A Look At The Proxy Season | Women in the Boardroom

Recorded Webinar

A Look At The Proxy Season

Proxy Season 2021 promises to be like no other.  More than a year into the pandemic and with no definite end in sight, all industries and companies have been affected, often in very different ways.  Proxy advisors have come out with new guidelines, and large holders like State Street have emphasized their continuing stance on ESG issues, and boardroom diversity in particular, which has also been the subject of increasing regulations by Nasdaq and others.  Our panel of experts will discuss how these disparate forces may affect how boards navigate this year’s proxy season.


Howard Brod Brownstein, Alice M. Peterson, Gayle Crowell, Sabrina Hannam, Attorney, Axion

Date & Time

February 24, 2021
12:00 PM ET


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About the Speakers

Howard Brod Brownstein

President, The Brownstein Corporation; Director, P&F Industries (NasdaqGS: PFIN), Merakey, NACD Philadelphia Chapter

Howard Brod Brownstein, CTP, is a nationally-known turnaround and restructuring professional, and regularly provides programs for Women in the Boardroom. He is President of Brownstein Corporation, which provides turnaround management and advisory services, as well as investment banking, fiduciary services, litigation consulting, investigations and valuation services. He regularly serves on the boards of directors of public and private companies, and currently serves on the boards of: P&F Industries (Nasdaq: PFIN) where he chairs the Nominating/Governance and Strategic Planning & Risk Assessment Committees, Renew Financial, where he serves as chair of the Risk Committee, and Merakey, a nonprofit with over 10,000 employees. He is a Certified Turnaround Professional, and also an NACD Board Leadership Fellow and Immediate Past President and Board Chair of the NACD Philadelphia Chapter. He has authored ninety articles and textbook chapters, is a Contributing Editor at two publications, and is a regular guest-lecturer at Harvard Business School, Wharton, NYU and elsewhere. He received JD and MBA degrees at Harvard, and B.S. (Wharton) and B.A. degrees from the University of Pennsylvania.

Alice M. Peterson

Founder, The Loretto Group; Director, SP Plus Corporation (NasdaqGS: SP)

Alice Peterson has served on the boards of large and small, public and private companies, for more than 20 years.  Public company boards include Hanesbrands, 360 Communications (sold to Alltel), Fleming Companies, TBC Corporation, and Williams Partners.  She is currently an independent director at SP Plus Corporation (NASDAQ) where she chairs its Audit Committee, and also serves on a private company board.

After starting her career in large public companies (PepsiCo, Kraft, Sears), Peterson shifted to start-ups and high-growth businesses.  Her early focus was finance and M&A before moving to general management roles.  After running the Treasury and Corporate Finance functions at Sears during the company’s break-up (mid-1990s), she headed the Sears Online business in 1999, growing revenue from zero to $500 million in 18 months.  

She left the Fortune 100 world and in 2002 founded Syrus Global.  Syrus created a technology platform to provide risk management, ethics and compliance solutions for businesses. This B2B2C was acquired by a public company in 2009.  She stayed with the acquiring company through 2011 to open and grow markets in Europe, the Middle East and Asia.

Peterson currently consults to the cannabis industry, building on a recent role as Executive Vice President of Operations for Fluresh, a cannabis grower, processor, manufacturer and retailer in Michigan.  There, she was responsible for bringing together the people, processes and systems to build velocity into the core business model.  She was part of the team that took the company to its leading position today.  With a strong finance and operations underpinning, her reach at Fluresh extended to brand, technology, human resources, and supply chain.

Prior to joining Fluresh, Ms. Peterson ran a healthcare start-up where she raised capital and operationalized the founder’s concept.  She had previously worked in private equity, buying and selling companies with her partners.  She started and ran Big Shoulders Capital, an asset-based lender.  Through her consulting firm, The Loretto Group, she currently helps businesses achieve sustainable profitability, operational scaling, and winning cultures.  

She is a member of the Economic Club of Chicago, The Chicago Network, the International Women’s Forum, and the board of trustees of Ravinia Festival.  She holds an MBA in finance from Vanderbilt University, and lives in Highland Park, Illinois, a north shore suburb of Chicago.

Gayle Crowell

Director, Envestnet (NYSE: ENV), Hercules Capital (NYSE: HTGC), Pliant Therapeutics (NasdaqGS: PLRX), Resman, Watermark

Gayle is a highly experienced Board Director, CEO, C suite executive, strategic business advisor, executive coach and speaker with extensive experience in both venture capital and private equity backed technology companies.  She spent the last decade as a Sr. Strategic Business Advisor across the portfolio of one of the leading global private equity firms, Warburg Pincus working closely with high growth technology, financial services, logistics and healthcare companies.

Gayle Crowell’s role with Warburg Pincus represented the culmination of an outstanding operating career in the tech sector. An active technology leader in the Silicon Valley, Gayle honed her management and operational skills with executive roles at leading software companies, including Oracle Corporation, E.piphany, RightPoint Software, View Star, Mosaix, Recognition International, DSC, and Cubix Corporation. Through the years, she successfully led several  companies through challenging turnarounds and has had multiple successful exits. 

