Skip to main content

COB alumni and new Hall of Fame members to speak at Business Week

Jim Tyree, chairman and CEO of Mesirow Financial and an Illinois State University alumnus, will be the keynote speaker for Illinois State’s Business Week 2009, March 30 – April 3. Events during Business Week will also include a presentation on effective job interviews, a business networking dinner, seminars on careers and money management, presentations by College of Business alumni and workshops on business leadership. Alumni are welcome to join the College of Business for the 2009 Business Week. Visit the College of Business Web site for complete information on speakers and locations.

Tyree ’78, ’80 MBA will speak on “An Illinois State Focus Taken in Many Directions” at 2 p.m. on Wednesday, April 1.

Eight new members will be inducted into the College of Business Hall of Fame during Business Week. College of Business Alumni Hall of Fame inductees are LaVerne Council ’86, corporate vice president and CIO, Johnson & Johnson; Andrew Jackson ’80, president, BravoTECH Inc.; Dan Rutherford ‘78, vice president, ServiceMaster Company and Illinois state senator; Stefanos “Scottie” Venable ’86, managing partner, PrivateBank, lieutenant colonel, U.S. Army Reserve; and James Schlesser ’74, partner, Deloitte Tax LLP.

College of Business Hall of Fame Service Award Winners are Vern McGinnis, retired vice president of strategic planning and corporate services at GROWMARK; Jack North, retired senior executive vice president of financial services at State Farm; and Sharon Rossmark, retired assistant vice president of agency distribution at Allstate Insurance.

Jim Tyree

Illinois State graduate James C. Tyree serves as chairman and chief executive officer of Mesirow Financial, a diversified financial services firm headquartered in Chicago. Mesirow Financial is an employee-owned, private company with more than 1,100 employees in 30 locations across the United States, Puerto Rico and London. Tyree’s entire career has been with Mesirow Financial. He joined the firm in 1980 as a research associate and rose through the ranks to be named president in 1990, chief executive officer in 1992, and chairman and chief executive officer in 1994.

Throughout his career, Tyree has served on more than 50 corporate, civic and not-for-profit boards of directors. In 2007, he was appointed to the board of PrivateBancorp Inc. In 2000, Mayor Daley appointed Tyree as chairman of the Board of City Colleges of Chicago, an organization with seven colleges and over 113,000 students. In addition Tyree is the chairman for the Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce and currently serves on the boards of The Executives’ Club of Chicago, Illinois State University Foundation, Roosevelt University, Illinois Education Foundation, University of Chicago Medical Center, and Big Shoulders Fund.

Tyree was chairman of the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation International from 2006 to 2008 and continues to serve on its executive committee and board of directors. He has held various leadership positions with the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, Illinois Chapter, including member-at-large of its executive committee, a life member of its board of directors, and was named its 2004 Person of the Year.

Tyree and his wife, Eve, their daughter, Jessica, and twin sons, Matthew and Joseph, reside in Chicago.

LaVerne Council

As corporate vice president and chief information officer, LaVerne H. Council oversees Johnson & Johnson’s global information technology group. In this capacity, Council is responsible for managing information technology and related systems for the Johnson & Johnson worldwide enterprise. She is a member of the Corporate Global Operating Committee. Her organization includes more than 250 operating companies, over 4,000 information management employees, and a budget of over $1.9 billion.

Council accepted her current position at Johnson & Johnson in 2006 as a proven leader with a demonstrated track record of achievement that includes a wealth of global experience in information technology, supply chain management and business operations. Before joining Johnson & Johnson, Council was global vice president for information technology, Global Business Solutions and Development Services for Dell, Inc.

Council is actively involved in her community, serving on the Board of Trustees for the March of Dimes, chair of the board of Liberty Science Center and a member of many other industry advisory councils. In 2008, Council was selected by Loyola University as the 2008 IT Executive of the Year, nominated for the 2008 CIO Hall of Fame and selected by the Global CIO Executive Summit as a 2008 Top Ten Leader and Innovator. She was featured on the cover of the March 2008 edition of CIO magazine and was selected for Forbes’ 2007 list of Technology Power Women.

