Michael Johnson, an experienced venture capitalist and a specialized transactions attorney, is a managing director at Advantage Capital. He is involved in all aspects of the firm’s operations, with a primary focus on capital-raising transactions, regulatory compliance and government relations. He also serves as chief compliance officer.
Previously associated with New Orleans’ largest law firm, Jones, Walker, Waechter, Poitevent, Carrère & Denègre, Michael practiced securities and corporate law for a broad range of clients.
Michael received his J.D. degree from Stanford University School of Law, where he was a member of the Order of the Coif, and an his bachelor’s degree from Harvard College, graduating cum laude.
Franchesca Lorio provides leadership in all aspects of the firm’s accounting and financial management. As a principal and controller of all Advantage Capital entities, she is responsible for the preparation of the firm’s financial statements and numerous other periodic reports to investors, lenders and various regulatory authorities. Franchesca is also responsible for cash management as well as the implementation and supervision of the firm’s reporting and compliance systems. In addition, she works closely with the firm’s independent public accountants in connection with the completion of the annual audits of more than 70 Advantage Capital entities.
Prior to joining Advantage Capital, Franchesca practiced public accounting for five years with several leading CPA firms, where she focused on tax and financial accounting matters.
Franchesca graduated cum laude from the University of Louisiana at Lafayette with a bachelor’s degree in accounting. She is a member of the Institute of Management Accountants, the American Society of Women Accountants and the Young Leadership Council.
Justin Obletz is a managing director and chief financial officer at Advantage Capital, based in the New Orleans office. In his role, Justin manages the accounting, tax, and financial planning & analysis functions of the firm. Prior to his role as chief financial officer, Justin was a member of the investment team. He is an experienced multi-stage investor, having worked across the firm’s investment programs to evaluate and structure transactions, as well as monitor portfolio company investments. He currently serves on the board of directors of TurboSquid, Lamm Food Service and the Louisiana Technology Fund.
Prior to joining Advantage Capital, Justin worked in the New Ventures division of Trader Publishing Company in various strategic and operational roles. He began his professional career in the Assurance and Advisory Business Services group at Ernst & Young.
Justin received his MBA from the Darden School at the University of Virginia and a bachelor’s degree in accountancy from the University of Notre Dame. He is a certified public accountant (inactive).
Talmadge Singer is a managing director at Advantage Capital. He has extensive experience raising capital for and structuring tax credit equity incentivized funds, closing both levered and unlevered funds in excess of $1.5 billion. Talmadge has also syndicated more than $1.45 billion of state and federal tax credits. In addition to his fundraising functions, he supports Advantage Capital’s national expansion efforts, focusing on government relations at the federal level.
Prior to joining Advantage Capital, Talmadge was an associate in the Corporate and Securities practice group at Thompson & Knight LLP where he focused on fund formation, securities law and mergers and acquisitions.
Talmadge earned his J.D. from the Dedman School of Law at Southern Methodist University and was a member of the SMU Law Review Association. He earned his bachelor’s degree in English from Louisiana State University.
Carolyn Exnicios is a senior associate at Advantage Capital in 2020. As a member of the firm’s structuring team, she focuses primarily on fundraising transactions, tax, compliance and expansion efforts.
Prior to joining the firm, Carolyn was an associate in the Tax-ECB practice group at Vinson and Elkins LLP in Houston, Texas. In this capacity, she advised public and private companies on a wide variety of executive compensation and benefits matters. She began her professional career as an associate in the Corporate and Securities practice group at Andrews Kurth LLP in Houston, Texas.
Carolyn received her J.D. from Tulane University Law School and her bachelor’s degree in accounting from Louisiana State University, graduating summa cum laude.
Darian Harris is an associate on Advantage Capital’s national expansion team where he focuses on the firm’s economic development, public policy and public finance initiatives at the state and local level.
Prior to joining Advantage Capital, Darian served as a government affairs legal intern/extern at Troutman Pepper Strategies where he collaborated with various actors in the firm to coordinate and manage meetings with the legislature and other government officials. During law school, he was a legal intern in the Appellate Division of the Cobb County District Attorney’s Office and worked as a judicial Intern for the Honorable Chief Judge Reuben M. Green.
Darian received his J.D. from Georgia State University College of Law, where he served as the Vice-Justice of Phi Alpha Delta and was a member of the Black Law Students Association, and his bachelor’s degree in political science from Reinhardt University, where he graduated Magna Cum Laude.
Emily Medakovich is a compliance administrator on the compliance team where she is responsible for underwriting, asset management and performing due diligence.
Prior to joining the firm, she was a liability adjuster at Allstate Insurance and a Claims Specialist at Nationwide Insurance, where she investigated auto claims and evaluated total loss. Emily has also worked as a financial relationship specialist at Regions Bank and a paralegal at Karr & Sherman Co.
Emily received her bachelor’s degree in Anthropology from the Ohio State University where she graduated magna cum laude.
Blake Mock is a senior vice president at Advantage Capital, based in the New Orleans office. In his role, Mr. Mock focuses on investor relations, capital formation and sourcing efforts.
Blake brings nearly fifteen years of banking and finance experience to the firm. Prior to joining Advantage Capital, he was a vice president of investment banking at Barclays where he advised insurers on all aspects of M&A and capital markets transactions. He earlier held positions as a vice president of investment banking and equity research at Keefe, Bruyette & Woods and credit research analyst at Standard and Poor’s, covering the insurance industry in each role. He started his career as a financial and professional lines insurance broker at Marsh and McLennan.
Blake received bachelor’s degrees from the University of Georgia in banking and finance and risk management and insurance and has earned the right to use the Chartered Financial Analyst designation.
Anthony “Tony” Toups is a principal at Advantage Capital. He is involved in the firm’s national expansion efforts and economic development activities, working on the implementation of public/private investment programs that foster access to capital. He is a frequent speaker on these topics and also provides legal advice and representation as corporate counsel. A seasoned attorney and litigator, Tony was a partner with the New Orleans law firm of Adams and Reese prior to his tenure at Advantage Capital.
Tony’s nearly 20 years of law practice includes product liability defense, commercial litigation, construction cases and other complex matters. He was also a partner at Chaffe McCall in New Orleans and has experience in the news media and state government.
Tony earned his J.D. degree from the Paul M. Hebert Law Center and his bachelor’s degree in journalism at Louisiana State University.
Kelly Ballay is a member of the accounting team at Advantage Capital. As a staff accountant, Kelly is responsible for recording activity and preparing financial statements for several of the firm’s entities.
Prior to joining Advantage Capital, she served as a senior accountant at SMG-Mercedes Benz Superdome in New Orleans, LA.
Kelly received a master’s degree in accounting from the University of New Orleans and a bachelor’s degree in accounting from Louisiana State University.
Shannon Bartolo is a member of the accounting team at Advantage Capital. As the manager of all accounts payable functions, she is a key asset in the overall management of the firm’s financial operations.
Prior to joining Advantage Capital, Shannon served as office manager for Standard Parking, where she maintained accounts payable, payroll and coordinated office operations, procedures and resources to facilitate organizational effectiveness and efficiency.
Tim Blanke is a senior special assets associate in the government-guaranteed lending team. In this capacity, he plays a key role in the team’s loan portfolio servicing, collections and collateral management.
Prior to joining Advantage Capital, Tim served as an insurance adjuster for Associate Claims and Insurance Services.
Tim received his bachelor’s degree in business administration from the University of New Orleans. Since 2013, he has been a member of a barbeque competition team that annually competes to raise funds for families suffering from pediatric brain cancer.
As an assistant controller, LaRae Crawford manages the preparation and issuance of many of the firm’s financial statements and participates in the completion of year-end audits. She also maintains responsibility for the quarterly valuation analysis of portfolio investments, while supporting other regulatory compliance matters.
Prior to joining the firm, LaRae worked in public accounting for Ernst & Young LLP, conducting audits focused primarily in the manufacturing and health care industries.
LaRae holds a bachelor’s degree in business administration and a master’s degree in accountancy, both from Auburn University. She is a certified public accountant.
Susan Crockett is an accounting manager at Advantage Capital. First servicing the debt portfolio, she moved into an accounting role in 2011, preparing many of the firm’s financial statements and assisting with quarterly transactions and reporting.
Prior to joining Advantage Capital, Susan worked in the banking and mortgage industries, processing and underwriting mortgage loans.
Susan is a certified public accountant and completed the CPA preparation program at the University of New Orleans. She received her bachelor’s degree in psychology from Colorado State University.
Brent Douglas is a credit analyst at Advantage Capital. As a member of the firm’s government-guaranteed lending team, he evaluates potential borrowers based on creditworthiness and program eligibility.
Prior to joining the firm, Brent was an asset manager for HRI Properties, where he managed a financial portfolio of 25 multifamily and hospitality properties. Prior to this role, he served as a banking officer for First NBC Bank. Brent began his career at Whitney Bank as a commercial portfolio manager.
Brent received his J.D. from the University of Alabama School of Law. He earned a master’s degree in economics and bachelor’s degree in finance from the University of Alabama. He is a licensed member of the Louisiana State Bar Association.
