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2022 Closed-End Fund Conference

Speaker Bios

November 17 • New York, NY

Speaker Bios



Frank J. Abella, Jr. is Executive Chairman of Investment Partners Group, and a Portfolio Strategist and Portfolio Manager at Investment Partners Asset Management in Metuchen, New Jersey. After obtaining two engineering degrees from Stevens Institute and an MBA from Dartmouth, Frank served as an Economic and Technological Strategist for the Linde Division of Union Carbide, and then entered the financial services industry. Frank has over fifty years of experience in planning, research, structuring, and management of individual and institutional portfolios. During his investment career he has served as a consultant, advisor, and board member of several successful venture-backed companies often providing business-development assistance. He is also a past member of the American Society for Corporate Planning and a board member of the Emerging Company Marketplace of the American Stock Exchange.

The core of each portfolio Frank manages typically consists of individual securities and pooled investments - particularly ETFs, open-end, and closed-end funds. As a seasoned portfolio manager, he has gained insight into the advantages and subtleties of the closed-end fund structure. For decades Frank has consistently been an active attendee and participant at annual meetings of closed-end funds offering constructive advice.



John Barlow is the head of platform development for BlackRock’s USWA Alternatives team. His team is responsible for expanding and developing BlackRock's alternative investment business across key wealth management partners, including wire houses, banks, independent broker/dealers, and RIA platforms.  BlackRock’s Alternatives is a $325b platform covering private equity, credit, real asset, and hedge fund solutions.

Prior to joining BlackRock, Mr. Barlow co-led national accounts for Blackstone's Private Wealth Solutions team which was responsible for distributing Blackstone's investment programs across wire houses, private banks, independent advisors and family offices. Prior to Blackstone, Mr. Barlow spent eight years at Bank of America/FleetBoston Financial where he was a Director in the Alternative Investment Group and responsible for the platform's private access funds and third-party investment solutions.

Mr. Barlow earned his BA from Hobart College and MBA from University of Chicago Booth School of Business.



William J. Bielefeld advises registered funds (including open-end funds and closed-end funds) and BDCs, their investment advisers and their boards of directors/trustees on a wide range of matters relating to the development and launch of new funds, fund reorganizations, acquisitions, mergers, regulatory, and compliance matters relating to existing funds, fund governance issues, and Securities Exchange Commission (SEC) examinations.

William has extensive experience working with investment managers focused on private markets investments to structure and design registered funds and BDCs to enable broader investor access to private markets strategies. Additionally, he has worked extensively with long established registered fund managers as they develop unique and innovative products encompassing private markets strategies.

Prior to joining Dechert, William served as an Attorney-Advisor in the SEC’s Office of Compliance Inspections and Examinations.



Nathan Briggs is a Partner in Simpson Thacher’s Registered Funds Practice and is based in the Firm’s Washington, D.C. office. His broad practice includes advising registered investment vehicles, investment advisers and independent directors across the full spectrum of formation, transactional, governance and compliance issues. These range from new product offerings and follow-on offerings, proxy contests and fund mergers and consolidations to ongoing compliance and governance matters. Nathan advises sponsors with respect to, among other products, listed closed-end funds, interval funds, tender offer funds, REITs and business development companies in connection with the establishment, registration, reorganization and operation of retail and institutional investment products.

Nathan was recognized as a 2019 “Rising Star” by Fund Intelligence at its annual Mutual Fund Industry & ETF Awards. Prior to entering private practice, he interned at the Investment Adviser Association in Washington, D.C.

He received his J.D., magna cum laude, from American University, Washington College of Law, his M.A. from American University and his B.A., summa cum laude, from Towson University. He is admitted to practice in the District of Columbia and New York.



