Atlanta Chapter In-Person Event | Board Governance in an ESOP Company

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Tuesday, November 10, 2020
05:30 PM - 08:00 PM EST
Serendipity Labs
3225 Cumberland Blvd, Suite 100
Atlanta, GA 30339



Please join the Private Directors Association in Atlanta for a panel discussion in regard to the role of Board Governance in an ESOP company.  The discussion will cover the formation of an ESOP, the selection of ESOP directors, and how ESOP board member responsibilities differ from those of the members of non-ESOP boards. Our host and moderator for the evening, Don Bravaldo, Founder of Bravaldo Capital Advisors, Inc., will guide a panel discussion that explores the nuances of ESOP board governance.





Erin Turley 
McDermott, Will & Emery

Erin Turley is partner at McDermott Will & Emery. Her ESOP practice focuses on design, implementation, maintenance, and termination of ESOPs. She has represented companies and inside and outside ESOP trustees in buy and sell side transactions, and ongoing ESOP compliance matters. She has assisted in numerous transactions, leveraged buyouts, mergers, acquisitions, and the structuring and financing of ESOPs using private equity. She has extensive experience in designing and negotiating credit facilities specifically tailored to the needs of ESOP-owned companies. She is co-author of BNA Tax Management Portfolio 354 – ESOPs and BNA Corporate Practice Portfolio 62 – ESOPs in Corporate Transactions.


Robert Lesser
Founder and CEO
Aegis Fiduciary Services, LLC


Robert Lesser is the founder and CEO of Aegis Fiduciary Services, LLC (“Aegis”). Aegis offers trustee services to privately-held companies that sponsor employee stock ownership plans (“ESOPs”). Aegis was started in July of 2017. The Aegis team has over 65 years combined experience with total assets under administration of approximately 1.6 billion dollars.

Rob has been practicing law for over 30 years. For 20 years, he has focused his practice on representing company sponsors and institutional trustees of ESOPs. During that time, he has participated in approximately 300 ESOP transactions. Rob received his BA in Humanistic Studies from the Johns Hopkins University and his law degree from the University of California, Los Angeles. 


Kirk Hancock

Taylor English Duma LLP

Kirk Hancock is the CEO of Taylor English Duma LLP. Mr. Hancock has more than 30 years of experience as a finance, accounting and operations executive at publicly held, privately held and start-up companies. He works directly with business owners and senior leadership teams to focus on profitable growth and business transformation. During his tenure at North Highland, Mr. Hancock helped increase company revenues from $32 million to more than $350 million and implement an innovative expansion model.

As independent director at multiple employee-owned companies, Mr. Hancock has vast knowledge on managing the complexities of a growing organization while focusing on the intersection of culture, compensation, and profitability. Mr. Hancock also has experience in the broadband and telecom industries, the airline IT industry and the automotive parts industry.

Auburn University, BS, Accounting


Howard Kaplan
Kaplan Fiduciary Group

Howard Kaplan leads Kaplan Fiduciary Group, a boutique firm focused on improving fiduciary performance of boards and management of ESOP companies and of ESOP fiduciaries.  He has more than 25 years in the ERISA fiduciary and trust banking industry, where he developed industry leading expertise on fiduciary matters for employee stock and qualified retirement plans.

Before Kaplan Fiduciary, Kaplan served on three fiduciary practice teams of premier ESOP trust companies. He frequently lectures and teaches ESOP trustee and fiduciary subjects at the industry associations meetings and at the UC San Diego Beyster Institute.  He is a member and served on key committees of the ESOP Association (TEA), Employee Owned Sā€Corporation of America (ESCA), and the National Center for Employee Ownership (NCEO).  In addition, Kaplan has served as the fiduciary process expert on five cases before federal court.


Austen Jackson
Vistage Chair and Board Member 

Austen Jackson MBA, BSc (Chemical Engineering) (Cape Town) has over 30 years of financial and CEO experience.

His early career as an entrepreneur involved the turnaround of two businesses. Following the successful sale of these businesses, Mr. Jackson was recruited by the largest listed public company in Zimbabwe (12,000 employees) to provide an entrepreneurial impetus to group strategic planning. This evolved into a lead role in acquisitions and disposals, and ultimately the turnaround of under-performing business units. Most notably, he held the position of CEO/Managing Director with such companies as United Bottlers (Coca-Cola franchise), Delta Distribution and Food & Industrial Manufacturer.

On migrating to the United States, Mr. Jackson used his multi-functional and diverse industry experience to provide a broad range of consulting services to middle market businesses, 5 years of which was with Grant Thornton, a worldwide public accounting and consulting organization. Before forming this partnership, as Managing Director, Mr. Jackson completed turnarounds of an Energy Management and Contract Food manufacturing business.

He has also served as a member of the Board of Directors for over 20 corporations.

Specialties: Increasing EBITDA based business valuations in manufacturers and distributors.



Don Bravaldo
Bravaldo Capital Advisors

Don founded Bravaldo Capital Advisors in 2006 to provide full-service investment banking to middle market clients, a segment underserved by larger advisory firms. As managing partner, Don has led BCA through successful transactions across a wide variety of industries.

Prior to founding Bravaldo Capital Advisors, Don led the middle market group at a Southeastern M&A advisory firm and oversaw all North American mergers and acquisition activity for Hanger Orthopedic Group, Inc., a large, publicly traded, consolidator of orthopedic and prosthetic service businesses. In these roles, Don administered all phases of the mergers and acquisition process, including identifying potential sell side opportunities, packaging businesses for sale, performing business valuations, extending and negotiating offers, conducting due diligence investigations, and managing the formal closing process.

Earlier in his career as an auditor with Bennett Thrasher & Co., P.C. and Arthur Andersen LLP, Don coordinated financial reporting engagements and provided business consulting services to clients throughout the Southeast in industries including construction, service, manufacturing, and healthcare.

Don is a member of the Georgia Society of Certified Public Accountants and the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants. He graduated cum laude with a BS in Accounting from Auburn University. Don is active in his church and enjoys golf, fishing and the outdoors.