Brian has a unique background ideally suited to lead the Pearl Fund. He has a rare blend of being an early-stage entrepreneur, a global expert on economic development through entrepreneurship, an advisor to Ivy League faculty on how to convert their inventions into viable businesses, and an intrapreneur in several global organizations.
Brian has been a part of the founding team of a number of fast-growing startups. Two went public, two were acquired and one was sold via an MBO. As a founding CEO he has raised over $33M in venture capital. However, not all his startups were successes. Part of being successful in the field of entrepreneurship is learning from your failures and knowing how to fail quickly.
Studies have shown that the best way to improve an emerging economy is through entrepreneurship. So Brian also spent a decade giving back by helping SME entrepreneurs in emerging countries. He was a consultant for Endeavor Global, became the Global Head of Entrepreneurship at Technoserve and then worked for Goldman Sachs' 10,000 women initiative helping fast-growing women entrepreneurs in Africa, India, China, and Latin America.
He is an active member of the Academic Venture Exchange, which is a collaboration between the technology transfer offices at Ivy League universities and experienced entrepreneurs. Through this mechanism Brian has worked with faculty inventors and entrepreneurs from Columbia, Cornell, and Princeton Universities.
Brian currently has residences in New York City as well as in Wayne County, Pennsylvania. There are many federally designated Opportunity Zones located nearby these two residences. He is a U.S citizen, with a Bachelors of Science degree (B.S.) in Computer Science as well as a Masters in Divinity (M.Div), and an extensive career in entrepreneurship, development and investment spanning over 30 years.
Eve brings 27 years of experience at McKinsey & Company, Investment Banking and Venture Capital, and roles in strategy, marketing, business development, product development, and retail innovation, for companies from startups to multibillion-dollar corporations.
She has worked in industries including dot com / high tech, healthcare/life sciences, and consumer products and services, both in the United States and abroad. Her breadth of experience across industries and functions makes her a uniquely capable and well-rounded resource for the Pearl Fund's portfolio of investment companies.
Eve began her career at McKinsey & Company in New York, then transferred to their Moscow office. She left McKinsey to join Russia's largest Russian-owned investment bank (United Financial Group, later acquired by Deutsche Bank) and was on the founding team of one of Russia's earliest venture capital funds, identifying opportunities and investing into Russia's emerging consumer sector, and serving as a hands-on management team member of investment targets.
Eve has spent over a decade of her career in startup companies, on management teams and in roles including Marketing, Sales, Business Development, and Product Development. She is also a seasoned large company leader, having spent nearly a decade in executive roles at the Estee Lauder Companies. As Vice President, Transformation Initiatives, she worked with the company's C-level and Executive Leadership Team to drive transformational change and to build new capabilities in areas including retail innovation, marketing, R&D, and global operations. As Vice President, Strategy and Commercial Operations, MAC Cosmetics, she drove strategy, rebranding, and global retail innovation initiatives.
Eve is a U.S. citizen, has a B.A. cum laude in Political Science from Yale University, and speaks fluent Russian.
Debbie Klis has a broad financial practice focused on securities and private fund formation including opportunity zone funds and syndications, venture capital funds, hedge funds, private equity funds, real estate funds and syndications, EB-5 funds, and international master-feeder funds.
Debbie’s experience includes structuring successful debt and equity investments coupling multiple sources of investing including private equity, EB-5 financing, public financing, HUD mortgage loans, Low Income Housing Tax Credits, federal/state historic tax credits, New Market Tax Credits and crowdfunding.
Debbie is part of Polsinelli’s multidisciplinary team of fund, real estate, tax and securities attorneys representing developers, fund sponsors and businesses and investors regarding opportunity zone funds.
Debbie is a member of the American Bar Association’s Broker-Dealer Subcommittee and Investment Adviser Subcommittee and utilizes her LL.M. in tax on structuring matters.
Paul Saint-Pierre, Founder, PSP Advisors
Paul's professional experience features consistent themes of alternative investment strategies, including i) strategic advisory services, ii) investment management, operations, compliance, securities placement, and secondary-market transactions of alternative investment funds, and iii) active principal in the design, creation and investment management of institutional-quality, SEC-registered investment companies and business development companies and their subsequent launch through retail, registered investment advisor, and mass-affluent investor channels.
