J. Richard “Dick” Emens
A co-founder of the Conway Center for Family Business, Dick serves as Executive Director and chairs the Advisory Board of the organization. He is co-author of the book “Family Business Basics: The Guide to Family Business Financial Success” and has written numerous articles on issues pertaining to family business.
Dick also co-teaches coursework in family business at Ohio Dominican University, which prepares students to be employed in a family-owned or controlled business.
A partner with Emens & Wolper LLP, Dick specializes in business and corporate law; oil, energy, pipeline, and gas law; family business law, and succession planning. He is listed in Best Lawyers in America in corporate law and in oil and gas law. He is a member of the Columbus, Ohio, Michigan, and American Bar Associations and holds Bar Admissions in Ohio, Michigan, and the United States Supreme Court.
Dick is deeply committed to creating academic opportunities for young people. He was a long-time board member of the Ball State University Foundation and is an emeritus trustee of Franklin University, where he is a past board chairman. He is a past president of the Energy and Mineral Law Foundation and has served as a board member of numerous non-profit and for-profit organizations.
Dick received his B.A. at DePauw University and his J.D. at the University of Michigan.
Jill Hofmans joined the Conway Center in 2013. She is the Center’s only full-time staff member and manages the Center’s operations, as well as its communications and marketing initiatives – in conjunction with Rick Miller Communications. She also is responsible for developing educational seminars, programs and the annual Family Business Awards and Expo and is the initial point of contact for members, prospective members, and the public. In addition, Jill writes and edits material for the Center’s publications, the “Monthly Message” and the “Family Business Communicator”. Jill’s responsibilities also include development and outreach projects that help increase awareness of the Conway Center and the resources it provides to family-owned businesses.
Jill brings a wealth of executive-level experience to the Center including event planning, liaising between educational facilities and state licensing agencies, fundraising, and creating successful outreach and recruitment programs from California to Washington, D.C., to Ohio — and even to Belize!
She earned a Bachelor’s degree (with honors) in Gender and Feminist Studies from Pitzer College and a Master’s degree (Phi Kappa Phi) in Women’s Studies from San Diego State University.
Amy Dotts joined the Conway Center in 2016. She is responsible for all details and logistics needed to execute smooth, successful events. Amy works closely with the Conway Center team and solicits feedback from members to produce engaging and informative educational programs.
Amy has extensive experience in association management having served as Executive Director of a non-profit healthcare association for over 20 years. She has a passion for working with members and supporting businesses to ensure that their goals and expectations are met.
Amy earned her Bachelor’s degree in Health Information Management from The Ohio State University. She and her husband are longtime residents of Worthington, Ohio.
Heather joined the Conway Center in December 2013. Along with being responsible for daily administrative tasks, including filing, mailings, and record management, she helps coordinate the annual awards program honoring the successes of family-owned businesses. Heather assists in the planning of events and organizing logistics for educational programs.
Previously, Heather worked in administrative roles for a real estate marketing brokerage, law firm, and a private psychiatric practice in the Columbus area. She spent six years as a transcriptionist for the Columbia University School of Social Work transcribing interviews with the FDNY widows and families from the 9/11 Trade Center disaster.
Heather received her bachelor’s degree from the Ohio State University in 2003 with a major in English and Literature. She hopes to develop her undergraduate focus and career experience within the context of administrative support for The Conway Center for Family Business.
Hyla joined the Conway Center in 2010. She is responsible for the design and production of all the Conway Center’s print publications and advertising, and for maintaining and enhancing the Conway’s visual brand identity.
Hyla Skudder is a graphic designer, web designer and illustrator with over 28 years of experience. She runs her own design business, Hyla Skudder Design, where a major focus of her work is creating visual brand identities for clients, and designing print publication and advertising materials. She also designs and builds websites for individuals and small to mid-size businesses and non-profit organizations, and provides SEO services to increase organic search results for clients.
Hyla’s published illustration work includes six wildflower gardening books for Storey Communications/Garden Way Publishing, and a children’s nature book, “Whose Tracks Are These: A Clue Book of Familiar Forest Animals” for Roberts Rinehart Publishers. Her book “A Garden of Wildflowers” won the Garden Writer’s of America First Place Award for Book Illustration.
Before moving to Ohio in 1991, Hyla worked in the Design and Production Department of the Boston Children’s Museum for ten years, producing award-winning publication designs, as well as designs for museum exhibitions, educational materials, promotional products, and advertising. She served as the museum’s Graphic Design Director for three years.
Peer Group Facilitators
Ignite Your Business Peer Group Facilitator
Conway Center Advisory Board member and chief strategy officer of GREENCREST, Kelly Borth, facilitates the Ignite Your Business Peer Group which is dedicated to helping family business leaders learn valuable tactics for strategically growing their businesses including: marketing, PR, brand development, and digital.
