Board of Directors 2018-01-09T15:19:16+00:00

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Board of Directors

Sebastián Ceria is one of the world’s foremost authorities on optimization. Before founding Axioma, Ceria was an Associate Professor of Decision, Risk and Operations at Columbia Business School from 1993 to 1998. He was honored with the prestigious Career Award for Operations Research from the National Science Foundation, which is given annually to the two best researchers and teachers in the area. While at Columbia he was also recognized as the “best core teacher” by his students and the school. Additionally, Ceria has served as administrator for the Computational Optimization Research Center and as co-principal investigator in two National Science Foundation research projects.

Ceria is the author of many articles and has been featured regularly in a variety of publications including Management Science, Mathematical Programming, Optima and Operations Research. He has also been an editor for Optima, and a regular referee for a number of publications in the area. Past speaking engagements include international corporate and academic conferences. Ceria completed his PhD in Operations Research at Carnegie Mellon University’s Graduate School of Industrial Administration.

Benjamin S. Appen, CFA, is a Founding Partner, Co-Chair of the Investment Committee, and Chief Executive Officer, responsible for developing and managing the Magnitude investment business.

Mr. Appen was previously a senior vice president at the D. E. Shaw group, a New York-based investment firm focusing on quantitative trading and technology venture capital activities. During his seven-year tenure, he co-founded and managed the firm’s fund of funds business. In this role, he oversaw the evaluation of investment strategies, manager selection, and quantitative research. Mr. Appen also managed the D. E. Shaw group’s venture capital investments, he served on the board of directors of Schrödinger, Inc., a computational chemistry software pioneer.

Immediately before joining Magnitude Capital, Mr. Appen was the chief executive officer of Alkindi, Inc., based in New York City. He was responsible for overseeing the development of a collaborative filtering application based on n-dimensional clustering algorithms. Alkindi’s improvements to this technology led to the company’s software being rated highest in user tests.

Mr. Appen has been invited to speak about hedge funds as a guest lecturer at Columbia University and New York University. Mr. Appen is also on the board of directors for Innovations for Poverty Action, which administers rigorous evaluations of development work around the world. He is a trustee of the Citizens Budget Commission.

In 1992, Mr. Appen graduated magna cum laude with a B.A. in political science from Columbia University.

David Stark is Chief Risk Officer for Goldman Sachs’ Consumer Lending Division. Previously, he was Head of Credit Policy for North America Branded Cards and responsible for Global Cards Risk Management Practices at Citi. Prior to this role, David was responsible for running a 20Bn Card portfolio and charged with devising new product and lending strategies in response to the changing regulatory, credit, competitive and economic environment. Over the course of 17 years at Citi David has held a variety of roles across Consumer and Commercial lines of business including leading Decision Science, Sears Credit and a variety of functional roles. Prior to joining Citi, David worked for Andersen Consulting (Accenture) as a technical consultant and C++ programmer. David received his Bachelor’s degree in Mathematics from SUNY Geneseo and his Master’s degree in Engineering from Columbia University.
Chauncy Lennon, PhD, Managing Director, Global Philanthropy at JPMorgan Chase, leads New Skills at Work, a 5 year $250 million initiative to help workers and industries invest in the skills needed to compete and prosper in the global economy. He joins JPMorgan Chase from the Ford Foundation, where his grant-making focused on promoting economic advancement for low-income workers by improving access to workforce development and work support programs. Prior to the Ford Foundation, Chauncy was senior vice president for Asset Building at Seedco, a national workforce development intermediary, where he was responsible for the growth and operation of national initiatives that connect low-wage workers to income-enhancing benefits and services. He also has extensive experience researching the mobility patterns of the working poor. He earned his Ph.D. in anthropology from Columbia University, master’s degree from the University of Chicago and bachelor’s degree from Williams College. He has taught urban studies at Columbia’s School of International and Public Affairs and at Barnard College.
Franco Baseggio is a Managing Director of HBK’s statistical arbitrage strategy, a position he has held for over 12 years.

Prior to that, Franco built a statistical arbitrage strategy at PCM, a hedge fund, and co-headed the fund-of-funds group at Commerzbank. Franco started his career with a 6 year stint at D. E. Shaw & Co. in a variety of programming, quant, and investing roles.

Franco received his Bachelor’s degree in Mathematics from Harvard.

When he gets the chance he likes to play tournament bridge, where he has one major national victory.