Erin Carney is head of strategic development for Thornburg Investment Management, leading corporate and product development initiatives across the firm. She has extensive investment and management experience, including with large and small asset management firms and most recently the financial technology industry. Prior to joining Thornburg, Erin was chief investment officer for C2FO, a Kansas City–based financial technology company focusing on supply-chain finance solutions. She developed private investment solutions to provide working capital liquidity to small businesses, utilizing C2FO’s proprietary technology platform. Prior to C2FO, Erin spent 11 years with Fountain Capital Management, a boutique high-yield investment firm also based in Kansas City. At Fountain, Erin held various positions, including partner, portfolio manager, head trader, and research analyst. She started her career at Strong Capital Management as an equity research analyst, focusing on small- and mid-cap value portfolios and later as a private equity analyst for McCarthy Capital. Erin is a graduate of Indiana University with a BS in finance and is a CFA charterholder.



Rajib Chanda is a partner at Simpson, Thacher & Bartlett LLP, where he heads the firm’s Registered Funds practice. He regularly represents the leading asset management firms in the US, including recent representations of AMG, Angelo Gordon, Apollo, Ares, Artisan Partners, BC Partners, Blackstone, Blue Owl, Carlyle, First Eagle, Golub Associates, JPMorgan Asset Management, KKR, New Mountain, Oaktree, Onex Credit, PIMCO, Sixth Street Partners and SkyBridge Capital. Rajib is the Administrative Partner for the Washington, DC office of Simpson Thacher and co-leads the firm’s Partner Development Committee. He previously served as one of the firm’s Global Hiring Partners and co-chaired the firm’s Diversity Committee. He is a graduate of Brown University, with honors, and Harvard Law School, cum laude, where he was Editor-in-Chief of the Harvard Negotiation Law Review.



Mark Charles is a Managing Director in the Equity Capital Markets division at Wells Fargo Securities, Head of Retail Origination, responsible for the origination and execution of new issue closed-end funds.  Mark joined Wells Fargo in September of 2005 and is based in New York.

Mark has 17 years of experience in investment banking.  His responsibilities include working with our Syndicate partners on closed-end funds, and collaborating with Wells Fargo’s Wealth & Investment Management (WIM), raising money for our issuer clients.  Mark also works with the Retail Marketing team, responsible for the marketing and distribution of closed-end funds, equity transactions and preferred issues, to more than 11,000 advisors within Wells Fargo’s retail brokerage system.

Prior to joining the firm, Mark worked as the trader at Bourgeon Capital Management, an independent, fee-only, registered investment advisor, which he joined in 2001. Mark also worked at Solomon Smith Barney, as part of the Prime Brokerage Division.  

Mark earned a BA in economics and history from Brooklyn College in Brooklyn, NY.



Chelsea Childs is counsel at Ropes & Gray LLP in the firm’s asset management group. Chelsea represents investment management industry clients in a wide variety of regulatory, compliance, and transactional aspects of their businesses. She assists private funds, registered funds and their sponsors with fund structuring and formation, fund reorganizations, negotiation of service provider agreements, and ongoing operational and compliance matters. Chelsea also has extensive experience advising boards of U.S. registered funds on governance and fiduciary oversight matters.



Joshua Deringer is a Partner at Faegre Drinker and leads the firm's investment management practice group. For almost 20 years, Josh has counseled investment management clients, with a particular emphasis on representing registered investment companies and their boards. Josh's forward-thinking counsel has made him a sought-after attorney for national and international financial services companies involved in all aspects of the investment management industry. Josh's clients include registered investment companies, hedge funds, other alternative investment vehicles and investment advisers. He counsels them on governance, regulatory issues, reorganizations, and other matters. Josh's knowledge of the federal securities rulemaking process puts him in a position to provide comments on proposed industry rules and opinions on federal policymaking.



Jon Diorio is responsible for US retail product management, development and strategy within Blackrock’s US Wealth Advisory division. 

Prior to joining BlackRock, Jon held various roles at DWS Investments, the asset management arm of Deutsche Bank.  Most recently, Jon was a Director in DWS's retail sales division. In previous roles, Jon was head of closed-end funds for DWS, along with a portfolio specialist for DWS's alternative mutual funds.

Jon earned a BA degree in Finance from Loyola University and an MBA degree with a concentration in Finance and Economics from NYU- Stern School of Business.  In addition, he earned the Certified Investment Management Analyst designation through the Investment Management Consultants Association in conjunction with the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania.  Jon has his series 6, 63, 7, and 24 licenses.



