The Team Behind Prairie Capital Advisors

Our Team

Hillary Hughes



Hillary Hughes joined Prairie Capital Advisors in 2011 and is a shareholder in the firm. She provides strategic insights to assist business owners and boards of directors to address long-term ownership transaction goals. Hillary has been highly involved in the structuring and valuation related to employee stock ownership plans (ESOPs) on behalf of ESOP Trustees as well as business owners. Hillary provides financial advisory services to clients ranging from small family-owned businesses to large multi-national conglomerates. She specializes in the valuation of businesses and business interests for purposes of mergers and acquisitions ("M&A"), ESOPs, gift and estate planning and strategic planning. Hillary is also instrumental in developing Prairie’s trust-side ESOP practice.

In addition, Hillary is a frequent speaker in forums around the country on topics including valuation, ESOPs and ownership transition planning. She is a member of The ESOP Association Valuation Advisory Committee and is the immediate past president of the Iowa/Nebraska Chapter. She was awarded the Membership Recruitment Award to a Professional Member from The ESOP Association for her efforts in driving membership for the association. Additionally, Hillary was recognized as a Top 40 Under Forty Honoree by the National Association of Certified Valuators and Analysts (NACVA) in 2017. She was also a recipient of a 2018 HER Women of Achievement Award presented by HER Magazine. Hillary is active in her community and is a member of the Linn County Conservation Board. In addition, she sits on the board of directors of two private companies, a financial services provider and a distributor. Hillary is a member of the Iowa Economic Development Authority's Employee Stock Ownership Plan Advisory Panel. She is also actively involved in Prairie’s ESOP Committee. In 2020, Hillary received the M&A Atlas Americas Rising Dealmakers Award and in 2022, the M&A Advisor Emerging Leaders Award.

Corporate Directorships:

  • Van Meter Inc., Cedar Rapids, IA - Member, Board of Directors
    January 2017 - Present
  • Linn County Conservation, Toddville, IA - Member, Board of Directors
    January 2013 - Present

Professional Experience

Prior to joining Prairie, Hillary was a Senior Associate for Columbia Financial Advisors, Inc. Her duties included project management and assistance on all aspects of appraisal engagements.


Hillary holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Finance as well as a Bachelor of Science degree in Agriculture Business and Economics from Iowa State University. Hillary currently holds FINRA Series 63 and 79 securities licenses.

Professional Affiliations

  • Accredited Senior Appraiser of the American Society of Appraisers (ASA)
  • Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) Chartholder
  • National Center for Employee Ownership (NCEO)
  • The ESOP Association

Middle - Market Focus

Middle - Market Focus

Prairie Capital Advisors is dedicated to serving the investment banking and financial advisory needs of middle - market business owners

Ownership Transition

Ownership Transition

A successful transition needs a well-thought- out strategy. We will help define, shape, and implement a plan that meets your short-term and long-term objectives

Corporate Growth

Corporate Growth

Build or buy? It could be both. Prairie Capital Advisor’s strong relationships with debt and equity capital sources will help you realize your corporate growth strategies

Business Sustainability

Business Sustainability

Sustainability requires strategies that grow the enterprise and minimize risks. Prairie advises companies on strategies that result in long-term shareholder value