John Eumont is an senior staff accountant at Advantage Capital. He is responsible for recording activity and preparing financial statements for several of the firm’s entities as well as providing due diligence support to the accounting team. He holds a bachelor’s degree in finance from the University of New Orleans.
Art Florez is an executive assistant at Advantage Capital. Prior to joining the firm, Mr. Florez worked in administration for the New Orleans Saints, where he was executive assistant to the owner and executive vice president.
Art holds a bachelor’s degree in business from the University of New Orleans. He is also a past board member for the Jefferson Ballet Theatre.
Katherine “Katie” Fury is a servicing manager at Advantage Capital. As a member of the government-guaranteed lending division, she is responsible for assisting with the execution of loan applications and the coordination of closing and post-closing procedures.
Prior to joining Advantage Capital, Katie was a loan processor with the Bank of New Orleans where she was involved with processing loans and ensuring contract deadlines were met.
Katie graduated from the University of New Orleans with a degree in business administration.
Jennifer Jeandron is a vice president and accounting controller at Advantage Capital where she plays a key role in the firm’s accounting and financial reporting activities. As an accounting controller, she is responsible for oversight of the preparation of many of the firm’s financial statements.
Prior to joining the firm, Jennifer worked in the audit practices of KPMG, LLP and Deloitte and Touche, LLP. In that role, she served public and private clients in a variety of industries, including energy, banking, healthcare and oil and gas.
Jennifer is a certified public accountant and holds a bachelor’s degree in accounting from Louisiana State University. She serves on the board of directors of the Young Leadership Council and is a member of the Junior League of New Orleans and the Society of Louisiana Certified Public Accountants.
Matthew Hart is a vice president on the solar team where he focuses on capital formation, structuring, investor reporting and expansion efforts, in addition to project sourcing and execution. He also manages a portfolio of New Markets Tax Credits, leverage loans and specialty bonds he helped value and acquire from the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation.
Matthew brings a variety of experience in fund formation, finance and corporate governance. Prior to joining the firm, he was a corporate attorney at an international law firm in Austin, Texas, where he focused on venture capital financing, initial public offerings, and mergers and acquisitions. Matthew started his career as an investment banker, where he advised growing technology companies on public offerings and mergers and acquisitions. While in school, he worked for the Honorable Judge Edith Brown Clement of the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit and served as an intern at Advantage Capital.
Matthew received his J.D. magna cum laude from Tulane University Law School and his bachelor’s magna cum laude in economics and financial economics from Vanderbilt University.
Geoffrey Jacques is a senior associate at Advantage Capital. As a member of the firm’s investment team, he is involved in due diligence efforts, screening potential investment opportunities and monitoring portfolio companies.
Prior to joining the firm, Geoffrey was a senior research analyst at Iberia Capital Partners covering small and mid-cap exploration and production companies. He also served as an equity research associate for Rice Voelker and Scotia Howard Weil.
Geoffrey received his bachelor’s in management from Tulane University’s A.B. Freeman School of Business.
Benjamin Johnson is a senior accountant at Advantage Capital where plays an integral role on the firm’s accounting team. In his role, he prepares, examines and analyzes accounting records, financial statements and other financial reports.
Prior to joining Advantage Capital, Benjamin was an auditor for Ericksen, Krentel & Laporte, L.L.P, an accounting firm based in New Orleans.
Benjamin received his MBA from the University of New Orleans and a bachelor’s degree in accounting from the University of Holy Cross.
Anne Ott Johnson is a principal and works with the firm’s capital markets team focusing on investor relations and capital formation efforts. She is a seasoned financial professional with over 20 years’ experience in the public and private equity markets. Anne was with Johnson Rice & Co. for eighteen years first as an equity research analyst and later in institutional equity sales. She also worked in corporate finance for Deloitte and Chaffe & Associates valuing privately-held companies and financial institutions for capital raising, mergers and acquisitions and estate planning. Most recently, she was with DeMonte & Falgoust CPAs focusing on tax compliance and planning for corporations and individuals.
Anne holds an MBA from the University of New Orleans and a bachelor’s degree in business from Rhodes College.
Selma Landry is a collateral coordinator at Advantage Capital. As a member of the government-guaranteed lending team, she provides due diligence support in compiling loan files for SBA audits and monitors borrowers’ compliance with their commercial and life insurance requirements, property tax payments and international trade transactions.
Prior to joining Advantage Capital, Selma worked at Fleet National Bank as a mortgage loan processor. She also previously served as a title clerk during an unprecedented effort to distribute government funds awarded to homeowners after Hurricane Katrina.
Selma attended Universidad Autónoma de Santo Domingo and received an associate degree in business from the Community College of Rhode Island.
