2018 Fall Forum Participant Bios

David Bell
Partner, Head of M&A, JAB Holding Company
David Bell is Partner, Head of M&A at JAB Holding Company (“JAB”), an investment holding company with over $100 billion in assets in which it has a control position. He joined JAB in 2012 and has since led JAB’s major transactions, including the recently completed merger of Keurig Green Mountain and Dr Pepper Snapple Group to form Keurig Dr Pepper, as well as the acquisitions of Panera Bread, Keurig Green Mountain, Krispy Kreme, Peet’s Coffee, Stumptown, Intelligentsia, Caribou Coffee, Insomnia Cookies, and several others. He also serves as operating partner for many of the acquired assets and is a board member for many of the U.S.-based businesses such as Panera Bread and Krispy Kreme.

Prior to joining JAB, Mr. Bell was Vice President, Corporate Development at Mars Incorporated, where he oversaw M&A and strategy-related activities. Before that, he was a Vice President of Investment Banking at Goldman Sachs, where he executed a large variety of M&A and financing transactions, primarily in the consumer and retail industries. Mr. Bell received his M.B.A. at The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, where he was a Palmer Scholar, and a B.S. in Commerce from the McIntire School of Commerce at the University of Virginia. 

John P. Connaughton
Co-Managing Partner, Bain Capital

John Connaughton is Co-Managing Partner of Bain Capital, a leading global alternative investment firm with $103 billion in assets under management in 18 offices worldwide, with leading positions in private equity, alternative credit, venture capital, and real estate. He also serves as the head of Bain Capital Global Private Equity.  Since joining the firm in 1989, Mr. Connaughton has played a leading role in a wide spectrum of prominent healthcare and information/media businesses in which Bain Capital Private Equity has made investments. Before Bain Capital, Mr. Connaughton was a Strategy Consultant at Bain and Company.   

Mr. Connaughton currently serves on the boards of IQVIA Holdings Inc. (IQV–NYSE) and the Boston Celtics. Mr. Connaughton previously sat on over two dozen private and public boards, including Grupo NotreDame Intermedica (GNDI-BR),  HCA Inc. (HCA-NYSE), Warner Chilcott (WCRX-Nasdaq), Warner Music Group (WMG-NYSE), ProSiebenSat.1 Media ag (PBSFY), and Stericycle Inc. (SRCL-Nasdaq). 

He is also active in a number of charitable and civic activities, including serving as a member of the Berklee College of Music Board of Trustees, the University of Virginia’s McIntire School of Commerce Foundation Board, the Roxbury Latin School Board of Trustees, the Harvard Business School Dean's Advisory Board, the Brigham & Women's Hospital President's Advisory Board, and the Bain Capital Community Partnership. 

Mr. Connaughton received a B.S. in Commerce with Distinction from the University of Virginia and an M.B.A. with High Distinction from Harvard Business School, where he was a Baker Scholar. 

E. Stockton Croft
Partner and Founder, Eagle Merchant Partners

Stockton Croft co-founded Eagle Merchant Partners, a private equity firm based in Atlanta focused on lower middle-market buyouts of Southeastern companies. Mr. Croft previously served as Executive Director and Head of U.S. Private Equity for Arcapita Bank, a merchant bank based in Bahrain. Over the course of his career, Mr. Croft has focused on investments in the consumer sector and served on the board of directors of PODS, J. Jill, Caribou Coffee, Krystal, and Chicken Salad Chick and with leading franchisees of Planet Fitness, IHOP, and Dairy Queen.  Mr. Croft received a B.S. from the McIntire School of Commerce at the University of Virginia and an M.B.A. from The Wharton School, where he graduated as a Palmer Scholar.

Will Dowden
Managing Partner, KLH Capital

Will Dowden is a Managing Partner for KLH Capital, a lower middle-market focused private equity firm based in Tampa, Fla. During his tenure at KLH, he has participated in over 50 transactions, including platform investments, add-on acquisitions, and refinancings. He serves on the board of directors for all KLH portfolio companies and is directly involved in the oversight of Ground Works Solutions, MS Industrial, and Apogee Translite. Prior to joining KLH, he spent time with Rothschild Investment Banking’s mergers and acquisitions group in New York. He has served on the board of the Association for Corporate Growth Tampa Bay chapter and is active on the Membership and Emerging Professionals steering committees. Mr. Dowden graduated from University of Virginia’s McIntire School of Commerce with a B.S. in Commerce, and minored in Aerospace Engineering.

Hiter Harris
Managing Director, Harris Williams & Co.

Hiter Harris co-founded Harris Williams in 1991 as a national investment banking firm focusing on middle-market mergers and acquisitions (M&A). Since then, he and his partners have led Harris Williams to become one of the largest and most influential M&A firms in the country, with approximately 300 people, eight offices in the United States and Europe, and 10 industry groups. Having directed more than 100 M&A transactions and with 30 years of transactional experience, Mr. Harris has worked extensively in various areas including consumer products, retailing, distribution and business services, healthcare, building products, industrial manufacturing, natural resources, and media.