Deborah Bielicke Eades is a shareholder in the Investment Services Group of Vedder Price P.C. and a seasoned practitioner with 30 years’ experience in the asset management industry. Ms. Eades has deep experience navigating complex closed-end fund transactions and regulatory matters including initial public offerings, mergers and reorganizations, leverage transaction, tender offers, product restructurings and activist matters. Ms. Eades regularly counsels closed-end and open-end funds, investment advisers and fund boards with respect to strategic transactions;  product development and disclosure matters;  regulatory and compliance matters including a focus on valuation, liquidity and derivatives; SEC investigations and enforcement matters; and governance matters. Ms. Eades has a particular interest in and focus on sustainable and social impact products and related disclosure and compliance issues.



Ken Fincher is Senior Vice President and Portfolio Manager and leads the First Trust Closed-End Fund Management Team. Ken joined First Trust Advisors in 2008 and has over 30 years of experience in financial markets. His current responsibilities include management of Separate Managed Accounts and Exchange-Traded Funds that invest primarily in Closed-End Funds. He has also helped develop new product structures in the closed-end fund space. Ken was named Outstanding Individual Contributor to the Closed-End Fund Sector in 2007, 2006, 2005, and 2004 by financial analysts and his peers in the Closed-End Fund community. Ken received a BA in financial administration from Michigan State University and an MBA from Loyola University Graduate School of Business. He has been quoted in several business publications such as Investor’s Business Daily, Barron’s, Bloomberg News Service, and Bond Buyer and has authored articles for Seeking Alpha. Ken also served on the Closed-End Fund committee of the Investment Company Institute (ICI).



Kimberly Ann Flynn is a Managing Director at XA Investments. She is a Partner in the firm and responsible for all product and business development activities. Kim is responsible for the firm’s proprietary fund platform and consulting practice.  Kim has developed an expertise in closed-end fund product development and is a frequent contributor to media and industry events on topics including interval funds, alternative investments, and London-listed investment companies.  Kim has earned the CFA designation and is a member of the CFA Institute and CFA Society Chicago.  She is also Series 7, 63, and 24 licensed.

Previously, Kim was Senior Vice President and Head of Product Development for Nuveen Investments' Global Structured Products Group. In her 11 years at Nuveen, she helped develop over 40 closed-end funds, raising approximately $13 billion in capital. In her leadership role at Nuveen, Kim was responsible for asset-raising activities through the development of new, traditional and alternative investment funds, including CEFs, ETFs, UITs, and commodity pools.  

Kim received her MBA degree from Harvard University, where she was a William J. Carey scholar, and President of the HBS Volunteers. Before attending Harvard Business School, Kim spent three years working in Morgan Stanley's Investment Banking Division (1999-2002) in their Chicago office. She earned her BBA in Finance and Business Economics, summa cum laude, from the University of Notre Dame in 1999 where she was a valedictorian candidate, Rhodes Scholar finalist and the first recipient of the Paul F. Conway Award, given to a senior in the Department of Finance who embodies Notre Dame's tradition of excellence and who enriches the ideals of the university.

Kim was recently selected to serve on the Notre Dame Wall Street leadership committee.  She also serves on the board of the Women in ETFs Chicago chapter as Head of the Mentorship Committee and on the advisory board of Youth Guidance’s Becoming A Man program. She is an active member of the University Club of Chicago and the Harvard Club of New York City, where she conducts regular business. Kim and her family - husband, Leo; son, Teddy; and daughter, Rose - live in Lincoln Park.



Patrick Galley joined RiverNorth in 2004 and serves as Chief Executive Officer and Chief Investment Officer. Patrick is responsible for strategic planning and business development and oversees all portfolio management activities at RiverNorth. In addition, Patrick serves as the President and Chairman of all RiverNorth proprietary funds. Prior to joining RiverNorth, Patrick was Vice President at Bank of America in the Global Investment Bank's Portfolio Management group where he specialized in analyzing and structuring corporate transactions for investment management firms in addition to closed-end and open-end funds, hedge funds, fund of funds, structured investment vehicles and insurance/reinsurance companies. Patrick graduated with honors from Rochester Institute of Technology with a BS in Finance. He is a CFA Charterholder and member of the CFA Institute and the CFA Society of Chicago.



