2023 Gateway Credit Conference


Credit, Collections… And All That Jazz, the “jazz” being the latest topics, technologies and, of course, the connections with your fellow professionals, both new and old, at this year’s Gateway Credit Conference. Orlando’s Banquet and Event Center in Maryland Heights, MO is again conference central. The NACM/ChicagoMidwest Board of Directors, NACM Gateway Education and Scholarship Committees along with Association staff look forward to seeing you there on September 20 and 21.

For more information please contact Lillian Novak at lillian.novak@nacmconnect.org.

Orlando’s Banquet & Event Center   |   2050 Dorsett Road
Maryland Heights, MO 63043

Andrew Behlmann

Counsel, Lowenstein Sandler

Andrew leverages his background in corporate finance and management to approach restructuring problems, both in and out of court, from a practical, results-oriented perspective. With a focus on building consensus among multiple parties that have competing priorities, Andrew is equally at home both in and out of the courtroom, and has a track record of turning financial distress into positive business outcomes. Clients value his counsel in complex Chapter 11 cases, where he represents debtors, creditors’ committees, purchasers, and investors. Andrew writes and speaks frequently about bankruptcy matters and financial issues. Before becoming a lawyer, he worked in senior financial management at a midsized, privately held company.


Chris Birdwell

Credit Strategies Manager,  Pioneer Balloon

Chris Birdwell has been in credit management for over 30 years. The past 27 years with Pioneer Balloon Company, becoming the Credit Strategies Manager in 2002. He’s served as a board member for the National Promotional Products Credit Group through NACM North Central since 1999, serving as Chairman 2003 – 2005. Chris became a member of Wichita’s Credit and Finance Development Division chapter in 2013 and membership voted him president in January of 2016. And currently Chris is the CFDD National Chairman. Chris has given multiple presentations including special opportunities to present during the National CFDD Conference in 2017, Connect Annual Meeting and Credit Congress 2022. Chris and his wife Lee Ann celebrated their 34rd anniversary in March and have two adult sons, a dog, and a fuzzy feline.


Wanda Borges, Esq.

Principal, Borges & Associates

For more than forty years, Ms. Borges has concentrated her practice on commercial litigation and creditors’ rights in bankruptcy matters, representing corporate clients and creditors’ committees throughout the United States in Chapter 11 proceedings, out-of-court settlements, commercial transactions and preference litigation. She is a member and Past President of the Commercial Law League of America and has been an Attorney Member of its National Board of Governors, a Chair of the Bankruptcy Section and Creditors’ Rights Section. She is the President of the Commercial Law League Fund for Public Education. She is a member of several bar associations, including the American Bar Association, the American Bankruptcy Institute and the New York State Academy of Trial Lawyers. Ms. Borges serves on the Board of Directors of the International Association of Commercial Collectors, of which her firm is an associate member. She is an internationally recognized lecturer and author on various legal topics including Bankruptcy Issues such as 503(b)(9) claims and preferences, the Uniform Commercial Code, ECOA, FCRA, antitrust law, and current legal issues such as Credit Card Surcharge issues, social media, Cybersecurity and Ethics for the Trade Credit Grantor and current proposed legislation that may impact trade credit grantors. Ms. Borges has authored, edited and continues to contribute to numerous publications including Thomson West’s Enforcing Judgments and Collecting Debts in New York (as its Editor-in-Chief and Lead Author), NAB’s book Out of the Red and into the Black, the BCCA’s Credit & Collection Handbook, The Financial Manager, the CLLA’s Commercial Law World Magazine. She is listed in Who’s Who in America.


Staci Cima

Senior Customer Success Manager North America, Sidetrade

Staci Cima is the Senior Customer Success Manager North America for Sidetrade, an Order to Cash Software company dedicated to increasing working capital, accelerating cash flow and transforming the finance function into a data-driven, strategic advantage. Staci has more than 25 years’ experience in various finance management including public accounting, corporate finance and Order to Cash management. Staci has her CCE Certification and was a member of the NACM for 12 years serving on various committees and on the Connect Governing Board. Staci has a Bachelor’s Degree in Accounting.


JJ Clark

Loan Portfolio Manager, The Equity

Jennera “JJ” Clark is a 20 year veteran of the Agriculture industry. Over the years she worked her way through various positions to gain an overall knowledge of the industry where she was promoted to Credit Manager. In the fall of 2020, she made a career change and is now the Loan Portfolio Manager at The Equity where she oversees 600 plus loans.


Thomas Fawkes, Esq.