Mr. Harris earned his M.B.A. from Harvard Business School, with Distinction, and a B.S. in Mathematics and Economics from Hampden-Sydney College, cum laude. He is active in the community, shown through current and past involvement in various boards, including Hampden-Sydney College, Virginia Foundation for Independent Colleges, University of Richmond, Virginia Museum of Fine Arts Foundation, Massey Cancer Center, and Virginia Historical Society. Mr. Harris also currently serves, or has served, on the boards of NewMarket Corporation, Nexgrid LLC, and the Virginia Resources Authority. Mr. Harris and his wife, Jil Womack Harris, live in Richmond and have three children, the middle of whom is a 2012 McIntire alumna.

Merritt Lane
President and Chief Executive Officer, Canal Barge Company Inc.

H. Merritt Lane III serves as the President and Chief Executive Officer of Canal Barge Company Inc. in New Orleans, one of the largest and most diverse privately owned marine transportation and logistics companies in the United States. He is actively involved in industry affairs, having served as Chairman of The American Waterways Operators and the Waterways Council Inc. (the two leading national industry trade associations) and serving as a board member of the National Waterways Foundation and the U.S. Coast Guard Foundation. He also serves on the board of Pontchartrain Materials Corp., a privately owned company based in New Orleans, and he formerly served on the board of directors of Hibernia Homestead Bancorp, as well as on the board of International Shipholding Corporation, both publicly traded companies. Mr. Lane is also active in numerous civic, educational, and philanthropic organizations.

He graduated from the University of Virginia’s McIntire School of Commerce in 1983, receiving a bachelor's degree with a concentration in Finance, and worked as an Investment Banker in New York City for PaineWebber Inc. (1983-1986). He currently serves on the McIntire School of Commerce Foundation Board and is an active alumnus of the School. He and his wife, Elly, are proud to have three daughters affiliated with UVA: Caroline (23), who graduated from UVA in 2018; Sarah (20), a second-year at UVA; and Isabel (18), a first-year at UVA.

Eric Martin
Director, Galant Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship, and Assistant Professor of Practice, McIntire School of Commerce

Eric Martin specializes in the growth of existing enterprise through innovation; development of new businesses and organizations from ideation through exit; business transformation; turnarounds for ongoing concerns; new product/service creation; and managing for growth.

Professor Martin’s 20-year career includes successful operating experience as a chief executive (software, consumer products and services, professional services), strategist (global consultancy partner), entrepreneur, and change agent (business transformation, turnarounds, and startups). His teaching experience beyond the University of Virginia, where Professor Martin co-founded the Galant Center, includes the directorship of the entrepreneurship center at the University of Richmond and lectures at Yale, VCU Brandcenter, MIT, Northwestern University, and the University of Maryland. He has also designed and delivered executive leadership programs for an assortment of the world’s preeminent corporations. Professor Martin is the Founder of 80amps for Enterprise, a consultancy driving growth through strategy and innovation for businesses globally.

Karen McJunkin
Regional Partner, Elm Street Development

Karen McJunkin is a Regional Partner at Elm Street Development, a privately held real estate development company with a 40-year history operating in the Baltimore-Washington region. Elm Street focuses its efforts and capital on urban infill and redevelopment as well as suburban development in Priority Funding Areas. Ms. McJunkin is responsible for directing all land acquisition, investment, and development activities in Washington, D.C., Anne Arundel County, Charles County, and the Eastern Shore of Maryland. Ms. McJunkin began her career with Elm Street almost 30 years ago and since that time has acquired, entitled, and developed over 90 residential and mixed-use communities in the Baltimore-Washington region, with a total value of over $1 BB. In addition, Ms. McJunkin is a Co-Founder of SOSystems Wastewater Technologies, a Wyoming-based startup bringing simple, nutrient-reducing wastewater treatment solutions to impaired waterways. Ms. McJunkin received an M.B.A. from the Kenan-Flagler School at The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and a B.S. in Commerce from the University of Virginia's McIntire School of Commerce, where she currently serves as a member of the Executive Committee of the University of Virginia Foundation.

David Meredith
Chief Operating Officer, Rackspace

David Meredith currently serves as Chief Operating Officer for Rackspace (an Apollo private equity company). Rackspace, the leading multi-cloud IT-as-a-service provider, with $2.5 billion of revenue, serves customers in more than 100 countries, including more than half of the Fortune 100.

In 2018, Forbes named Rackspace one of America’s best midsize employers, and Rackspace ranked #25 on the “Companies that Care” list compiled by People magazine and Great Place to Work.

Prior to Rackspace, Mr. Meredith served as a President at CenturyLink, where he led the successful multibillion-dollar spin-out for the Global Data Center Hosting business. His previous experience spans board and leadership roles for venture-backed firms such as NeuPals in China to large public companies such as VeriSign, CGI, and Capital One.

