Trends & Strategies Conference


Meet the Featured Presenters
  • Kendall Almerico


    Kendall Almerico is a Board Certified attorney with 25 years experience who is considered one of the top crowdfunding experts in the United States. Mr. Almerico was recently named the 17th most influential thought leader in the crowdfunding industry by VentureBeat, and was the top ranked practicing attorney on the prestigious list. Mr. Almerico and his crowdfunding websites have appeared in USA Today, Washington Post, Washington Times, Huffington Post, Forbes, Bloomberg, the New York Daily News, Business Insider, Fox Business Network and hundreds of newspaper, blog, radio and television interviews including CNN, CBS, ABC, NBC, FOX, Bloomberg TV and The Sean Hannity Show.

    Mr. Almerico has run his Florida law practice for more than 25 years and has earned the title of Board Certified Civil Trial Lawyer from the Florida Bar. Mr. Almerico earned his law degree from University of Florida College of Law.

  • John Doggett

    University of Texas

    John N. Doggett is a Senior Lecturer at the McCombs School of Business, the McCombs Faculty International Alumni Liaison, and a Senior Research Fellow at the University of Texas at Austin’s (UT) IC2 Institute. John teaches courses in global competition, entrepreneurship, and sustainability in UT’s MBA and Executive MBA programs in Austin, Dallas and Houston. John created the From Idea to IPO workshop series and is the co-founder of the Idea to Product™ (I2P™) international commercialization of technology competition that was first held in November, 2003.

    John has been voted the Outstanding Professor from students in UT’s Executive MBA program (2012 and 2009), full-time MBA program (2008, 2004 and 1998), Evening MBA program (2007), Executive MBA in DFW program (2004) and Executive Engineering Management Master’s Program (2002).

    From 2003 to 2010, John led a two-week trip of UT MBAs to China to meet with business, political and university leaders. From 2010 to 2012, John took his UT MBAs to India. In 2013 John will take his UT MBAs to Isreal. Since 2000, John has spent part of each summer and winter teaching entrepreneurship and global competition workshops in Austria, China, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, Mexico, Singapore, Taiwan and Thailand.

  • John Duca

    Vice President and Associate Director of Research
    Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas

    Duca leads and conducts research in macroeconomics and finance for the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas. He has been with the Bank since 1991. He has given numerous briefings on the economy to the Bank's president and board of directors. Duca has published more than 60 articles on money, credit, wages and housing in scholarly journals and Bank publications. Much of this research analyzes how innovations have altered economic relationships relevant to the macroeconomy and monetary policy. From 1986 to 1991, Duca was a staff economist at the Federal Reserve Board, where he briefed former chairmen Alan Greenspan and Paul Volcker and other Fed policymakers. Additionally, he was a part-time lecturer at the University of Maryland. He is currently a part-time lecturer at Southern Methodist University. He is also the executive director of the International Banking, Economics, and Finance Association. He holds a BA from Yale University and a PhD in economics from Princeton University.

  • Tom Handler

    J.D., P.C. Partner, Chairman
    Handler Thayer LLP

    Mr. Handler is an advanced planning attorney focused on structuring complex estate plans and handling related business structures and tax planning issues for affluent families, family businesses and family offices. Such planning often involves the interplay of income tax, estate tax, executive benefits, and financial matters. In this regard, Mr. Handler is particularly experienced in dealing with business owners, directors, executives, professional athletes, celebrities and family offices. He has extensive experience in the analysis, design and implementation of domestic and international business planning, financial and estate planning, and advanced tax planning strategies. Mr. Handler is a managing partner in Handler Thayer, LLP, where he chairs the firm's Advanced Planning & Family Office Practice Group.

    Mr. Handler's experience includes public accounting and corporate and foundation directorships. He is involved in Chicago Bar Association activities including its Taxation and Trust Law committees, and has authored numerous professional articles. He has lectured extensively both nationally and internationally at professional and family office educational conferences. Mr. Handler created the Asset Protection Profile™ and Stealth Prenup™ in addition to other proprietary strategies for affluent families and family offices.

    He has been recognized by various independent organizations on their lists of top attorneys. Leading Lawyers Network named Mr. Handler one of the Top Attorneys in Illinois in two areas: 1) Trusts, Will and Estate Planning Law and 2) Closely and Privately Held Business Law. He has also been named to the PCG Wealth Strategies Design Team comprised of fifteen of the top wealth planners in the United States. Further, he has been named to Who’s Who in American Law and a life member of Who’s Who in America.

  • Steve Hogan

    Florida Citrus Sports - Lift Orlando

    Steve Hogan is the Chief Executive Officer at Florida Citrus Sports, and has served the organization for more than 13 years, with 10 of them spent in a leadership role. He has been instrumental in FCSports' development from a single bowl game into its current standing as one of the leading membership-based organizations in sports. In 1998, Hogan created the Gridiron Classic, a college football All-Star game to be played in Orlando. This included negotiating television and title sponsor agreements and developing the necessary NFL and NFLPA relationships. In seven years, the game produced 136 NFL draft picks and generated over $1 million for charitable causes. Prior to the development of the Gridiron Classic, Hogan worked in the FCSports Events department, first as an events manager and then as senior director of events and operations. Before arriving at FCSports in 1995, Hogan spent time at both McCaw Communications and the New York Times Newspaper Group in a marketing capacity. A native of Chicago, Hogan graduated from the University of Central Florida in 1991 with a bachelors of arts in advertising and public relations.

