Meet the Experts

ACE Conference & Expo brings you sought-after speakers and business professionals, who will inspire and encourage you as you start and grow your business, creations and innovations.

featured speakers


Founder | Comply 365

Kerry is an entrepreneur that has proven how one woman can go about revolutionizing an industry with smarts, courage, and tenacity. Little did she know in 2007, when she founded Comply365, that her efforts would completely transform the aviation industry. She played an instrumental role in the FAA’s approval of replacing flight bags with tablets in cockpits.

Her vision for digitizing bulky airline pilot manuals took the company from their home’s basement in Northern Illinois to an extremely successful business in Beloit, WI. She has received multiple awards including the 2018 Ken Hendricks “Seize the Day” award celebrating entrepreneurship in Wisconsin, as a result of these efforts.

Kerry led the charge to revolutionize the flight decks around the world with the software products that were developed. At the time she sold Comply365 they had over 75 clients worldwide of which a dozen were Fortune 500.

For Kerry Frank, entrepreneurship and faith go hand-in-hand. It takes a lot of trust and perseverance to push an innovative idea through rejection to success. With the support of her husband and three children, she continues to inspire others and drive innovation wherever she sees a need.

A great description of Kerry’s passion can be summed up in this – Success isn’t just about what you accomplish in your life; it’s about what you inspire other to do.


African American Business Development Manager | Illinois DCEO, OMEE

Matt is a father and Community Development Strategist based in Rockford, Illinois. He has 10 years of experience working in economic development, neighborhood level community development and public administration. His passion for entrepreneurship and business development lead him to the role he occupies today – African American Business Development Manager with the IL Dept. of Commerce and Economic Opportunity.

stan valiulis

Co-Founder | Totes Babies

In 2017, Lindsey welcomed her first son. She would dread going shopping with her son because she could never get everything on her list due to the car seat taking up the whole cart. Many carts are not even large enough for a car seat. She wanted something that was safe, simple, sturdy and could hold the weight of babies up to a full year.

When Lindsey had her "lightbulb" moment, she went straight to her dad, Stan Valuilis, who holds over 40 patents for retail store fixtures. Lindsey and her dad took their idea and created the Totes Babies Car Seat Carrier.

They now have three issued patents and appeared on ABC's Shark Tank, in 2021, where they received offers from three sharks.


Founder | Ronin Branding

Chris lives and loves, Branding for Businesses and Special Events. It’s his niche, his wheelhouse, and his obsession. He's lived it, breathed it, and walked it for the last 20+ years of his life. He's spent more money, time and effort on his path to learn with a path full of "lessons by lumps" and then meticulous reviewing, analyzing, strategizing, and then implementing ideas, plans, products, and more that is focused on connecting emotions to experiences. His process is found through branding, promotional products by connecting the dots with that end goal in mind, and the breadcrumbs to begin our path begins on how to we want things to end…

You might know Chris from the bar he built from the ground up at age 25 in downtown Rockford called Kryptonite, or the hundreds of events he created down there or partnered with local businesses to create new block parties like the 2 block parties and Screw City Beer Festival.

brett whitacre

Owner & Artist | Brett Whitacre Art

I began doing art purely for self-amusement. Experimenting with design of all types, and adding vibrancy through color is my drive. As a color-blind artist, I am constantly discovering and rediscovering applications of color through my trials. I find it important to be able to imagine my creations fitting in to my world and surroundings. I want to resonate.

Common themes are on display through my art. Humanity, plants, animals, appliances from my childhood, color gradient, angular design, and occasionally a written message. Almost always, there is a sense of whimsy.

There are two main mediums I work in: reverse glass painting (since 2003) and large-scale mural (since 2017).




Rockford Regional Hispanic Chamber of Commerce



SBDC - Rockford


Director of gBETA

Beloit gener8or





Latinx Business Development Manager

Illinois DCEO, OMEE



Movement Fitness


Head of Videography & Image




Social Café


Illinois Market President

Gorman & Company


Northern Stateline Regional Manager

Illinois DCEO, OMEE


Broad Strategic Initiatives Manager & FOIA Officer

The Workforce Connection


Executive Director

Rockford Local Development Corporation (RLDC)