Announcement: 2018 Excellence in Exit Planning Award Nominations

The 2018 Excellence in Exit Planning Awards is sponsored by BNY Mellon Wealth Management.


Meet the Nine Nominees: Leading Exit Advisors “Doing Things Right”

The exit planning profession poses unique challenges and opportunities. The advisors leading this industry tend to be more entrepreneurial, display high leadership, and are instrumental in driving best practices for their peers and for business owners themselves.

Exit planning advisors are pioneers of a changing industry. Each year, the Exit Planning Institute honors three advisors doing things right, making a lasting impact, and taking this marketplace to the next level.

This year marks the sixth annual Excellence in Exit Planning Awards, sponsored by BNY Mellon Wealth Management, and it is our true pleasure to introduce the nine nominees:


2018 Exit Planner of the Year: 2 Nominees

Named after the co-founder of EPI, the Peter Christman Exit Planner of the Year Award, is the highest honor offered in the exit planning industry. It is awarded to a CEPA who either practices exit planning, manages exit planning engagements, educates business owners and advisors, or provides industry-changing exit planning solutions or tools that can be directly tied to changing outcomes for business owners and leading advisors. This advisor makes significant contributions to the industry, exemplifies the core values and characteristics of EPI and the CEPA designation, while making a uniquely significant impact on the larger exit planning profession on a local, regional, national and/or international scale.  We are pleased to introduce the two 2018 nominees: Melisa Silverman and Amy Wirtz.

Melisa SilvermanMelisa Silverman, JD, CEPA, CVA, SBA, CMEA, Partner of The Founders Group, President of EPI Greater Los Angeles

Melisa Silverman embodies the true spirit of a pioneering entrepreneur. Two years ago, in an incredibly competitive California marketplace, while maintaining a thriving valuation practice, Silverman launched and grew a national exit planning practice alongside two other CEPAs. In that same period of time, she founded the EPI Greater Los Angeles Chapter and has led a diverse team of collaborative advisors to forge key relationships with major universities and owner groups. Silverman’s success is bigger than herself. Silverman regularly contributes to the CEPA community and the larger profession in the form of speeches, webinars, written content, coaching, and insight sharing. Her leadership is felt on a local, national, and industry-wide scale.

Melisa Silverman earned the CEPA Designation in the Class of 2016.


Amy Wirtz, CEPA, J.D., Founder of Family and Business Success, LLC

Amy Wirtz has built a national practice with the mission of helping family businesses resolve value-damaging conflict, expand exit strategies, and improve intergenerational transition rates in privately-held companies. Widely considered one of the most successful collaborative divorce attorneys in the nation, Wirtz harnessed her legal and business expertise to launch an exit planning firm serving the business needs of families across North America, with specialization in the campground and farm industries. Wirtz is a model collaborator and contributes her expertise to the exit planning community as a member of CEPA faculty, as a national exit planning speaker, and a master mentor to CEPAs looking to adopt a successful model for growing his/her practice.

Amy Wirtz earned the CEPA Designation in the Class of 2014.


Past Exit Planner of the Year Winners: Michael Trabert (2017); Gordon Bell (2016); Sean Hutchinson (2015); Craig West (2014); Peter Christman (2013).


2018 Leader of the Year: 4 Nominees

The Leader of the Year Award is presented to a CEPA who has successfully trail blazed a first-of-its-kind project, initiative, or practice which has made a significant contribution to the exit planning profession and overall community. This advisor is also a thought leader; someone who has taken a position and become a regarded expert/specialist in a specific niche area, a person who tasks, innovates, and influences, and above all, showcases characteristics of collaboration. We are pleased to introduce the four 2018 nominees: Hal Dursema, Justin Goodbread, Cindy Reid-Shelton, and Joe Strazzeri.


Hal E. Dursema, CEPA, Executive Director at UBS Financial Services

Creating change is a difficult undertaking in any environment. This is seemingly even more challenging in large organizations. As the world’s largest global wealth manager, UBS Wealth Management USA (“UBS”) has always recognized the needs of business owners, but Dursema and his partners realized there was more that the firm could do to help this important client segment.  As a cross-department collaborator, Dursema coordinated efforts from all corners of UBS to ensure that all advisors and clients were given “the best of the best” that the firm had to offer. He was instrumental in the creation of the UBS Business Owner Client Segment and is an educational resource from coast-to-coast to all advisors. Dursema is at the forefront of exit planning at UBS and it could be said that he actually began the effort.

Hal Dursema earned the CEPA Designation in the Class of 2017.


Justin Goodbread, CFP®, CEPA, CVGA™, Editor in Chief of, Contributor of Forbes Finance Council, CEO/Founder of Heritage Investor

Thought leadership is a brand stamp of Justin Goodbread.  As one of the youngest CEPAs to enter the community in recent years, Goodbread has quickly established himself as a major contributor of insight, strategy, and leadership. As the founder of Heritage Investors, Justin leaned into his authenticity and entrepreneurial talent which has resulted in a dominant idea-sharing brand machine that educates millions of owners and advisors worldwide on exit planning, financial advising, and business strategy. Rather than withhold his success model as a secret recipe, Goodbread continuously teaches on the EPI community platforms via live events and webinars to help other CEPAs leverage his expertise and lessons learned. He is a leading contributor in all senses of the word to the profession and spreads mass awareness.

Justin Goodbread earned the CEPA Designation in the Class of 2017.


