Branford’s team includes professionals with first-rate management, deal evaluation, and legal capabilities. Further, Branford has developed an extensive network of advisory professionals to help evaluate, finance and manage acquisition opportunities.
John S. Castle, Managing Partner, Investment Committee Member
Mr. John S. Castle’s primary responsibilities are deal sourcing, deal execution, and post-acquisition portfolio oversight. Mr. Castle is and has been a board member of various companies owned by Branford, including TooJay’s Restaurant & Deli and Earthlite Massage Tables. Prior to joining Branford in 2002, he was a Director of Business Development at Airwave Wireless (an Idealab! Company, the leading Internet incubator in the early 2000’s). Prior to that, he was an Analyst, M&A at Dillon Read & Co. John received an A.B. from Harvard College, where he was a John Harvard Scholar (top annual academic achievement), a Cum Laude graduate, and started at running back on the varsity football team. He received an M.B.A. from the Harvard Business School. He is a member of the Manhattan Chapter of the Young Presidents’ Organization (“YPO”) and is the Co-Chairman of the Harvard Class of 1995 Fundraising Committee. He is also a member of the Board of Trustees of the Riverdale Country School in New York City.
David Castle, Managing Partner, Investment Committee Member
Mr. David Castle’s primary responsibilities are deal execution, post-acquisition oversight and fund administration. Mr. Castle is and has been a board member of various companies owned by Branford. Prior to joining Branford in 1996, he was a Regional Director for Santa Fe Steakhouse, a casual themed restaurant chain headquartered in Ohio. Prior to that, he was a Risk Management Specialist with GE Capital/Monogram Bank. He received a B.A. from Skidmore College (Phi Beta Kappa) and a J.D. from the Cornell Law School. He is licensed to practice law in the state of New York. He is a member of the New York Metro Chapter of Young Presidents’ Organization. Mr. Castle has been a member of the Board of Trustees of Skidmore College as well as a member of its Alumni Association Board of Directors.
Eric Korsten, Managing Director
Mr. Eric Korsten’s primary responsibilities are sourcing, acquisition and oversight of new and existing investments. He is a board member of TooJay’s Restaurant & Deli as well as a member of its audit committee, a board member of Earthlite Massage Tables and a board member of Surface Preparation Technologies. In 2015, Mr. Korsten received “Top 40 Under 40” recognition from The M&A Advisor and was a judge for the 14th Annual M&A Advisor Awards. Prior to joining Branford in 2011, he was a Vice President at the investment banking firm Jefferies & Co., Inc. While at Jefferies, he worked on over $30 billion of restructuring and M&A advisory mandates and completed over $7 billion of financings. Mr. Korsten received a B.A. from the University of Pennsylvania and an M.B.A. from the Leonard N. Stern School of Business at New York University. He is an alumni interviewer for the University of Pennsylvania.
Laurence Lederer, Managing Director
Mr. Laurence Lederer is most heavily involved in the acquisition and oversight of new investments and is a board member of Earthlite Massage Tables. Prior to joining Branford Castle in 2015, Mr. Lederer founded Rubicon Associates, where he acquired and took on senior operating roles in small-cap companies. Prior to that, Mr. Lederer was a Principal at ACG Capital, where he sourced, evaluated, structured and executed private equity investments in the insurance brokerage, business services and education sectors for the Arnall family office. He also worked as an investment banking Associate at Morgan Stanley & Co. and an Associate at Castle Harlan, Inc. Mr. Lederer received a B.A. from Carleton College, where he was a Cum Laude graduate and received his M.B.A. from the Harvard Business School. He is a member of the Board of Trustees of the City Parks Foundation and a former member of the Board of Trustees of Riverdale Country School.
