Great Conversations is “Open for Business”- with James Kraus, Jason Levine, Ned Linnen, Les Smith

Thursday, April 26, 2018  from 6pm to 9:30pm
The Madison Hotel, Morristown, NJ (directions)
Seats are $250 each

Buy your tickets now!


James Kraus. Crum & Forster – SVP, General Counsel & Corporate Secretary
In addition to his duties as SVP, general counsel and corporate secretary, Kraus sits on the Board of Directors of Crum & Forster Holdings Corp.  A native of Short Hills, he attended college (Santa Clara U) and law school (UC, Hastings), and practiced law as a litigator in San Francisco before becoming a Managing Director of Insurance Coverage at Industrial Indemnity Company, a subsidiary of Crum & Forster. In 1993, he was transferred back to Crum & Forster in New Jersey and was ultimately named General Counsel in 2009, a position he continues to hold.  Interestingly, Kraus is also an artist, whose mural at the UCLA law school was featured on the cover of the 1978 UCLA law school yearbook. An avid museum-goer, Kraus has visited many of the world’s great museums such as the Prado, Louvre, Vatican, Uffizi, Acropolis, Rijkmuseum, among others. Additionally, his sister, Anne Kraus, is a world-acclaimed ceramic artist whose works are found in numerous public collections including the Los Angeles County Museum of Art; Houston Museum of Fine Art, the Newark Museum, Carnegie Museum of Art, Everson Museum of Art, the International Ceramic Museum, Shigaraki, Japan and the Victoria and Albert Museum in London. 


Jason Levine. Mondelēz International – Regional Chief Marketing Officer North America
With over 20 years of experience building brands in the US, Europe, and emerging markets, Levine is a progressive marketing leader with strengths in transforming categories and building strong iconic brands. Currently serving in the newly created role of Chief Marketing Officer for Mondelēz International North America, based in East Hanover, he is responsible for reinventing the marketing function into a cutting-edge, consumer-driven marketing powerhouse. This includes overseeing communications for a rich portfolio of iconic brands including Oreo, Ritz, belVita biscuits, Sour Patch Kids, and Trident gum. Additionally, Levine is responsible for White Space Innovation, addressing the growing consumer demands for well-being, while leading efforts to enter new channels and categories.  He holds an MBA (Tulane University, A.B. Freeman School of Business) and an undergraduate degree (Northeastern University).



Ned Linnen. Avis Budget Group – EVP & Chief Human Resources Officer (CHRO)
Avis Budget Group (ABG), with its 30,000 employees across seven brands in 11,000 locations in 180 countries worldwide, is a leading provider of mobility solutions.  Linnen is generally on the run trying to make home a great place for his four kids to live or on a plane trying to make ABG a great place to work for his employees.  Both are a challenge, but both are rewarding and personally motivating.  Linnen once spent thirteen weeks on a bus, driving across the country to meet every one of ABG’s 20,000 US based employees in 90 cities. His wife of 25 years, Ann Marie, is a school teacher  – very convenient with 4 children ranging  in age from 21 to 7.  When not running after his children or running through airports, Linnen is generally running around his hometown and recently ran the NYC Marathon.  He previously worked for Nabisco and Kraft Foods (also very convenient with 4 children) and has worked 28 years in Human Resources across multiple industries with responsibilities for Labor Relations, Employee Relations, Compensation, Benefits, Organizational Development, Learning, Organizational Design, Health & Safety, and Employee Communications. In between child births, Linen has also taught HR courses at the college level.  


Leslie E. Smith, Jr. The Rockefeller Group – former EVP; developed the International Trade Center/ NJ Foreign Trade Zone in Mt. Olive, NJ; Principal – Smith & Main
A true self-made man, Smith rose from humble origins to EVP with the Rockefeller Group Development Corp., creating the International Trade Center/NJ Foreign Trade Zone in Mt. Olive.  Nurtured by an astute mentor and his own entrepreneurial passion, he spent 30+ years with The Rockefeller Group enjoying navigating complex real estate deals and working with like-minded professionals.  Known for his resourcefulness, eternal optimism and ability to evolve, Smith continues to reinvent himself. Instead of retiring after receiving the 2011 NAIOP-NJ Lifetime Achievement Award, he became a Principal of Smith & Main, LLC. Equally comfortable in the boardroom or lounging at his camp in Maine, he balances his obsession for new business undertakings with restorative forays into photography, gardening and, formerly, hunting and fishing. He also loves to mentor young people, sharing his life experiences and business acumen, devoting many years to engaging local youths in the arts and outdoor pursuits through such organizations as The Children’s Theatre of New Jersey and the Boy Scouts of America.  An ardent supporter of DAYTOP New Jersey, an adolescent residential rehab facility that educates as well as transforms the lives of at-risk youth, Smith is also the beloved Grandpa of two amazing young women of whom he is unabashedly proud.