Mary Beth Maygarden is director of state and investor reporting at Advantage Capital. In this capacity, she maintains compliance with all federal and state statutes and regulations applicable to the firm’s investment operations.
Prior to joining Advantage Capital, Mary Beth served as a paralegal for Deutsch, Kerrigan and Stiles, LLP in New Orleans, where she provided litigation support in both federal and state jurisdictions. She also assisted clients with economic redevelopment matters in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina.
Mary Beth received her master’s degree in humanities from the University of Texas at Dallas and her bachelor’s degree in medieval studies and history from Newcomb College-Tulane University, where she graduated cum laude.
Brian Muller is an accounting manager at Advantage Capital. In this role, he is responsible for recording activity and preparing financial statements for several of the firm's entities.
Prior to joining the firm, Brian worked as a senior accountant for both Bourgeois Bennett, LLC and Carr, Riggs & Ingram, LLC. In this role, he performed audit procedures, including financial statement analysis and detailed testing of accounts at the trial balance and financial statement levels.
Brian received a bachelor's degree from the University of New Orleans, where he majored in business management, and a master's degree in business administration from Loyola University New Orleans. He is a certified public accountant.
Nicole Pilié is the director of program compliance at Advantage Capital. As a member of the government-guaranteed lending team, she primarily focuses on the determination, management and reporting of New Market Tax Credit compliance guidelines.
Prior to joining the firm, Nicole served as a third-party liability adjuster with Hanover Insurance Group.
She holds a bachelor’s degree in history with a minor in psychology from the University of New Orleans.
Elizabeth Rodrigue joined Advantage Capital in 2013. As the senior human resources administrator, she is responsible for the day-to-day operations of human resources functions, including the employee life cycle, employee communications and benefit administration. She also assists in ensuring compliance with company policies and procedures as well as with government and legal regulations.
Valentino Rovere is a vice president at Advantage Capital. In this role, he works closely with portfolio companies, focusing on turnaround and liquidation.
Valentino first established a relationship with Advantage Capital in 1988. The firm invested in a New Orleans hotel development for which he was a managing partner and, later, a real estate consultant after the property was sold to be redeveloped as housing. In addition to his knowledge of real estate investing and turnaround business management, Valentino has nearly three decades of experience in hospitality management throughout the world. After beginning at his family’s restaurant Vittorio in his native San Remo on the Italian Riviera, he has owned and run three New Orleans area restaurants.
Philip Ruppel is a senior vice president and a member of the firm’s investment team. His responsibilities include sourcing new deals as well as providing due diligence and valuation analysis for current and prospective investments.
Prior to joining Advantage Capital, Philip worked for Navigation Capital Partners in Atlanta, Georgia, where he was responsible for evaluating prospective investments, conducting due diligence of investments, executing transactions and monitoring portfolio companies. He also spent time in New York working as an investment banking analyst for Bear Stearns.
Philip received his MBA from the Goizueta Business School at Emory University and his bachelor’s degree in economics and business administration from Rhodes College.
Betsy Scallan Avila is a assistant accounting manager at Advantage Capital. As a senior staff accountant, she is responsible for recording activity and preparing financial statements for several of the firm’s entities.
Prior to joining the firm, Betsy worked as an accountant for Allied Capital and PL Midstream, with a focus on accounting for entities in the private equity and oil and gas industries, respectively.
She received her bachelor’s degree in accounting from Louisiana Tech University and a certificate in project management from Louisiana State University.
Cara Schiffman is senior vice president on the compliance team at Advantage Capital. Previously, she served as vice president of regulatory affairs.
Prior to joining Advantage Capital, Cara practiced regulatory compliance and consumer defense law at Sessions, Fishman, Nathan & Israel, LLC. During her tenure, she managed regulator and agency administrative proceedings, consulted with colleagues on Federal Trade Commission investigations and routinely interacted with State Attorneys General, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and state licensing agencies.
Cara received her J.D. cum laude from Loyola University School of Law, where she was a member of the Law and Technology Annual and earned a certificate in international law. She earned her bachelor’s summa cum laude from Louisiana State University, where she majored in international trade and finance with a minor in French.
Daniel Stoute is director of information technology at Advantage Capital. He analyzes current technology and implements it into the daily operations at Advantage Capital to better support the company. Daniel is committed to providing new technology and improvements to the firm.
Prior to joining Advantage Capital, Daniel served as the director of information technology for Eagle Distributors, LLC.
Daniel is a First Lieutenant in the United States Air Force Auxiliary Civil Air Patrol. He is an active aircrew member on the Search and Rescue Team, Counter Drug Task Force, and currently is the Squadron’s Advisor to the Commander, Emergency Services Officer and Public Affairs Officer.