Paul has held senior executive positions that include: Chief Financial Officer of investment companies, business development companies; investment banker; US REIT sector investment analyst; registered principal of broker-dealer firm; and portfolio manager and research director of a global real estate securities investment program.
Kalpana Mistry, President, Resilience Now Inc.
Kal Mistry is the former executive vice president and chief administrative officer for VITAS Healthcare Corporation, the nation’s leading provider of end-of-life care. Kal was responsible for managing the company’s national human resources division which grew from 4,000 to 12,000 employees. She also was responsible for the company's communications and media relations. In addition to her extensive experience in the health care industry, Kal has also held leadership roles in the banking industry and public education.
Kal has held leadership roles in the human resources field for more than 30 years. She has been recognized and honored by numerous industry and professional organizations, including: the National Human Capital Business Leader of the Year Award by the Society of Human Resources Management (SHRM); the Excellence in Human Resources Award by the South Florida Business Journal; HR Professional of the Year by the HR Florida State Council; "Woman Extraordinaire" by South Florida Business Leader Magazine; "Woman Changing Health Care" by United Health Care Magazine; "Influential Business Woman" by South Florida Business Journal.
G. Robert (Bob) James, Founder and Chairman of The Solomon Group
With over three decades of experience driving business transformation, Bob specializes in turnaround management and global business strategy for a range of companies across the public and private sectors. His clients include CEOs of major organizations and foreign heads of state. He has also consulted with department heads in the Obama, Bush and Clinton administrations on global economic and international affairs.
Previously, Bob held executive-level roles for public companies including The Estee Lauder Companies and The Great Atlantic and Pacific Tea Company (A&P), in strategic marketing, global insights, international business development, and ecommerce. He has served on the boards of organizations including Achieve, Inc., The Food Bank of New York, and Morgan Pierce International, and is actively involved with numerous U.S. and international organizations that protect and enrich the lives of children.
Laura Silverman - Founder LauraSilverman.com
Laura is helping the Pearl Fund develop a new set of brand messaging and enhance our online and social media presence (coming soon). Her areas of expertise include naming, brand strategy and narratives, editorial direction, multimedia campaigns, websites, short films, TV & radio, executive speeches, books and content development of every sort.
She has two decades of experience collaborating with clients ranging from Target, Coach and Restoration Hardware to Tiffany, Starwood and Four Seasons, though I also work with start-ups, creative agencies, and non-profits. I’m a holistic thinker, examining a brand in its entirety to come up with strategic ideas that have an enduring impact on both image and bottom line. Whether launching a new brand or repositioning an established one, I deliver creative solutions that are original, relevant and compelling.
Anh Mai, General Partner, The Nomadic Opportunity Pearl Fund
Anh runs the Nomadic Opportunity Pearl Fund in Houston, Texas. He is the Co-Founder and CEO of Company of Nomads. The Company of Nomads are the highly successful and acclaimed repeat entrepreneurs behind the launch of several unique food and lifestyle projects in downtown Houston, including Bravery Chef Hall (the world's first chef hall), Conservatory (Houston's first food hall), Prohibition Theatre, and Railway Heights Market, They are currently developing Hawker Asian Night Market, a groundbreaking concept returning the authentic Asian food scene to midtown Houston, and Peak Space, a transformative concept to put humans into peak performance states utilizing biohacking, functional medicine, and other new world wellness technologies.
Anh is a graduate of the University of Houston with a degree in business and is a serial entrepreneur challenging the status quo. Providing cross-functional leadership across business areas from ideation to operations, he specializes in developing and launching unique concepts and creating the space and infrastructure for continued growth.
Doug Dragoo, General Partner, The Colorado Outdoors Pearl Fund
Doug Dragoo runs the Colorado Outdoor Pearl Fund in Montrose, Colorado. Doug is the founder and Chief Executive Officer of Paragon Properties and the Chairman of Mayfly Outdoors in Montrose, Colorado.