In 1990, Kelly was inspired to launch GREENCREST, a strategic marketing, advertising, public relations and interactive firm that provides direction for small- and mid-market privately-held companies. As a certified business consultant, an accredited public relations specialist and a certified brand strategist, Kelly leads her team in propelling businesses from market players to distinguished market leaders. Kelly understands what it takes to define a brand and turn that into an increase in market share and solid results. GREENCREST executes communications programs that begin with a solid marketing foundation and result in increased market penetration and awareness.
Kelly is a strategic advisor to CEOs, best selling author, speaker, and columnist for Smart Business magazine. Kelly has been recognized as one of Columbus “Forty under 40” up and coming leaders, a Smart Business Power 100 and is the Columbus Chamber of Commerce Sales Executive Club “Communicator of the Year”. She is a 1999 Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year, Supporter of Entrepreneurship Award finalist. Kelly was honored by the National Association of Women Business Owners with a Visionary Award in 2005 and that same year was named Ohio Women in Business Champion of the Year by the Small Business Administration. In 2010 GREENCREST was honored with a Corporate Caring Award and in 2011 a Smart Business Pillar Award. Kelly was honored with the 2011 Kent Clapp Leadership Award.
Kelly serves on the local boards of Neighborhood Design Center, The Entrepreneurship Institute, Association for Corporate Growth, Conway Family Business Center, the American Heart Association Columbus Metro Board, and St. Pius X Finance Council. She is a board advisor for the Inn at Cedar Falls.
Leadership Development 2.0 Peer Group Facilitator
Michael D. DeVine, MS, LPC-S is the owner of DeVine Consulting; a business consulting firm specializing in family business consulting. Michael is originally from Columbus, Ohio where he earned his Bachelor’s degree in psychology from Otterbein College in Westerville, Ohio. Michael earned his Master’s Degree in Psychology from The University of North Texas where he received specialized training in marriage and family counseling as well as conducting research on attachment theory & family systems theory.
It was during his studies at North Texas where Michael not only honed his therapeutic skills but also was introduced to the applied psychology fields of I/O psychology and performance psychology. Michael immediately saw the future of private practice being an applied and holistic field and spent all of his post-graduate training in environments that gave him the skills, training, and experience necessary to diversify his professional acumen.
Michael’s unique approach was recognized by several business consulting firms, resulting in being hired as an affiliate consultant with the Hay Group. Michael’s work with the Hay Group was focused on conducting executive leadership assessments with a particular focus on behavioral event interviewing. Michael most recently was a senior consultant with JSA Advising, where he is still currently serving as a senior adviser. His work with JSA Advising focused on family business advising and talent development with next generation leaders.
In addition to his consulting work, Michael still operates a private counseling and executive coaching practice. Michael is also the author of Failure to Launch: Guiding Clinicians to Successfully Motivate the Long Dependent Adult Child through Jason Aronson Publishing (2013), and is a regular speaker at annual conferences, consultant to local schools and professional organizations.
Succession Planning 2.0 Peer Group Co-Facilitator
Tony Kington is a co-facilitator of the Succession Planning 2.0 Peer Group which present timely, topical, and critical information to help family business leaders successfully transition their family-owned businesses to the next generation.
Tony focuses his practice at Taft/ on serving the needs of businesses, as well as individuals and business owners, with regard to transactions involving the corporate and business law area, including mergers and acquisitions, financing, securities, commercial real estate, business succession planning, and estate and gift tax planning. Tony routinely counsels clients regarding entity selection, formation and governance; capitalization and financing, including loan documentation, private equity and private placements; and resolution of disputes among minority owners.
Tony has a special focus and proven track record acting as general counsel to a variety of businesses and advising family-owned businesses on their unique needs including the establishment of advisory boards, control issues, family governance, succession planning and wealth transfer. In addition, Tony routinely assists clients regarding estate and succession planning, including structuring and implementing sophisticated estate planning strategies such as dynasty trusts, GRATs, sales to grantor trusts, family limited partnerships, and family foundations.
Leadership Development Peer Group Facilitator
Ethan graduated from Lee University with a B.A. in Psychology. While gaining his undergraduate degree, he became fascinated with applying psychological principles to a business context. This newfound interest prompted him to earn his Masters in Industrial Organizational Psychology from Xavier University. Through this training he developed methods for helping others increase workplace productivity, create clear organizational processes, and heighten their emotional intelligence. Ethan is excited to utilize his talents as a consultant for Integrated Leadership Systems and work alongside employees to implement better workplace habits and drive organizational change.
Before his work for ILS, Ethan worked in talent development for start-ups, schools, and most recently the Fortune 500 Company Emerson Electric. At Emerson, he designed effective training systems and employed new development strategies for both salaried office and hourly plant employees. Through enhancing the personal and professional lives of his coworkers, Ethan advanced Emerson’s employee development process.
