Speakers

Speakers

CDRI is thrilled to feature a combination of highly acclaimed speakers and industry experts on the main stage throughout its power-packed Edge conference. These juggernauts will address everything from leadership insights and emerging trends to the everchanging regulatory landscape. Learn more about what to expect, and keep checking back as we reveal additional details leading up to the event.

JESS PETTITT – KEYNOTE SPEAKER

As part of this exciting event, we’re thrilled to welcome social justice advocate Jess Pettit to help us examine our collective responsibility to make change while connecting difficult topics with employee retention, crisis management, and increasing innovation and profits. Pulling from the past 15 years of direct experience to lead teams to try instead of avoiding a stretch, Jess helps clients uncover a deeper sense of belonging, develop resourceful collaboration opportunities, and reignite their creativity and innovative ideation. Thanks to Women of Debt Relief for sponsoring this incredible session!

Justin Anderson has built his entire entrepreneurial career on proving those who say “You’re nuts and it can’t be done” wrong! Justin began his career in 1999 with Terra Contracting Inc., an underground utility, grading, paving, and concrete contracting company licensed throughout the Southwest. While reorganizing and expanding Terra Contracting Inc., he expanded his entrepreneurial endeavors in 2005 with Summit Restoration, a water and mold restoration company, and then again in 2007 with The Barricade Company, a traffic control company. Fast forward to today, Justin has created seven startup businesses in the construction, service, special event, marketing, and material distribution industries.

Cliff Andrews has spent more than 20 years serving as a chief advocate and advisor to non-profit trade associations on public policy issues management, coalition building, and mission-focused association management, earning a reputation for engaging constructively with diverse people and building productive relationships. In May 2021, he joined CDRI to serve as its executive director and became CEO in December 2022 due to the association’s growth and evolution. He is responsible for oversight and management of CDRI’s corporate governance, membership ROI and legislative activities, as well as executing the Board’s strategic vision. Cliff’s passion for collaboration and member engagement are positioning CDRI as a driver of positive change for the debt relief industry and its customers.

Kellie Belote has navigated both the creditor and debt settlement company landscapes. She started her career in financial services in 2015 when she went to work for a debt buyer managing many different aspects of the business including specialty collections. In 2021, she switched focus when she joined a debt settlement company as VP of negotiations and creditor relations. In December 2023, she joined Alleviate Financial as VP of negotiations where she continues to focus on creditor relations and assisting consumers get out from under financial hardships.

Brent Biggs is a Marine veteran and seasoned entrepreneur with a successful history in performance marketing. He is the founder of Datascore.ai, a leading platform that leverages advanced machine learning models to optimize lead generation processes. Datscore’s expertise focuses on enhancing lead scoring, ensuring compliance, and maintaining high volume and scalability. At Datascore.ai, he is revolutionizing the industry by using AI to create high-quality, high-intent leads, ultimately boosting engagement and conversion rates.

Corey Butcher saw the need to empower and support consumers buried by debt after witnessing friends and family struggling in this arena. As a result, he started Financial Freedom of America in 2006. He envisioned a company that would directly engage its clients’ creditors and negotiate a successful resolution. This would not only assist the client in ending their credit card debt but also give them immediate relief and peace of mind. Through the years, Corey has built the reputation of building successful organizations. Financial Freedom Group is proof of this track record.

Camilo Concha is the founder and CEO of LendingUSA, an online marketplace lender with a mission to provide smart financing for the important moments in life. LendingUSA focuses on point-of-sale financing. Through its next generation platform Its able to provide financing in the physical (POS). Borrowers are provided fast, paperless loans within minutes with affordable financing options serving a large network of merchants covering debt settlement financing, elective medical and consumer service verticals. LendingUSA was awarded the Emerging Lending Platform of the year at Lendit.

Shawn Council is the founder and managing member of Council Law Group, PLLC. In his professional life, Shawn practices corporate litigation, federal and state criminal defense, elder law and estate planning, consumer bankruptcy, and legislative affairs. His wide swath of experience helps him bring unique insights to the debt-relief industry, as well as to individual challenges faced by industry participants.  Shawn continues his practices by helping consumers navigate their financial distress through both bankruptcy and bankruptcy alternatives. He is a member of the State Bar of Texas, is authorized to practice in multiple federal courts and also serves on the CDRI legislative affairs committee.

Kelly Decker leverages 17 years of experience in the third-party debt collections industry — including the last six years devoted to managing hundreds of millions of dollars worth of distressed receivables enrolled in debt relief programs across hundreds of debt relief companies in the country — to truly help people get out of all of their debt. In 2020, she joined Beyond Finance to build and strengthen relationships with banks, lenders, creditors and any company within the spectrum of accounts receivable management to ensure the best outcomes for the clients enrolled in their programs.

