketing and Management.

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JOHN D. DADAKIS

BIO

John D. Dadakis is a member of the Board of Trustees at NYCFEC. He is chair of Holland & Knight's New York Private Wealth Services Group. As "Personal General Counsel" to an elite national client base, Mr. Dadakis’ model is uniquely suited to handle the needs of family and closely-held business owners. For several decades, Mr. Dadakis has focused on the multidisciplinary needs of family-held enterprises. Starting in the late 1980s, he was instrumental in founding the Attorneys for Family-Held Enterprises (AFHE) and served as its president for more than 10 years. Through the studies and discussions that have been advanced at the association's meetings, Mr. Dadakis has cultivated a national family businesses client base for which he provides assistance in resolving generational transition problems. He also works with owners developing family mission statements and family constitutions, utilizing the latter to develop a comprehensive overall forum that assists in the oversight of the constituencies of a family business. Mr. Dadakis holds a J.D. from Fordham University School of Law and a B.A. from Johns Hopkins University..

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MARY K. DUKE

BIO

Mary K. Duke is an internationally recognized advisor to families navigating the complexities of substantial wealth. She leverages over 30 years of experience to equip families to wisely transition financial and human wealth across generations. Her work is typically anchored in the facilitation of family meetings, family education, mentoring and strategic planning for family owned enterprises. She focuses on empowering the rising generation and on helping families build the practices and competencies that foster individual growth and make family collaboration more effective and rewarding.

Ms. Duke has a deep understanding of the impact of trusts and cross-border complexities on families, as well as the challenges of managing and transitioning family enterprises. She advises on family office architecture and transformation, entrepreneurship and governance for families and their businesses.

Before establishing her advisory practice, she headed two private family offices involving prominent families and significant owned operating companies. She also spearheaded a leading private bank’s award winning international family wealth program while overseeing seven international trust companies and heading a private banking division. Having practiced private client law in New York, she is a licensed attorney and certified accountant and has pursued postgraduate studies in family systems and family dispute resolution. She has conducted next generation and family retreats around the world.

Ms. Duke has been named the 2014/15 Family Business Advisor of the Year by STEP – the global society of trust and estate professionals.

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HELENA ESCALANTE

BIO

Helena Escalante is an international marketing, communications and translations professional, who has great knowledge in the realm of multicultural marketing, and she has focused on creating a positive presence in the multicultural world for her clients. She has also been in charge of multicultural outreach for the Hispanic and Chinese populations for the New York Public Library system, as well as business outreach and entrepreneurial education programs for the Science, Industry and Business Library (including outreach in Spanish, Chinese and Russian for immigrant businesses). The goals of her career and her company have always been to help companies and executives find the right business partners, and establish successful marketing strategies for products and services in many markets and languages across the world. Working with her, companies acquire an important market share, within their niche, whether in their local language or translated into 100+ languages. Her business serves as the U.S. counterpart to her own family business in Mexico City, which has been in existence for 45 years.

Ms. Escalante has also been privileged to accompany and serve as language and culture consultant to numerous United States and foreign governors, diplomats, government officials, movie stars and other high-profile international executives. She had the honor of being selected to serve as the official interpreter for the President of Mexico during his visit with the Texas Governor. She holds B.A. in Latin American Studies and History with honors from The University of Texas at Austin and studied Communications, Marketing and Advertising at Universidad Intercontinental in Mexico City.

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BARBARA R. HAUSER

BIO

Barbara R. Hauser has worked with family enterprises for more than 35 years. A graduate of Wellesley and Penn Law, with a U.S. Supreme Court clerkship, she first worked as a lawyer with family enterprises, largely focused on the transition to the second generation, using a number of trusts and shareholder agreements. When she was recruited to be a full-time advisor to a billionaire with more than 130 companies, she spent four years learning how much more can be involved than legal work. She then taught law school—comparative legal systems and inheritance laws—and consulted for banks, family groups and family offices. She had become known for her international work with families in Europe, England, Asia and the Middle East. Her treatise on International Estate Planning is updated each year. She has become very process-oriented. Instead of following the control wishes of a patriarch, she now advises the whole family as a group, with a focus on developing strong family governance. She recently spent ten years of intensive work in Saudi Arabia with leading family businesses, many of whom created family constitutions. Her book, International Family Governance, is also in Arabic. She also wrote about her experiences, in Saudi-Girl Barbara.

