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2013 Speaker Bios

April 28 30, 2013 at the Boca Raton Resort & Club

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National Club Conference Speaker Bios


Bernard “Robin” Baker
Gunster Law Firm
“Employment Law Issues for Private Clubs”

Bernard “Robin” Baker, III is currently of counsel to Gunster Law Firm. He also serves as president of Premier Title Company, the firm’s affiliated title insurance agency. Baker’s practice areas include private clubs, leisure and resorts, golf and amenities, master, planned community development, club membership plans and real estate development and finance.

Baker is a member of the Florida and Ohio State Bars and was awarded Florida Bar President’s Award for Meritorious Public Service. He is AV Rated as independently determined by Martindale-Hubbel. He is a frequent contributor, author and speaker for the leisure and hospitality industries, as well as a permanent faculty member of the Harvard University School of Design.

Baker attended the University of Toledo for his undergraduate studies and earned his J.D. at Case Western Reserve University.


Daniel T. Condon
Founding Partner, Condon O’Meara McGinty & Donnelly LLP
“Exceptional Board Practices: Case Studies in Board Leadership”

Dan Condon is one of the founding partners of Condon O’Meara McGinty & Donnelly LLP. He is also a member of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants and the New York and Connecticut Society of Certified Public Accountants. In addition to 25+ years’ experience working with not-for-profit organizations, he has served on the New York State Society of Certified Public Accountants’ Accounting for Nonprofit Organizations Committee.

Condon is a member of the Northeastern University Corporation Board and has served on the university’s Audit Committee; he is also the treasurer of Nazareth Housing Inc., a not-for-profit organization providing housing for the homeless on the Lower East Side.

He has written articles on not-for-profit issues and spoken to not-for-profit organizations on topics such as fraud and defalcations and creating financial statements, as well as accounting and internal control procedures manuals.

Condon earned a Bachelor of Business Administration from Northeastern University.


Linda Crompton
Former President & CEO, BoardSource | Principal, Crompton Consulting, LLC
“Trends in Board Development: What It Takes to Provide Sustained Leadership”

Linda was the President & CEO of BoardSource  (formerly the National Center for NonProfit Boards) from 2007 until February 2013, when she left to form her own consulting practice—Crompton Consulting, LLC.

With more than 25 years’ experience as a CEO in both the nonprofit and for-profit sectors, she has also served on dozens of boards and federal commissions, and was Canada’s first female bank president. She brings a broad base of knowledge and experience in organizational effectiveness, governance and sustainability to her work helping management and board teams maximize their potential.

Crompton holds B.A., M.A., and MBA degrees and is a frequent speaker on high-performing boards, leading change in the emerging economy, and governance for a new era.


Ray Cronin
Co-Founder & CEO, Club Benchmarking
“Trends in Benchmarking for Clubs: Bringing a Business Focus to Decision Making”

Ray Cronin has 30 years’ experience leading high-technology companies with significant expertise in building teams and navigating early startup phases.

Club Benchmarking’s online software platform allows private clubs to benchmark their financial and operational performance against other clubs. Cronin has spoken at numerous industry conferences and has presented the concept of strategic benchmarking and the Available Cash Model to club boards across the country.

In addition to his Club Benchmarking duties, Cronin is vice president of Thorny Lea Golf Club in Brockton, Mass. and is a member of the board of So Can You, a community foundation. He received a BSEE from Worcester Polytechnic Institute in 1980 and an MBA from Harvard Business School in 1985.


Daniel Denehy, CCM, CHA
President, Club Thinking Partners
“Exceptional Board Practices:  Case Studies in Board Leadership”

Dan Denehy is president of Club Thinking Partners, an executive search and management consulting practice specializing in private clubs and boutique resorts. From 2001 to 2009, Denehy was president of the Consulting Group of John Sibbald Associates, the oldest and largest executive search and management consulting firm specializing in private clubs and resorts in America.

His background also includes senior management experience with the Walt Disney Company and the Boca Raton Resort & Club. Before joining the firm, Denehy served for 12 years as chief operating officer of the Greenwich Country Club, a 113-year-old Platinum Club of America. His prior management experience also includes several high profile and exclusive private clubs.

