Chicago Breakfast| How Strategic Planning - and the Board’s Role in Strategy Oversight - Has Changed

Wednesday, October 03, 2018
07:30 AM - 09:30 AM CST
Rolling Green Country Club
2525 E Rand Road
Arlington Heights, IL 60004



As disruption continues across industries, leading companies are seeking better ways for their boards and management teams to collaborate on growth strategy and strategic risk management. In today’s quickly-transforming business landscape, directors are expecting greater engagement in the development of strategy and the oversight of strategy execution and risk. At the same time, new strategic planning tools have emerged to help both management and boards better direct –- and adjust -- resource allocation decisions.

Join Diane Meister of Chicago-based Meridian Associates and her two expert co-speakers at the October PDA breakfast program for insights into today’s most effective strategic planning practices. Topics will include: management and board roles in strategy development, strategy execution, and risk management in privately-held companies. 

Body of Knowledge(BOK) Categories: Board Operations and Strategy



Diane M. Meister
Founder and Managing Director
Meridian Associates, Inc.

Diane M. Meister is Founder and Managing Director of Meridian Associates Inc., a management consulting group that operates as an outsourced Strategy Office for middle-market companies. Meridian advises boards of directors and assists business leaders and senior executives to anticipate, prepare for and capitalize on changing industry environments using non-traditional, scenario-based strategic planning approaches. Meridian also assists in development and implementation of new company growth Initiatives, including initially small “early bets” that have potential to mitigate strategic risk and achieve important new, mission-critical revenue for the firm.

With an Executive MBA from the Kellogg School of Management and a background in innovation and brand management at Leo Burnett Company, Diane has advised directors of 12 private company boards and assisted leaders of over 50 often-underperforming companies to drive profitable new top-line growth. As Vice President, Strategy of the Private Directors Association, she is currently overseeing development of the 2021 PDA Strategic Plan and also chairs the PDA Model Board MeetingSM Program.


Mark Trembacki
Risk Management Levers, Inc.

Mark Trembacki is the Founder of Risk Management Levers, Inc., a firm focused on assisting companies with enterprise risk management, strategy development and execution, and acquisition integration. He gained his experience at BMO Financial Group leading key strategic and risk initiatives across the company. A CPA, he earned an MBA in Finance from The University of Chicago Booth School of Business and a BS in Accounting with Highest Honors from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC). Mark is a qualified SEC Audit Committee Financial Expert and National Association of Corporate Directors (NACD) Governance Fellow. Mark recently earned a Cyber Security Management Graduate Certificate from the University of Virginia.

As an Adjunct Professor at UIUC, Mark teaches Enterprise Risk Management. He serves as Chair of the DuPage Children’s Museum and is a Chicago History Museum Board trustee. Mark was recently elected to the Board of the PDA Chicago Affiliate and serves as the Education Committee co-chair; nationally, Mark is leading the Cyber Security Initiative for PDA.


Jim Gagnard
Board Member
Agentis Energy, Vertex Analytics, A3 Solutions, Illinois Technology Association

Jim Gagnard has over 30 years of executive management experience leading enterprise software companies. He has worked closely with the venture capital community and strategic investors to raise over $80 million for his companies.

Jim was Chairman and CEO of SmartSignal Corporation which was acquired by GE in January, 2011. Prior to SmartSignal, Jim led several privately-funded software companies including Diffusion, Launchpoint, and Questra. In addition, he successfully led Trinzic Corporation, an $80 million, publicly-traded software company to a successful exit. Jim has created over $480 million of enterprise value for investors.

Jim serves on the Board of Directors of Agentis Energy, Vertex Analytics, and A3 Solutions. He is a Venture Partner of Hyde Park Venture Partners, a Board Member of the ITA and its IoT Council, and a Board Trustee of the Illinois Institute of Technology.

Jim holds a BSEE from Illinois Institute of Technology and has completed the course work for an MBA-Finance from San Francisco State University.