Jennifer Gonzalez is a partner in K&L Gates LLP’s Washington D.C. office.  She concentrates her practice in the investment management area, representing open-end and closed-end investment companies, investment company boards, and investment advisers in transactional and regulatory matters. She counsels clients on the formation, reorganization, and termination of open-end and closed-end investment companies, obtaining exemptive relief and no-action relief, proxy solicitations, compliance matters, business development company (BDC) matters, and day-to-day regulatory issues. Jennifer has extensive experience representing listed and unlisted closed-end investment companies in offerings of common and preferred stock, establishing and refinancing various forms of leverage, issues relating to activist shareholders, proxy solicitations, tender offers, exchange matters, and other regulatory issues. In addition, she advises clients on state blue sky issues.



Kevin T. Hardy is a partner in the Chicago office of Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP where he concentrates his practice in the investment management area.  Kevin focuses on closed-end fund and business development company matters, advising funds, fund sponsors and underwriters and distributors.  He counsels clients on fund formation; initial public offerings; other offerings, including secondary common share offerings, preferred share offerings, debt offerings and rights offerings; fund reorganizations; stock exchange listings and regulations; and day-to-day governance and regulatory matters.  Kevin has extensive experience representing closed-end funds in activist defense matters, including corporate preparedness, shareholder proposals, contested proxy solicitations and related matters.   He also represents investment advisers in all aspects of investment company and investment adviser regulation, as well as open-end funds and exchange-traded funds.   Kevin has advised buyers and sellers on investment adviser and investment company matters in many significant transactions in the asset management industry.  Kevin received his JD, cum laude, from Northwestern Pritzker School of Law, and his BA, cum laude, in Economics and English from Georgetown University. 



Christopher M. Hayden advises public operating and investment management companies on corporate governance issues, shareholder proposals, and proxy contests as Chief Operating Officer of Georgeson’s US proxy team.

With over 27 years of experience in the proxy solicitation industry, Christopher specializes in complex solicitations for both corporate issuers and closed-end funds. He has represented nearly 50 different closed-end funds involved in proxy contests over the course of his career and has worked on more than 2,000 non-contested closed-end fund solicitations. His corporate annual meeting clients include many S&P 100 members.

Christopher is a member of the Society for Corporate Governance. He has also been a featured speaker at industry events hosted by the Investment Company Institute, the Society for Corporate Governance, the National Investor Relations Institute, and Practising Law Institute. 

He also serves as a Senior Managing Director for Georgeson Securities Corporation where he oversees the firm’s Dealer Manager activities.

Christopher received a bachelor’s degree in political science from Colgate University and holds Series 7, 24 and 63 licenses.



Jeremy Held, CFA, is currently responsible for Bow River Capital’s registered asset management business including the management of the Bow River Capital Evergreen Fund. Prior to joining Bow River Capital in 2019, Mr. Held was the Director of Research and Chief Investment Officer (CIO) at ALPS Advisors, a Denver-based asset manager that specializes in registered fund vehicles focused on real assets and alternative investments.   Mr. Held began his career at ALPS in 1996 and helped lead a variety of business initiatives over two decades, including the launch of the firm’s asset management business in 2007. 

As CIO, Mr. Held was in charge of manager selection and oversight and was responsible for all aspects of the ALPS Advisors business, overseeing 44 registered investment companies and more than $20 billion in assets under management. 

Jeremy graduated from the University of Colorado with a degree in International Business. He is a CFA® charter holder and a member of the CFA Society of Denver.  Jeremy is on the board of Principal Real Estate Income Fund and Habitat for Humanity of Metro Denver.