Partner, Tucker Ellis LLP

Thomas Fawkes is with the law firm of Tucker Ellis LLP in its Chicago office.  Tom focuses his practice on bankruptcy, creditors’ rights and financial restructuring matters, representing official committees, unsecured and secured creditors, debtors, financial institutions, post-confirmation trustees and asset purchasers in Chapter 11 and 7 bankruptcy cases, out-of-court restructurings, and liquidation proceedings throughout the United States. Tom also assists his clients in structuring commercial transactions with a view towards mitigating risk of future bankruptcy and insolvency losses. Among other honors, Tom has been recognized as an Illinois Leading Lawyer in Bankruptcy & Workout Law: Commercial, and by Chambers and Partners as one of the leading bankruptcy and restructuring attorneys in Illinois.


Brian Jackiw, Esq.

Partner, Tucker Ellis LLP

Brian Jackiw is a partner with the law firm of Tucker Ellis LLP. Brian is experienced in bankruptcy and commercial litigation, practicing in courts throughout the country. He has represented plaintiffs and defendants in avoidance actions, complex bankruptcy claim disputes, breach of fiduciary duty actions and bankruptcy fraud litigation. Beyond litigation in the bankruptcy courts, Brian has experience in general collection and commercial law litigation. Brian has also spent significant time advocating on behalf of general unsecured creditors through his representation of official committees of unsecured creditors. Before becoming an attorney, Brian served as an Officer in the U.S. Army.


Curtis Litchfield, CCE

Senior Credit Manager, Land O Lakes/Purina

For the majority of my 30 year career with Purina Mills and Land O’Lakes, I have held various roles in Customer Financial Services. Within Customer Financial Services, my roles have involved managing a centralized and decentralized credit department where my team handles all functions of the credit department from approving new customers, collecting past due balances and working closely with our business partners, sales and marketing. In addition to managing credit, I also manage our cash application team and our invoicing and document delivery process. Prior to joining Customer Financial Services, I sent 10 years of my career in sales and business development where I prepared and presented financial and business analyses and assisted customers in developing business strategies. I attended the NACM Graduate School of Credit and Financial management where I obtained my CCE designation. For the last 8 years, I have been an instructor for NACM Connect in St. Louis. Received the Credit Excellence Award in 2017.


Larry Lipschutz, CCE, CICP

Independent Contractor, Agilix Solutions

Larry Lipschutz, CCE, CICP, is an independent contractor working on assignment at Agilix Solutions, St. Louis, MO. Lipschutz is the former Director of Credit and Collections at Agilix, a leading distributor of automation, datacom, electrical, power transmission and safety products and services to the industrial, commercial and construction markets. He has more than 30 years of experience in commercial credit and collections in a variety of industries. He has been an active member of NACM Gateway Region for more than 25 years, serving as chairman of the board of directors from 2001 – 2003. He completed a three-year term on the board of directors of NACM Connect in 2018. Larry is a member of the Education Committee, previously serving as chair of of that committee. Larry earned his MBA and Masters of Information Management degrees from Washington University in St. Louis and his Bachelor’s degree from the University of Illinois.


Zeb Miller

Credit Risk Analyst, Tricor Braun

Zeb’s been a member of NACM since 2016 and severed on various boards & committees within NACM. Zeb is currently the Credit Manager with TricorBraun Inc and has over 17 years’ experience in the commercial collections and credit industry.


Jenny Norris

Regional Director, Meridian Finance Group

Jenny Lezon Norris is Regional Director, East, of Meridian Finance Group, a company providing credit, insurance, and trade finance tools that companies use to expand their domestic and international sales. A graduate of the University of Connecticut (BS Finance) and Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (MBA), Jenny has over 25 years of experience specializing in the field of international trade finance. Prior to joining Meridian Finance Group in 2013, Jenny worked at UPS Capital Business Credit, where for seventeen years she managed business development for the bank’s cross-border equipment loan programs in Mexico, Brazil, Colombia, and Turkey. Before UPS Capital, Jenny worked for Gerber Technology in their International Contracts Department. Jenny has served on the Export-Import Bank of the United States (EXIM) C4 Subcommittee (2020) and Broker Advisory Council (2020). She is active in the Connecticut Turnaround Management Association (CT TMA), as well as a current member of the Connecticut District Export Council (CT DEC) She has travelled extensively and is conversant in Polish and Spanish.


Jason Ottenad, CBA

Credit Manager, Ferguson Enterprises

Jason Ottenad is a graduate of Rockhurst University with a Bachelor’s Degree in Finance/Accounting. He was hired out of college as a Financial Trainee with Graybar Electric in St. Louis. Within 7 months, he was transferred to Graybar’s Memphis, TN branch, handling account receivable. While in Memphis, he joined the NACM chapter. In 2006, Jason moved back to St. Louis to take the position of Credit Manager with Ferguson Enterprises, Inc. He has continued to serve that position, collecting accounts receivable, handling liens and bonds, and overseeing taxes. He has been a member of the Gateway Chapter since moving back and is a former chairperson of his industry credit group.


Colleen Restel, Esq.

