Michael A. Lonergan
Michael Lonergan works with Georgia Oak’s partner companies to grow revenue, while also evaluating new investment opportunities. Michael’s Georgia roots helped shape our mission and commitment to promoting economic growth and sustainability throughout the state and the broader Southeast.
Prior to founding Georgia Oak, Michael was Vice President of Private Equity for Strategic Value Partners (SVP), a global hedge fund. Based in London, Michael led the diligence efforts on control buyout transactions and evaluated credit investments for SVP’s “loan to own” strategy.
Before joining SVP, Michael was with Sun European Partners in London and Sun Capital Partners in Boca Raton, Fla. Sun Capital is one of the world’s most active turnaround private equity investors. While at Sun Capital, he evaluated and facilitated control buyout investments.
Early in his career, Michael worked at the Atlanta offices of Houlihan Lokey and Wells Fargo’s asset-based lending group (legacy Wachovia Bank).
Michael is a proud Board member at Families First, a non-profit organization providing adoption and foster care support, family counseling, housing assistance and other empowering services to vulnerable families across metro Atlanta.
Michael received a B.B.A., cum laude, in Finance and Management from the Terry College of Business at The University of Georgia. In 2018, he was selected by the Atlanta Business Chronicle as a 40 Under Forty Honoree and by The M&A Advisor as an Emerging Leaders Award Winner. He is an active alumnus of the Beta-Lambda chapter of the Kappa Sigma Fraternity. He enjoys working out, tennis, boxing, Georgia Bulldog football and weekend trips to his hometown of St. Simons Island.
Michael lives in Atlanta with his wife Jacqueline, their son Jordan and their dogs Lizzy and Murray. Jacqueline serves as Chief Operating Officer for Medic Mobile, a San Francisco-based non-profit that uses communication technologies to improve the health of under-served and disconnected communities.
James Zhu is responsible for due diligence, investment evaluation and transaction execution. He is also responsible for sourcing and developing strategic partnerships with the local business community.
Prior to joining Georgia Oak, James was with JP Morgan Chase, starting in their investment banking division in New York. James worked with private equity sponsors on control buyout transactions in the industrials, food & beverage, and healthcare sector. In addition, he worked with corporate and middle-market clients to facilitate M&A transactions and capital raises.
Before joining JP Morgan, James was with Hewlett-Packard and Informatica as a software engineer/consultant. He worked with start-ups and corporations across the US through big data analytics to improve operational efficiencies and uncover new revenue opportunities.
James received his MBA from Emory University and Computer and Electrical Engineering degree from Georgia Institute of Technology. He enjoys playing basketball on Saturday mornings at his local gym and mentoring GT students through the Mentor Jackets program. James lives in Atlanta with his wife Jen.
Lars Heck is responsible for financial and operational support within our portfolio company group. He also provides due diligence, investment evaluation, and transaction execution support.
Prior to joining Georgia Oak, Lars held leadership roles in Corporate Development and FP&A with TK Elevator and LogistiCare (now Modivcare) and was with Coliseum Capital Management as an Investment Analyst. While at Coliseum, he evaluated and facilitated public and private investments across the capital structure. Lars started his career in the Deals practice in the New York and Frankfurt, Germany offices of PwC and Deloitte gaining experience in Financial Due Diligence and M&A advisory for private equity and corporate clients.
Lars received his MBA from the University of Cambridge, Judge Business School and his BSBC from FHDW, Germany and holds an active CPA license in CA. Lars lives in Atlanta and enjoys reading, travel, and is an avid runner.
SPENCER E. CIESLA, CFA
Spencer Ciesla develops new Georgia Oak investment partnerships with company owners and management teams.
Prior to joining Georgia Oak, Spencer worked in the wealth management division of AllianceBernstein where he helped foster relationships with ultra-high net worth individuals in the Southeast. Prior to AllianceBernstein, Spencer worked at Deutsche Bank in New York City covering institutional clients.
Spencer is a graduate of the Vanderbilt University, where he was also a member of the Men’s Varsity Golf Team. Spencer has earned the CFA Charterholder designation and is an active member of Young ACG (Association for Corporate Growth) and Young SCF (Southern Capital Forum). In his free time, Spencer loves to travel, golf, and spend time on the beach. He and his wife, Mallory, live in Brookhaven with their dog, Oliver.
Director of Marketing
Kelly Levine oversees the brand, marketing and communications functions of Georgia Oak as well as consulting our partner/portfolio companies.
She has more than 15+ years of B2B marketing experience, delivering profitable solutions to drive sales, attract and maintain customers, and build a strong corporate brand.
Before joining Georgia Oak, she spent 10 years working at Wunderman Thompson (formerly JWT). There she was responsible for the development and management of national B2B demand generation marketing programs, including strategic planning, KPI goals, team & project management, creative execution, and ROI tracking. Throughout her career, she has worked on the accounts of major brands such as Shell, Intel, The Home Depot, Coca-Cola, U.S. Department of Veterans affairs and General Motors, just to name a few.
Kelly is an Alumnus of Auburn University. Her passions include painting, travel and good BBQ. In fact, she and her husband Lenny are both certified judges for the Kansas City Barbecue Society. They live and play in Atlanta while keeping up with their two young children Llewyn and Simon.
Dean Ditmar has nearly 30 years of experience in growth culture supporting accountability, execution, empowerment, strategic planning and organizational leadership. As a strategic leader and six sigma black belt, he has successfully translated his experiences with complex large corporate structures and processes to benefit smaller-scale organizations.
He previously served as President of Prime Power Services, supporting critical market sectors in emergency standby power operations. Prior to his leadership at Prime, Dean served as VP & GM of the Western Hemisphere for Tensar in the civil construction market for 10 years, leading a team of over 120 engineers and staff supporting distribution, general contractors, and large OEMs.
Before to moving to Atlanta in 2005, Dean had an eight-year tenure with GE, ultimately managing a $1 Billion business unit as a Global Product Manager, successfully negotiating customer contracts valued up to $50 million. While at GE, he also served as a Regional Sales Manager and Technical Quality Leader.
Dean began his career with Phillips Petroleum in their Plastics Technical Center in technical development and sales before transitioning to GE in 1997.
Dean received a Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering from Texas A&M University. Following his lifelong desire to become an entrepreneur, Dean became the largest franchisee owner of a fast casual restaurant brand 2017, opening four units in the North Atlanta area. He serves on the Board of The Forsyth County Arts Alliance, a fund of the North Georgia Community Foundation. He and his wife Kelly reside in Cumming, Ga. Their two children, Alexa, a Registered Nurse at Piedmont Hospital, and Trent, a sophomore finance major, are both proud UGA Bulldogs.
Kevin LeCompte is the former CEO of Global Employment Solutions (GES). He served in the role since September 2018 until the acquisition of GES by Ettain group. Kevin joined GES in 2006 and served in multiple roles, including the company’s COO and President, responsible for the company’s nationwide sales and recruiting operations, as well as performance management across all divisions. Prior to GES, Kevin served as Division President for Staffmark and Director at Allegis Group (Aerotek).
Kevin holds Bachelor of Science from the University of Louisiana at Lafayette and is a veteran of the US Army.
Throughout his career, Kevin has inspired, energized and connected with colleagues and customers. With more than two decades of staffing experience, Kevin is a proven leader who will help Georgia Oak Partners move forward with the speed required to capitalize on staffing acquisition opportunities
David Barr is Director of Georgia Oak Partners and sits on the board of directors of two of Georgia Oak Partners’ investment partnerships: Your Pie and Farm Burger. In addition, outside of his Georgia Oak responsibilities, David sits on the board of directors of Franworth (development partner of growth stage franchisors), Capriotti’s Sandwich Shops (a franchisor of premium sandwich shops), Chicken Salad Chick (franchisor of retail shops), PMTD Restaurants LLC (a franchisee of KFC and Taco Bell), Domino’s Pizza – China (a franchisee of pizza shops in China), and Outwest Restaurant Group (a franchisee of Outback Steakhouses).
Barr was previously sat on the board of directors of Del Frisco’s Restaurant Group (owner of premium steakhouses), TITLE Boxing Club (boxing fitness studios), Rita Restaurant Corp. (owner of Don Pablo’s Mexican Restaurants), Bistro Group (franchisee of TGI Friday’s), The Jewellery Group (the third largest retail jeweler in Australia), Samuels Jewelers, Inc. (the United States’ 7th largest specialty retail jeweler), Famous Brands (owner of Mrs. Fields and TCBY), and Real Mex (owner of Chevy’s and El Toritos). Barr began his career in Atlanta with Price Waterhouse (1986-1991) and then joined Pizza Hut, Inc. within its finance department (1991-1994). From 1994 to 1998, Barr was the CFO and then the CEO of Great American Cookies, a franchisor and operator of 367 mall based cookie stores. In 1998, Barr, on behalf of the shareholders, sold the Great American Cookies Company to Mrs. Fields.
Barr resides in the Atlanta metropolitan area. He is Past Chairman of the International Franchise Association and sits on the Advisory Board of the University of Virginia’s McIntire School of Commerce. In recent years, Barr has been a frequent speaker on Capitol Hill and has met with congressional leaders and White House staff to discuss the impact of laws impacting small businesses and franchising. In addition, Barr has been interviewed on Fox News, Fox Business, CNBC, and Bloomberg, and his experiences have been written about by New York Times and International Business Times. David has also written OpEd pieces for Wall Street Journal.