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CHRISTINA HO,
Co-Founder

BIO

Christina Ho is a Co-Founder NYCFEC. She worked hard alongside the founding team as a wonderful, dedicated volunteer for several years helping to form NYCFEC and then as the Executive Director, Programs, prior to deciding to spend more time with her family and other interests. Christina has specialized in developing educational programs and events, building engagement within communities and networks and creating compelling content and communication strategies. As Director of NextGen Membership at the Institute for Private Investors (IPI), a global network for families of substantial wealth, she successfully launched a global membership platform for next generation family members who are stepping into leadership positions within their families. In her seven years at IPI, she also held leadership roles managing editorial content and logistics for programs & events, along with overseeing product development for IPI's Memberlink® website, an online membership portal. Ms. Ho began her career as a technology consultant and graduated from The Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania with a B.S. in Economics.

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DENNIS T. JAFFE

BIO

Dennis T. Jaffe, Ph.D. has helped families overcome personal and organizational challenges to enable successful and fulfilling transfer of businesses, wealth, values, commitments and legacies across generations for over 40 years. As both an organizational consultant and clinical psychologist, he is one of the architects of the field of family enterprise consulting. He works with multi-generational families to develop governance practices and capability of next generation leadership, and to develop the capability of financial organizations and family offices to serve their family clients.

As a member of Wise Counsel Research Associates, he is conducting a study of long-term families enterprises, resulting in working papers, Good Fortune: Building a Hundred Year Family Enterprise, and Best Practices of Successful, Global, Multi-Generational Family Enterprises. He is also part of the Polaris team, which is working with the Family Business Network to create a roadmap for family and business sustainability. With his global focus, he has taught at Hult University in Dubai, helped the Pacific Asia chapter of Family Business Network develop a program to empower next generation family members, and is on the Advisory Board of Chinese University of Hong Kong, and Stetson University.

As a member of the Family Firm Institute since it was founded, he has presented at annual conferences, served on their board, designed and delivered continuing education courses in Family Governance and Family Wealth Advising, written frequently for their journal Family Business Review, and was received the Richard Beckhard Award for his contribution to practice

Dr. Jaffe has written a trio of books that guide members of family enterprises, including the 2010 book Stewardship of Your Family Enterprise: Developing Responsible Leadership Across Generations, as well as Working with the Ones You Love: Building a Successful Family Business; Working with Family Businesses: A Guide for Professional Advisors.

He received his B.A. in Philosophy, M.A. in Management and Ph.D. in Sociology from Yale University. For 35 years, he was Professor of Organizational Systems and Psychology at Saybrook University in San Francisco, where he is now Professor Emeritus. In 2010 he was a visiting Professor at the undergraduate family business program of Stetson University.

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ANDREW KARLEN

BIO

Andrew N. Karlen is a Partner in the White Plains, New York law firm of Karlen & Stolzar, LLP. He focuses his practice on the legal needs of family-owned and other closely-held business, their owners and stakeholders. Mr. Karlen works collaboratively with other professional advisors to provide business succession planning and exit planning services. He also functions as “General Counsel,” providing ongoing advice on legal, growth-related and other issues. In addition, he handles a variety of business transactions and agreements, including: purchases and sales of businesses; forming and advising business entities; shareholder, operating and other agreements among entity owners; employment, non-compete and non-disclosure agreements; and commercial and residential real estate transactions.

Mr. Karlen serves on the Board of Directors of Attorneys for Family-Held Enterprises (AFHE), an association of attorneys and other professionals who provide multi-disciplinary legal counsel and advice to family enterprises, their owners and stakeholders. He is a member of the Family Firm Institute and holds its Family Business Advisor with Fellow Status designation. He also holds the Certified Exit Planner (CExP) designation conferred by the Business Enterprise Institute (“BEI”), an organization that trains supports Exit Planning professionals.

Admitted to practice in New York, Connecticut and Florida, he holds a Master of Law (LLM) in Corporation Law from the New York University School of Law and a J.D. from New York Law School.

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ROGER KING

BIO

Roger King, Ph.D., is an Adjunct Professor of Finance at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (HKUST) and founding and current Directors of the Tanoto Center for Asian Family Business and Entrepreneurship Studies and the Thompson Center for Business Case Studies. He teaches Entrepreneurship and Family Business at Kellogg-HKUST EMBA, HKUST MBA and non-degree executive programs and is a frequent guest speaker on entrepreneurship, family business and governance.

Professor King has extensive industry experience, including roles as Chairman and founder of ODS System-Pro Computers Limited; Chairman of Euro-Asia Shipyard Limited; Chief Operating Officer of Orient Overseas (Holdings) Limited; and President and Chief Executive Officer of Sa Sa International Holdings Limited. He has also served as Independent Non-Executive Director of Arrow Electronics Corporation; Independent Non-Executive Director of Sincere Watch (Hong Kong) Limited; and Non-Executive Chairman of Pacific Coffee Limited.