Leveraging her extensive experience in operations, sales and organizational management, Gayle works closely with leading high growth companies to help drive business strategy, accelerate revenue growth, evaluate market opportunities and build world-class management teams. As a former CEO, Gayle understands the challenges senior leaders face in building sustainable, long-term world-class businesses in today’s very competitive environment. Her hands-on knowledge, coupled with a keen perspective into the capital markets brings a unique and valued viewpoint to the companies she advises. She brings very deep expertise with winning go to market strategies and execution. She has wide experience across many successful business models in the B2B space as well as leveraging her extensive knowledge of SaaS market.  She has been a leader in helping companies discover and develop profitable data monetization models into their core business.  Gayle has participated in a large number of M&A transactions, resulting in significant returns to the investors.

She currently serves as an independent corporate Board member of three public boards: Envestnet (ENV), Hercules Capital (HTGC), Pliant Therapeutics (PRX) and one private board: Resman.  She has extensive Director experience as a public and private Board member, having served as a Chairman, Lead Director or Independent Director for over twenty five public and private corporations driving value creation at the highest level for customers, employees and shareholders alike. She is currently the Chairman of the Compensation Committee for HTGC and the  Compliance and Info Security Committee for ENV.  She serves on the Audit committee at PLRX and the Nominating and Governance committee at both ENV and PLRX.

On the nonprofit side, she also serves as a Fellow of the prestigious Desert Research Foundation, a world leader in environmental research. In addition, she served as Chairman and on the National Board of Directors for Watermark, a non-profit women’s executive organization. Gayle is also a frequent speaker on the significant value creation and competitive advantages that result from having diverse and inclusive workplaces and organizations.  Lastly, as a passionate environmentalist, she is the co-founder of www.conservingnow.com, a large community of earth-friendly individuals who care deeply about children and the future of our planet.

She is a member of the National Association of Corporate Board members (NACD), Women Corporate Directors(WCD), Boardlist, Athena Alliance, Women in the Boardroom, Women Who Lead, Digital Directors Network, 2020 Women on Boards and Watermark.

Sabrina Hannam, Attorney, Axion

Advisory Board Member of Structured Finance, Opal Group

Sabrina Hannam is a recognized financial services industry C‐Suite leader and Board advisor with a strong history across all facets of finance and experience in advising companies with corporate finance, aircraft financings, mergers and acquisitions, private equity, corporate governance, and risk assessment. Ms. Hannam’s extensive practical and technical expertise in navigating the aerospace market through regulatory change and major transactions offers Board of Directors important perspective on the evolving financial services industry and regulatory environment. Ms. Hannam gained extensive experience presenting to the Board of Directors on Executive Compensation since the inception of Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002 and interacting with audit committees.

Ms. Hannam has been a corporate governance leader throughout her career as advisor for Onex Corporation, UBS AG in connection with Aerfunding 1 Limited, TPG Credit Management, L.P. for Flybe Airline, JPMorgan Chase & Co., Citicorp North America, Inc., Mizuho Corporate Bank, Bank of America, N.A. and Deutsche Bank AG, London; highlights include the $2,650,000,000 acquisition of 102 commercial aircraft, 11 Airbus airplanes by Aviation Capital Group Corp.

Ms. Hannam’s experience in private equity has afforded her a deepened exposure to understanding varied business models, practices, strategies and environments and assessing value in both established and emerging markets.

Most recently, Ms. Hannam serves as Chief Legal Officer to various start-ups and technology companies. Previously, Ms. Hannam served as the Chairman and Chief Executive Officer with operational P&L responsibility for her multi-million dollar eponymous company, a boutique advisory firm focused on delivering growth through both profitability and purpose for the financial services industry. Ms. Hannam has served as trusted advisor to the international financier and Chairman of the Board of Barclays Center and the Brooklyn Nets to evaluate a key strategic business unit of a separate company. Ms. Hannam’s corporate boardroom deliberations include mergers and acquisitions, divestitures, a spin-off, and post-merger integration implementation.

Following her last consulting role advising Goldman Sachs Group, Inc. a highly regulated business under pressure to transform, Ms. Hannam left to start her firm to fuel her passion for helping businesses grow by providing strategy, leadership and guidance to clients in this fast‐changing financial services environment.

Ms. Hannam began her career as corporate attorney and board advisor at major New York law firms including, Arnold Porter Kaye Scholer LLP where she was responsible for a diverse portfolio of international businesses that spanned a variety of heavily regulated and consumer based industries, including aerospace, health care and pharmaceuticals; highlights include collaborating with the CEO and advising the board of directors on the acquisition and setting the table for an Initial Public Offering of the common stock of Spirit AeroSystems Holdings, Inc. Ms. Hannam serves as Lecturer in Corporate Finance at Columbia University Graduate School of Professional Studies. Ms. Hannam is also a business mentor to early-stage founders including the Echoing Green Foundation that uses the venture capital investment model to earn a total of $5.7BN.

Ms. Hannam holds a Certificate in Business and Public Policy in the Wharton Certificate Program from The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, earned her Juris Doctorate from the University of Pennsylvania Law School, was a Juris Doctorate candidate at the University of California, Berkeley School of Law (Boalt Hall) and is a graduate of John Jay College.

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