Denehy earned his undergraduate degree in hotel administration and finance from Bryant College and continued in the MBA program at Cornell University. He earned his CCM in 1988, at which time he was the youngest Certified Club Manager in the country.

The Honorable Ronald Dion "Ron" DeSantis (R-FL) 
U. S. House of Representatives

On January 3, 2013, Ron DeSantis was sworn in as a member of the U.S. House of Representatives as the federal representative for Florida’s sixth congressional district, which encompasses St. Johns and Flagler counties, as well as large portions of Volusia and Putnam counties.


A native Floridian with blue collar roots, Ron worked his way through Yale University, where he earned a bachelor of arts, magna cum laude, and was the captain of the varsity baseball team. He also graduated with honors from Harvard Law School.


While at Harvard, Ron earned a commission in the United States Navy as a JAG officer. During his active duty service, he served as a military prosecutor, supported operations at the terrorist detention center in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba and deployed to Iraq during the 2007 troop surge as an advisor to a U.S. Navy SEAL commander in support of the SEAL mission in Iraq. His military awards include the Bronze Star Medal (meritorious service) and the Iraq Campaign Medal.


He has also served as a federal prosecutor, prosecuting a wide range of cases involving offenses such as child exploitation, fraud, and interference with military air navigation.


He has written on constitutional first principles in various outlets and in his book, Dreams From Our Founding Fathers: First Principles in the Age of Obama.

Ron lives in Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla., with his wife, Casey Black DeSantis, an Emmy award-winning television host. He is currently an officer in the U.S. Navy reserve.

Dr. William Ivers
CEO, Clubessential, LLC
“Technology Innovation and The Future of Private Clubs: A Panel Discussion with Industry Leaders”

For more than 30 years Dr. Ivers has stood at the forefront of technological advancements in the software industry. He has founded several companies, one of which became an Inc. 500 software marketing firm. Dr. Ivers earned a bachelor’s degree in combined sciences from Yale University, a Ph.D. in applied oceanography from the Scripps Institution, and an OPM Business Management degree from Harvard University.


Kevin Kopanon
President & CEO, MembersFirst
“Technology Innovation and The Future of Private Clubs: A Panel Discussion with Industry Leaders"

As President and CEO, Kopanon is responsible for the overall growth, profitability and strategic vision of MembersFirst. Formerly the business development and marketing leader for McGladrey's New England region, he brings more than 10 years’ experience in providing strategic initiative and business development leadership.

Kopanon has also held several positions of leadership within software, media and publishing companies, all of which focused on building scalable and profitable sales and marketing channels. In addition to his responsibilities at MembersFirst, Kopanon has spent more than 10 years in various roles including finance committee member, board member, vice president and club president at Bass Rocks Golf Club in Gloucester, Mass. Kopanon and his family are also active members at three private clubs located in and around Boston.


Ray McDonald
CEO, ClubSoft North America
“Technology Innovation and The Future of Private Clubs: A Panel Discussion with Industry Leaders”

A native of North Carolina, McDonald graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 1988 with a B.A. in economics. From 1990 until 1994 McDonald worked under John McConnell as a regional sales manager for Medic Computer Systems. After leaving the software business for five years he was reunited with McConnell in 1999 and picked to manage the sales team for A4 HealthSystems.

As a member of the McConnell team, McDonald helped to build A4 into one of the market leaders in electronic medical records. The company was sold to Allscripts in 2006 and a year later McDonald once again joined John McConnell—but this time they took their business skills to the private club industry.

In 2007 McDonald joined McConnell Golf as the vice president of sales and marketing. Today the company owns and operates six exclusive private clubs in the Carolinas. With the merger of McConnell Golf and ClubSoft, McDonald has been tapped as the new CEO of the ClubSoft division. The combination of managing the membership and marketing of six clubs along with working in the software industry for 15 of the last 20 years allows McDonald to bring a unique perspective to the challenges of the private club market.


Brian McPherson
Gunster Law Firm
“Employment Law Issues for Private Clubs”

Brian McPherson is a shareholder at Gunster Law Firm. He is a member of the firm’s labor and employment practice and focuses on labor and employment litigation as well as counseling and complex commercial litigation. McPherson earned his B.A., cum laude, from Samford University, his M.S. with honors from the University of Florida and his J.D., magna cum laude, from the University of Florida Levin College of Law.


