Our Team of Accounting Professionals

Prana Partners’ team of accounting professionals bring years of hands-on financial consulting and support to our clients. We help our clients stay on track, establish/maintain financial controls, improve decision making, and better understand the financial side of their business.

Suzann Sylvester, MBA, CIA: Suzann’s accounting experience spans 40 years, ranging from High Technology to Consumer Products to Cannabis accounting.   She is a Certified Internal Auditor (CIA).  Her client work has included IPO audit prep, managing SOX compliance, and acting as Controller to teams in the process of M&A and capital raising including creating a detailed financial model for a grow facility.  Suzann’s clients speak of her depth of engagement, how she encourages the team, and her skill with complex accounting – filtering quickly through the issues.  Suzann is adept at assessing procedures/operations – peeling the onion back and asking: what do we have; who are the stakeholders; what are they getting or not getting; what do they want?  Solutions, deliverables, and working out a Plan B” define Suzann.  “She is so incredibly well networked that if she does need help, she knows who to call.”  Her clients say whatever the project, Suzann “will help you to get there.”  Suzann is known for engaging and motivating her teams, both those she is in charge of and cross-departmental.  Suzann supports organizations that enable people and animals:  Meals on Wheels, Boy Scouts, the American Red Cross, the American Cancer Society, Hope Hospice and the SPCA.  She holds a BA in Accounting from Michigan State University and an MBA from St. Mary’s College.

Jim Lemire, MBA: Jim is one of our most seasoned Controllers, bringing Prana clients four decades of quality expertise in High-tech Manufacturing, Education, and Management Consulting. He is an improvement-oriented professional and a strong leader who has partnered with Fortune 500 companies as well as small entrepreneurial ventures. Jim considers himself to be a businessman who just happens to be great at accounting. Clients speak of his ability to handle “all things finance” and his efficacy in communicating financials to those whose background may not be financials-focused. His experience and reach allow him to navigate companies through difficult times while also offering strategic planning and quality and productivity improvement. He is known to clients as a coach and a teacher and is most proud of the accomplishments and success enjoyed by young accountants he has mentored over the years. Education and educational systems are important to Jim and he feels there is much we can do on the local level to ensure quality education for our kids. He cares deeply about issues and solutions surrounding cancer as it has, like for many of us, hit close to home for him. Jim earned his BBA from the University of Michigan, his MBA, Management from River College, and has accentuated his knowledge with Quality Management coursework through Philip Crosby Associates.

Pat Lynch, CPA: Pat has been working in accounting for over 20 years in the capacity of controller, director of cash management and as an auditor – both internal and public accounting with a Big 4 firm. He brings to our clients a measurable record of improving operational and financial systems, improved cash flow, and solid financial reporting. He is adept at identifying imperfect cost factors and process and modifying or removing them. Pat believes that strong management of a financial team requires clarity of goals, proper planning and with an emphasis on cash management. He believes in fostering an environment of excellence that helps an organization thrive. Pat’s clients speak of his solidity, his ethics, and the morality he brings to his work and to his life. They talk of how he brings his background as an auditor to everything he does. Pat is a mentor in his work, considered a talented business person and communicator in addition to being an astute and knowledgeable controller. Pat is an experienced marathon runner and assists others as a pace group leader – helping others to achieve their fitness goals. He is active in his local church, and, having earned the Eagle Scout rank as a youth is a supporter of the Boy Scouts. He is a big believer in our youth and is moved to assist and provide guidance to causes supporting morality standards and fitness for our youth. Pat holds a BBA, Accounting, Iowa State University and an MBA, Arizona State University.

Tim Mahon, MBA, Certified Business Appraiser: Tim’s 20+ years’ experience include navigating the difficult waters of M&A, capital raising (he raised multiple tranches over $10m including senior debt, mezzanine debt, and equity), and supply chain management. He is expert in evaluating systems and processes and creating ways to streamline. Tim brings his clients technical, financial, strategic, and operating experience and the skill set to affect results quickly. He is adept with start-ups, including companies building from scratch and those that are off course and need a strong finance team member to help turn the company around. Further, Tim’s background includes succession planning, creation of Key Performance Indicators, audit management, back office staff management and training (Legal, HR, IT, Purchasing, and Risk Management), contract review, and relationship management. Tim’s clients speak of his ability to establish solid relationships and how his value-add is immediate. His communication can be deep, complex, and technical or simple and basic – depending on his audience and their need. He is known to be exceedingly sharp in business and a strong partner to his clients. Tim and his family get involved in environmental issues and health (in and outside the U.S.) and educational issues seen with lower income families. Tim holds a B.S. in Civil Engineering from Marquette University, an M.B.A. from the J.L. Kellogg Graduate School of Management at Northwestern University. He is a Certified Business Appraiser/ Business Valuation Expert (inactive) and has Tax Designation with the IRS. He is a Financial Contributor for radio and television including ABC-TV, WBEZ (NPR), and WBBM (radio) and has an extensive list of presented white papers.