Joshua DeLeon is a seasoned professional with a decade of experience at Cavalry Portfolio Services. Starting his career in Cavalry’s post-sales and acquisition department, Josh has dedicated the majority of his tenure to managing the debt settlement process, overseeing collection agency operations, and, more recently, leading the bankruptcy department. He is excited about the opportunity to engage in further collaboration and discussion within the debt settlement industry.

Teresa Dodson has over 30 years of executive management experience, focusing the last 20 on the financial services industry across marketing, sales, operations management, industry compliance, software development and creating new business opportunities to help grow and scale existing businesses. She is the founder of Greenbacks Consulting, which provides consulting services to debt settlement companies, collection agencies, debt buyers, technology development, investors and private equity firms. Most recently, she started the non-profit Women of Debt Relief to provide industry women opportunities to grow personally and professionally through leadership, education, networking, support, and recognition.

Howard Dvorkin, CPA, focuses his professional endeavors in consumer finance, technology, media, and real estate industries creating not only Debt.com, but also Consolidated Credit, PowerWallet, Start Fresh Today and Lifestyle Magazines among others. He has played an instrumental role in drafting both state and federal legislation and was a consultant to the Board of Directors for the Association of Credit Counseling Professionals (ACCPros) and is the past president of the Association of Independent Consumer Credit Counseling Agencies (AICCCA).

Erica Franqui has nearly 20 years of experience in compliance in the non-depository financial industry. As managing partner of The Franqui Firm, she is primarily focused in the areas of regulatory and compliance practices for debt management, debt settlement, credit repair, telemarketing, consumer finance lenders and money transmitting businesses, as well as licensing for other state and federally regulated businesses. The firm assists clients in establishing and creating compliant business models, as well as review of business plans and models, and the creation of business policies and procedures.

Amanda Gazos, director of operations and compliance at Bayview Solutions, LLC. possesses 24 years of rich experience in the debt collections industry. With a passion for ethical practices and a knack for strategic problem-solving, Amanda has played a key role in guiding Bayview Solutions, LLC. to new heights. Her comprehensive understanding of the industry has fostered strong, trustworthy partnerships with third-party debt collection and debt settlement companies. Outside of work, Amanda is dedicated to mentoring young professionals and advocating for best practices in compliance and operations, embodying the spirit of leadership and integrity that Bayview Solutions stands for.

Michael Goodman, partner at Hudson Cook, advises clients on compliance with federal laws enforced by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, the Federal Trade Commission, the Federal Communications Commission, and other federal agencies. His compliance counseling practice focuses on standards regulating the manner in which businesses market to and communicate with customers and potential customers as well as proper collection, use, and disclosure of customer information. His clients include retailers, lenders, mortgage bankers, automobile finance companies and dealers, credit card companies, and lead generators, as well as service providers for these businesses.

Tomas Gordon founded ClearOne Advantage in 2008 with the mission to help people find financial freedom and regain control in the midst of the economy and job market rollercoasters. He brings more than 20 years of experience in executive management, board and investor relations, financial management, and business development to the role of CEO. As a leading specialty finance executive, he has a proven record of helping companies flourish, even in the most challenging economic and business environments.

Dave Hanrahan leads Kredit, which develops software tools that help everyday people navigate financial hardship and communicate effectively with financial services firms when in distress, independently or while being coached by financial advisors. Before founding Kredit in 2020, Dave advised global founder-owned and VC/PE-backed technology companies on equity and debt capital raises, M&A pipeline identification and engagement, and business sales to financial sponsors and strategic acquirers.

Kris Kehler is an innovator and entrepreneur with 20 years of experience in design, corporate branding, digital media and software engineering. Having started his first company at the age of 15, he gained vast experience in corporate identity systems, branding, print production, web and media design, as well as a clientele that included names such as Motorola, Crayola, Ingram Micro and Snap-On Tools, which has provided an immeasurable amount of exposure and experience that has helped shape the future successes of Forth™ in his role as co-CEO.

Nick Kosmas, Esq., oversees ClearOne Advantage’s national legal functions, navigating the specialty finance industry’s compliance and regulations. He also serves as general counsel for the Consumer Debt Relief Initiative, the premier trade association for the debt relief industry. Previously, Kosmas served as managing counsel for Laureate Education, Inc., an international leader in the educational services industry.

Lori Lasher serves as executive vice president, chief legal officer, chief compliance officer and general counsel of The J.G. Wentworth Company. Prior to joining The J.G. Wentworth Company, she was a partner in the global law firm of Reed Smith LLP for 24 years. During that time, she advised The J.G. Wentworth Company and its subsidiaries for more than 16 years as lead outside counsel on its securitizations, warehouse facilities, intercreditor issues and acquisitions. Prior to joining Reed Smith LLP, Lori was a partner in the law firm of Buchanan Ingersoll, P.C.