Council holds a bachelor’s degree in business from Western Illinois University, graduating with highest honors. She also has an MBA in operations management from Illinois State University.

Andrew Jackson

In 1996, Andrew C. Jackson cofounded Bravo Technical Resources, Inc. (BravoTECH), a business technology, professional services and IT staff augmentation firm. BravoTECH now services the entire United States from its headquarters in Dallas.

Jackson has been in the Texas Association of Business since 1986, serving as chairman of the Dallas and Fort Worth chapters. He is on the associate board of SMU Cox School of Business, Metroplex Technology Business Council and is the CEO of Netweavers. He is also an active member in the Technology Executive Networking Group, Society for Information Management and the National Association of Computer Consultant Businesses, and was an active member of the American Electronics Association. Jackson has been involved in the North Texas chapter of the National Kidney Foundation and the National Multiple Sclerosis Society.

Jackson received his bachelor’s degree in 1980 from Illinois State and currently resides in Colleyville, Texas, with his wife, Patty, and their two children.

Dan Rutherford

Dan Rutherford is currently a state senator and vice president of ServiceMaster Company.

Following his graduation from Illinois State, where he served as student body president, Rutherford began his career as a legislative assistant in Springfield and served as the statewide executive director of Illinois for Ronald Reagan in his first presidential election.

Following Reagan’s inauguration, Rutherford served as liaison between the Thompson Administration and the Reagan White House for executive branch appointments. He became head of the International Business Division of the Illinois Department of Commerce, overseeing trade and promotions offices. Later Rutherford joined the ServiceMaster Company.

Senator Rutherford was first elected to the Illinois Senate in 2002, following a 10-year term in the Illinois House of Representatives. He has visited all of the continents and has back-packed across Europe, led safaris in Kenya and competed in regattas in Melbourne, Australia. Rutherford’s passion is scuba diving. He is an advanced certified diver with more than 200 dives.

Stefanos “Scottie” Venable

Lieutenant Colonel Stefanos “Scottie” Venable is currently a managing director for The PrivateBank in Chicago, in charge of all loan, syndications and capital market operations.

After graduating from Illinois State in 1986, Venable joined G. Heileman Brewing Company as an area sales manager in Central Illinois. He also joined the U.S. Army Reserves after receiving his commission as a second lieutenant from Illinois State’s Army ROTC program.

In 1987, Venable moved to Chicago and joined the CM Financial group as a broker. While at CM Financial, he became a top salesperson and moved into a manager position to recruit, hire and train his own sales force. After four years of developing his own brokerage business, Venable went to the University of Illinois to work on his MBA. While going to school at night, he became a deputy treasurer for Cook County. In 1998, Venable ran for the position of Cook County commissioner.

In 1998, Venable received an MBA and became a vice president with LaSalle Bank in Chicago, running financial operations. In 1999, he was activated in the U.S. Army and deployed to the European Province of Kosovo. After a successful tour of duty, Venable returned to LaSalle Bank to run their global purchasing and accounts payable functions. Upon his second return from duty in December 2007, Venable joined Bank of America as a senior vice president, continuing his role as the organization’s lead for global offshore operations.

This past September, Venable moved to The PrivateBank assisting in the start-up of commercial operations leading from an asset base of $4 billion to over $9 billion. He has been married to his wife, Deborah, for 10 years and they have three children, Valeria-Jean, Joshua and Zachary.

James Schlesser

James Schlesser has been a partner within Deloitte Tax LLP for over 22 years, with 32 total years at the organization. After completing his mathematics and accounting degrees at Illinois State, Schlesser entered the work force as an auditor. In the early 1980s, he transferred from auditing to tax consultanting to expand his technical skills and develop an area of specialization and expertise.

While working with manufacturing and distribution industry clients, Schlesser developed an expertise in serving the tax and business consulting needs of Japanese-owned companies and later became the leader for the Japanese Service Group of the firm’s Midwest region. Schlesser became a member of the firm’s tax education committee and was a lead instructor, serving as the dean of numerous tax courses.

Schlesser served as the Chicago office and Midwest region tax managing partner prior to his decision to focus on regulatory and risk management issues for the tax function. In June 2007, he transferred to the Washington D.C. office to be a national partner within the risk management group.