Ken Majer: A detailed, conscientious, and hands-on, CFO/Controller, Ken brings over three decades experience to the Prana Partners’ team, including a skill set of cost accounting, controls, financial planning, and six years in public accounting.  Ken has provided successful turnaround plans to large and small companies, restructuring working capital and implementing a variety of creative measures to make these companies fly again.  Ken’s background carries deep turn-around experience and he is adept at inventory.  His clients speak of his ability to triage and implement complex strategies to effect changes.  Ken has traveled nationally and internationally to service his clients.  His clients note that regardless of location, Ken’s communication and ability to plan and implement with their teams is consistently stellar.  Clients call Ken “the best controller they have ever worked with” and speak of his deep and responsive communication abilities.  Ken’s passion is in helping companies, in collaborating with management to provide the tools necessary to successfully manage their companies – including the turn-around tools to help companies survive and move forward.

Kathy Tobin, CPA: Kathy is a professional CPA, Accountant, and Controller/Bookkeeper who brings close to three decades’ experience to our clients. She is QBO Certified and is a QuickBooks ProAdvisor with a background in eCommerce, Construction, Retail, and Real Estate, among others. Her Cannabis industry accounting experience supports a large producer/processor located in Central Washington.  Kathy’s skill set includes the work of setting up systems for start-ups, cleaning up neglected books/getting things back on track, and improving financial operations and flow. There have been times in her career where her aptitude for forensic accounting and ability to overhaul a poor/non-functioning accounting system have turned her clients around. Kathy’s clients speak to her responsiveness, her “partner/team member” approach, and her keen accounting eye. Her precision and focus on detail along with her persistence and curiosity benefit each client engagement. Kathy lives in an agricultural community where wages are low but people with hope of making a better life live. To add something cleansing, gentle, and fragrant to their lives, she makes lots of nice smelling soaps to donate to the local food banks for these families. Kathy earned her BA in Accounting from the University of Indiana, her BA in Marketing from Seattle University. She is a Certified Public Accountant.

Dana L. Lee: Dana has over 20 years’ experience in financial roles such as Accounting Manager, Controller, Business Manager, and Full-charge Bookkeeper. She is a hands-on financial professional with experience in Agriculture, Education, Non-Profit, Professional Services, and Medical/Physician Services. Dana has effectively supervised financial and administrative staff and, in smaller companies, has acted as both Controller/Business Manager and Bookkeeper – keeping financials relevant, reporting, budgeting, and analyzing. Dana believes in purpose, and in helping others find purpose in themselves. She is someone who cares deeply about her work, her friends, and social justice issues revolving around empathy in our society, acceptance, and tolerance such as LGBTQ, education for women worldwide, Black Lives Matter. Dana’s addresses her concern for global health and wellness through a yogic path of body positive healing modalities, natural weight loss, kindness and compassion. Her intent is to bring yoga to the injured, aged, and into our prison system.  Dana’s clients talk about her ability to see detail while at the same time how that detail fits into the whole, about how her education and experience are apparent in her day to day work, and how this builds trust not only in her, but in the financials she provides. Dana is known to be able to cross “title” lines in order to get the work done that needs to be done. She brings energy, intelligence, and efficiency to all her work with our clients.Dana graduated with Honors from Saint Mary’s College. She earned a B.A., Management and, additionally, studied upper division Accounting at Stanislaus State University.

