Our Board of Directors
Ziad K. Abdelnour
Founder and Chairman
Ziad K. Abdelnour is Founder, President & CEO of Blackhawk Partners, Inc. a private “family office” in the business of originating, structuring & acting as equity investor in strategic corporate investments and co-Founder of Aeros-Blackhawk Partners; a trading platform focusing on the financing of real estate and project finance properties throughout the US.
Founder & Chairman of the Board of the Financial Policy Council ; a 501 (c) (3) non-profit organization designed to give its select group of supporters the opportunity to have direct face-to-face dialogue with the nation’s quintessential power brokers and policymakers
A member of TIGER 21, a peer-to-peer learning group for super high net worth individuals and of Young Presidents Organization (YPO) – a private group of global chief executives whose companies employ 16 million people and generate 6-trillion USD in annual revenues
Author of the bestselling book “Economic Warfare: Secrets of Wealth Creation in the Age of Welfare Politics” and of the upcoming book ” Startup Saboteurs: How Incompetence, Ego, and Small Thinking Prevent True Wealth Creation” to be published in Summer 2019.
Mr. Abdelnour has over 30 year experience on Wall Street backing over 125 companies & serial entrepreneurs worth in aggregate over 20 billion dollars in the private equity, high yield bond and distressed debt markets.
He holds a MBA in Finance Summa Cum Laude from the Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania & BS in Economics, Summa Cum Laude, from the American University of Beirut
Today, Mr. Abdelnour continues to be featured in hundreds of media channels and publications every year and is widely seen as one of the top business leaders by millions around the world.
He was just recently been featured as one of the 500 Most Influential CEOs in the World https://richtopia.com/inspirational-people/500-ceos
Vice President - Founding Member
As Vice President of the Financial Policy Council, and with over 25 years of experience as a financial services IT professional, Mr. Eppanapally has been involved in directing and managing global technology initiatives including strategic planning, architecture, design, development and deployment. He has worked over the years at several Wall Street investment banks like Merrill Lynch, Blackrock, Credit Suisse, Alliance Capital and BNY Mellon.
Mr. Eppanapally is the Chairman of the board for Quibble Genomics Institute, Inc. (QuibbleMD.com), focused to bring a revolution in consumer genomics, personalized medicine, and population health. Quibble specializes in human genome modeling, analysis and visualization by transforms the bio samples to visually appealing Genomic insights based on Unity3D gaming technology.
Mr. Eppanapally is the Chairman of the board for the CIC Group, Inc., a management consulting and advisory firm for mergers and acquisitions. He has a keen interest in investing and promoting education, healthcare and energy sectors.
Mr. Eppanapally was the Vice President of Concepts in Computing, Inc., an IT services company providing specialized services to major Wall Street firms and global investment banks.
Mr. Eppanapally is the founding Chairman of the board for Lead India 2020 Foundation, Inc. a social transformation organization promoted by the former President of India Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam to educate, inspire and transform 640 Million youth of India into responsible citizens to develop the nation.
Mr. Eppanapally was the founding President of VT Seva, (Volunteering Together for Service), a global non-profit organization with over 100,000 volunteers dedicated to providing education to tribal and blind children, cancer screening for rural women and children, and disaster relief during floods/tsunamis and earth quakes.
Mr. Eppanapally received his B. Tech in Mechanical Engineering from Jawaharlal Nehru Technological University, Hyderabad, India, and M.S. in Computer and Information Science from New Jersey Institute of Technology, Newark, New Jersey.
Stanford Silverman is President of Silver Betty, Inc./Devotion Internet, Inc., Advertising and Marketing Agencies located in New York, N.Y. Silver Betty, Inc. is one of the largest proprietary education marketing and advertising companies in the United States. The agency has represented over 200 private and publicly traded universities, colleges and schools. The success of an investment in the Education Space requires the ability to leverage social media, search engine optimization, web site design, pay per click and pay per lead advertising to generate new student leads which translates to students in chairs and revenue. Stanford is an authority in these areas.
