What is the Private Directors Association?

The Anderson Files
The Anderson Files
What is the Private Directors Association?

What is the mission and value of the Private Directors Association (PDA) to companies and to individuals? Mike talks with Dennis Kessler, PDA Founder and Martha Spano, PDA SoCal leader. Started in Chicago, and now present in major cities across the U.S., the PDA is a dynamic organization fostering excellence for private company boards.

Dennis Kessler is the Founder and President of Midwest Family Business Advisors, which consults with family business owners to assist them with creating independent Boards of Directors, succession planning, strategic planning and conflict resolution.

Dennis has served on eight Public and Private Company boards and draws from his personal experience as the former Co-President of Fel-Pro, Inc., a fifth generation business that was in his family for 80 years. Fortune magazine ranked Fel-Pro with a fourth-place ranking on Fortune magazine’s list of best companies to work for.

Dennis is a founder and currently the COO of the Private Directors Association, which helps companies form Boards and helps Directors get placed on Boards of Private Companies. Learn more by contacting Dennis at or visit

Martha Spano joined the Avenue Advisory Group at UBS with over 35 years in the institutional investment consulting industry including the following firms—Callan Associates, Watson Wyatt, AonHewitt, and most recently Buck Consultants. In several of these positions she was the Senior Consulting Professional as well as the Practice Leader for regional territories.

Martha was responsible for client servicing as well as management and leadership of consulting staff. She has extensive experience working with both defined contribution plans and defined benefit plans in all areas of investment consulting, asset liability studies, investment policy development and compliance, manager structure and manager search.

Martha has worked with plans of all sizes and has experience in the public sector industry working with governmental retirement plans. She has specific expertise in the defined contribution area, dealing with manager structure issues, vendor consolidation, and retirement income alternatives. Additionally, Martha has over 10 years of governance training experience and is currently a Certified Governance Trainer through the nonprofit association BoardSource. She has conducted numerous governance training sessions for her clients and has written several notable articles for industry publications on governance and investment topics.

Martha also serves on the Retirement Advisor Council. In 2016, she was appointed to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce ERISA Advisory Council and has a strong knowledge of investment due diligence. She has served as a voting member of the management selection committee for manager searches and has participated in well over 100 manager meetings per year. Martha also served on the company’s pension and profit sharing committees while at Watson Wyatt, and during her tenure at both Buck and Watson Wyatt she was a voting member of the pension governance committees. She was a frequent speaker at a number of industry conferences and is a working member of the Defined Contribution Institutional Investment Association (DCIIA) serving on several task force committees.

Martha is on the Advisory Board for WIIIN – Women in Institutional Investment. Additionally, she holds the Series 7 and 66 licenses, and has received the Endowment and Foundation Specialist designation. Learn more by contacting Martha at

Subscribe to The Anderson Files on, powered by Infogen Labs Inc. The Anderson Files can also be heard on Apple iTunes, Google Podcasts, Amazon Audible, iHeart, and Pandora.

WWW.PODCLIPS.IOPremium Podcasts for the 21st Century