Counsel, Lowenstein Sandler

Colleen’s practice focuses on representing creditors’ committees, individual creditors, debtors, liquidating trustees, and other interested parties in complex Chapter 11 cases and related adversarial proceedings. Colleen has served as a team member in such Chapter 11 matters as the Creditors’ Committees for GNC, Maines Paper & Food Service, Knotel, the Diocese of Camden, Fred’s, and Murray Metallurgical Coal Holdings. She has also represented plan administrators and liquidating trustees in cases such as Vitamin Oldco Holdings, Inc., Maines Paper & Food Service, and Fred’s, as well as securities plaintiffs in the bankruptcy proceedings of Public Gas & Electric, Mallinckrodt, Windstream, and Frontier. Colleen is a former term clerk to the Hon. Rosemary Gambardella of the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the District of New Jersey. Prior to joining Lowenstein, she was an associate at a New Jersey-based law firm, where her practice included commercial litigation matters involving intellectual property issues, the Consumer Fraud Act, fraudulent transfers, breach of contract disputes, and emergent proceedings seeking temporary restraints and injunctions for clients in pharmaceuticals, real estate, retail, and other sectors.


Chris Ring

National Representation, NACM Secured Transaction Services

Chris Ring is the National Representative for NACM’s Secured Transaction Services and he specializes in assisting credit professionals secure their receivables using Mechanic’s Lien Laws and Article 9 of the Uniform Commercial Code. Chris consults with companies on a daily basis leading them to find the best way to use these credit tools to assure that they are in the best possible position to get paid. Since 2002, Chris has completed seminars on both Mechanic’s Liens and UCC Filings for companies, NACM Affiliate Credit Conferences, NACM Industry Credit Groups, CFDD Meetings and NACM’s Secured Transaction Services seminars. During Chris’ presentations, he demonstrates how to overcome objections from customers, sales reps and management to using these credit tools. Chris also actively solicits questions from attendees so all attendees can learn from the successes and struggles others have had while using these tools. In the end, Chris’ goal is to help you be the best credit professional you can be and have a little fun along the way.


Dale Semple

Director of Credit, The Equity

Semple is the Director of Credit at The Equity, an agricultural cooperative, where he began in 1990. Prior to his current position he served as a loan officer at the Farm Credit Services of Mid America and Farmer’s State Bank. Dale is also active in several agricultural industry credit group including the National Agricultural Chemical Group. He received a BS in Agriculture Economics from the University of Illinois in 1981. Semple is a current member of the Board of Directors of NACM/Chicago-Midwest.


Vincent Smith

Senior Principal Product Manager, Dun & Bradstreet

Vincent Smith has over 18 years of experience developing and managing identity verification, fraud detection and watchlist solutions at TransUnion. Vince joined Dun & Bradstreet in July 2022 as the Senior Principal Product Manager for their fraud product portfolio. He works with companies across the globe to identify and build solutions to help reduce the effects of business fraud and identity theft on the business bottom line. Vince has a master’s degree in Marketing from Roosevelt University in Chicago, IL, and obtained his bachelor’s degree in Business Administration from the University of St Francis in Joliet, IL.


Jason Torf, Esq.

Partner, Tucker Ellis LLP

Jason Torf is a Partner at the law firm of Tucker Ellis in Chicago. Jason helps companies maximize their recovery and minimize their risk when dealing with financially distressed customers, suppliers and other related parties. Jason has represented virtually all parties in bankruptcy and other financial distress situations including trade creditors, creditors’ committees, secured creditors and many more. Jason regularly speaks for NACM and CFDD as well as various industry credit groups. He received his BS in Finance from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign and his JD in 1998 from the U of I College of Law.


Troy Wangen

Principal, BakerTilly

Troy has extensive experience in unclaimed property consulting, specializing in the development of strategic defense for unclaimed property audits, and the analysis, quantification and mitigation of potential unclaimed property exposure.He has represented numerous Fortune 500 clients in the defense of unclaimed property audits performed by Kelmar, SAS, and other contract audit firms and in the performance of comprehensive diagnostic reviews. Before entering public accounting, Troy gained valuable experience in state accounting with the Information Technology Department of the State of North Dakota and served as an Instructor of Accounting for the University of Mary. Troy has spoken for holder education seminars sponsored by UPPO, Lorman, the National Association of Credit Management, the American Payroll Association, the Chicago Bar Association, and other professional groups. Troy has also led the manufacturing industry breakout sessions at multiple UPPO conferences.


Michael Williams

Vice President, NACM Relations UnitedTranzactions

A familiar face within the NACM for the past 25 years, Michael has partnered with NACM Members of all sizes to introduce creative solutions for third-party payment processing efficiencies and system integrations. Michael is a conference speaker, round table expert, and NACM certification curriculum and Credit Magazine contributor and is always enthusiastic in sharing his knowledge with the NACM Membership!