Currently, Professor King is a member of the Supervisory Board of TNT Express NV; Non-Executive Director of Overseas Orient International Limited; and Member of the Editorial Board of Journal of Family Business Strategy. Professor King is a graduate of the University of Michigan, BSEE; New York University, MSEE; Harvard Business School, AMP; and HKUST, PhD (Finance).

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RANIA LABAKI

BIO

Rania Labaki, Ph.D. is Associate Professor of Management at EDHEC Business School where she teaches and conducts research at the intersection of the fields of finance, entrepreneurship and family business. She serves as Director of the EDHEC Family Business Centre (EFBC) and the Academic Director of the Family Business Global Executive MBA. She is actively associated with the leading international organizations specialized in family business education, research, and advising. She serves as Board Member of the International Family Enterprise Research Academy (IFERA), Scientific Committee member of FBN France, FBN Levant and Women in Family Business (WIFB), Program Committee member of the Family Firm Institute (FFI) and International Advisory Council member of the New York City Family Enterprise Centre (NYCFEC). She is also the co-editor of the Entrepreneurship Research Journal

Prior to joining EDHEC Business School, she was Associate Professor of Management and Director of the Finance and Wealth Management Master Program at the University of Bordeaux in France. She was also Visiting Professor at several academic institutions including Baruch College – The City University of New York, Zeppelin University in Germany, the University of Salerno in Italy, Sofia University in Bulgaria, ISCAF in Morocco and IHET in Tunisia. She has also held a number of guest lectures internationally such as in UCLan in Cyprus, European Business School in Germany, Zhejiang University in China, Insper in Brazil and the Family Firm Institute in the USA.

She served for seven years as the Academic Expert of FBN International – Next Generation Committee, where she contributed to program content development for the international conferences and to strategic activities focused on education, research, networking, and entrepreneurial initiatives on an international level. She was the Chair of the Program Committee of the Family Business Network - Next Generation International Summits from 2010 to 2016 and the Chair of the International Family Enterprise Research Academy Conference in 2012.

Dr. Labaki holds a Ph.D. in Management Sciences from the University of Bordeaux which was awarded as the Best Dissertation in Family and Patrimonial Firms by ASMEP as well as the Certificates in Family Business and Family Wealth Advising from the Family Firm Institute. She is recipient of several international awards recognizing her contributions to the family business field, including the Family Business Review Best Article in 2015 and the Emerald LiteratiNetwork Outstanding Reviewer Award in 2014. Her current interests revolve around the relationship between the family’s emotional dynamics and the entrepreneurial and financial behavior of family businesses with a focus on the next generation.

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MARK LERNER, COO/CFO

BIO

Mark Lerner is Treasurer and COO/CFO of NYCFEC and a member of the Board of Trustees. He is a trustee of his family’s NYC real estate portfolio that is in its fourth generation with over forty family members. In addition to his role as a trustee, Mr. Lerner has also served as Chief Financial Officer at both public and private companies ranging in size from $25M to $100M covering diverse industries including family-owned enterprises. Early professional experience includes almost 25 years with “Best-in-Class” companies including CBS, Inc., Pfizer, Inc. and The Thomson Corporation where he held various corporate office and divisional roles, including Chief Financial Officer and Vice President of Operations/Finance. Mr. Lerner holds an M.B.A. from Emory University, Atlanta, Georgia and a B. S. from Miami University, Oxford, Ohio.

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EDWARD G. ROGOFF

BIO

Edward G. Rogoff, Ph.D. is Chair of NYCFEC’s Professional Advisory Board and Dean of the School of Business, Public Administration and Information Sciences at LIU Brooklyn. During his career he has overseen the development of nationally ranked undergraduate and graduate business educational programs. He has an expertise and deep understanding of small and entrepreneurship businesses, particularly in NYC. Dr. Rogoff was the recipient of the 2010 Outstanding Educator of the Year award, given by The United States Association of Small Business and Entrepreneurship. In 2013, he wrote an article on "Outcomes of Family Involvement in minority owned family businesses," Journal of Family Business Strategy, 4(1), pp. 22-33, and has published in Family Business Review, Journal of Small Business Management, The Journal of Business and Entrepreneurship, and The Journal of Developmental Entrepreneurship. He has also written four books on entrepreneurship.