Ross Garon is Managing Director at Cubist Systematic Strategies, LLC. From 2002 until early 2009, Mr. Garon was the co-founder and Managing Member of Tykhe Capital LLC. Mr. Garon began his career in quantitative finance in 1993 when he joined D. E. Shaw & Co. Mr. Garon graduated magna cum laude from Harvard.
Aleksandra (Saška) Mojsilović is a scientist at the IBM T. J. Watson Research Center, Yorktown Heights, New York. She received the Ph.D. degree in electrical engineering from the University of Belgrade, Belgrade, Serbia in 1997. She was a Member of Technical Staff at the Bell Laboratories, Murray Hill, New Jersey (1998-2000), and then joined IBM Research, where she leads AI Science organization. Saška is a founder and co-director of the IBM Science for Social Good program. Over the last 20 years, Saška has applied her skills to problems in computer vision, healthcare, multimedia, finance, HR, public affairs and economics. Saška is one of the pioneers of business analytics at IBM and in the industry; throughout her career she championed innovative uses of analytics for business decision support. For her technical contributions and the business impact of her work Saška was appointed an IBM Fellow, the company’s highest technical honor. Saška is the author of over 100 publications and holds 16 patents. Her work has been recognized with several awards including IEEE Signal Processing Society Young Author Best Paper Award, INFORMS Wagner Prize, IBM Extraordinary Accomplishment Award, IBM Gerstner Prize, and Best Paper awards at ECCV and SOLI conferences. She is an IEEE Fellow and a member of INFORMS and SWE.

Matthew Rhodes-Kropf is the Managing Partner at Tectonic Ventures, an early-stage venture capital company with a focus on finance, technology, and biotech companies. He is also a visiting associate professor of finance at the MIT Sloan School of Management and a faculty research fellow at the National Bureau of Economic Research. He specializes in mergers and acquisitions, venture capital, hedge funds, and corporate governance. He has been published in leading finance and economic journals including The Journal of Finance, The Journal of Business, Journal of Financial Economics, and The RAND Journal of Economics.

Matt previously managed RK Ventures and served as acting CFO of Avid Radiopharmaceuticals and has been a member of its board of directors since its founding. In addition to being a member of the board of directors of Neighborhood Trust, he is on the boards of Duke University’s Graduate School, Ada Investment Management, a process driven hedge fund that uses long-run economic signals, and Correlation Ventures, a quantitatively-based venture fund.

Matt was formerly an Associate Professor at the Harvard School of Business and the Daniel W. Stanton Associate Professor of Business at the Columbia University Graduate School of Business, where he received the Dean’s Award for Teaching Excellence. A graduate of Duke University, he holds a B.A. in computer science and economics and an M.A. and Ph.D. in economics.

Justine Zinkin is CEO of Neighborhood Trust Financial Partners. She has overseen the dramatic growth of the nonprofit since 2002, cultivating the organization as a national leader in the financial empowerment and asset development fields.

Justine joined Neighborhood Trust (formerly Credit Where Credit Is Due) in 2002 in order to support its mission of financial empowerment in the Washington Heights community. Neighborhood Trust’s signature Financial Empowerment Integration Model is now applied in over 40 locations around New York City, and its technical assistance arm has provided services in major cities nationally. In 2013, the New York City Mayor’s Office named Neighborhood Trust one of New York City’s ten most innovative nonprofits. In 2015 alone, the organization served over 6,000 low-income New Yorkers.

Prior to leading Neighborhood Trust, Justine served as Director of Economic Independence Programs at the New York City Department of Housing Preservation and Development from 1999 to 2000, and as Director of Workforce Development at Common Ground Community HDFC from 1995 to 1999.

Justine was recently selected as a 2016 New Profit Accelerator Entrepreneur, a one-year program designed to accelerate the potential of extraordinary female social entrepreneurs and the impact of their organizations. She has been honored as a Hidden Hero by the Andrew Goodman Foundation and has been a featured speaker at various financial services innovation and asset development convenings, including the Center for American Progress, Center for Financial Services Innovation, Corporate for Enterprise Development, PopTech, and TEDx.

Justine holds an M.B.A. from Columbia Business School, an M.S. in Population Studies from Harvard University’s School of Public Health, and a B.A. from Brown University.

Justine is a six-time New York City marathon runner.

Advisory Board

Russell L. Carson is a Founder and General Partner at Welsh, Carson, Anderson & Stowe, one of the country’s largest private investment firms. From 1967 to 1978 he was employed by the Citicorp Venture Capital subsidiary of Citicorp and served as its Chairman and CEO from 1974 to 1978. Active in community affairs, Mr. Carson is Chair of The Rockefeller University Board of Trustees, Chairman Emeritus of Columbia Business School, a Trustee of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, a Co-Chairman of the New York City Investment Fund, Chairman of The Partnership for Inner-City Education, Director of The Partnership for New York City, and a Trustee of the National 9/11 Memorial Foundation. He also serves as Chairman of The Carson Family Charitable Trust.
John D. Dionne is a Senior Advisor of Blackstone and a Field Fellow with the Harvard Business School.