Cindy Reid-Shelton, CFP, ChFc, CLU, TEP, CEPA, President/CEO of Intent Planning Group Inc, President of EPI Canada

Cindy Reid-Shelton has been helping clients and supporting advisors in their drive to help their clients in the best way possible for over 30 years. She is a major proponent for education and spreading awareness as a method to improve the profession. Soon after becoming a CEPA, Reid-Shelton successfully launched Intent Planning, a private practice fully dedicated to exit planning services while simultaneously working with EPI Global to establish more resources for Canadian advisors and business owners, including establishing the EPI Internationally-licensed entity: EPI Canada, which will host its first CEPA program in March 2019. Reid-Shelton’s dedication to the industry is illustrated by her tireless works and coming advancements in the Canadian marketplace.

Cindy Reid-Shelton earned the CEPA Designation in the Class of 2016.


Joe StrazzeriJoseph J. Strazzeri, Esq., CEPA, Co-Founder of Southern California Institute, Co-Founder of Laureate Center for Wealth Advisors, Co-Founder of The Founders Group

Joseph “Joe” Strazzeri is an influencer, collaborator, and driving force powering the success of an entire community of advisors and owners.  As a legal and wealth practitioner, Joe founded and operates multiple niche practice groups that serve the holistic needs of business owners.  As an educator and community leader, Strazzeri owns the Southern California Institute, holds a Vice President role for the EPI San Diego Chapter while providing support to all three Southern California chapters, hosts “CA Forums” in partnership with San Diego Business Journal, contributes time and resources to a number of philanthropic organizations, and executes monthly “Community Insights” owner round table sessions. Strazzeri has built a hub for education, networking, and partnership opportunities in the community.

Joe Strazzeri earned the CEPA Designation in the Class of 2016.


Past Leader of the Year Winners: Julie Keyes (2017); Mark Kravietz (2016); Steve Beatty (2015); Scott Miller (2014); Sean Hutchinson (2013).


2018 Member of the Year: 3 Nominees

The Member of the Year Award is presented to a CEPA or EPI Partner who contributes significantly to the EPI community of advisors and the overall exit planning profession. They act as a key leader and expert in their local or regional marketplace and lead exit planning education while driving market awareness. Meet the three 2018 nominees for Member of the Year: Gary Rzucidlo, Dan Shaughnessy, and Martha Sullivan.


Gary Rzucidlo, CEPA, Senior Wealth Director of BNY Mellon Wealth Management, President of EPI Greater Nashville

Gary Rzucidlo continues to raise the bar and lead the CEPA community with best practices. He is a talented influencer and thought leader, bringing exit planning to the forefront within a major organization. Rzucidlo assisted in the implementation and supported the central office firm to build its exit planning education and owner engagement tools/training. Locally, Rzucidlo is the President of a thriving chapter while simultaneously running owner education sessions with his key partners. And his local impact doesn’t stop with business initiatives. In 2018, Rzucidlo and his EPI Nashville leadership team have combined resources to sponsor EPI’s National “Summit Giveback” in support of Abe’s Garden, a Nashville-based Alzheimer’s Treatment and Research Center, pre-raising funds for this philanthropic event. Just like exit planning itself, Gary Rzucidlo’s impact showcases balance, impacting owner’s lives financially, personally, and in business.

Gary Rzucidlo earned the CEPA Designation in the Class of 2015.


Daniel C. Shaughnessy, CEPA, CMAA®, Senior Director at BNY Mellon Wealth Management, President of EPI Long Island

Daniel Shaughnessy is a rising leader in the network. He has broken records for spreading local awareness and bringing advisors together for a common purpose: Change the Outcome!  Within six short months, Shaughnessy accomplished a year’s worth of work: First, Shaughnessy successfully launched the EPI Long Island Chapter with over 130 advisors in attendance at which he debuted the 2018 Long Island State of Owner Readiness in executed in partnership with Stony Brook University. Simultaneously, he formed a private exit planning advisory group, the Business Owners Advisory Council of Long Island, and he launched a 12-month owner roundtable series to educate about the multi-faceted process that is exit planning. Shaughnessy has assembled a strong team of ten complementary firms to work together on improving awareness and success rates in Long Island and their momentum is felt locally and nationally.

Dan Shaughnessy earned the CEPA Designation in the Class of 2016.


Martha Sullivan, CEPA, CPA, CVA/ABV, CM&AA, Succession Planning Practice Leader Partner of Honkamp Krueger & Co., P.C., President of EPI Wisconsin

Martha Sullivan knows how to bring people together, take risks, and drive results.  As the EPI Wisconsin President, she recognized that the distance between the multiple major markets (primarily Milwaukee and Madison areas) posed an issue for chapter members accessing their local education and networking. In response, Sullivan successfully piloted the first EPI Chapter Hybrid Virtual Meeting, coordinating with two convenient meeting locations in each city and hosting a simulcast that allowed each group to network face-to-face while experiencing the presentation virtually. Sullivan and her key leadership team have gained attention from the local business community and have successfully established partnerships with the University of Wisconsin-Madison, two Chambers of Commerce, ACG, and the Milwaukee Business Journal to publish a 2018 Wisconsin State of Owner Readiness. Sullivan knows how to get things done and serve the needs of her peers and business owners.

Martha Sullivan earned the CEPA Designation in the Class of 2016.


Past Member of the Year Winners: Stephen Capizzi (2017); Lorelei Tolson (2016); Barry Goodman (2015); Chris Cooper & Mark Kravietz (2014); Joan Ridley (2013).


[Nashville, TN] Honorees to be Awarded at the 2018 Exit Planning Summit in September.

On September 25, the 2018 Exit Planning Summit will host the Annual Excellence in Exit Planning Awards Luncheon, sponsored by BNY Mellon Wealth Management, and the 2018 Honorees will be announced.


Interested in attending the 2018 Exit Planning Summit?

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