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In 2007 Columbia Business School launched the Private Equity Program, which serves as the School's primary point of contact with the private equity industry, unifying students, alumni, the Columbia community, and the business community into a single network.
The Program is dedicated to forging ever closer ties with the private equity industry by reinforcing the School's commitment to linking theory with practice and by engaging alumni who continue to lead the development of the private equity and venture capital industries worldwide.

Advisory Board

Gary Appel `77
Executive in Residence, Columbia Business School

Gary Appel has spent 35 years in the financial services industry.  Currently he serves as Executive in Residence at Columbia Business School and on the Advisory Board of the Private Equity Program at Columbia Business School.
Mr. Appel is Vice Chairman of Corporate Investment-North America for Investcorp International Inc., a global manager of alternative investment products. Mr. Appel retired in 2012 as Vice Chairman of Castle Harlan, Inc., a global middle market private equity funds manager.  Prior to joining Castle Harlan, he was Vice Chairman of Glencoe Capital, Ltd., a Chicago-based middle market private equity funds manager, and a member of its Investment Committee.  While at Glencoe he co-founded and managed one of the first independent co-investment funds created for a state retirement system.
In the late 1990’s Mr. Appel was a Senior Managing Director of Bear Stearns, Inc.  Prior to that for 17 years, he was with Donaldson, Lufkin & Jenrette, Inc. serving as a Managing Director and a founding partner of DLJ Merchant Banking.  He was a member of DLJ Merchant Banking’s Board of Directors and its Investment Committee and has served on the boards of directors of numerous corporations across a variety of industries, as well as several not-for-profit institutions.  He earned his BA with honors from Vassar College and his MBA from Columbia University.


Jeffrey Barber '01
Managing Director, TA Associates, Inc.

At TA Associates, Jeff Barber focuses on growth capital investments, leveraged recapitalizations, and management-led buyouts of business services, consumer products, financial services, and other growth services companies. Mr. Barber has a BA from Johns Hopkins University (1995), with all university and departmental honors. He earned his MBA from Columbia Business School with honors and was a Beta Gamma Sigma Scholar.


Kenneth A. Buckfire `87
Co-President & Managing Director, Miller Buckfire

Kenneth A. Buckfire is Co-President, Managing Director and co-founder of Miller Buckfire.  He is also a vice chairman of Stifel, which acquired Miller Buckfire in December of 2012. Over the course of his career he has advised clients in a broad range of industries (including energy, food products, building products, broadcasting and information services) and has also managed principal investments in distressed companies and in the utility industry.  Prior to founding Miller Buckfire, Mr. Buckfire was a Managing Director at Dresdner Kleinwort Wasserstein and served as Co-Head of the firm's financial restructuring group specializing in the restructuring and refinancing of highly leveraged companies. Before joining DrKW, Mr. Buckfire was a Senior Vice President at Lehman Brothers Inc. Mr. Buckfire is on the board of advisors of the Zell-Lurie Institute at The University of Michigan, and on the Board of Directors of the Philharmonic Symphony Society of New York. He is a trustee of Orpheus Orchestra, a member of the Weil Cornell Medical College Dean's Council, and has been a director and co-founder of several public and private corporations.  Mr. Buckfire serves on the Advisory Board for Columbia Business School's Private Equity Program and received his M.B.A. from Columbia University and his B.A. in Economics and Philosophy from The University of Michigan.


Margaret Butler ’01 

Shareholder, Greenberg Traurig

Margaret Isa Butler is a Shareholder at Greenberg Traurig, where she focuses her practice on mergers, acquisitions and joint ventures, including cross-border, asset management and real estate industry transactions. She also provides general advisory services to private equity funds and their portfolio companies and strategic advice to activist hedge funds.
Margaret takes an interdisciplinary approach to her work, owing to her MBA and her investment banking experience. She has led the execution of complicated transactions, including distressed and other high-stakes M&A. She has engaged in buy-side and sell-side representations, including public company takeover defense, and she has also designed custom structures for investments, participations and business combinations. 

Margaret concerns herself with the full range of legal issues that are important to her fund clients, and assists them with regard to governance, compliance and back office functions at both the fund and the portfolio company levels.  She also advises private equity and hedge fund clients on fund formation and institutional limited partners in connection with their fund investments.
In 2013 Margaret won a "40 Under 40" award from The M&A Advisor and was shortlisted as a "Corporate Rising Star" by Euromoney Legal Media.  Margaret is on the Advisory Board of the Private Equity Program at Columbia Business School and leads the Harvard Club of New York’s M&A interest group. She has spoken at Columbia Business School's PEVC Conference and Deal Camp, at an ACG event and at the New York City Bar Association. She has been published in The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal.
Margaret has an MBA from Columbia Business School, where she was inducted into Beta Gamma Sigma, and a JD from Columbia Law School, where she served as Senior Editor of Columbia Law Review and was designated a James Kent Scholar. Her undergraduate degree is from Harvard. Margaret also has native fluency in oral and written Spanish and conversational knowledge of Portuguese.


Neal Costello `08
Managing Director – Alpinvest Partners

Mr. Costello, currently based in Amsterdam, is a Managing Director of Secondary Investments for AlpInvest Partners, one of the largest private equity investment managers in the world and wholly owned by The Carlyle Group. AlpInvest’s activities cover a broad range of private equity investing, including Primary Fund commitments, Secondary purchases and co-investments. Mr. Costello was most recently a Senior Principal at the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board (CPPIB), where he was responsible for launching and leading the European Secondaries and Co-Investments platforms in London. In this role, he oversaw the growth of the London team and completed a number of transactions in various geographies as part of CPPIB’s global investment program. Mr. Costello originally joined AlpInvest in 2003 in the New York office, and was ultimately a Principal based in Hong Kong leading the firm’s Secondary efforts in Asia in 2013. He has lived and worked in the United Kingdom, Hong Kong, the United States and Canada. Mr. Costello received his MBA from Columbia University in New York and an Honors Business degree (HBA) from the Ivey School of Business at Western University in Canada. He is also a CFA Charterholder.


David E. De Leeuw  `69

Co-Founder & Co-President, Huntsman-Lion Capital, LLC
Co-Founder & Managing Partner, Lion Chemical Capital LLC

David E. De Leeuw is a founding partner of Lion Chemical Capital LLC, a private equity firm focused on investing in premier businesses operating in the chemical and materials industries.  Mr. De Leeuw founded Lion Chemical with his brother Pete De Leeuw in 2002 to acquire, manage and eventually monetize chemicals and materials businesses. Since the Firm’s founding, Lion Chemical has invested and/or advised on transactions in the chemical industry valued at over $4 billion and have earned net returns in excess of 10x invested capital.

Mr. De Leeuw has more than 10 years of investment experience in the chemical and materials industries and more than 40 years of investment experience in various sectors including, consumer goods and services and financial services.  

Mr. De Leeuw also co-founded Lion Cao Asset Management in 2005, which provides institutional quality investment management services to family offices and wealthy individuals with a focus on private equity, direct investments, co-investments, and funds.  Lion Cao principals have led investments into more than 40 funds, managers, direct investments and co-investments.

Prior to establishing Lion Chemical and Lion Cao, Mr. De Leeuw, was a founding partner at McCown De Leeuw & Co., which raised more than $1.2 billion in four funds and invested over $1 billion in 40 leveraged platform acquisitions and over 100 add-ons. Mr. De Leeuw led or played a key role in numerous financings for McCown De Leeuw including IPOs, mezzanine debt, bonds, and private financings, as well as acquisitions, divestitures, and secondary offerings over a 20 year period. Prior to founding MDC in 1984, Mr. De Leeuw led the leveraged acquisitions group at Citibank, and was previously at W.R. Grace & Co., and Paine Webber in New York and Tokyo.

Mr. De Leeuw has served on more than 25 Boards (with several listed on the NYSE or NASDAQ) since 1984, often as Chairman or Vice Chairman. Mr. De Leeuw is currently serving on the boards of Lion Copolymer, a manufacturer and distributor of EPDM and SBR rubbers, and specialty polymers and Columbia Business School's Private Equity Program Advisory Board. Mr. De Leeuw received an MBA from Columbia University, and a BA in History from Lafayette.


Sean P. Epstein `04
Head EMEA/MEE, SAP Global Private Equity

Mr. Sean Epstein is the Head EMEA/MEE of SAP's Global Private Equity Program.  He is also Vice President of Global Private Equity Strategy.  He is responsible for partnerships and alliances with many of the world’s  largest Private Equity firms and global funding institutions.  The SAP Private Equity team is chartered with originating, influencing and supporting business development with PE firms and their portfolio companies. In his role since 2011 he has been responsible for helping to launch the business in Asia, expanding its footprint in EMEA/MEE & the Americas, and scaling the business to $350M+ revenue. He is also actively involved in innovation and thought leadership for boards of directors and CEO’s.