James Reddington, Chief Financial/Compliance Officer
Mr. James Reddington manages the financial, compliance, administrative and accounting operations of Branford Castle’s global portfolio of companies. Prior to joining Branford in 2010, he was CFO of Synergy Workplaces, a provider of flexible workplaces. Prior to that, Mr. Reddington was CAO of NY Mortgage Trust, a mortgage REIT listed on the NYSE where he oversaw all financial accounting, operational accounting and budgeting, SEC reporting and Sarbanes-Oxley compliance. Mr. Reddington received a B.S. in accounting from Fairleigh Dickinson University. He is a Member of the American Institute of CPAs and is a Certified Public Accountant.
John K. Castle, Investment Committee Member
Mr. John K. Castle (JKC) is one of the pioneers of the institutional private equity industry. He is also the Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Castle Harlan, Inc. and a member of the Executive Committee of CHAMP, an affiliate of Castle Harlan. JKC is also chairman of Castle Connolly Medical Ltd. Immediately prior to forming Castle Harlan, Mr. John K. Castle was President and Chief Executive Officer of Donaldson, Lufkin & Jenrette, Inc., one of the nation’s leading investment banking firms. JKC is a board member of various private equity companies, including those owned by Branford Castle. He also served as a Director of the Equitable Life Assurance Society of the U.S. JKC is a Life Member of the Corporation of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He served 22 years as a Trustee of New York Medical College, (including 11 years as Chairman). He was board member of the Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research for 13 years, and was Founding Chairman of the Whitehead Board of Associates. He is also a member of The New York Presbyterian Hospital Board of Trustees and has served on various visiting committees at Harvard University, including at the Harvard Business School. JKC received his B.A. degree from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, an M.B.A. as a Baker Scholar, with High Distinction, from the Harvard Business School, and has four Honorary Doctorate Degrees of Humane Letters.
David Pittaway, Investment Committee Member
Mr. David Pittaway is Vice Chairman of Branford Castle and has been closely involved with the firm since its founding in 1987. He has also been actively involved with Castle Harlan since its founding in 1987. Prior to Branford Castle and Castle Harlan, Mr. Pittaway was vice president for strategic planning and assistant to the President of Donaldson, Lufkin & Jenrette, Inc., (DLJ). Before joining DLJ, he was a management consultant in strategic planning with Bain & Company in Boston, Mass., and previously was an attorney with Morgan, Lewis & Bockius specializing in labor relations. In addition to being on the board of various Branford Castle portfolio companies, he is a board member of The Cheesecake Factory, Caribbean Restaurants, LLC and Bravo Brio Restaurant Group, and has also served on the boards of numerous other Castle Harlan portfolio companies, including American Achievement Corporation, Gold Star Foods, Shelf Drilling, Statia Terminals Group N.V., Morton’s Restaurant Group, and United Malt Holdings Inc. Mr. Pittaway’s community interests include being a director of the Dystrophic Epidermolysis Bullosa Research of America. In addition, he served for twenty years in the United States Army Reserve and, upon retiring as a Major, he co-founded and acts as a director of the Armed Forces Reserve Family Assistance Fund, which provides needed support for families of American service members whose breadwinners are serving their country in overseas conflicts. He is a graduate of the University of Kansas (B.A. with Highest Distinction), and has both an M.B.A. with High Distinction (Baker Scholar) from the Harvard Business School and a J.D. degree from the Harvard Law School.
Richard Y. Smith, Investment Committee Member
Mr. Richard Y. Smith is President of Evergreen Capital Partners Inc., a merchant banking firm that works closely with Branford Castle. Prior to founding Evergreen, Mr. Smith was a Managing Director of Chemical Bank (now JPMorgan Chase & Co.), with shared responsibly for the Corporate Finance and Principal Transactions Groups. Prior to joining Chemical, Mr. Smith was a Senior Vice President of Rothschild Inc.’s Corporate Finance group. Rothschild Inc. is an investment banking, venture capital and money management firm affiliated with the world-wide Rothschild Group. Mr. Smith started his career with Blyth & Co., Inc. as a securities analyst. Mr. Smith received his B.A. degree with Honors from Wesleyan University and his M.B.A. from the Harvard Business School. He is also a Chartered Financial Analyst (C.F.A.). Mr. Smith has served as Chairman of the Wesleyan Annual Fund and as an officer and director of several other charitable organizations.