Jonathan Isaac is a Managing Director of Product Management for Eaton Vance Distributors, part of Morgan Stanley Investment Management (MSIM). He is responsible for all of Eaton Vance’s open- and closed-end funds and separate account strategies. He manages the firm’s product and portfolio strategy and market intelligence teams, oversees all investment-related communications, and maintains the firm’s relationships with closed-end fund research analysts and designated market makers. Jonathan also assists with the firm’s new product development and launch efforts, and he heads up the responsible investment strategy team, which was formed upon the firm’s acquisition of Calvert Research and Management in 2016. He joined Eaton Vance in 1994. Morgan Stanley acquired Eaton Vance in March 2021. Over his career at Eaton Vance, Jonathan has held a variety of managerial positions in the firm’s operations, marketing, and wealth management groups. His involvement with closed-end fund products dates to 2004 and coincided with dramatic growth in the firm’s closed-end fund assets under management. Jonathan is a graduate of University College, London, in his native United Kingdom.



Corey A. Issing is the Managing Director and General Counsel, Mutual Funds at Neuberger Berman Group LLC. Corey joined Neuberger Berman in 2007 and is currently responsible for overseeing legal matters related to Neuberger Berman’s registered fund business. Previously, he was the Associate General Counsel at AIG SunAmerica Asset Management. Corey received his JD from Suffolk University Law School and BA from the University of New Hampshire.



Robert J. Jackson, Jr. is Professor of Law, Co-Director of the Institute for Corporate Governance and Finance, and Director of the Program on Corporate Law and Policy at the New York University School of Law. He was nominated and unanimously confirmed by the Senate to be Commissioner of the Securities and Exchange Commission in 2017 and served in that role until February 2020.

Prior to his nomination to the Commission, Robert taught at Columbia Law School, where students honored him with the Reese Prize for Excellence in Teaching. Before that, he served as a Senior Policy Advisor at the US Treasury Department during the financial crisis and as Deputy to Kenneth Feinberg, Treasury’s Special Master on Executive Compensation. Earlier in his career, Robert practiced law at Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz and was an Investment Banker at Bear, Stearns. Robert holds two undergraduate degrees from the University of Pennsylvania, an MBA in finance from the Wharton School of Business, an MPP from Harvard’s Kennedy School, and a JD from Harvard Law School. He was born in the Bronx, is a lifelong fan of the New York Yankees, and lives in New York with his wife, Bryana and son, Briggs.



Steven Johnson, CFA, is an Associate Director within Fitch Ratings’ Funds and Asset Management group based in New York, having joined the firm in December 2021. He is primarily responsible for overseeing ratings and publishing research on closed-end funds. Prior to joining Fitch, Steven worked at Morgan Stanley in various trade support roles, primarily supporting the NY Equity Flow Derivatives trading desks. Steven earned a B.S. in Financial Economics from Binghamton University. He is a CFA charterholder and a member of the CFA Society of New York.



Christopher Larsen is a Senior Product Manager focused on Closed-End Funds with over 20 years of investment industry experience.  Chris has been with Franklin Templeton and predecessor companies since 2007.  He is responsible for the strategic oversight, business management and product development of Franklin Templeton’s closed-end fund business.  Chris has served as an Executive Director of the Closed-end Fund Association since 2013.  Prior to joining Legg Mason in 2007, Chris worked at the New York Stock Exchange for ten years most recently as Director - Global Corporate Client Group.  He holds a B.S. in Marketing from the State University of New York at Oswego, and MBA from Fordham University.



Nastia Liukin won five medals at the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing, including the coveted All-Around Gold medal. She has since been inducted into the International Gymnastics Hall of Fame, the USA Gymnastics Hall of Fame, and the US Olympic Hall of Fame. After achieving her biggest dream in the sport and graduating from NYU, Nastia set out to make her mark on the world beyond her athletic career. For the past decade, she has been the lead female gymnastics analyst with NBC Olympics. Additionally, she founded one of the most prestigious events in the sport of gymnastics, The Nastia Liukin Cup. She also serves as a motivational speaker, sharing her learnings and practices with Fortune 500 companies and their key teams. Tapping into the loyal fanbase she has cultivated over the last fifteen years, Nastia launched her influencer business, which has led to collaborations with world-leading brands and retailers. Using her platforms, she hopes to inspire others to set dream-worthy goals and empower them with the tools needed to achieve them.