Philip G. Newman
Partner, McGladrey, LLP
“Trends in Benchmarking for Clubs: Bringing a Business Focus to Decision Making”

Philip Newman has more than 20 years’ experience in public accounting, predominantly serving the private club industry. In his national leadership role for private clubs with McGladrey, LLP, Newman is responsible for projects throughout the United States including assurance engagements, internal control and governance reviews, operational consulting, benchmarking studies and the development and delivery of education programs for club boards, CEOs and CFOs.

He has served on the Global Board of Hospitality Financial and Technology Professionals, contributes articles to industry publications, and is a frequent speaker at regional and national conferences for the National Club Association, HFTP, and the Club Managers Association of America.

McGladrey LLP, a leading U.S. provider of assurance, tax and consulting services focused on the middle market, was recently ranked as the fifth largest accounting, tax and business consulting firm in the United States for the seventh consecutive year by Accounting Today.


Stephen Ready
President, VCT | Founder & Managing Director, INSPIRED
“Technology Innovation and The Future of Private Clubs: A Panel Discussion with Industry Leaders”

Stephen Ready is the founder and president of VCT, a leading provider of member experience advisory and managed services for private social clubs and their members. He has served as VCT’s president for 12 years, working with the leading clubs in the country and helping VCT to become a leader in member communications and engagement.

Ready regularly speaks at national and global conferences on the subject of member experience. He is a featured speaker at NCA’s National Club Conference, the annual Club Managers Association of America Conference, the IHRSA World Conference, at CMAA chapter meetings and at regional conferences held by PCMA, HFTP and PCMP. He is also a regular contributor to Club Director and Club Management magazines and serves as the publisher of ACTIVATE! Magazine, a monthly ePublication providing education, case studies, and best practices on enhancing the member experience.

Additionally, Ready is the Founder of INSPIRED, a new organization dedicated to raising funds for nonprofits through inspiring fundraising events—online and offline. In this role, Ready is currently working with the Newtown Memorial Fund, whose mission is to assist those affected by the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary.  Ready also serves on the board of directors for the National Club Association Foundation, helping to support the future of the social club industry through research, education and initiatives that benefit the entire club community. A graduate of Lehigh University, Ready currently resides in Boston with his wife Maria and two sons, Noah and Lucas.


Merrie Spaeth
President, Spaeth Communication
“Crisis Communication: Being Prepared for the Unexpected”

Merrie Spaeth has a unique background in media, government, politics, business and entertainment. She is a pioneer in communication theory, executive training and coaching. Spaeth is acknowledged as one of the most influential communication counselors in the world.

In 1987, she founded Spaeth Communications, Inc., which provides strategic communication counseling and training for a wide range of individuals, companies and institutions. Spaeth has coached thousands of executives who want to become more effective communicators, improve their presentation skills and ultimately expand their leadership capabilities. She gives clients a proven approach to communication and teaches them how to structure remarks and presentations to take their careers to a higher level.

A cum laude graduate of Smith College and a graduate of Columbia Business School, she is a Business Leadership Center instructor at Southern Methodist University’s Cox School of Business where she teaches “Communication as a Strategic Business Tool,” “Storytelling as a Strategic Business Tool,” and “Humor as a Leadership Tool.” Merrie speaks on these topics and more to companies and associations in virtually every industry.


Brad D. Steele
Vice President of Government Relations & General Counsel, National Club Association
“Complying with the Affordable Care Act: Implementing the New Health Care Law”

As the National Club Association’s chief lawyer and lobbyist, Brad Steele brings a wealth of knowledge from the executive, legislative and judicial branches of government to the position of vice president of government relations and general counsel.

Steele earned his bachelor’s degree in government and politics from George Mason University, where he graduated with highest distinction. He then began his time in government by working for the vice president of the United States, for a member of Congress, and then as a senior staffer with a national political committee.

Steele studied law in England at Oxford University and earned his degree from the University of Oklahoma. Upon graduation, Steele returned to his home state of Indiana and opened his own law firm where he practiced for more than 12 years. In addition, Steele also served as a county, city and town attorney for communities throughout the state and as a judge of an Indiana court.

While in Indiana, Steele returned to the political arena as a candidate for the United States Congress and the Indiana State House of Representatives. In 2007, Steele joined the National Club Association and has served as the voice of the private club industry on Capitol Hill for the past six years.


