NACD Board Leadership Conference NACD Chapter System

11/3/17 Houston | Shareholder Activism

November 3, 2017
Houston, TX



Shareholder Activism - When a Proxy Contest is the Only Way to Preserve Long-term Value 

Shareholder Activism continues to be on the rise. 2017 is on pace for becoming a new record year in terms of the number of shareholder activism campaigns in the U.S., including a number of high-profile proxy contests such as at Procter & Gamble, Arconic and ADP. The panel took the audience through a “mock proxy fight” and discussed the role of the Board in an election contest.


To view the program in its entirety, click HERE


  Vinson & Elkins PowerPoint Slides



Location and Time


Junior League of Houston
1811 Brian Oaks
Houston, TX 77057

7:00 am Registration / Networking / Breakfast Buffet Opens
7:30 am Breakfast / Roundtable Introductions and Topic Discussion
7:50 am Program Presentation Begins
8:30 am Audience Q&A
9:00 am Adjourn Presentation

9:15 am Final Networking

Speaker Spotlight


Kai Liekefett

Corporate Partner and Shareholder Activism Response Team, Vinson & Elkins LLP

Kai is the Head of V&E’s Shareholder Activism Response Team, a SWAT team of over 20 attorneys that advises public companies 24/7 on preparing for, defending and resolving activist campaigns and proxy fights. Kai a corporate partner with over 15 years of experience practicing law in New York, London, Germany, Hong Kong and Tokyo. Prior to joining V&E, Kai was at Cravath, Swaine & Moore and Linklaters. Kai holds a Ph.D. (magna cum laude) from Freiburg University, an Executive MBA (summa cum laude) from Münster Business School, and an LL.M. (James Kent Scholar) from Columbia Law School.

Sydney Isaacs

Managing Director, Abernathy MacGregor
Director, National Investor Relations Institute

Sydney Isaacs advises companies on transactions, crises and other times of transition, as well as strategic investor relations and corporate communications needs. She serves a wide range of industries with particular expertise in the oil and gas sector. She has helped several companies announce and position transformative or complex M&A transactions, including Baker Hughes’ proposed and later blocked combination with Halliburton. She has also closely supported the successful bankruptcy reorganizations of more than two dozen companies.

Sydney regularly counsels companies as they work through difficult circumstances including regulatory investigations (including the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act), litigation, proxy fights and responses to activist shareholders, data losses, unexpected management transitions, poor financial results, physical disasters and other crises.

A native Houstonian, Sydney joined Abernathy MacGregor in 2005 in the firm’s Los Angeles office before moving to Houston when the firm expanded in the market.

Robert (Bob) Schweitzer

Director, Blink Charging, PetMeds, and OmniComm Systems

Mr. Schweitzer has over 35 years of experience in the financial services industry in various positions of increasing responsibility. Mr. Schweitzer currently serves as Chairman of the Board of PetMeds (NASDAQ:PETS), and Lead Independent Director of OmniComm Systems (OTC:OMCM). Previous public board affiliations include serving as Lead Independent Director of Altisource Asset Management (NYSE:AAMC) and Chairman of the Board of Directors of RiceBran Technologies (NASDAQ:RIBT). He also holds certifications as a mediator for the Florida Supreme Court and as an arbitrator for FINRA. In his financial services career, in addition to managing major line organizations, Mr. Schweitzer has successfully managed several acquisition and turnaround situations. Mr. Schweitzer served as President and Chief Operating Officer of Shay Investment Services, Inc., a registered broker-dealer and investment management company from 2007 to 2012. Prior to joining Shay, from 2004 to 2006, Mr. Schweitzer served as the Florida Regional President of Northwest Savings Bank following its acquisition of Equinox Bank, where he was President and Chief Executive Officer. From 1999 to 2003, Mr. Schweitzer served as Regional President of Union Planters Bank for the Broward and Palm Beach counties Florida markets, and from 1993 to 1999 he served as Executive Vice President and Head of Commercial Banking for Barnett Bank/NationsBank/Bank of America in Jacksonville, Florida. Mr. Schweitzer also held the positions of Director and Head of Real Estate Consulting for Coopers & Lybrand in Washington, D.C., from 1991 to 1993, Senior Vice President/Manager of Central North America Commercial Real Estate as well as Manager of Domestic Credit Review for the First National Bank of Chicago from 1985 to 1991 and Senior Vice President/Manager of Central North America Banking for Wachovia Bank from 1975 to 1985. Mr. Schweitzer served in the United States Navy in the Submarine Force and Navy Reserve for 30 years and retired with a rank of Captain. Mr. Schweitzer holds a Bachelor of Science from the United States Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland and a Master of Business Administration from the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill, North Carolina.

Joe Zirkman

Former Senior VP, General Counsel and Chief Ethics and Compliance Officer, Fiesta Restaurant Group, Inc.
Director, Milton J. Rubenstein Museum of Science and Technology

Mr. Zirkman has over 20 years’ experience as a public company general counsel having served as Vice President and General Counsel of Carrols Restaurant Group, Inc. and most recently as Senior Vice President and General Counsel for Fiesta Restaurant Group. Career highlights include guiding Carrols through its initial public offering and its subsequent spin-off of Fiesta Restaurant Group, a array of significant M&A transactions and quarterbacking the successful defense of a recent proxy contest. Prior to his in-house roles, Mr. Zirkman was a senior corporate associate in the New York City law firm Baer Marks & Upham. Mr. Zirkman currently advises companies and boards on a myriad of in-house legal functions including corporate governance, activism defense, M&A, SEC reporting and compliance, franchising, complex litigation strategy & management and employment law, and provides full or part-time general counsel services to companies as needed.

Mr. Zirkman is a graduate of Brooklyn Law School and holds a B.S. degree in Psychology from Duke University and is admitted to practice in New York and Texas. Mr. Zirkman participates in a number of charitable and non-profit community organizations and is currently serving as a volunteer attorney at Legal Aid of NorthWest Texas.



Question about this Event?

Contact NACD Texas TriCities Chapter 5773 Woodway Dr, Box 258, Houston, TX, 77057 phone: 832-369-7110 email: