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 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 and his wife Jacqueline live in Ansley Park (Atlanta) with their son Jordan, daughter Louise, and their dogs Murray and Joni. Jacqueline serves as a Senior Advisor for medic.org, a non-profit that uses communication technologies to improve the health of underserved 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 Growth
Stacy Sutton drives Georgia Oak’s growth by advising portfolio companies on their marketing strategies, as well as spearheading the firm’s communications with business owners and the broader deal community.
Prior to joining Georgia Oak, Stacy was Chief Marketing Officer for Rule 1 Ventures, a venture studio. There, she was on the Investment Committee and managed marketing for six portfolio companies. Before that, she served as Vice President of Marketing for the tech startups FactorCloud and Clean Hands – Safe Hands.
Earlier, Stacy founded Big Drum, a digital marketing agency, which she grew over nearly 15 years and successfully exited by selling it to a competitor. As one of the first experts in search engine marketing, she won a number of awards, including the international “Search Engine Marketer of the Year – Female” LANDY Award by Search Engine Land.
Stacy earned a B.S. in Business Administration from the University of California at Berkeley’s Haas School and an M.A. in Communications Management from the University of Southern California’s Annenberg School.
An inveterate volunteer, Stacy is currently Board Chair for Aurora Day Camp, Georgia’s only free, full summer day camp for children with cancer and their siblings. She enjoys hosting social events, working out, hiking, playing pickleball, traveling, and dancing to 80’s music.
Stacy and her partner Benson live in the Lake Claire neighborhood of Atlanta. Combined, they have four adult children who live across the country and globe.
Mirabella Woodward is Georgia Oak’s Marketing Analyst, coordinating and providing support for all marketing and communications efforts.
Prior to joining the Georgia Oak team, Mirabella graduated magna cum laude from the University of Florida with her bachelors degree in public relations. Over the last few years, she has worked creatively with a variety of clients, including Amazon, Disney, and Uber, through The Agency at UF as their Lead Copywriter. Her work on these projects ranged from writing tailored responses for smart home machines to developing innovative advertisement concepts for some of the largest audiences in the world.
In addition to her agency work, Mirabella served as a Marketing and Communications Coordinator at True North FL, Inc., developing and managing a multitude of social media campaigns, writing published articles, and assisting in the development of their new app. Her work experience also lies in influencer relations, journalism, and event management.
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.
Tony White has over 25 years of experience in the home improvement industry in assembling and leading high performing teams, strategic planning and resource allocation, services design and implementation, and growth by all definitions (start ups, M&A roll ups, and turnaround).
Tony has successfully led both large organizations and private equity-backed companies into their next phase of growth. Tony’s career began at The Home Depot, where he held various executive positions and senior roles in the Services division over his 13-year tenure. By establishing a clear strategy and organizational structure, he led the transformation of the home installation division into a $3 billion business.
Following Home Depot, Tony was brought on as CEO and Managing Director of USIG, a renovation business in the kitchen, bath and flooring space. Tony led the organization from a small regional flooring company to one of the largest in The Home Depot’s network, completing 150,000+ flooring installations annually and growing the business from ~$16 million to $100+ million in revenue.
During his time at USIG, Tony also acted as the COO of 3 Day Blinds. Tony led a business rebrand that aligned to customer aspirations, rationalized product offerings, consolidated manufacturing, and created a new team for product innovation and development. He transitioned the business to a shop-at-home business model, growing the design team from 45 to 450 consultants.
Tony has extensive private equity experience and has worked in various capacities for HIG, Roark, Golden Gate Capital, Rosewood, and others. Today, he serves on the board of directors of 50Floors, an AEA Investors portfolio company. He also serves as an Operating Advisor for Percheron Capital, a San Francisco-based private equity firm focused on essential services. Tony remains an investor and retired co-founder for SageHome, a Cairngorm Capital funded business focused on residential services for the growing aging-in-place market.
With Georgia Oak, Tony currently serves on the board of directors of Artisan Custom Closets.
Matt Connelly serves as Georgia Oak’s Operating Partner covering the Logistics sector. Matt provides his expertise in transportation and the broader supply chain arena to assist our due diligence and management of logistics investments.
Matt is a transportation and supply chain industry veteran with a 32-year track record at United Parcel Service (“UPS”) where he developed the network strategy and design for the U.S. transportation network and was responsible for the sourcing of purchased transportation. Matt has recently been the Chief Executive Office for Good360, having prior served on the Board of Directors for eight years, including the last four as Co-Chairman. During Matt’s three years as CEO of Good360, the organization, has tripled its growth by providing strong reverse logistics solutions to companies like Amazon, Walmart, Nike, and Lowes. Good360 distributed over $1.8B of product in 2021 making it a top 5 nonprofit in the United States.
Matt began his UPS career as a package driver and progressed through a series of operations and engineering roles within UPS, including UPS Supply Chain Solutions. Matt played a significant role with UPS’s expansion into global markets, forwarding and contract logistics services. Additional accomplishments include executing multiple contracts with the US Postal Service, and leading the integration of Coyote Logistics, which is the largest acquisition in UPS history.
In addition to his responsibilities for UPS Network Operations, Matt also served on the UPS Humanitarian Relief Program Steering Committee and oversaw UPS’s humanitarian relief transportation solutions for The UPS Foundation. Additionally, Matt represented UPS for five years on the American Red Cross Corporate Advisory Council.
Matt earned his Bachelor of Science in Business Administration from Northeastern University, and completed the Goizueta Executive Program from Emory University. Matt and his wife, Cathy, reside in Suwanee, Ga. and have two adult sons, Joe and Jack.