Schlesser was elected president of the board of education of the Naperville School Board and has been actively involved in two nonprofit organizations, Samaritan Interfaith Counseling Center and the DuPage Public Action to Deliver Shelter, Inc.

In 1976, Schlesser became the first Illinois State student to earn the Illinois CPA Society Gold Medal for the highest scores on the CPA exam in the State of Illinois, and later earned the AIC PA Elijah Watts Sells award for one of the highest scores in the country.

Schlesser and his wife, Kathy, have four children spread throughout the country as well as three grandchildren.

Vern McGinnis

Vern McGinnis attended Illinois State University’s School of Agriculture before receiving his degree in agriculture from the University of Illinois. He earned his master’s in agricultural economics in 1965.

McGinnis retired from GROWMARK in 2007 after 42 years with the company. Since 1965, he progressed his way through the company in the areas of marketing research, corporate planning, market development, corporate communications and member services. From 1986–2007, McGinnis was on the executive management staff as the vice president of corporate services, vice president of finance, and retired from the company as the vice president of strategic planning and corporate services.

Outside of work McGinnis has been involved in professional and corporate affiliations such as the American Marketing Association, National Council of Farmer Cooperatives, Agricultural Cooperative Development International, and Inter-Provincial Cooperative Organization of Canada. He is actively involved in the Illinois State College of Business Advisory Council, United Way of McLean County, McLean County Chamber of Commerce, and Chamber of Commerce and Economic Development. McGinnis is on the Healthcare System Board and the Foundation Board of BroMenn Medical Center.

One of McGinnis’ last efforts at GROWMARK was to lead a project to establish a Leadership Development program for company employees through the Illinois State College of Business.

Jack North

Jack North retired in 2007 as a senior executive vice president for State Farm Insurance Companies. His State Farm career began in 1981 when he was appointed as an agent in western Pennsylvania. North was promoted to agency manager in suburban Pittsburgh and agency director in Wilkes-Barre, Pa.

North and his family moved to Bloomington in 1992 when he was named executive assistant in the president’s office. He was appointed deputy regional vice president in the Illinois Office of State Farm in Bloomington and soon after became regional vice president. In 1998, North was asked to join the president’s office as a senior vice president. He had numerous responsibilities during his nine years in the president’s office/chairman’s council, retiring as a member of the office of the chairman.

North is a board member of the Timber Pointe Charitable Foundation and a member of the foundation board at Second Presbyterian Church in Bloomington. He is the president of the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame board of directors, a reflection of his long-time commitment to advancing women’s athletics.

North earned his bachelor’s degree in education from Indiana University of Pennsylvania and his master’s degree in education from Slippery Rock State University as well as CLU and CHFC designations. North and his wife, Kim, are the parents of Corey, an Illinois State graduate, who is currently a State Farm agent in Peoria. Their daughter, Shelby, is a first grade teacher in Plainfield.

Sharon Rossmark

Sharon Rossmark is an business leader with a 30-year track record in the areas of sales strategy, implementation, change management and process management. She has extensive expertise in developing breakthrough strategies to drive revenue from independent contractor distribution systems. Rossmark is also the named inventor on six corporate patents.

As assistant vice president of agency distribution for the Allstate Insurance Company, Rossmark led a $30 million division responsible for business support of the organization’s 14,000 exclusive agencies. She led a cross-functional team to develop a turnkey process to reduce new agency expenses by 30 percent, which saved over $2 million in its first year. Rossmark also headed the development and introduction of a new agency deployment model to strategically place agencies for market optimization. She is recognized for pioneering the establishment of Allstate’s first research and development location to serve as an enterprise resource and customer-facing laboratory to re-engineer, test and evaluate new approaches to the retail insurance environment.

Rossmark is a past board member of the Allstate Foundation and is currently on the boards of the Sinai Health System and the College of Business Advisory Board of Illinois State. She serves on the Katie School of Insurance Board, the Oakton Community College Educational Foundation Board Investments Committee and the Chicago Human Rhythm Project. Rossmark holds an MBA from the University of Illinois – Chicago. She and her husband reside in Northbrook.

Comments