Mr. Epstein had previously served as the Executive Director of Global Value Management for SAP since 2008.  In this capacity he was responsible for the creation and scaling of the SAP Value Academy programs and initiatives which drove over $500M in revenue and pipeline during.  He began his career at SAP in 2007 as a Senior Principal in the North America Value Engineering organization.   Prior to SAP Mr. Epstein held a number of senior leadership roles at the Corporate Executive Board (EXBD) including leading executive advisory functions and helping to develop and scale the global product support organization which drove over $100M in revenue across his tenure. Mr. Epstein has also held roles as a Senior Consultant for the San Francisco merchant bank Arch & Beam where he led part of the $3B divestiture of Agilent Technology from Hewlett Packard and as Director of Corporate Development at New York City’s Bigfoot Interactive where he helped the firm raise over $50M in venture funding, launched Bigfoot Japan, and ink deals with the biggest marketing agencies and PR firms.  

Mr. Epstein holds a bachelors degree in Political Science & History from The University of Virginia and a Masters in Business from Columbia Business School.


Stewart K.P. Gross `87
Managing Director, Lightyear Capital

Stewart Gross is a Managing Director of Lightyear Capital and a member of the Investment Committee. Prior to joining Lightyear Capital in May 2005, Mr. Gross spent 17 years at Warburg Pincus, where he was a Partner and member of the Operating Committee.  Mr. Gross began his career as a Financial Analyst in mergers and acquisitions at Morgan Stanley. Mr. Gross serves on the Board of Directors of Lightyear Capital portfolio companies Cetera Financial Group, Flagstone Reinsurance Holdings Limited, and Higher One Holdings, Inc. Mr. Gross received his undergraduate degree from Harvard University and an MBA from Columbia Business School.


Rebecca John '01
Partner, Lexington Partners

Rebecca John joined Lexington Partners in July 2001 as a member of the secondary investment team evaluating U.S. middle market buyout funds. Since 2001, she has also been engaged in the firm's fundraising efforts and closely involved in the firm's relationships with investors. In January 2006, she assumed full-time responsibility for Lexington's global fundraising and investor relations functions encompassing more than $33 billion in capital under management from over 300 leading global institutional investors. Prior to joining Lexington Partners, she worked for Merrill Lynch Investment Management in Singapore and Ernst & Young in both Singapore and Australia. She graduated from the University of Melbourne with a BCom, is an Associate of the Institute of Chartered Accountants in Australia (CA), and obtained her MBA from Columbia Business School.


Adam Reinmann '04
Managing Director, Wendel Group

Adam Reinmann is a managing director with the Wendel Group in New York. Previously he worked for Onex, a leading Canadian investment firm, where he was leading origination and due diligence efforts in the chemicals and specialty materials industries and has worked on several private equity transactions, including the acquisitions of The Warranty Group, Skilled Healthcare, Cypress Insurance Group, RSI Home Products and JELD-WEN Holding, inc. During 2009, Adam served as a member of the executive management team at Celestica, Inc., where he was actively involved in developing Celestica`s growth and operational improvement strategy. Before joining Onex, Mr. Reinmann was with JPMorgan’s Leveraged Finance Group for eight years, where he led financings for financial sponsors and corporate clients, principally in the chemical and healthcare industries. Mr. Reinmann is a member of Columbia Business School Private Equity Program's Advisory Board. Mr. Reinmann holds an MBA from Columbia Business School and a B.S. from Binghamton University.


Jeffrey Rojek `96
Global Lead Partner, KPMG

Jeff Rojek is a 20+ year partner at KPMG and is the Global Lead Partner on a number of the Firm’s most significant Private Equity client relationships.  Jeff’s experience at KPMG includes Lead Partner roles on the Firm’s Global Banking clients, four years living Asia leading our large financial services relationships, and two years in KPMG’s National Office.  In 2008 Jeff joined GLG Partners Inc., a NYSE listed alternative asset manager with $26B of AUM, as their Chief Financial officer.  After successfully selling GLG to the Man Group in 2011, Jeff rejoined KPMG in 2013.  He has an MBA from Columbia ’96 and a BS from Fordham University ’91.



Alisa A. Wood `08
Member, Client and Partner Group, KKR

Alisa A. Wood (New York) joined KKR in 2003 and is a member of the Client and Partner Group. She has been actively involved in the Firm’s global capital raising activities along with the creation of KKR Private Equity Investors. Currently, she heads the product specialist area globally for all private market activities, including private equity, energy & infrastructure and real estate. She also leads the Firm’s capital raising efforts in Latin America. Prior to joining KKR, Ms. Wood was with Deutsche Bank’s Private Equity Group where she worked on the institutional placement and structuring of private equity, venture capital, real estate and securitized debt products. She holds a B.A. from Columbia College and an M.B.A from Columbia Graduate School of Business. Ms. Wood currently sits on the Columbia Business School Private Equity Board as well as the Convent of the Sacred Heart Board of Trustees, as well as co-chairs the Columbia College Young Leadership Council.