Brightwater Leadership

Dan Ricks

Founder, CEO & President

Dan has over 30 years of experience and progressive advancement in the education, financial services, retail, professional services, consulting, utility and beverage manufacturing industries including large, medium and “start up” companies. He is recognized for successfully completing technology initiatives that drive business results. Additionally, he is known for facilitating collaboration among business and technology leaders. Dan has applied his enterprise solutions delivery skills and experience in the United States, Europe, Latin America and Asia. He has a strong background in strategic planning and successful execution of plan with ROI analysis and corporate governance on all technology initiatives.

In addition to his experience at Bright Water Consulting, Dan was the Senior Director of IT for UtiliQuest, LLC, where he was responsible for all aspects of technology. Previous to this position, he was Chief Information Officer at Delta Career Education Corporation, Vice President, Business Technology Officer and Director of the Project Management Office for SunTrust Bank, Global IT Manager for The Coca-Cola Company, IT Manager for Norrell Corporation and a Business Systems Analyst at the Georgia Power Company.

Dan holds a Master of Business Administration Degree from Georgia State University, a Bachelor of Business Administration Degree from Georgia Southern University and presently resides in Snellville, Georgia, with his wife Luanne.

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CB Smithwick

Vice President, Operations

After his service in the United States Army, CB began his professional career at BellSouth, now AT&T, as a B2B Account Executive and quickly advanced to management. He left BellSouth to begin a digital consulting agency in Atlanta, GA. Throughout the years clients included Adobe Systems, United States Army, Taco Bell (YUM! Brands), Hewlett-Packard, Association for Contract Textiles, Benson Integrated Marketing, Mohawk, Coro Realty, Grant Design Collaborative, Decca Ltd., Georgia-Pacific, Russ Harrington, and more. Sales and marketing were CB’s first passion, but technology quickly became an equal. He focused on mastering the two early on and the combination proved to be very powerful.

Since beginning his career in technology he has been featured in many top level publications such as TechCrunch, San Francisco Chronicle, Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Fast Company, SFGate and Forbes for various contributions to tech as a whole as well as his own endeavors. CB brings more than a high level of understanding and execution of programming and analytics. His method of including the bigger business picture and overall strategy has proved to inform the very core of a client’s business model. With a rare combination of technical know-how and a business savvy intellect, CB has fundamentally improved companies of all levels – from startup to enterprise.

CB is highly trained and credentialed with over 17 years of successful experience. He is a lover of the outdoors, great food, music and anything that challenges the talents and grit of people.

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Michael Chrissie


Michael Chrissie has over 25 years of experience in leadership, sales, and channel sales positions in information technology and manufacturing companies, with the last 18 years leveraging his vast technology background that spans the entire stack of hardware, software, and services. Michael’s experience includes start-ups, small to mid-sized companies, and global enterprises where he has helped each organization achieve success by being customer focused and solution oriented. He has a proven track record in acquiring new customers and expanding within existing customers by implementing processes and metrics that drive success.

Prior to Bright Water Consulting, Michael was Solutions Director for Relus Technologies where he was responsible for all vendor relationships and increasing sales for their infrastructure and cloud sales teams. Previously, he as Regional Sales Manager for Avere Systems with responsibilities for sales and channel sales growth in the southeast, South America, and Mexico. Previous roles include Account Executive for Dell, Account Executive for NetApp, Director of Business Development for Marshal, and Strategic Account Representative for NetApp focused on the DoD.

Michael holds a Bachelor of Business Administration from East Tennessee State University, and presenting resides in Chapel Hill, NC with his wife Kendra and their 2 children.

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Bruce Kopkin


Bruce has over 35 years of experience in executive, sales and marketing positions in high tech, manufacturing, healthcare, and distribution industries.  Bruce’s experience includes start-ups, small companies and large global enterprises and is focused on driving companies to reach their full potential by becoming more streamlined, customer focused and solution oriented.  He has a proven track record in driving turning-arounds to profitability, stagnant companies to growth, and average companies to industry leading growth.  It is his focus on organization, process and metrics that drive these improvements

Prior to Bright Water Consulting. Bruce was General Manager at sales-i with P&L responsibilities resulting in top and bottom line improvements.  Previously, he was Executive Vice President at GT Software with responsibilities for sales, marketing, product and customer success.  Previous roles include Sales Director at IBM, Vice President of Sales at OmniVue, Vice President of Sales at JDA Software and President of Lorentzen and Wettre.