Stanford is a sought-after authority and is a contributor to Prentice Hall, Advertising Proceedures-7th. Edition-by Otto Kleppner, a contributing columnist in Advertising Age, Media Decisions & Radio-Television Age, and a guest lecturer at NYU, Pace, Hofstra & Cornell Universities on media negotiation and target marketing. In addition, he has served as a panelist on NBC Network-Demographic Marketing in the U.S. and as a radio personality with various stations on Marketing & Demographic Studies.
Stanford’s experiences have brought him to his present position and visionary of Minerva Capital Management. His attention has been focused on bringing together a powerful operational education management team headed by his colleague and co-founder, Dr. Jon Coover. The team has an impressive track record of R.O.I for its investors over three decades and continues to generate a significant rate of return for new investors.
Stanford holds his B.S. in Economics from Hofstra University and graduate, MBA work at Hofstra and at New York University.
Secretary - Founding Member
Mr. Ferguson has more than 25 years’ experience launching and managing several successful high technology ventures and designing complex information environments. Mr. Ferguson brings the business experience garnered from building a multi-million dollar defense contracting company, as well as a cutting-edge technical know-how, and the visionary acumen of a true futurist to the complex needs of solving today’s business problems. The sole founder of Crius, Inc., one of the founders of Intercom Consulting and Federal Systems, and a co-founder of Scarlet Fire Entertainment; Mr. Ferguson brings the business experience of founding and building a multi-million dollar defense contracting company, as well as a cutting edge entertainment technology firm to his high level of competence in solving the complex needs of today’s businesses. In the Washington Metropolitan Area, where technologists abound, Washington Technology magazine noted Mr. Ferguson as one of the area’s notable technology entrepreneurs and futurists. Of note is that Mr. Ferguson’s patented concept preceded market leader Apple Inc’s iTunes service by two years, and correctly predicted the rise of downloadable internet content which today represents an important and significant growth sector of the global economy today. Mr. Ferguson’s next patent in individual medical logistics predicted the rise of personalized medicine and information logistics.
Mr. Ferguson’s clients include various Cabinet level Departments, and Inter-Agency working groups. Mr. Ferguson also served as CIO-level consultant to the Executive branch of the US Government, along with lead architect and technical leader for a number of major global information networks. Currently, his recommendations to a Cabinet level Department’s Strategic Planning Office are regularly reviewed by the Executive branch, Legislative branch, and other agencies. Mr. Ferguson founded Crius, Inc., providing system architecture and design services for both government and commercial clients. As an example of the level of work done by his companies, while heading up Crius, Mr. Ferguson played a lead role in restructuring architecting the changes that dramatically improved a US Government global network that was ranked as one of the worst in the federal government, and two years later was ranked one of the best.
Mr. Ferguson continued to build upon his early success, co-founded Scarlet Fire Entertainment, a content aggregator and music download service. Recently, he has also founded Dawn’s Light, a media company that is an executive producer and management team for multiple feature length films. In 2000, Mr. Ferguson founded Kaang, Inc. to provide strategic, enterprise-level consulting on the intersections of security, technology, and business alignment for major clients. Mr. Ferguson is a graduate of the Harvard Business School’s Owner/President Management Program. He also served in the 29th Light Infantry, and is a multi-decade practitioner of the martial arts.
Vladimir Lounegov is co-founder and CEO of Mbanq, a Silicon Valley-based FinTech. In three short years Mbanq developed and brought to market the next generation digital banking core and became one of the fastest growing and most comprehensive Banking Service (BaaS) providers in the world.
Vladimir is an expert at the intersection of financial services and technology. He gained deep leadership experience through diverse projects involving FinTech startups, investment, consulting, and M&A due diligence. His key skills are the ability to assemble and inspire top FinTech teams and to build ecosystems of investors, partners, developers and advisors.
Previously, Vladimir had a senior role at PwC’s FinTech practice, where he led a research and analysis team that evaluated over 1,600 FinTech startups worldwide. He also held consulting roles at EY and KPMG in which he worked to optimize the inner workings of banks.
Throughout his career, Vladimir collaborated closely with the most influential financial institutions in the world such as Citigroup and Barclays, as well as FinTech leaders like LendingClub and cutting edge innovators including Google.