In addition to his professional work, Ethan and his wife founded a nonprofit after-school literacy program in their hometown. Reading for Change is a safe, yet challenging environment where at-risk students improve their literacy and life skills. Ethan and Alison also have two beautiful daughters. Apart from serving his family and community, Ethan is passionate about aiding the personal and professional lives of his clients. He aims to increase the productivity, effectiveness, and interpersonal skills of others through an authentic coaching relationship. Ultimately, Ethan’s goal is to walk alongside his clients as they navigate both short-term and long-term personal and professional aspirations.
Thaddeus J. O’Brien, PhD
Next-Generation Peer Group Facilitator
Succession Planning Peer Groups Co-Facilitator
Dr. O’Brien was a founding board member of the Conway Center for Family Business and frequently moderates educational programs offered by the Center. He is a co-facilitator of the Succession Planning and Succession 2.0 Peer Groups which present timely, topical, and critical information to help family business leaders successfully transition their family-owned businesses to the next generation.
He also facilitates monthly Next-Generation Peer Group meetings that explore personal and professional leadership issues in a supportive environment.
Thaddeus is the president and founder of O’Brien & Associates. The firm focuses on executive assessment and development, organizational analysis and interventions through meetings using tailor-made surveys and instruments to identify specific issues. He specializes in working with organizations in major transition – either undergoing changes in leadership or dealing with rapidly shifting market conditions.
For more than 30 years, Thaddeus has worked with companies in industries ranging from hospitals and medical work to professional service organizations and closely held companies. He serves on an array of civic, hospital and professional service boards.
Thaddeus is a licensed psychologist who received his MA and PhD from the University of Chicago. He is an active member of the American Psychological Association, The Ohio Psychological Association, The National Association of Sports Psychologists and the American Society of Clinical Hypnosis.
Succession Planning Co-Facilitator
Meredith’s practice at Taft/ is focused in the area of sophisticated wealth transfer, estate planning and administration, tax planning for individuals, corporations and partnerships, business succession planning and general corporate representation. She frequently advises high wealth individuals on how best to structure and implement wealth transfer and estate planning vehicles such as GRATs, dynasty trusts, family limited partnership and limited liability companies. She also represents estates, businesses and individuals in IRS audits. She regularly forms and advises nonprofit and tax-exempt organizations.
In addition to her estate planning and tax practice, Meredith also advises business owners regarding structuring complex transactions, entity formation, succession planning, mergers and acquisitions and other corporate needs. She has developed a special focus on representing business owners who are involved in the development, installation and construction of energy facilities, as well as oil and gas leasing and development transactions. She frequently collaborates with members of the firm’s Environmental practice.
Online Strategy Peer Group
Danielle Walton is co-founder and principal of Adept Marketing where she focuses her efforts on developing integrated digital strategies for companies who put a prioritization on growth. With more than 15 years of experience in strategic marketing and interactive development, Danielle works directly with growth-minded owners and marketers to drive new and existing customer acquisition.
She began her career in technology and management consulting with Deloitte Consulting working on large-scale technology implementations for Fortune 500 companies.
Women in Family Business Peer Group Facilitator
Succession Planning Peer Groups Co-Facilitator
Bea is a co-founder of the Conway Center for Family Business and serves as an Advisory Board member. She co-facilitates the Succession Planning and Succession 2.0 Peer Groups which present timely, topical, and critical information to help family business leaders successfully transition their family-owned businesses to the next generation.
She also facilitates the Women in Family Business Peer Group. In the Women’s Peer Group sessions, women discuss issues and opportunities unique to women who own, lead or work within a family business.
In addition, Bea has been a lead instructor for “Building, Operating and Passing on the Family Business” at Ohio Dominican University. Ms. Wolper and her husband, Dick Emens, the Center’s Executive Director, co-authored Family Business Basics: The Guide to Family Business Financial Success.
Ms. Wolper is a partner in the law firm of Emens & Wolper LLP, in Columbus, Ohio. Her practice focuses on succession planning, estate planning, general corporate law, contracts and the buying and selling of businesses, with an emphasis on family-owned businesses.
Bea serves as the Ohio President for the International Women’s Forum and serves as a director of TB Investment Properties and Insight Bank. She is on the Legal Advisory Board of the Columbus Foundation and Central Ohio Planned Giving. She has served on the executive committees of COSI, Greater Columbus Arts Council, Greater Columbus Chamber of Commerce, Mt. Carmel College of Nursing, Greater Columbus News Bureau and Small Business Council.
Bea was chosen as one of the the International Women’s Forum 2013 Women Who Make a Difference and was selected as one of “America’s Most Influential Women” in 2006. She also was an elected delegate to the White House Conference on Small Business in 1995. She is listed in The Best Lawyers of America and has won numerous awards including Entrepreneur of the Year Award for the Columbus Region; the YWCA Women of Achievement Award; and the Women in Business Advocate Award from the United States Small Business Association.