Bruce is Founder and President of the Executive Sales and Marketing Association and is on the Board of Directors of Conexx, plus three other companies

He holds a Bachelor of Electrical Engineering degree from the Georgia Institute of Technology and presently resides in Marietta, Georgia, with his wife Lenora.

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Bill Kalahar

Technology Strategy & Alignment Practice Lead

Bill Kalahar is a former CIO and “Trusted Advisor” to Business Executives and Chief Information Officers in both Public and Commercial Sectors with over 35 years of accomplished experience in both Corporate and Information Technology (IT) consulting positions. Bill’s Public-Sector consulting has included engagements at the Federal, State and Local levels and military engagements with The Department of the Navy, United States Air Force and United States Army Corps of Engineers. His Commercial consulting experience is across multiple industries, including Financial Services, Retail, Consumer, Utilities and Transportation.  Bill specializes in a wide range of C-Level Advisory Services with emphasis in the disciplines of: IT Strategic Planning, Alignment & Roadmaps; IT Governance, Risk & Compliance and Leadership Selection and Team Building.

During his career, Bill has served as Captain in the United States Air Force receiving several Distinguished Honors and Awards, including the Air Force Commendation Medal for Meritorious Service and the Outstanding Junior Officer Award while assigned to the Strategic Air Command.  Bill also held Leadership positions with enGenius Consulting Group (Vice-President C-Level Advisory Services), BearingPoint Consulting (Director, Strategy, Process and Transformation), Andersen Consulting (Senior Manager, CIO Advisory Services), Gartner (Director, Consulting Services), The Coca-Cola Company (Director, Applied Technology), Information Systems of America (Vice-President Systems Development & Consulting) and Electronic Data Systems (Systems Engineer & Account Manager). Bill also currently serves as a Member of the Board of Advisors for eDemand, Inc. ( and Cyber Attack Team Leader for Cyberexercises, Inc. (

Bill holds a Bachelor of Economics Degree from North Park University (Chicago, IL) and presently resides in Sandy Springs, Georgia, with his wife Janet.

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Marc Backer

Financial Services Practice Lead

Marc Backer is an experienced Senior Executive, Management Consultant and Trusted Advisor.  Mr. Backer has consulted for Corporate Executives to maximize technology investments to meet and exceed needs of the business. He establishes metrics to measure efficiency and effectiveness of people, process and technology, maintains agile and flexible organizations to readily adapt as business change and leads by example.

Marc has a 20-year successful track record for managing complex strategic financial and technology initiatives focusing on third party software applications implementations and IT transformations mostly as a “Big 4” consultant. Mr. Backer has used the principles and techniques as prescribed by the Project Management Institute (PMI) and the Scaled Agile Methodology SAFe to plan, control and execute these global projects.  Marc has worked in the following industries: Banking & Finance, Insurance, Distribution, Consumer Retail, Energy and Technology/Data Services to manage complex initiatives achieving cost effective results under tight budgetary and time constraints. Projects include: Global Implementations, Project Reviews/Oversight, Process Improvement, Software Selections, Strategic Planning, Requirements Analysis and Special Projects.

Marc holds a Bachelor’s degree in Finance and Financial Management Services from the University of Florida and currently resides in Sandy Springs, Georgia, with his wife Sue.

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Ron Maillette

Manufacturing/CPG Practice Lead | Higher Education Practice Lead

Ron Maillette is a former CIO and experienced senior IT executive and General Manager with extensive experience in a number of business verticals. Ron served in the U.S. Air Force where he served as an airborne linguist and flew more than 125 combat missions. He spent 16 years in the insurance industry (Travelers and Aetna) working in both the business and IT sides of the business.  In 1990, Ron joined the Coca-Cola Company where he worked for 12 years in increasing levels of responsibility with his last several years as Vice President and CIO of the $3.9 Billion Fountain Division.  Between 2004 – 2013, he served as a Vice President and CIO in several companies including the $1.9 Billion Pacer Global Logistics (3PL), NuCO2 (bulk distribution), and Education Corporation of America (post-secondary education).  In 2013, he co-founded and then ran an education software company (Broadleaf Solutions).

For the past three years, Ron has provided executive consulting services to several companies with his focus being M&A IT assessments, IT Strategy Development, Strategic Product Development, Business Continuity Planning, and Process Improvement. Ron also serves on the Board of Directors for two companies, one in Healthcare Services, and the other in Process Manufacturing.

Ron holds a Bachelor of Industrial Psychology Degree from the University of Connecticut and presently resides in Port St. Lucie, Florida, with his wife Marie.

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