Team

THE CO-FOUNDERS

Our co-founders have successfully grown and led their own firms, while holding leadership roles on some of the most iconic corporate boards in the country. Both are steeped in the financial services industry with direct access to corporate leaders throughout the world.

Leslie A. Brun
Co-Founder, Chairman & CEO
Ariel Alternatives, LLC

Les is Co-Founder, Chairman and CEO of Ariel Alternatives and will lead the Project Black team. Les is an executive with over 40 years of expertise in investment banking, commercial banking and financial advisory services.

He is the founder and former Chairman and CEO of Hamilton Lane, one of the largest global investment managers providing private markets solutions with over $500 billion in assets under management and supervision. Les is also Chairman of the board of directors of CDK Global, Inc., lead independent director of Broadridge Financial Solutions, Inc., and a director of Corning, Inc.

In 2019, he was inducted into the Philadelphia Inquirer’s Business Hall of Fame and was recognized by NACD as one of America’s top 100 corporate directors in 2015. Previously, Les was a managing director at CCMP Capital Advisors, chairman of the board of Automatic Data Processing, Inc. and chair of the compensation committee at Hewlett Packard Enterprise. Les graduated with a BS from the State University of New York at Buffalo.

Mellody Hobson
Co-CEO & President
Ariel Investments, LLC
Co-Founder
Ariel Alternatives, LLC

Mellody Hobson is Co-CEO & President of Ariel Investments, LLC and Chairman of the Company’s publicly traded mutual funds. She is also Co-Founder of Ariel Alternatives, LLC.

Additionally, she is Chairman of Starbucks Corporation and a director of JPMorgan Chase. She previously served as Chairman of DreamWorks Animation and was a long-standing board member of the Estée Lauder Companies. Mellody is vice chair of World Business Chicago; co-chair of the Lucas Museum of Narrative Art; a board member of the George Lucas Education Foundation and Bloomberg Philanthropies. She also serves on the boards of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA), the Rockefeller Foundation, and the executive committee of the Investment Company Institute. Mellody earned her AB from Princeton University’s School of Public and International Affairs.

THE INVESTMENT TEAM

Our experienced investment leaders have spent the last several decades working together to cultivate deep relationships with Fortune 500 C-Suite executives, board members and purchasing officers to glean the proprietary insights that inform our targeted investment approach.

Charles Corpening
Senior Managing Director, Ariel Alternatives, LLC
Head of Investment Team

Charles Corpening is Senior Managing Director of Ariel Alternatives, LLC and Project Black Management Company, LLC. He was formerly a longtime Co-Investor and Senior Advisor to APC Holdings, and has over 30 years of private equity experience. He is formerly the Founder and Chairman of Joshua Partners and is a former Senior Partner in the General Industrial buyouts group at Court Square Capital Partners, with $8 billion in AUM. Charles is the former partner with Citigroup Venture Capital Equity Partners (predecessor to Court Square Capital Partners), with $10 billion in AUM. He has consummated transactions in excess of $3 billion and served on numerous public and private company boards.

Previously, he was a private equity executive with The Rockefeller Group and Roundtree Capital, after beginning his career as an investment banker with PaineWebber in the M&A and Merchant Banking groups. Charles is a former Board member of Mastery Charter Schools in Philadelphia and the current Chairman of the Board of Trustees of First Baptist Church of Lincoln Gardens. He holds an AB from Princeton University and a MBA from Columbia Business School.

Frantz Alphonse
Senior Managing Director, Ariel Alternatives, LLC

Frantz Alphonse is Senior Managing Director of Ariel Alternatives, LLC and Co-Founder of Project Black Management Company, LLC. Frantz brings over 18 years of private equity experience in roles including as Co-Founder and Senior Managing Director of APC Holdings, LLC. Frantz has served on 11 private company boards, including ZeroChaos ($1.2 billion in revenue at exit) and has operating and corporate strategy experience with Procter & Gamble Latin America & North America.

He has been a guest speaker at Harvard Business School, the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, the Kellogg School at Northwestern University, and TEDx on M&A and Corporate Citizenship. He is a member of the Young Presidents Organization (YPO), Duke Alumni Association, HBS African-American Alumni Association, and PathNorth. Frantz is a former member of the Board of Directors of The Prevent Cancer Foundation and The Boys & Girls Club of Central Florida. He holds a BA from Duke University and a MBA from Harvard Business School.

Lorenna Buck
Managing Director, Ariel Alternatives, LLC

Lorenna Buck is a Managing Director at Ariel Alternatives. Formerly, Lorenna was a Managing Director and Partner at Boston Consulting Group leading the Sustainable Investing agenda for the Private Equity Practice, inclusive of ESG and DE&I. In that role, she worked closely with private equity investors and their portfolio companies across a variety of industries and growth stages, supporting close to 100 growth strategy, market study and due diligence projects. She also contributed to the establishment of the ESG Data Convergence Project. Within BCG, Lorenna was a leader in the Black+Latinx network and Racial Equity Task Force, and guided the growth of BCG Accelerate, a pro bono accelerator which supports minority businesses across the US. Prior to joining BCG, Lorenna worked in R&D Strategic Intelligence at AstraZeneca Pharmaceuticals and sat on the board of the Harvard/MIT COOP.