He was most recently a Senior Managing Director and Global Head of the Private Equity Business Development and Investor Relations Groups. He also served as a member of Blackstone’s Private Equity Investment and Valuation Committees. Since 2009, Mr. Dionne led global fundraising efforts of over $20 billion for three new private equity investment vehicles.

Mr. Dionne originally joined Blackstone in 2004 as the Founder and Chief Investment Officer of the Blackstone Distressed Securities Fund, the firm’s initial entry into the single- manager hedge fund business, with peak assets under management of over $2 billion. During this period, he also served on the Investment Committees of Blackstone’s GSO and Kalix investment businesses.

Before joining Blackstone, Mr. Dionne was for several years a Partner and Portfolio Manager for Bennett Restructuring Funds, a multi-billion dollar hedge fund specializing in investments of the debt securities of financially troubled companies.

Prior to Bennett Restructuring Funds, Mr. Dionne was also a Partner at Saugatuck Capital where he invested in middle-market buyouts and restructured troubled portfolio companies. From 1991 through 1996, he was Director of Corporate Development for Fisher Scientific International, Inc. Mr. Dionne began his career at Price Waterhouse as a public accountant.

Mr. Dionne has served on the board of directors of many companies and not-for-profit institutions. He is a Chartered Financial Analyst and Certified Public Accountant (inactive).

Mr. Dionne is a graduate of the Harvard Business School and the University of Scranton, where he is a past Chair of its’ Board of Trustees.

Alan Fishman is Chairman of the Board of Directors of Ladder Capital. Mr. Fishman has had an extensive career in the financial services industry; most recently serving as the Chief Executive Officer of Washington Mutual Inc. He also served as the Chairman of Meridian Capital Group and, from June 2006 to December 2006, as President of Sovereign Bancorp. Mr. Fishman serves as Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Brooklyn Academy of Music, Chairman of the Brooklyn Navy Yard Development Corporation, Co-Chairman of the Downtown Brooklyn Partnership, a Board Member of the Partnership for New York City, and on the Boards of several other not-for-profit and civic organizations.
Dean Karlan is a Professor of Economics and Finance at Northwestern University, and President and Founder of Innovations for Poverty Action, a non-profit organization dedicated to discovering and promoting solutions to global poverty problems, and working to scale-up successful ideas through implementation and dissemination to policymakers, practitioners, investors and donors. In 2015, he founded ImpactMatters, a nonprofit dedicated to producing impact audits, which assesses whether an organization uses and produces appropriate evidence of impact. His research focuses on microeconomic issues of poverty, typically employing experimental methodologies and behavioral economics insights to examine what works, what does not, and why in interventions in sustainable income generation for those in poverty, household and entrepreneurial finance, health behavior, and charitable giving. He works on issues for low-income households in both developing countries and the United States.

Karlan is on the Executive Committee of the Board of Directors of the M.I.T. Jameel Poverty Action Lab. As a social entrepreneur, he is co-founder of, a website that uses lessons from behavioral economics to help people reach personal goals, such as weight loss and smoking cessation, through commitment contracts on corporate wellness platforms. In 2011, Karlan co-authored More Than Good Intentions: How a New Economics is Helping to Solve Global Poverty, and in 2016 he co-authored Failing in the Field. Karlan received a Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers, an Alfred P. Sloan Foundation Fellowship, and a Guggenheim Fellowship. He was awarded distinguished alumni awards from the University of Chicago Booth Graduate School of Business and the Duke University Talent Identification Program. Previously, Karlan was the Samuel C Park, Jr Professor of Economics at Yale University, and Assistant Professor of Economics at Princeton University. Karlan received a Ph.D. in Economics from M.I.T., an M.B.A. and an M.P.P. from the University of Chicago, and a B.A. in International Affairs from the University of Virginia.

Nancy Zimmerman is co-founder and managing partner of Bracebridge Capital, LLC, located in Boston, Massachusetts. Bracebridge is an investment manager for a number of private funds, with over $5 billion under management and 65 employees. The Bracebridge funds are primarily focused on pursuing an absolute return strategy by exploiting pricing inefficiencies in the global fixed income markets. In addition, Ms. Zimmerman is a trustee of the Corporation of Brown University, serves on the scholar selection committee of the Institute for International Education’s Scholar Rescue Fund and is involved in a number of philanthropic causes, focused on a range of topics from medical science to education reform. Before founding Bracebridge in 1994, Ms. Zimmerman managed the interest rate option group worldwide for Goldman, Sachs & Co. Prior to joining Goldman Sachs in 1988, she headed the interest rate option group at O’Connor and Associates in Chicago, Illinois, where she also traded currency and equity index options. Ms. Zimmerman joined O’Connor and Associates in 1985 upon her graduation from Brown University.