Benjamin D. McCulloch is General Counsel, CCO, and Managing Director at XA Investments. Ben is responsible for overseeing and directing XAI’s legal, compliance, and corporate governance efforts. Ben also serves as Chief Legal Officer and Secretary of XAI’s proprietary funds. He has a particular focus in the relationship between product structuring and investment strategy/asset class. Along with Kimberly Flynn, Ben also co-founded and leads XAI’s fund and asset manager consulting practice.

Prior to joining XAI, Ben was an attorney in the investment management practice at Drinker Biddle & Reath LLP. Ben also previously served as an in-house lawyer at First Trust Advisers, preceded by a brief stint at the Miami Regional Office of the Securities & Exchange Commission’s Division of Enforcement. Prior to attending law school, Ben worked in the financial services industry as a financial advisor rep and later as a bond trader.

Ben received his law degree from the University of Miami, his MBA from Dominican University, a BS in marketing from the University of Phoenix while serving in the US Navy. Ben serves on the Board of Directors for Green Star Movement, a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization.



Stephen Minar, Director, is a member of BlackRock's U.S. Wealth Advisory business, focusing on closed-end fund product management, development and strategy.

Prior to joining BlackRock, Stephen worked in Global Capital Markets at Morgan Stanley where he was primarily responsible for the structuring and sale of closed-end fund initial public offerings and secondary market capital issuance. In a previous role at Morgan Stanley, Stephen was a research analyst covering both closed-end funds and exchange-traded funds.

Stephen earned a BA degree in Finance from Xavier University.



Brian Moran launched FLX in December 2019, addressing a need for  modernization in the asset and wealth management industries. Prior to founding FLX, he held multiple senior leadership roles, where he guided teams of financial professionals at Neuberger Berman and AMG to more than $100 billion in sales. During his 20+ year career, Brian has developed a broad perspective due to his numerous roles within the distribution ecosystem, including Wholesaling, National Accounts, Divisional Sales Management, Head of Broker Dealer Sales, Head of National Accounts and Co-lead of US Retail Distribution.

Brian earned a BS in marketing from Penn State University, and an MBA in finance from Temple University. He is a Certified Investment Management Analyst (CIMA), and is actively involved in numerous industry organizations, such as the New York Economic Club, the Money Management Institute, and the Catalyst Group.



Chintan Muchhala is an Audit Partner in EY’s Wealth & Asset Management practice and is based in New York. Chintan’s experience spans across a broad spectrum of the Securities and Exchange Commission’s registered funds, including mutual funds, ETF’s, interval funds, tender offer funds, and BDC’s. Additionally, he also serves alternative funds such as credit funds, fund of funds, private equity funds, hedge funds, and real estate funds. Chintan’s clients range from emerging managers to global asset managers with a broad range of investment strategies and accounting and reporting considerations. His experiences have enabled him to develop extensive accounting, valuation, and reporting knowledge of products ranging from complex derivatives, asset-backed securities, mortgage-backed securities, bank debt, direct and syndicated loans, private equity investments, CDOs, CLOs, preferred equity structures, investments in hedge/private equity funds (fund of funds), and other various types of investments. Chintan has done rotations and worked on projects in other non-audit related areas within EY’s advisory practice which include Structured Finance Advisory Services, Transaction Advisory Services and Transaction Integration Services. These rotations have enabled him to leverage his knowledge and become a trusted advisor to his clients on various business and accounting matters.

Chintan holds a Masters of Business Administration (EMBA) from Columbia University in New York with Dean’s Distinction Honors awarded to the top 5% of his graduating class. Chintan holds a Bachelor’s of Science in accounting with High Honors from The School of Business at Rutgers University in New Brunswick, NJ. Chintan is a Certified Public Accountant in New York.



Carolyn Murphy-Lepore is a Portfolio Manager at City of London Investment Management (CLIM), based in the company’s US office. Mrs. Murphy-Lepore is responsible for management of the firm’s investments in the Americas with respect to research, trading and corporate governance. She joined CLIM as a Research Analyst in 2007 and has been a Portfolio Manager since 2012. She has served as the Head of both the Dubai and Singapore offices of CLIM. Prior to joining City of London, Mrs. Murphy-Lepore worked as a Registered Sales Assistant at Raymond James Financial, Stifel Nicolaus and Legg Mason Capital Management. She has a BA from the University of Delaware.