John Lesnik, co-founder of Lending Science DM, has more than 19 years of experience in guiding firms in the use of data-driven marketing and operational objectives in a financial services environment. He and his team specialize in developing analytically driven, omni-channel marketing solutions designed to acquire, retain and grow customer relationships across all channels. John has extensive experience in all aspects of database marketing including data, analytics, direct and digital marketing design and execution, and more.

Miron Lulic is the founder and CEO of SuperMoney, a service that helps millions of people transparently compare financial services such as loans, investments, and more. Miron has more than a decade of experience in the financial industry, including stints at Swagsy Inc, Optima Tax Relief, and Specific Media | Myspace. Miron has a proven track record of successful product development and management, and has been instrumental in building companies from start-ups into multi-million dollar enterprises. His passion is growing something from nothing.

Steven Petrevski joined Global Holdings in May 2023 as CEO and president. An experienced operator and innovator, Steve has spent his career creating value at the intersection of technology and financial services. Prior to joining Global Holdings, he was focused on the risk and insurance industry in roles as the founder of a cyber insurance provider after serving as the general manager of data and analytic solutions for Aon and the general manager of security and fraud solutions at First Data. Before joining First Data, he was with JPMorgan Chase and UBS focused on driving technology strategy and business development.

Randi Sellari was appointed CEO and a director of J.G. Wentworth in April 2018. After successfully turning around the structured settlement business and the company’s divesture of its home mortgage business in the fall of 2019, she and her team expanded J.G. Wentworth’s services into the debt settlement space. She previously held roles within the finance department and was promoted to CFO within two years. Three years later, she was appointed president and chief operating officer.

Felix Shipkevich is the founder and principal of Shipkevich PLLC, a New York City-based law firm focusing on transactional and litigation services in global financial services, FinTech, payment processing and emerging digital currency, and the debt relief and settlement sectors. He is also a Special Professor of Law at his alma mater, the Maurice A. Deane School of Law at Hofstra University. He currently teaches popular courses on the business and policies of cryptocurrencies as well as corporate finance law.

Abigail Stempson, as special counsel at Kelley Drye, focuses her practice on state attorneys general (AG) investigations and advising on AG priorities and consumer protection compliance. She frequently advocates for clients and trade associations at the staff and executive level at State AG offices, using her wide network of contacts to obtain superior client results. Abby also defends clients in state and federal enforcement actions, responds to subpoenas and civil investigative demands, and leads internal investigations and compliance review. She has engaged in this work for clients in many industries ranging from the pharmaceutical, real estate, travel, multinational retail, and financial sectors.

Don Silvestri has two decades of experience as a senior executive overseeing all areas of marketing, sales, strategic planning, business and product development. As president of Debt.com, he ensures that the company is fulfilling its mission of assisting consumers in managing and resolving their debts, providing education and advocacy, and promoting fair and ethical practices within the industry. One main objective is to build alliances and partnerships for Debt.com. He is a passionate and committed leader who is dedicated to helping consumers manage their finances and achieve financial stability.

Mohit Sofat has more than 20 years of experience in relationship management, quality compliance, project management, operations management, risk management and business development. As a GM of CFTPay, Mohit is responsible for managing and running the entire business operations along with new business development. As a VP of operations for enterprise payments, he is responsible for onboarding, implementing and building a support structure for all new enterprise partners. He conducts data analytics to measure the financial health of partners and project management, interfacing with the offshore operations team to ensure the delivery of CFTPay services exceed partner expectations.

Michael Thurman is a regulatory defense attorney who represents businesses, executives and employees in lawsuits, arbitrations and regulatory actions. He regularly defends business clients in consumer protection class actions and government regulatory actions and investigations brought by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) and state regulators, and counsels clients in various industries on advertising, marketing and other compliance issues.

Steven Walchek is the founder and CEO of Liminal, the leading horizontal security platform for all generative AI. Steven’s professional career spans more than 15 years and includes key leadership roles in growth and product strategy at multiple Fortune 500 organizations and startups. Steve has been instrumental in three successful exits, including the first company he co-founded, DebtMarket, now part of Intercontinental Exchange Inc (NYSE: ICE), resulting in a total acquisition value of over $1.1 billion.

Brandi Wire is a seasoned professional with nearly a decade of experience in the debt settlement industry and is currently CCO at Better Debt Solutions. Originally from Georgia but now residing in Orange County, Brandi has played a pivotal role in every facet of the business, from sales to operations. She was instrumental in scaling a startup from just five employees to a workforce of over 300 within a span of less than two years. Having worked in a handful of companies, Brandi has gleaned valuable insights into what practices are effective and what should be avoided in the industry.