Prior to joining LIU, Dr. Rogoff was Professor and Chair of the Department of Management of the Zicklin School of Business at Baruch College, The City University of New York, where he directed the Lawrence N. Field Center for Entrepreneurship, which is a NYC Small Business Development Center. He also founded the CUNY Center for Student Entrepreneurship. He has also been an Adjunct Professor of Management at Columbia Business School and an Adjunct Professor of Management at New York University. In 2004, Dr. Rogoff founded Newton Business Programs, which provides training in business and workplace performance based on proven entrepreneurial principles for individuals to the largest corporations. He has written articles for The New York Times, Forbes, and Newsday, as well as a being a frequent guest on CNN and CNNfn.

Earlier in his career, Dr. Rogoff was founder and CEO of two media companies that owned 23 radio stations, and he grew up and worked in a NYC family business. He received a B.A., M.B.A., M.A. and Ph.D. from Columbia University.

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SUSAN R. SCHOENFELD

BIO

Susan R. Schoenfeld is CEO and founder of Wealth Legacy Advisors LLC, which serves as thought partner to families of wealth through personal attention and human spirit. Services include Stewardship, Succession, Philanthropy, Next Generation Coaching and Education, and Managing Fiduciary Risk. She is an Attorney and CPA, with deep experience as an advisor to families and family offices on matters of generational wealth transfer, estate planning and education on the personal issues of wealth.

Previously, she was the Family Ambassador at a private Single Family Office, serving as the liaison between the family office and its multi-national family members, and engaged and educated the next generation about their family wealth enterprise. Before that, she was Principal of Bessemer Trust for more than 14 years, where she developed and implemented generational wealth transfer planning strategies for high net worth individuals and families. She also created, developed and facilitated Bessemer's Women and Wealth Workshops, designed to explore personal aspects of wealth, which in turn inspired a series of Next Generation of Wealth workshops. In addition, she ran Bessemer’s donor advised fund, and also headed Bessemer’s Northeast Region Trust Administration group.

Ms. Schoenfeld wrote “Fiduciary responsibility: the trustee role and its risks”, a chapter in Trusts in Prime Jurisdictions, Fourth Edition published in June 2016 by Globe Law and Business Ltd. in association with STEP (The Society of Trust and Estate Practitioners). She is a member of AFHE (Attorneys for Family-Held Enterprises), Family Firm Institute (FFI), NYC Family Enterprise Center’s Board of Advisors, American Bar Association, New York State Bar Association, and the New York City Bar Association, and is a former Board Member of the New York Philanthropic Advisors Network (NYPAN). She is Past Chair of the Family Office Committee, the Estate Planning Committee and the Tax Division Oversight Committee of the NYS Society of CPAs, and previously served as the Society’s Vice-President and on its Strategic Planning Task Force, Industry Division Oversight Committee, Committee on Committee Operations, and Awards Committee. She chaired the Estate Planning Committee of the Society’s Westchester Chapter; subsequently, she served as Chapter Officer and Executive Board member, and is past-President of that Chapter. She was awarded the Chapter President’s Award, and has four times received the Chapter Appreciation Award.

In addition to her CPA, Ms. Schoenfeld was awarded an LL.M. (in Taxation) from NYU School of Law, a J.D. from Pace University School of Law, and BBA (summa cum laude) and MBA (with distinction) degrees in Accounting from Pace University.

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E. DAVID SMITH

BIO

E. David Smith, Esq., is Principal of Smith & Associates, and serves as outside general counsel for U.S. and foreign companies. He has substantial experience working with small- and medium-sized family businesses and family offices in a wide range of cultures and is trained to improve family conflicts and relationships as an Imago Relationships International Certified Professional Facilitator. He also provides strategic guidance, identifies and addresses core issues, and quarterbacks companies’ and family offices’ legal needs. Guiding his clients in the creation and growth of their wealth, he positions business entities for growth opportunities and for mitigating risk, including asset preservation. He leads his firm of seasoned practitioners in commercial real estate, contracts tax, corporate governance, corporate transactions, employment, financing and capital raising, intellectual property, investment agreements, litigation, and mergers and acquisitions. Mr. Smith is a member of the Attorneys for Family-Held Enterprises, Family Office Committee of the New York State Society of Certified Public Accountants, and the Inn of Transactional Counsel. He is a graduate of the University of California, Berkeley, and the Tulane University School of Law, and is admitted to practice in New York, New Jersey and Georgia, in addition to numerous federal trial and appellate courts, including the Supreme Court of the United States.

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MARCY SYMS

BIO

Marcy Syms is the former CEO of Syms Corp., a chain of off-price apparel stores. Founded by her late father Sy Syms in 1958, Syms Corp. was one of the first stores to offer designer and name brand clothing at substantially lower prices than conventional stores. In 1998, she became CEO and in 2009, led her company through the successful purchase of Filene’s basement. She was named Chair of Syms Corp in January 2010.

