Web Article
January 6, 2020

2020 Board Candidates

Update: Balloting closed on January 17, 2020. The NCEO will announce its new board in March.

In 2020, there are eleven candidates for election to the NCEO’s board of directors, including five incumbents and six new candidates. Members may vote for up to eight of the candidates. The eight candidates with the greatest count of valid votes will become directors on April 1, 2020. The board may appoint up to three members itself.

Members in good standing have the right to vote for the board, and each member can only cast one ballot. If you would like a ballot and have not received an invitation, please contact Loren Rodgers (LRodgers@nceo.org). 

Candidates are listed below, incumbents first and then new directors, both in alphabetical order.

Incumbents Running for Reelection

Rich Armstrong, Great Game of Business & SRC Holdings

I have long been a strong supporter of NCEO’s mission and I would consider it a privilege and an honor to serve on the NCEO board. My entire career has been focused on improving business success through employee engagement, financial literacy, open-book management, and employee ownership with service as a consultant and as an employee owned company executive. I am passionate about employee ownership and its unique and proven approach to bridging the gap between the “haves and the have nots.” As a board member, I would enjoy helping the NCEO stay true to its mission, while expanding the NCEO’s reach and influence through growth in membership, greater awareness, and innovative employee ownership practices. I am currently the president of The Great Game of Business, Inc. and a senior executive at SRC Holdings Corporation, one of America's top 100 largest majority employee-owned companies. During my 30 years at SRC Holdings, I was active in the development and implementation of our company’s Open-Book Management practices and employee ownership structure and culture. I believe my practical, “first-hand” employee owned company experience, as well as my professional consulting knowledge will help greatly in relating to the needs of the NCEO’s growing membership. I’m also a former board member of the NCEO and have served on the ownership culture committee of the ESOP Association.

Kevin Long, Employee Benefits Law Group pc

I am a Taxation Law Specialist certified by the California State Bar Board of Legal Specialization. In my ESOP-focused law practice over the past 30 years, I have helped guide hundreds of publicly traded and privately held ESOP companies and ERISA fiduciaries. My active support of NCEO since 1989 has included sponsorships, presentations, publications, and special projects. I've served on boards of directors of ESOP companies and have formed and organized 501(c)(3) organizations in other fields of public interest. I have also worked to promote ESOPs through financial institutions, and through professional organizations such as the CalCPA Education Foundation, the American Society of Pension Professionals & Actuaries (ASPPA), and ProVisors, by networking, presenting, and developing accredited courses for professionals and advanced certification course materials on ESOPs. I look forward to applying my industry knowledge and my legal, technical background to advance NCEO's programs and mission at the board level.

Sandra Reid, The Davey Tree Expert Company

Sandra L Reid joined The Davey Tree Expert Company in 1986. She led the development and execution of Davey’s corporate vision and strategy, including the organization’s first formal marketing communications function. As Vice President, Corporate Communications and Strategic Planning, her focus is on responsive strategies to drive measurable improvements in brand optimization, business growth, client engagement and loyalty, employee empowerment and leadership development and mentoring. Ms. Reid holds a BSBA in marketing and public relations from Ohio Northern University and an MAOM in organizational management from University of Phoenix. She is a certified strategic communications management professional and a certified communications management professional through the International Association of Business Communicators. 

Bill Roark, Starfish Holdings, Inc.  

Bill Roark is the founder and CEO of Starfish Holdings, Inc. the parent company of Torch Technologies, the co-founder of Torch Technologies, Inc., and the founder of Freedom Real Estate & Capital, LLC. Roark has over 30 years of Department of Defense-related experience. As CEO of Torch, Roark guided Torch to national recognition as one of Forbes’ Small Giants in the America’s Best Small Companies list and Entrepreneur Magazine’s Top 100 Fastest Growing Companies in America. Among countless other awards, Torch has been recognized thirteen consecutive years on the Inc. 5000 list. Locally, Torch has received the BBB Torch Award for business ethics three times. Roark would work to expand employee ownership to other organizations, and will share the experiences of Torch’s transition to 100% employee-owned S Corporation. Roark earned a M.S. from University of Kentucky and a B.S. from Cumberland College.