Karen Riessen: With 25 plus years’ accounting experience, primarily with start-ups, Karen is one of our “new business” experts. She has experience handling the accounting for a variety of small business industries including professional services, technology, wine, hospitality, and investment among others. Karen spent 17 years working with Kranz & Associates where she worked hands-on with venture-funded start-up companies. In addition to start-ups, her client roster has often included companies who bring her in to clean up and turn around their books and systems. She is known for delivering solutions and helping businesses get “unstuck.” Karen’s clients see her as an innovative problem solver. Patient. Organized. Accessible. They say she is a true partner in that she talks out the moving parts with them and then offers assessments and solution options so action can be taken. Karen is strong at evaluating management needs and matching those needs to systems in order to create a strong spine for financial reporting. Karen is a Certified QuickBooks Online Pro and holds a Certificate in Financial Accounting for the Wine Business. She earned a B.S. in Business Administration (Accounting) from Notre Dame de Namur University.

Erlene Smith: Erlene has over 20 years in administrative/operations management and over a decade experience in full-charge bookkeeping. She is strong in process management, particularly in analyzing systems and implementing process to enhance efficiency and workflow. Her background includes budgeting, setting up and managing vendor relations, staffing an office and on-boarding the new hires.  Her skill set includes a variety of accounting and payroll software, tracking and managing tax and licensing for her clients (such as Sales & Use, B&O, etc.), evaluating employee compensation and benefits, and driving company growth through marketing, proposal preparation, and contract review.  Erlene’s clients comment on her ability to meet and exceed expectations and her value as a resource.  She is known for her ability to identify problems and to bring about resolution.  She is valued for her high level of organization, her efficiency, and her ability to get into the detail while keeping the big picture in the forefront.

Merry Issichopoulos, EA: In addition to 35 years’ experience as a full-charge bookkeeper, Merry has been preparing taxes and providing tax planning for businesses and individuals for over 20 years. Her skill set includes 1040s, 1041s, 1065s, 1120s, 1120-S’s and 990s, multiple state returns and amended returns, and she is an IRS Enrolled Agent (EA). She also holds a QBO Pro-Advisor certification. As a bookkeeper she handles payroll and audit preparation and has been through an IPO with one of her employers. In addition to the financials, Merry has set up retirement plans for clients, set up and managed business operations, and assisted with business growth. Her deep background has had her working in the real estate, professional services, trucking/manufacturing, and small farming industries and has handled property tax liens purchasing. Client comments on Merry include “She cares about things I don’t want to deal with and she cares that things are done right.” They speak of her professionalism, her capability, her responsiveness. Merry brings to Prana a passion for truth across all lines. She supports ministries such as Compassion International, Crazy Love Ministries/Project Bayview, and Agape International Missions (Cambodian sex trafficking victims). Merry studied basic and upper level accounting at Foothill College and Ancient Greek at Stanford University.

Jennifer Hartwell: Jennifer brings 25+ years financial accounting to Prana.  She is a Cannabis Accounting Practice member with experience setting up books/systems from scratch, evaluating software, and managing in-house payroll for the industry.  She calls the cannabis industry the “most fascinating industry I’ve ever been in.”  Jennifer approaches the industry from the angle of “knowledge is power,” and brings up to date knowledge on regulations, cash management options, technology, etc. Jennifer says her goal is to be a sounding board to her clients and, by being that sounding board, provide on-track work and excellent partnership.  Her clients say she is intelligent, clear-headed, focused, and exceptionally articulate in conveying difficult concepts or direction.  They say she is keenly aware of what it takes to run a company and supports management with that in mind.  Jennifer volunteers with the blind and supports suicide awareness.  She holds a B.A. in Business Administration from University of Phoenix.

Carrie Stutzman, CPA: Carrie is an accomplished accounting professional who brings over three decades of accounting, sales/use tax, and audit experience to the Prana team. Her industry background is in manufacturing/distribution, consumer products, professional services, and non-profit.  Adept at full cycle operational accounting, analysis, and presentation, Carrie is passionate about process improvement and is a solid software resource for our clients.  Her clients reference her as their “go-to” person, someone who helps them see the whole picture and who has the energy to get things done “the right way.”  They say she catches things others have missed and that she has a knack for asking the right questions at the right time.  Her heart engages in issues surrounding senior/elder care and she supports organizations such as the Great Lakes Adaptive Sports Association (reaching out to children and adults with disabilities) and the Kellogg Cancer Care Center.  She belongs to a number of professional groups including the Northern Illinois Business Association, the Building Materials Wholesalers Credit Group (Chairman), and the Institute of Internal Auditors.