Matt Nealon is a Managing Director and Head of Closed-End Fund Business Development at Nuveen. He is responsible for leading the origination and syndication of new closed-end funds by promoting Nuveen’s investment solutions through financial intermediaries and establishes the strategic vision for effective client engagement across Nuveen’s largest closed-end fund relationships. To ensure highly effective competitive positioning in the marketplace, Matt works closely with specialist teams across the firm’s distribution, product, and portfolio management groups to identify innovative ways to help clients achieve their financial goals in a rapidly evolving investment landscape.

Prior to joining Nuveen in 2015, Matt was a Senior Associate at Deloitte, where he specialized on clients in the financial services industry.

Matt graduated with a B.S. in Accounting from the University of Scranton and an M.B.A. from the University of Notre Dame Mendoza College of Business. He is a certified public accountant (CPA) and holds the Series 7 and 66 securities registrations.



Eric S. Purple is a Partner in Stradley Ronon Stevens & Young LLP’s Washington, DC office. Eric’s practice focuses on all aspects of investment company and investment adviser regulation. His practice involves a broad range of exchange-traded funds, mutual funds, closed-end investment companies, and business development companies, their investment advisers, or their independent directors on matters arising under the US federal securities laws. Prior to entering private practice, Eric served for eight years in the  Securities and Exchange Commission’s Division of Investment Management in the Office of Chief Counsel and the Office of Disclosure and Review. Prior to his government service, Eric served as the compliance officer of a small mutual fund complex, and was the lead in-house counsel to an internet financial services start-up.Eric holds a BA from Vanderbilt University, a JD from the University of Alabama School of Law (where he served on the managing board of the Alabama Law Review), and an LLM in Securities and Financial Regulation from Georgetown University Law Center.  



Trace W. Rakestraw is a Branch Chief in the Chief Counsel’s Office in the Division of Investment Management at the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). Prior to his current role at the SEC, Trace served as Senior Counsel in the Office of Commissioner Kara M. Stein and as Senior Counsel and Acting Branch Chief in the Disclosure Review and Accounting Office in the Division of Investment Management.

Prior to joining the SEC, Trace worked in various roles in State Street Bank and Trust’s mutual fund administration legal department including, most recently, as Vice President and Counsel. Trace also previously worked as an Attorney in the US Department of Labor’s Office of Administrative Law Judges. Trace earned a BS in industrial and systems engineering from Virginia Tech and a JD from New England School of Law, where he served as Editor-in-Chief of the New England Law Review.



Alexander Reiss joined Stifel in 2007. Based in New York, Alexander is a Managing Director in the Financial Institutions sector, covering closed-end funds.

Prior to joining Stifel, Alexander was an Analyst with Ryan Beck & Co., Inc. and Gruntal and Co.



Nicole M. Runyan is an Investment Funds Partner in the New York office of Kirkland & Ellis LLP, where she heads the Firm’s Registered Funds practice. Nicole has two decades of experience advising clients on the formation, registration, operation, and oversight of nearly every type of registered fund as well as business development companies (BDCs).

Nicole has a broad and diverse background advising mutual funds, ETFs, listed and unlisted closed-end funds and other types of registered funds investing across a variety of asset classes and strategies, including: public and private equities; private credit, structured credit, high-yield, preferred securities, directly originated and broadly syndicated loans and other income- producing strategies; real estate and infrastructure assets; and commodities and natural resource assets. She focuses her time counseling clients on the design and offering of alternative investment products, such as BDCs, fund of funds, interval funds, and tender offer funds, that offer access for retail and high net worth investors to a variety of traditional “private market” asset classes, such as private credit and private equity, including on a primary, secondary, direct, or co- investment basis.

She received her undergraduate degree, with honors, from Wake Forest University and her law degree, with honors, from Boston University School of Law.