Camille Peña, Controller
Ms. Camille Peña helps oversee and manage the financial, compliance, administrative and accounting operations of Branford Castle’s global portfolio of companies. She is responsible for direct interaction with accounting personnel in all portfolio companies to enable timely monthly, quarterly and annual financial reporting. She is also the point person for the consolidated financial information as well as an integral part of the annual audit and budget processes. Prior to joining Branford in 2010, she was a Senior Fund Accountant at NCH Capital. Prior to that, Ms. Peña was AVP at Deutsche Bank AG, Americas. Ms. Peña received a B.B.A. degree in Managerial Accounting from Hofstra University.
Ben Sebel, Senior Advisor
Mr. Ben Sebel is a Senior Advisor to Branford Castle and was most recently a Managing Director at CHAMP, having been with the firm since 2005. Immediately prior, Mr. Sebel was a Managing Director at Castle Harlan for seven years, and is experienced in all aspects of private equity investment including deal origination, realizations and fundraising in both the United States and Australia. Immediately prior to joining Castle Harlan, Mr. Sebel worked at Goldman Sachs & Co. in its Capital Markets Group. Previously, Mr. Sebel spent two years as Special Advisor to the Hon. Nick Greiner AC, a former premier of New South Wales, and commenced his career in the Management Consulting Services Group of PricewaterhouseCoopers (Australia), where he also qualified as a Chartered Accountant. Mr. Sebel holds a Bachelor of Commerce (First Class Honours) from the University of New South Wales, a M.B.A. from the Harvard Business School, and is a graduate of the Australian Institute of Company Directors. Mr. Sebel is currently a Director of Shelf Drilling Limited, ATF Services, and Gerard Lighting Group. Mr. Sebel was formerly on the board of Centric Wealth Limited, a director of Healthcare Australia Holdings Pty Limited, Study Group Pty Limited, United Malt Holdings, Ion Track, Inc., Associated Packaging Technologies, Inc., Equipment Support Services, Inc. and AdobeAir, Inc.
Alina Key, Associate
Ms. Alina Key joined Branford in 2016. Ms. Key is responsible for evaluating and executing new investments. Prior to joining Branford, she was an investment banking analyst in the Energy Group at RBC Capital Markets, where she focused on strategic advisory and equity and debt financing transactions. Ms. Key received a B.S. in Business Administration from Olin Business School at Washington University in St. Louis, where she was a Summa Cum Laude graduate.
Austin Collier, Associate
Mr. Austin Collier joined Branford in 2016. Mr. Collier is responsible for evaluating and executing new investments. Prior to joining Branford, he was an investment banking analyst at Duff & Phelps, where he focused primarily on M&A advisory. Mr. Collier graduated from the University of Virginia, where he received his B.S. in Commerce as a Thomas I. Storrs Scholar from the McIntire School of Commerce.
Katrina Schmidt, Senior Fund Accountant
Ms. Katrina Schmidt joined Branford in 2016 and serves as a senior fund accountant. She has more than six years of financial and private equity investment management experience. Prior to joining Branford, she spent two years as a private equity senior accountant with SS&C Technologies, where she was responsible for reporting and fund services for various private equity funds with over $2 billion of assets under management. Previously, she spent three years as a senior auditor at Deloitte LLP in the Financial Services Group. Ms. Schmidt holds a B.S. in Accounting (Summa Cum Laude) and an M.B.A from Pace University’s Lubin School of Business. She is a Certified Public Accountant.
Darby Blaker, Executive Assistant/Office Manager
Ms. Darby Blaker is the Executive Assistant and Office Manager of Branford Castle. She coordinates all corporate events, oversees the day-to-day office operation, and assists with other key company activities. Prior to Branford Castle, she worked in the hospitality industry as a Front Office Manager at properties such as the Conrad Hilton New York and Loews Ventana Canyon Resort in Tucson. Darby received a Bachelor of Science from the University of Arizona in Speech Pathology.