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Webinar | Importance of Independent Directors for ESOP Companies
Wednesday, March 17, 2021, 12:00 PM - 1:30 PM CDT
Category: Houston

10:00 AM - 11:30 AM (Pacific)
11:00 AM - 12:30 PM (Mountain)
12:00 PM - 01:30 PM (Central)
01:00 PM - 02:30 PM (Eastern)


Zoom invitation will be shared the day before the event.


Please join the Houston Chapter of the Private Directors Association® for a virtual event featuring a panel discussion on the Importance of Independent Directors for ESOP Companies.

Thank you to our National and Gold Chapter Sponsors!



Laurie-Leigh White
BVA Group

Laurie-Leigh White is responsible for overseeing the execution of a variety of valuation and litigation engagements.  Specifically, Ms. White specializes in the valuation of companies, partnerships, intangible assets, complex securities for financial reporting and tax purposes, and employee stock ownership plans.  Ms. White also serves as the head of the firm’s Houston office. 

Ms. White has been involved in hundreds of valuation projects for a wide variety of purposes, including financial reporting, employee stock ownership plans, valuations for tax purposes, transaction advisory, and fairness opinions.  Drawing on this experience, Ms. White co-chairs the firm’s transaction advisory committees.  Additionally, Ms. White has been involved in litigation consulting assignments related to economic damages, financial forensics, marital dissolution, and valuation matters.

Ms. White’s valuation experience is expansive, including valuations for the purposes of mergers and acquisitions, financial reporting (with a focus on “fair value” accounting for goodwill impairment and purchase price allocations), employee stock ownership plans (including annual update valuations and transaction driven fairness opinions), and gift and estate tax.  Ms. White has deep experience regarding the valuation of a variety of securities, including publicly-traded and closely-held common stock, preferred stock, stock options and warrants, and partnership interests.  She is the leader of BVA’s employee stock ownership plan practice.

Ms. White received a Master of Science in Accounting, a Bachelor of Business Administration in Accounting, and a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from Southern Methodist University, where she graduated with highest honors.  Ms. White is a Certified Public Accountant* who holds the designation of Accredited in Business Valuation (ABV) and is an Accredited Senior Appraiser of the American Society of Appraisers (ASA) with an Intangible Assets Appraisal Specialty and holds the Certified in Entity and Intangible Valuations™ (CEIV™) Credential designation.  She is a member of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants and the Texas Society of Certified Public Accountants. 

Ms. White was selected as a recipient of the 2020 American Society of Appraisers Rising Stars award and the 2016 AICPA Forensic and Valuation Services Standing Ovation Recognition award.  Both awards are designed to recognize professionals in the forensic, litigation and valuation practice areas who are 40 or under, hold certain valuation-related credentials, and have exhibited exemplary professional achievement.  Additionally, Ms. White was recognized as an honoree in the Houston Business Journal’s Women Who Mean Business 2019 class.  This award honors Houston’s most successful women business leaders in a variety of for-profit and nonprofit industries.

Ms. White is active in the Women’s Finance Exchange of Houston, serving as former President and multi-year Treasurer of the organization.  She is a Board Member of the Houston chapter of the National Business Development Association and also formerly served in a leadership role of an investor relations subcommittee of the Greater Houston Partnership.  Ms. White also currently serves on the American Society of Appraisers Business Valuation Committee and is a member of the organization’s Board of Examiners.  Recognized as a leader in the energy valuation industry, she is the immediate past chairperson for the American Society of Appraisers National Energy Valuation Conference and currently serves on the planning committee.  Ms. White has spoken at multiple conferences, primarily on advanced ESOP, tax and financial reporting valuation issues.  She also is a contributing author to Financial Valuation: Applications and Models, 4th Edition (April 2017) as well as Valuing a Business, 6th Edition (in process).

*Although BVA employs CPAs, it is not a CPA firm.


Neil Brozen
Independent Trustee
Ventura ESOP Fiduciary  Advisors

Neil co-founded Ventura with Mary Wertz in July of 2016 after providing ESOP trustee services for two institutional trustees from 2005 through April of 2016. He has 28 years of experience in banking, public accounting, management consulting and the IRS.

The key to Neil’s success in providing ESOP trustee services is his dedication to providing outstanding service, his intentional and sincere building of relationships as well as his common-sense approach to problem solving.

Neil is an active member of the ESOP Association having served on its Board of Governors, Finance Ownership Culture and Valuation Committees, the National Center for Employee Ownership including being a Board member as well as the Minnesota/Dakota and California Western States ESOP Association chapters. He is a recognized national speaker and writer on various ESOP issues.

Neil lives in Minneapolis with his wife Mary Wertz and Max their adorable chocolate lab.


Michael Abbott
Foley & Lardner

Employee benefits and tax lawyer Michael Abbott is a leading advisor to companies, executives and fiduciaries with sophisticated employee benefits and executive compensation needs, particularly in the tech, energy and private equity sectors. In addition, Michael has a significant employee benefits presence representing clients in the live entertainment, credit/debit card, chemical, school bus, transit and transportation industries. Michael’s nationwide practice focuses on ERISA and related tax compliance matters involving various aspects of employee benefits including, cross-border tax issues, tax-qualified plans including ESOPs, nonqualified deferred compensation plans and other benefit plans.

Michael represents clients before the Internal Revenue Service, U.S. Department of Labor and Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation in connection with regulatory audit, plan administration and correction matters. Michael also has extensive experience in the design, implementation and administration of employee stock ownership plans and has been involved in numerous ESOP transactions representing corporations, selling shareholders and fiduciaries.

Michael's clients comprise both private and publicly-owned entities as well as domestic and foreign employers with employees abroad. Regardless of their industry or location, Michael's clients are attracted to his responsive, highly-focused style of practice, Michael’s ability to stay ahead of relentlessly changing regulations in the tax qualified plan, healthcare and executive compensation arenas, and Michael’s skill in marshaling additional Foley resources.



Herbert Kalman
Independent Director

During his 50-year career, primarily in public accounting, Herbert Kalman has worked with hundreds of businesses. His goal has always been to create value for his clients.

CPAs in public accounting have the opportunity to observe the success and failure of the clients they represent. They also have the opportunity to observe the benefit of good corporate governance. Herb’s goal, as an independent director, is to utilize his career experience to become a board member who assists management in increasing the value of the company the board serves.