Brian H. Schaffer is a Partner at Prosek Partners, among the largest integrated, independent communications and marketing firms in the US with a global presence, providing a full range of communications solutions to financial and professional services companies. Brian has over two decades of experience providing strategic corporate, transaction, crisis, and investor communications counsel to senior management teams and boards of directors. He has helped position numerous proxy contests, M&A transactions, hostile takeover attempts, corporate and sovereign restructurings, bankruptcies, divestitures, and public company/fund listings in agency and internal roles. Prosek Partners is the leading communications firm supporting closed-end funds for the past five years. Brian has supported the vast majority of the world’s leading global closed-end fund complexes – often on multiple occasions – against shareholder activists. He has also directed communications strategies in related litigation brought by activists, including three current lawsuits with broad industry implications.



Admiral James Stavridis is Vice Chair, Global Affairs of The Carlyle Group and Chair of the Board of Trustees, Rockefeller Foundation. A Florida native, Admiral Stavridis attended the US Naval Academy at Annapolis, and spent 37 years in the Navy, rising to the rank of 4-star Admiral. Among his many commands were four years as the 16th Supreme Allied Commander at NATO, where he oversaw operations in Afghanistan, Libya, Syria, the Balkans, and counter piracy off the coast of Africa. He also commanded US Southern Command in Miami, charged with military operations through Latin America for nearly three years. He was the longest serving Combatant Commander in recent US history. Following his military career, he served for five years as the 12th Dean of The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University.

In the course of his career in the Navy, he served as senior military assistant to the Secretary of the Navy and the Secretary of Defense. He led the Navy’s premier operational think tank for innovation, Deep Blue, immediately after the 9/11 attacks. Admiral Stavridis was promoted directly from 1-star rank to 3- star rank in 2004. He won the Battenberg Cup for commanding the top ship in the Atlantic Fleet and the Navy League John Paul Jones Award for Inspirational leadership, along with more than 50 US and international medals and decorations, including 28 from foreign nations. He also commanded a Destroyer Squadron and a Carrier Strike Group, both in combat.

In 2016, he was vetted for Vice President by Secretary Hillary Clinton, and subsequently invited to Trump Tower to discuss a cabinet position with President Donald Trump. He earned a PhD from The Fletcher School at Tufts, winning the Gullion prize as outstanding student in his class in 1983, as well as academic honors from the National and Naval War Colleges as a distinguished student. He speaks Spanish and French.

Admiral Stavridis has published twelve books on leadership, character, risk, the oceans, maritime affairs, and Latin America, as well as hundreds of articles in leading journals. An active user of social networks, he has tens of thousands of connections on the social networks. His TED talk on 21st century security in 2012 has close to one million views. He tweeted the end of combat operations in the Libyan NATO intervention. His two most recent books are “To Risk It All: Nine Crises and The Crucible Of Decision,” in 2022, and the novel “2034: A Novel of the Next World War” in 2021, which was a New York Times bestseller.

Admiral Stavridis is a contributing editor for TIME Magazine and Chief International Security and Diplomacy Analyst for NBC News.



Rosey Valencia is responsible for establishing and maintaining strategic relationships with key broker dealers and institutions to increase Destra’s brand and maximize distribution opportunities across all available platforms for our investment suite. She coordinates with national sales and marketing to ensure alignment between the firm’s initiatives, investment themes, and product placement. Before joining Destra, Rosey was Vice President, National Account Manager for the Financial Advisor Division at DWS Investments where she spent 7 years. She focused on identifying sales and marketing opportunities to broaden the firm’s market share by fostering relationships with senior executives, regional directors, research analysts, and product managers at broker dealer firms. She started her career at UBS Financial Services initially working in operations, branch administration, and client services before becoming a financial advisor. Her experience in building trust with clients to deliver customized investment solutions expands to her success today with financial advisors and centers of influence. Rosey is a Certified Investment Management Analyst CIMA®, holds key industry licenses, and a member of The Investments & Wealth Institute. She received her Bachelors of Business Administration in Finance from the University of Notre Dame in 1998 and currently serves on the Mendoza College of Business Advisory Council.