Ms. Syms has been a board member of the Rite Aid Corp, since 2006 and has served on the Audit and Compensation Committees. She served on the board of Midlantic Bank prior to it being acquired by PNC Bank, and was a member of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, serving as chair of the Small Business Agricultural Council.

Ms. Syms was President, as well as trustee, of the Syms Foundation since its creation in 1985, and is a founding board member of the Sy Syms School of Business at Yeshiva University. In 2012, she founded TPD Group LLP, a multi-generational succession planning consultancy for private companies.

Some of the not-for-profit boards she has served on include the Economic Club of New York, the New York Chapter of the American Heart Association, New York Women’s Agenda, the New Jersey Regional Plan Association and Manhattan Theatre Club, the Advisory Board of Laboratory Institute of Merchandising, the Advisory Councils of the Entrepreneurship and Personal Enterprise Program at Cornell University, the Rothman Institute of Entrepreneurial Studies at Fairleigh Dickinson University and the National Association of Female Executives. In addition, she is a past trustee of Prosperity New Jersey, a public/private partnership designed to promote economic development in New Jersey. She maintains memberships in the World Presidents’ Organization, the Committee of 200, the International Women’s Forum and the Women’s City Club of New York. She is presently an active board member of the NPR Foundation and the Advisory Council of Rockefeller University. She also joined the newly formed ERA coalition as an advisor and has been a director of private companies, most recently American Materials and Benco Dental.

Ms. Syms graduated from Finch College and earned her MS in Public Relations from Boston University. She holds an Honorary Doctorate in Business from Yeshiva and Bryant Universities and attended the Owner/president Management Program at Harvard University and the Wharton/Spencer Stuart Directors’ Institute. She has received distinguished leadership awards from Monmouth University, Fashion Institute of Technology, the Gomez Foundation for Mill House, the American Heart Association, the Men’s Fashion Association, American Jewish Congress, Executive Women of New Jersey, Finch College and Boston University and she has been honored by the council of Senior Centers and Services of New York City, The Jewish Women’s Foundation of New York, Women’s City Club of New York, National Council of Jewish Women New York Section, CORO New York Leadership Center and the Manhattan Chamber of Commerce.

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ELIZABETH VELEZ

BIO

Elizabeth Velez is the President of the Velez Organization, a second generation construction firm started in 1972 by her father, Andrew Velez. Ms. Velez has successfully earned a position as one of the integral principals of Velez Organization, as well as a supporter and leader of diversity and business issues facing the construction industry. To her credit are hundreds of projects which have come to fruition under her direction, including over 600 units of housing made affordable by State and Federal grants in the Bronx and Harlem, and over two billion dollars of significant educational, healthcare and large-scale projects throughout New York.

In addition to project involvement and corporate responsibilities, Ms. Velez is a staunch advocate for diversity in procurement and employment. In that capacity she co-chaired a seminar on Women Entrepreneurship for the New York State Assembly. She also serves as Co-Chair of the NYC Mentorship Advisory Board, is a member of the diversity advisory boards for NYS Department of Transportation, NYC Small Business Services, NYC School Construction Authority, NYC Dept. of Environmental Protection, Chairs the Latino Builders Council and serves on the Board(s) of the Association of Minority Enterprises of NY, ACE Mentor NY, the NY Building Congress and the Women Builders Council. She is on the Board of Trustees of Boricua College. On the international front, Ms. Velez is Co-Chair of Iran 180 – an organization that advocates for human rights and the end of the threat of nuclear arms proliferation in Iran.

Ms. Velez was honored by the Professional Women in Construction at their “Meet the Construction Chiefs” event, was a panelist at ENR’s “Groundbreaking Women in Construction” event, and has participated in many discussions on the significance of diversity in the workplace alongside such distinguished panelists as the Rev. Al Sharpton. In April 2013, she was invited to the White House for a “Women in Transportation” Roundtable Forum with Secretary of Transportation LaHood, Secretary of Health and Human Services Sebelius and Senior Advisors to President Obama. A recognized advocate and spokesperson on diversity and construction industry issues, Ms. Velez was the keynote speaker at the launch of the Global Women’s Network for Skanska – one of the top ten construction and engineering firms in the world, and was a panelist at the Women Construction Owners and Executives 2013 “Women Build America” National Conference in Washington DC. Among her most memorable experiences in 2013 was participating in the ringing of the NASDAQ closing bell with the U.S. Hispanic Advocacy Association, and traveling to Israel on a JCRC-NY peace and education mission with other community leaders from New York.

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