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 Vice Chair and incoming 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.

Frantz Alphonse
Senior Managing Director, Ariel Alternatives, LLC
Co-Founder, Project Black

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.

Richard Powell
Senior Managing Director, Ariel Alternatives, LLC
Co-Founder, Project Black

Richard Powell is Senior Managing Director of Ariel Alternatives, LLC and Co-Founder of Project Black Management Company, LLC. Richard brings over 18 years of private equity experience in roles including as Co-Founder and Senior Managing Director of APC Holdings, LLC. Richard has served on one public and 12 private company boards, including ZeroChaos ($1.2 billion in revenue at exit). He has corporate finance and M&A experience with Bear Stearns and UBS Warburg, and he serves as Advisor to the Billion Dollar Roundtable (29 leading F500 firms) on capital access for minority and women-owned companies.

He is a frequent speaker at M&A and diversity events on capital access for MWBE’s. Richard is a member of the Young Presidents Organization (YPO), the Harvard Alumni Association, the Andover Alumni Council, World Economic Forum (YGL ‘09) and Nexus Global Philanthropic Network. He is a Board member of ACG Orlando and Nexus Caribbean. He holds a BA in Economics from Harvard University.

Charles Corpening
Senior Managing Director, Ariel Alternatives, LLC and Project Black

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.

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 Corp.
Board member of Assurant, Inc., International Game Technology PLC, Synchrony Financial and Yum! Brands, Inc.

James Bell

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

Stacy Brown-Philpot

Former CEO, TaskRabbit
Board member of HP Inc. and Nordstrom, Inc.
Founding member of Softbank’s Opportunity Fund

Vicki Fuller

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

Mark J. Hawkins

Former President and CFO, Salesforce
Board member of Plex Systems, Secureworks and Toast

William M. Lewis, Jr.

Managing Director and Chairman of Investment Banking, Lazard Ltd

Robbie Robinson

Co-Founder and CEO, Pendulum Holdings, LLC
Board member of Oscar Health

John W. Rogers, Jr.

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

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

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

David J. Vitale

Former Vice Chairman of Bank One Corp.
Board member of United Airlines Holdings, Inc. and several Duff & Phelps investment company funds.