Vladimir is adept at spotting and cultivating star-potential new talent. He is founder and co-founder of several other FinTechs and also helps to mentor FinTech startups through Mbanq’s FinTech accelerator program.
Vladimir gained international recognition in this capacity and served as a judge at the Citigroup Citi Mobile Challenge program.
As a graduate of the London School of Economics, holding a BSc in International Relations, Vladimir keeps up-to-date with global affairs and markets. In his spare time he also enjoys travel, skiing, good food, spending time with his family and the occasional trip to the gym.
Special Events Committee
Barry Moniês serves as President and CEO of Computronix, LLC an 18 year old technology solutions company that designs, implements and manages data networks and communications infrastructures for small to medium sized businesses in the financial, legal and medical industries.
Almost consecutively, from 2008 through 2015, Computronix has been included in the MSP mentor 501 list, a distinguished list of the world’s top managed technology service providers. In addition, From 2012 through 2015, Mr Moniês has been included in the yearly MSP mentor 250, a global list of the top 250 worldwide executives in the technology managed services industry.
Through Mr. Moniês leadership, Computronix has become one of the forefront managed technology service providers in the New York metropolitan area. Computronix specializes in Microsoft based server environments, multi-office networking (including international implementations), Communications/Exchange server implementation, network security assessment & implementation , data backup & recovery, remote services/VPN implementation, Cloud services, 24/7 monitoring and remote support/maintenance.
Mr. Moniês is also noted for his expertise in the area of internet security and the protection and recovery of electronic data. Several years ago, he was invited to participate in a Congressional Conference in Washington, D.C. with Homeland Security on issues relating to internet security and electronic terrorism. Mr. Moniês has also worked with the Federal Bureau of Investigation on matters related to electronic security, internet forensics, and issues related to network intrusion.
In 2000, Mr. Moniês spun off Computronix’ security division as a separate incorporated entity. Under the name Computronix Security Systems, Inc. (CSSI), the new company built a state-of-the-art security operations center (SOC) and monitored more than $4 Billion in annual transactions & 50-100 hacker incidents per day. In 2002, Mr. Moniês successfully forged a strong alliance with Sony Electronics to jointly offer an Internet security service for small to medium sized businesses nationwide. In 2004, Mr. Moniês purchased CSSI from the investors and incorporated the business as part of Computronix’ managed services offering.
As a consummate entrepreneur, Over the years, Mr. Moniês also started and/or participated in various businesses including an exotic automotive sales and service business, a day-trading & stock advisory service, a commercial real estate investment firm, an international importing business and several Internet based ecommerce businesses.
Mr. Moniês is an active participant in local, regional and national business organizations. He has served on many Boards and continues to serve as Chairman of the Board of The Soundview Club, a private regional business club located in Stamford, CT. Mr. Moniês and his companies have received media attention in many publications including Forbes magazine, the Connecticut Business Magazine, the Fairfield County Business Journal and various other news outlets.
Mr. Moniês believes strongly in community involvement and has actively participated in several non-profit organizations including Stoneage Incorporated, where he held a position of Chairman of the Board, the United Way, the Outreach Program for the blind, the Special Olympics and many others.
Mr. Moniês enjoys spending time and traveling with his wife Indira and sons, Eric, Brandon and Julien. He also enjoys fishing, day trading and starting new businesses.
Ed Rogan is a private equity professional whose primary skill is business development, which naturally leads to advancing Penn Capital’s growth agenda and portfolio value. Ed focuses his time sourcing new acquisitions, analyzing market trends, and engaging resources in the capital markets.
Prior to founding Penn Capital, Ed was a successful sales and marketing director for a publicly traded company in the oil and gas industry. Ed’s sales experience helped Penn Capital build loyal relationships with debt lenders, whom the company counts on for providing attractive loan terms.
Ed leads his team in generating deal flow, underwriting deal feasibility, sourcing debt, and building their broker networks so they can take advantage of early looks at the latest off-market opportunities.
Previously, Ed served in the U.S. Army with the 82nd Airborne Division and spent one year in Afghanistan, where he led his team in multiple combat missions.