  • Robert Lee

    Silver Portal Capital

    Mr. Lee is the Director of Capital Markets for Silver Portal Capital. He has over 15 years of direct experience in real estate and capital markets and extensive capital raising and real estate investment knowledge. Mr. Lee is responsible for raising private equity from institutional investors, ultrahigh-net-worth family offices, and opportunity funds for private and public real estate operating companies as well as for significant institutional quality projects. He also is leading the crowd funding efforts for Silver Portal Direct .com, the firm's private investor platform for accredited investors who wish to invest into institutional quality deals previously only available for larger investors. Prior to joining Silver Portal Capital, Mr. Lee served as Senior Director of Private Equity for a California based boutique M&A/ PE firm and was founder and managing partner of SIG Equity Partners, LLC.

  • Trey Morsbach

    Senior Managing Director

    Mr. Morsbach is a Senior Managing Director and co-head of the firm's Dallas office with more than 20 years of experience in commercial real estate finance and sales. He is primarily responsible for originating individual and portfolio debt and equity transactions throughout the United States. During the course of his career with HFF, he has completed over $14 billion in commercial real estate transactions with particular focus on construction, portfolio and equity/joint venture transactions. Noteworthy transactions include the $1.1 Billion Crescent Office Portfolio sale, a joint venture equity raise and debt placement for the $900 million mixed-use Victory Park project in Dallas, Texas, the $500 million debt placement for Blackstone/Meristar, and the $500 million debt placement for NorthPark Mall.

  • Craig Ustler, MAI, CCIM

    President, Ustler Development, Inc.
    Vice President, Ustler Properties, Inc.
    President & Principal, Creative Village Orlando, LLC

    Ustler is an owner, investor, developer and broker of various property types including multi-family residential, office, restaurant, retail and mixed-use. He has extensive experience in land sales, urban planning and highest and best use analysis. For the past several years, Ustler has focused on urban infill projects as advocated by the "new urbanism" planning movement. In particular, recent projects have been concentrated in Downtown Orlando neighborhoods including the Central Business District, the Uptown District, Thornton Park, Creative Village and Florida Hospital Health Village.

    Ustler is active in several community organizations. He currently serves on the Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts Board and is Chairman of its Urban Design Task Force. Ustler also serves as Co- Chairman of the Urban Think Foundation Board. Ustler is the founder and past president of the Downtown Orlando Foundation and has served on the board of the Historical Society of Central Florida.

  • Nathan Rachels

    First Vice President
    Inland Securities Corporation

    Nathan Rachels, First Vice President, Inland Securities Corporation, is responsible for prospecting sales and developing new broker dealer relationships for the Eastern regional sales team. He began his career at Inland in 2004 as a vice president and was promoted to first vice president in 2009. Prior to joining Inland, Mr. Rachels was assistant vice president at Wells Real Estate Funds, where he was responsible for marketing real estate investments in the southeast region of the United States. He began his career in financial services in 1997 on the retail side of the business, with a successful planning firm. Mr. Rachels graduated from the University of Alabama with a degree in public relations and business. He holds Series 7 and 63 licenses with the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA).

  • Thomas Sittema

    CEO, CNL

    Thomas K. Sittema is chief executive officer of CNL Financial Group, a leading private investment firm that provides global real estate and alternative investments. Since its inception in 1973, CNL and/or its affiliates have formed or acquired companies with more than $29 billion in assets. In his role as CEO, Mr. Sittema leads a platform of diverse real estate investment trusts (REITs) and a business development company (BDC). Mr. Sittema also serves as CEO and board chair of Corporate Capital Trust, CEO and president of CNL Growth Properties and Global Income Trust, CEO and director of CNL Fund Advisors Company, and is vice chairman and director of CNL Lifestyle Properties and CNL Healthcare Properties.

    Prior to joining CNL, Mr. Sittema had a distinguished and successful 27 year banking career with Bank of America Merrill Lynch and Bank of America. Mr. Sittema also served as the U.S. sector head of REITs and lodging, with the responsibility for M&A advisory, equity, and debt capital raising assignments for his client base.

  • Bruce Turkel


    As CEO of the successful brand management firm, TURKEL, Bruce Turkel has been creating and working with valuable brands for over 25 years.

    Born and raised in Miami, Mr. Turkel studied design at the University of Florida and rushed to New York City to start his career. Preferring the sun to the subway, he returned to Miami and opened his own advertising agency built on the belief that marketing should be well-designed, simple, and should make a client’s products and services more valuable. Using this straightforward checklist, he has worked with hundreds of clients, written thousands of headlines, and designed even more print ads, television spots, websites, and campaigns.

    Mr. Turkel is a husband, father of two and author of three books—his most recent book is Building Brand Value.