Robyn Nordin Stowell
Partner, Stinson Morrison Hecker
“Employment Law Issues for Private Clubs”

Stowell has very broad and unique experience in golf course and private club matters. She represents private clubs, developers and member groups in the purchase, sale, financing, turnover and conversion of golf and private club assets.

She routinely helps clubs revise their governing documents and update their operations to incorporate best practices and legal compliance.  She is retained by clubs around the country to address ongoing operational legal issues and discipline matters.

Stowell has been recognized by Golf Inc. as one of its “Recommended Lawyers” and by BoardRoom Magazine as Educator of the Year, Lawyer of the Year and Most Prominent Women in the Gold Industry.  She serves on the board of the National Club Association and is a regular speaker for Club Managers Association of America.

Stowell received her J.D. from the Georgetown University Law Center.


Prasad Suryadevara
CEO, Northstar Technologies, Inc.
“Technology Innovation and The Future of Private Clubs: A Panel Discussion with Industry Leaders”

In 2002, Suryadevara founded Northstar to bring state of the art technology to the club industry. As a founder, Suryadevara has been involved in Northstar from the very beginning, focusing on the product roadmap, sales and marketing.

After finishing his master’s degree in computer science at Florida Tech, Suryadevara started his professional career at AT&T Universal Card Services in 1990, where he served as the architect and technical lead for AT&T's Universal Windows project for customer service that won the prestigious Malcolm Baldridge Quality Award. After his time with AT&T, Suryadevara played a key role in Motorola's joint venture with Imonics to develop a document management and workflow automation product.

In 1997, Suryadevara founded Spectrum Technologies, a systems integration company and successfully expanded operations to 12 countries to serve several multinational companies. Under Suryadevara's leadership, Spectrum pioneered the building of large-scale, mission-critical business and operation support systems for Telecom companies like Vodaphone, British Telecom and Verizon.

Barry Symons
CEO, Jonas Software
“Technology Innovation and The Future of Private Clubs: A Panel Discussion with Industry Leaders”

Since joining Jonas in late 2007, Symons has led a resurgence in growth by focusing on Jonas’ mission of being a premier supplier of software and services. Prior to joining Jonas, Symons spent 11 years with Constellation Software (Jonas’ parent company). Symons joined Constellation in its infancy and advanced with the organization, culminating in his role as CFO, where he helped lead Constellation’s successful IPO.

Outside of his work experience, Symons holds an honours business degree and a Chartered Accountancy designation, both of which were received with distinction. Symons also has an active community footprint including coaching youth sports and sitting on volunteer committees such as the Club Foundation Board. Symons was recently honoured as one of Canada’s Top 40 Under 40 award recipients.


Frank J. Vain
President, McMahon Group, Inc.
“Top Ten Megatrends for Clubs: What’s Changing & How to Respond”

Frank Vain is president of McMahon Group, Inc. He provides consulting and planning services to private clubs throughout North America and Asia. Through use of specialized services including membership surveys, strategic planning, operational analysis and facility long-range planning, Vain assists clubs in developing individualized strategies for their unique situations.

Vain joined McMahon Group, Inc. in 1988 and has more than 30 years’ experience in the management and development of hospitality properties including private clubs, athletic clubs, resorts and restaurants. He is a past president of The Country Club of St. Albans, a full-service country club with 800 members and two golf courses that is included on the list of the Platinum Clubs of America.

Vain is a native of Philadelphia and a graduate of Franklin & Marshall College, Lancaster, Pennsylvania. He is a featured speaker at regional chapter meetings of club managers and at college hotel and restaurant management departments. He has written numerous articles that have been published in Club Director and Club Management magazines. Since its inception in 1991, Vain has researched and produced McMahon Club Trends®, a recognized industry benchmark on the trends and issues affecting private clubs.



Cancellations/Refunds: Should any attendee need to cancel a registration, NCA will provide a full refund for all categories of 2013 National Club Conference registration under the following conditions: for a refund to be provided, the cancellation request must be made in writing and acknowledged by the National Club Association no later than 5:00 p.m. EDT April 12, 2013. Refunds will not be given after this time.

Thank you to the sponsors of the 2013 National Club Conference:

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