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Conversations with the Council featuring Michael Kohner, Managing Director with Alvarez & Marsal Tax


“Leaders who start with what they believe are the ones who inspire those around them.” For Michael Kohner, those powerful words from leadership coach and author Simon Sinek motivate him to get the best out of his team. “I’m likely to be considered a transformational leader. I strive to both think long term and to inspire my teammates to maximize their potential to provide exceptional client service.”

 As the Managing Director of the West Palm Beach office of Alvarez and Marsal Tax, Michael manages a unique portfolio ranging from public companies to high-net-worth families, assisting with everything from valuations to financial planning and accounting. He’s had some notable deals, including selling a $2.3 billion business, an IPO for one of Palm Beach County’s largest companies, purchasing a $60 million aircraft for a client, and the sale of a $58 million yacht. He’s also helped with the formation of an NBA franchise and orchestrated wealth transfer planning for billionaires, CEOs, and famous athletes. Of course, strategy plays a pivotal role in his achievements. “I learned early on from a mentor to think outside the box and to work smarter, not longer.”

A proud member of The Economic Council of Palm Beach County, Michael remains passionate about its mission. “Over the last twenty years, the Economic Council just flat out gets things done to assist in a significant way with promoting overall business in Palm Beach County. Since its inception, the Economic Council has long advocated for Palm Beach County’s economic and political agenda. The Economic Council is responsible for the creation of many of the powerful organizations throughout Palm Beach County, including the Business Development Board, Criminal Justice Commission, Education Foundation, of which I was a former chair, the Housing Leadership Council, and the Tourist Development Council.”  His membership has also helped his business. “My professional life has significantly benefited by interacting with many of the top leaders of both the local business and legal community.”

Maintaining that success will take talent. Attracting prospective employees has been difficult because of the lack of affordable housing.” There is a shortage of accountants in the Southeast, and getting someone to relocate here is a challenge. I’ve had people I’ve made offers to, but then they realize how expensive it is to live here and how the rents have increased exponentially. It’s almost as bad as New York.” He’s proud of the Council’s work on the housing bond but says more needs to be done quicker. “Watching government overregulation slow the process down is frustrating.”

He says mobility and education are other critical policy issues that must be addressed. “When companies relocate here, the CEO can get their kids into any private school they want, but for the people in middle management, there is a real shortage of available slots. Our schools can’t grow fast enough for what will come over the next ten years.”  His economic forecast for the future is optimistic. “I believe we will continue to strongly outpace the rest of the county and thrive as a growing business climate in the financial services, health care, aerospace, hospitality and entertainment sectors.”

Empowering tomorrow’s leaders is a passion for Michael. He cofounded Philanthropy Tank, a non-profit that equips students with the tools to implement sustainable service-driven solutions to problems impacting our community. They have awarded over $700,000 in funding to 70 plus student-led projects in Palm Beach County and Baltimore, Maryland, where Michael’s cofounder lives. “So many amazing stories have come out of Philanthropy Tank. In Baltimore, one of the students was raising awareness about gun violence. One is now a famous Chef after starting a garden on his rooftop. I remember one student who took the garbage from a beach clean-up and turned it into art that traveled the country inspiring others to be responsible with their trash.” 

The inspiration for Philanthropy Tank came from a similar program he learned about from his daughters Megan and Laura while they were in college at Southern Methodist University. The identical twins are now 29 years old, working as lawyers in Texas. His oldest child, Andrew, now 32, is doing his fellowship in Pediatric Cardiac Anesthesiology at Riley Hospital for Children in Indianapolis. Like their dad, all three love to give back. When they were younger, they started Bikes for Kids, a not-for-profit focused on delivering hope and confidence to disadvantaged children. Of course, their mom, Kimberly, also played a significant role. She and Michael have known each other since first meeting as freshmen at Nova High School in Fort Lauderdale. They were just friends then but officially became a couple at the University of Florida and married shortly after graduation. Thirty-eight years later, their love story continues. “Her influence on our kids is tremendous and then add in my business sense. I’m thankful she puts up with me and my crazy lifestyle.”

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