Lorenna holds a PhD in Biological Engineering from MIT, where she served on a number of institute committees. She earned her BS in Biomedical and Electrical Engineering from Duke University.

Jerry Johnson
Managing Director, Ariel Alternatives, LLC

Jerry Johnson is a Managing Director at Ariel Alternatives, LLC. Jerry was a former partner at The Halifax Group where he also served on the Investment Committee. Prior to joining Halifax, Jerry was Senior Vice President of Corporate Development, Strategy and Investor Relations at Enpro Industries, Inc. Previously, he was a founding member and Partner of RLJ Equity Partners, where he was involved in all phases of the firm’s development along with co-founders Robert L. Johnson and the Carlyle Group.

Jerry earned the Secretary of Defense Medal for Exceptional Public Service as a White House Fellow under President George W. Bush. He is a member of the board of Strategic Education (SEI) and Noblis, and a member of the New York Economic Club, the Young Presidents’ Organization, as well as both the University of Tennessee’s Investment Advisory Council and the College of Engineering’s Board of Advisors. He is a life member of the Council on Foreign Relations. Johnson received his MBA from Harvard Business School and his BS in chemical engineering, summa cum laude, from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, where he was president of the Tau Beta Pi Engineering Honor Society. He was recognized with the university’s Distinguished Alumni Award in 2009.

Aarti Kotak
Managing Director, Head of ESG and Social Impact, Ariel Alternatives, LLC

Aarti Kotak is an attorney with nearly 20 years of experience in economic development, public policy and public-private finance. Most recently, she served as the Chief Strategy and Operations Advisor at PEAK6. Prior to PEAK6 she was Deputy Chief of Staff for Neighborhood Economic Development in the Office of Chicago Mayor, Rahm Emanuel. In that role, Aarti led the Mayor’s neighborhood efforts, with a focus on the areas most in need. During her time in the Chicago Mayor’s office, she demonstrated expertise in strategizing and implementing policies and projects, helping to lead the City’s Amazon bid team. Ms. Kotak created the Neighborhood Opportunity Fund and served as its founding director, distributing $50 million in new resources, predominantly to entrepreneurs of color in communities in need. Previously, she led the Economic Development Bureau in the City’s planning department. Prior to that, she served as general counsel for the NATO Summit Host Committee, and as an attorney in the Real Estate practice at DLA Piper LLP.

Ms. Kotak holds a BA in Political Science with a minor in Spanish and graduated Magna Cum Laude from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. She earned her J.D. with distinction from Stanford University School of Law.

THE ADVISORY BOARD

Ariel Alternatives will leverage strategic counsel from its advisory board on an ongoing basis. This group has served on the boards of several Fortune 500 companies, and advised on countless M&A transactions.

Paget L. Alves

Former Chief Sales Officer and President of Business Markets Group, Sprint Corporation.
Board member of Assurant, Inc. International Game Technology, PLC, Synchrony Financial and Yum! Brands, Inc. and, until June 2021, Ariel Investments, LLC.

James Bell

Former CFO, The Boeing Company.
Board member of Apple Inc., CDW Corp., and Dow Inc.

Stacy Brown-Philpot

Former CEO, TaskRabbit Inc.
Board member of HP Inc., Nordstrom, Inc. and SoleTrade LLC (StockX).
Founding member of the Softbank Opportunity Fund.

Vicki L. Fuller

Former Chief Investment Officer, New York State Common Retirement Fund.
Board member of Blackstone GSO Capital Partners, Fidelity Investments, Treliant, LLC and The Williams Companies, Inc.

Mark J. Hawkins

Former President and CFO, Salesforce, Inc.
Board member of Plex Systems, Inc., SecureWorks Corp. and Toast, Inc.

William M. Lewis, Jr.

Senior Partner, Apollo Global Management, Inc.
Board member of Lazard Ltd.

Robbie Robinson

Co-Founder and CEO, Pendulum Holdings, LLC.
Former Partner, BDT Capital Partners.
Board member of Oscar Health Inc.

John W. Rogers, Jr.

Chairman, Co-CEO and Chief Investment Officer, Ariel Investments, LLC.
Board member of The New York Times Company, Nike, Inc., McDonald’s Corporation and Ariel Investment Trust.

Shelley Stewart, Jr., C.P.S.M.

Former Chief Procurement Officer, DuPont de Nemours, Inc.
Board member of Otis Worldwide Corporation and Kontoor Brands, Inc.
Chairman of the Billion Dollar Roundtable Inc.

David J. Vitale

Former Vice Chairman of Bank One Corporation.
Board member of United Airlines Holdings, Inc., several Duff & Phelps investment company funds and, until June 2021, Ariel Investments, LLC.