As an industry thought leader, Mr. Meredith has provided insights for leading media outlets such as BusinessWeek, USA Today, and The Washington PostCIO magazine, Wireless Week, and The Huffington Post have published his articles. Mr. Meredith has spoken on industry topics for NBC’s “Last Call with Carson Daly,” NPR’s “Morning Edition,” Seoul Broadcasting System, and PBS’ “Nightly Business Report” and at analyst forums such as those hosted by Gartner, Bloomberg, Yankee, and Cantor Fitzgerald.

In December 2016, the respected Uptime Institute recognized Mr. Meredith’s contributions to the industry by selecting him for its Change Leader Award. Mr. Meredith was also named to Georgia Trend Magazine’s Class of 2008 “40 Under 40: Georgia’s Best & Brightest.”

Mr. Meredith earned his master’s degree from the University of Virginia, where he previously served as Chairperson for McIntire's M.S. in  MIT Advisory Board.

Bryan Myers
Chief Operating Officer, [solidcore]

Bryan Myers is the Chief Operating Officer for [solidcore]. In his role as COO, Mr. Myers works to ensure that [solidcore]'s studio managers and coaches deliver an exceptional experience for its clients and leads the effort to bring [solidcore] to new communities all over the country. Outside of working hours, you can find Mr. Myers immersed in the performing arts and attending shows at the many, amazing performance venues in the D.C. area. He is also passionate about finding ways to give back to the community and currently serves on the board of the Ridley Scholarship Fund, an organization that provides financial and mentorship support to high-achieving African-American students. Prior to joining the [solidcore] team, Mr. Myers was a member of the leadership team of sweetgreen, the national leader in the healthy fast-casual category. Over the course of his four years at sweetgreen, he wore many hats, including his final role as Vice President of Development, helping the company grow from a regional chain of 22 restaurants to 90 locations nationally. Mr. Myers began his career as a Consultant for The Boston Consulting Group, providing strategic advice to Fortune 500 companies on the topics of growth, organizational design, and operational transformation. 

Erin Russell
Former Private Equity Professional

Erin Russell built a nearly 20-year career in private equity, where she executed a number of successful transactions, developed a keen sense of the financial and credit markets, and partnered with numerous management teams to build their businesses. The hallmark of her career was her 16 years at Vestar Capital Partners, a leading middle-market private equity firm specializing in management buyouts, recapitalizations, and growth equity investments. Vestar has completed over 80 investments in companies with a total value in excess of $50 billion.

At Vestar, Ms. Russell served as a key member of the healthcare investment team. During her tenure, she evaluated over 150 investment opportunities, raised over $5 billion in credit, exited transactions through IPOs and public and private sales, and closed on a number of successful investments. She also served as an active board member on three portfolio company boards (both private and public) and as an overseer on two portfolio company boards. She mentored over 20 junior colleagues who have gone on to have productive careers, and served on the firm's Investment Committee.

Ms. Russell received her B.S. in Commerce from the McIntire School of Commerce in 1996 and upon graduation joined the mergers and acquisitions group at PaineWebber Inc. She has an M.B.A. from the Harvard Business School, where she was a John L. Loeb Fellow, an award given to the top nine students in finance. Ms. Russell currently serves on a few nonprofit boards (including the McIntire and Jefferson Scholars Advisory Boards) and is in the process for a number of corporate board searches. She lives in Fairfield, Conn., with her husband and, hopefully, five future Wahoos!

Richard Tadler
Senior Advisor, TA Associates

Richard Tadler is a Senior Advisor at TA Associates, a private equity firm with $24 billion raised since inception. He specializes in investments in healthcare and consumer businesses. He served as Chairman from 2012 to 2013 and became a Senior Advisor of the firm in 2014. Mr. Tadler served on TA's Executive Committee from 2007 to 2013. He received a B.S. in Commerce with Distinction (concentration in Finance) from the University of Virginia (1978) and an M.B.A. from the Wharton School of Finance (1982). He is a Trustee of UVA's McIntire School of Commerce Foundation Board and Chairman of the Board of Trustees at Pingree School.

Richard D. Wood Jr., Esquire
Chairman of the Board, Wawa Inc.

Richard D. Wood received a B.S. in Commerce from the University of Virginia in 1961 and an LL.B. from the University of Pennsylvania Law School in 1964. After graduation from law school, Mr. Wood served as a Law Clerk in the Federal Court of the Eastern District of Pennsylvania for the Honorable Francis L. Van Dusen for one year. He was associated with the law firm of Montgomery, McCracken, Walker and Rhoads in Philadelphia for five years. In June 1970, Mr. Wood joined Wawa Inc. as General Counsel. He served in various capacities until becoming President in June 1977 and Chief Executive Officer in January 1981. In 2004, he retired as CEO and moved into his current role of non-executive Chairman. Mr. Wood has served on a number of for-profit and not-for-profit boards during his career. He is currently on the not-for-profit Bok Tower Gardens and Historic Colony House boards. Mr. Wood is a member of the Wood family, the founding family of Wawa Inc., which continues to own the largest interest in Wawa,Gr, and is a cousin of Grahame Wood, who opened the first Wawa Food Market.