Doug is well-regarded for his years of leadership in the outdoor and recreation industry, and for his work in promoting sustainable and environmentally responsible business investment and development. Doug’s team formula combined with his internal staff and long-term relationships in the industry have proven to be a powerful combination for generating value.
Doug and his team have been instrumental in the development of additional OZ business incentives and the recognition of the city of Montrose and the state of Colorado by the Forbes OZ 20: Top Opportunity Zone Catalysts.
Alysha Light, Founder FLIGHT PR.
In 2013, Alysha Light launched FLIGHT PR, an award-winning boutique PR firm, to represent visionary leaders and game-changing companies across tech, marketing, design, and entertainment.
In addition to her work with startups (three of which have exited over the past three years), she has driven communications strategy for world-class brands including Speedo USA, Taco Bell, Match Group, and Google.
Previously, Alysha led corporate communications for Starcom MediaVest Group, a global agency network within Publicis Groupe. She has also served as an adjunct professor and guest lecturer on PR topics at Pepperdine University, the University of Texas at Austin, and Fordham University.
A Chicago native, Alysha earned a bachelor’s degree in sociology, with a minor in journalism, from Loyola University Chicago
Michael Kressig, Partner Novogradac & Company LLP
Michael specializes in the opportunity zone incentive, the historic rehabilitation tax credit (HTC), the new markets tax credit (NMTC). He has more than 25 years of public accounting and business advisory experience.
Michael is currently assisting qualified opportunity fund sponsors in opportunity zone investing. His opportunity zone expertise includes fund structuring, financial modeling and projections, developing compliance due diligence and asset management policies and procedures, and evaluating and structuring real estate and operating business portfolio investments with consideration toward OZ requirements.
Ralph Loggia, Partner, Goldstein & Loggia CPAs
Goldstein & Loggia CPAs specializes in tax and accounting services, and have taken an early role in managing the specialized bookkeeping required for Opportunity Zone funds such as the Pearl Fund LP.
Ralph Loggia is the partner working on the Pearl Fund account. Ralph is a CPA with a Masters in Taxation. He has been in the field of public accounting for over 20 years, working with a wide variety of business and individual tax clients on tax planning strategies.
Ralph has written on the tax benefits of Opportunity Zones (link).
Jinal Shah, Principal, Shah Menon & Coin
Jinal Shah has built a niche connecting brand and e-commerce to drive cultural and commercial impact for some of the world’s most recognizable brands. As principal at New York-based brand and commerce design consultancy, Shah Menon & Co, she specializes in helping small to mid-sized ($50M - $500M) companies build their marketing and e-commerce capability.
Jinal was previously VP of e-commerce marketing at Newell Brands (NASDAQ: NWL), a leading global consumer goods company. Prior to that, she spent nine years on the agency side at J. Walter Thompson, where she developed an expertise in retail and beauty—working with brands such as Estee Lauder, Revlon, Avon, Nestle, Unilever, and Macy's.
Named one of ‘Ten Digital Strategists to Watch’ by The Guardian and iMedia’s ‘Top 25 Internet Innovators,’ Jinal graduated with honors from Temple University, earning a bachelor’s degree in journalism.
Daniel Topple, SVP OZ Banking, Customers Bank
The Pearl Fund partners with Customers Bank's dedicated Opportunity Zone Division based in New York City, run by Daniel Topple.
Daniel is a Senior Vice President and Banking Group Head within the Private and Commercial Banking division of Customers Bank.
With nearly twenty years of banking experience within the private and commercial banking fields, Daniel focuses on specialized banking solutions for "outside the box" industries, such as Opportunity Zones and EB-5.
Customers Bank is a super-community bank with $11.5 billion in assets as of December 31, 2019, offering commercial and consumer banking services along the I-95 corridor from Washington, DC to Boston; and in Chicago.
We are fortunate to have a large network from which we can draw expertise and resources at the appropriate time.
Using advisors with extensive, deep expertise in their fields on an on-call basis delivers the greatest impact for the Fund while minimizing costs. This enables more capital to go where it is needed most, i.e. to maximize investors' returns.
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