Our Leadership

Meet Our Team

The Principals have over 70 years combined experience in corporate finance and business operations in private and public companies. Our specific expertise includes corporate finance, M&A, commercial real estate, strategic planning, supply chain optimization, product sourcing, project finance, sales and marketing, corporate reorganizations, divestitures, crisis management, and bankruptcy reorganizations.

Richard Walker has directly served as a corporate banker, financial advisor, and/or crisis manager in over 250 specialty finance and restructuring transactions representing a broad portfolio of over $1 Billion in committed funds throughout the U.S. and abroad. 

He has 30+ years of corporate finance experience in analyzing, underwriting, restructuring, and funding leveraged finance and turnaround transactions in corporate, capital markets, and merchant bank organizations.

Richard served in various executive roles as senior corporate finance officer and senior credit officer for several top 20 banks including First Union Capital Markets (now Wells Fargo Capital Markets).

Richard has served as a senior executive of a public multi-bank holding company, founding board member of a community agency, oversight executive of a community organization, and founding Chairman/CEO of a public charter school. 

In 1997 Richard formed a niche merchant banking and corporate finance advisory firm for emerging and smaller mid-market firms. Among his various portfolio companies, three firms focused on education services for small public, independent, and charter schools in North Carolina, South Carolina, and Florida. Richard holds a B.S. in Finance and a Masters’s in Banking.

Richard owes his love of education primarily to a mother and a wife who are heartfelt, transformative teachers who deeply love children into becoming their best. Their devotion to education at its most crucial level inspired him to invest more of his time in making more heartfelt education possible.

Through a growing appreciation of the gift of public education he received, Richard has pursued since 1996 an ongoing labor of rekindling for today’s children what made his educational experiences so transformational in his own life. His subsequent experiences as founding Chairman of Lake Norman Charter School caused him to more fully appreciate his ancestor’s involvement in founding various schools and a university.

He came to understand education to be more “heart” driven than “mind” driven. More importantly, he came to recognize the specific gifts of his many prior teachers and their great hearts for providing and nurturing the “spark” of great learning in all their students. 

Robert O’Connell has 40+ years of U.S. and foreign experience in starting and managing financial and business services, consumer products, manufacturing, distribution, and technology-driven enterprises. He led the turnaround of a publicly traded consumer goods importer, the growth of a medical equipment manufacturer, the startup of a commercial real estate services group, and the strategic startup of a new manufacturing division of a public company.

Bob has served as CEO and board member of two public companies, senior manager of two public firms, and founding Chairman/CEO of one private firm. His areas of expertise are operations, sales and marketing, strategic planning, commercial real estate, supply chain optimization, international sourcing, and M&A. Through his early years as an institutional broker and advisor for several NYSE firms, he has widely lectured senior executives and managers throughout the financial services industry.

Sharon Garner has 12+ years of experience in marketing, underwriting, and managing leveraged finance transactions and portfolios for public and private firms. Her background includes portfolio management, due-diligence management, capital markets sourcing, loan restructuring, and corporate turnarounds. Her areas of expertise are transaction analysis, debt syndications, financial restructuring, structured debt and equity financing, cash flow management, and asset evaluation.

Sharon was with Fleet Capital (now Bank of  America  Capital  Markets)  and  First  Union  Capital  Markets  (now  Wells  Fargo Capital Markets) where she managed middle-market leveraged finance portfolios in excess of $200 Million. She most recently managed the financial start-up and operational functions of various education development firms and strategic consulting engagements.