Joanne Swerdlin, Swerdlin & Company, an Ascensus Company

I have been working closely with ESOP companies for over 20 years. In addition to being a service provider for administration of now close to 300 ESOPs, we at Swerdlin are passionate about employee ownership. We have become a resource for companies interested in a possible ESOP or other type of equity plan. We have had the opportunity to experience firsthand the huge impact on the culture of companies where various forms of employee ownership exists. I would be proud to continue working with the staff and the other board members to make the NCEO even greater than it already is!

New Candidates for the Board

Victor N. Aspengren, Keltek Inc.

I am an avid supporter of employee ownership and the NCEO. The NCEO has consistently delivered the highest level of content to those considering employee ownership, those that have, and they offer support to any employee owned company that may encounter an issue they do not understand. A board member is there to support the NCEO staff, its mission, and their constituents. I will offer all my knowledge and experience in the employee ownership world to fulfill my duty as a board member. I will also be a team player, honor my commitments and give the time that is needed.

Theodore ("Ted") M. Becker, McDermott Will & Emery LLP

It would be a privilege to serve on the NCEO board to help contribute to its mission and sustainability, specifically in the following areas: (1) providing a legal perspective to help manage potential risks, (2) sharing my knowledge and experience relating to ESOPs and other forms of employee ownership, (3) helping the NCEO expand the development of employee ownership, (4) advising on regulatory risks to ESOPs and ways in which the NCEO help reduce those risks, and (5) suggesting ways in which the NCEO can provide additional value to its members and the ESOP community.

William Carris, Carris Reels Inc.

For over twenty years I have been deeply involved in the employee ownership community. I’ve a strong advocate for employee ownership. I was president on the New England chapter of the ESOP association and the Vermont Employee Ownership Association. My philosophy aligns with the NCEO. I’ll contribute to the board with the right values and knowledge to be a forward looking board member. I led Carris Reels from being a privately held company to a 100% employee owned and governed company. Carris is a values driven company. Our Mission Statement is “To improve the quality for our growing corporate community.” Our logo includes “Customer Driven Employee Owned.” Carris has 750 employees with eight locations in the United States plus one in Mexico and two in Canada. It would be an honor to serve on the board of the NCEO and will work hard to support its mission.

Achaessa James, Equity Plan Solutions LLC

As an equity compensation consultant and in-house administrator, I have worked with numerous innovative plans geared toward increasing employee ownership in creative and valuable ways. My goal as an NCEO director is to start a conversation about equity compensation that goes beyond traditional plans and makes such innovations more well-known, to get private company founders to talk about their reasons for structuring these innovative plans, and to research how these types of plans encourage employee engagement beyond simple stock ownership.   I'd also like to put my experience managing the NCEO's CEP Exam Prep Course to use by utilizing existing course materials to create ancillary programs and materials as marketable products outside the Prep Course itself.

Scott D. Miller, Enterprise Opportunities, LLC

My business background is very complimentary to serving on the NCEO board. I have been the #2 officer, ESOP Trustee, and Director in a large world class manufacturing company with +450 employees. I was instrumental in crafting an ownership culture in this successful company. Following that tenure, I founded ESI Equity, a nationally recognized ESOP consulting and valuation professional services firm. The ESI team has provided valuation services to over 500 ESOP clients and countless fairness opinions to ESOP trustees on leveraged buyouts. I have served on several organizational boards including the AICPA, Exit Planning Institute, The ESOP Association and the Wisconsin Institute of CPAs among others.   I have authored five books on business transactions frequently referencing ESOPs. I have served on the professional faculties speaking for such organizations as the AICPA, NACVA, Exit Planning Institute, NCEO and TEA. I have a long history as a team player of supporting and championing employee ownership and look forward to helping NCEO as a Board member.

Hugh Reynolds, Crowe LLP

For most of my professional career I have worked with employee owned companies. I have supported the ESOP community serving on various related committees and boards, and speaking and writing to help promote ESOP ownership. I will be retiring from Crowe as a full-time partner April 1, 2020, so I have the time and interest to focus on my duties as a Board member of the NCEO. I have non-profit and for-profit board experience and am familiar with good governance and the proper role of a board member. The experiences I had while on Crowe’s Board working on strategic initiatives, as the initiative leader or as a participating member, will be valuable towards fulfilling my role on the NCEO Board. I believe in and am committed to supporting the NCEO’s mission.