Ed’s leadership skills are important to forming the “big picture” vision for Penn Capital and maintaining course direction toward the inevitable achievement of the company’s goals.
Bret Siarkowski is a founder of MedScience Ventures (MSV) and a Member of the General Partner. Mr. Siarkowski is a seasoned entrepreneur with over 20 years of experience initiating and leading technology companies in the design and application of innovative market-demanded solutions, as well as creating new markets. His extensive experience spans the mobile, gaming, healthcare, software, semiconductor and electronics industries.
Mr. Siarkowski is a Limited Partner at Kodiak Venture Partners, angel investor and serves on the Board for several technology companies.
He has held visionary roles at industry leading corporations including GSN Games, Cadence Design, Synopsys and Digital Equipment Corporation and as well as startups such as Chrysalis Symbolic Design and Verplex Systems.
Bret is the founder of CaseNET Inc., an enterprise care management healthcare software company. He is a co-founder of AbleRoad, a community effort that connects people with disabilities, families, friends and caregivers with accessible places. Bret is also co-founder and board member of Biofficient Inc., the “Match.com” for the Biotech Industry, automating the RFP/procurement process for clinical trial sponsors and service providers.
Mr. Siarkowski holds a BSEE from Northeastern University and an MSEE from the University of Southern California. Mr. Siarkowski is an active Mentor in the Northeastern University Health Sciences Entrepreneurs organization. He holds multiple patents that cover both software and hardware industries.
Henry Silvestriz is the co-founder, President & CEO of Vinci Holdings, based in Pflugerville Texas. Vinci Holdings, with its highly experienced and qualified board of directors and advisors, has a clear goal of building several dominant brands in different sectors of the healthcare industry. Its board members with their varied backgrounds have over 230 years of combined experience in accounting, cybersecurity, finance, general counsel, healthcare, human resources, information technology, leadership, management, marketing, mergers and acquisitions, military, sales, tax law, and telecommunications. Vinci Holdings’ experience in M&A is vast with over 100 deals and over $11 Billion in transactions.
Henry is also the founder and CEO of the Optimum Wellness Institute, LLC, based in Edinburg Texas. Optimum is a chiropractic practice focusing on improving the health of our patients with a holistic approach. The company is an expert in spinal health, spinal ligament injury, peripheral neuropathy, and weight loss.
Henry also serves on the Board for Tanaka Chiropractic Missions, Inc. alongside very successful Gonstead technique chiropractors. This is a nonprofit organization centered around spreading natural holistic healthcare to underserved populations around the world through chiropractic focusing its efforts on remote towns in Guatemala and Easter Island.
Before being enrolled in graduate school, Henry was a Peace Officer at the Dallas Police Department in Dallas, Texas, for almost eight years. The Dallas Police Department is one of the most prestigious police departments in the nation, with the second-longest academy, behind the LAPD. Henry worked as a patrol officer in one of the most dangerous beats of Dallas and helped lower crime by proactively policing high-crime neighborhoods and apartment complexes. He worked alongside an undercover specialized group doing take-downs of the most wanted criminals in the area. Henry was also certified as a police firearms instructor and earned the title master peace officer with the Texas Commission on Law Enforcement (TCOLE). Henry was involved in a high-speed pursuit which led to the arrest of an international human trafficker with over $3.5 million in warrants from 10 states and the FBI. Henry had a great police career with hundreds of felony arrests of murderers, rapists, robbers, burglars, gang members, and financial criminals; thousands of misdemeanor arrests; close to 2,000 traffic citations; and several thousand 911 calls answered. He regularly earned the cop-of-the-month award for his high activity and was recognized regularly for a job well done. Henry trained alongside the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and was certified on domestic interdiction and asset forfeiture, which further helped him with several drug arrests. Henry was an expert shooter with a pistol and shotgun. Henry left the Dallas Police Department with an honorable discharge.
Previously Henry joined the United States Army Reserve on September 24th, 2001, and served in the 448th Engineering Battalion at Fort Buchanan Puerto Rico. He transitioned to active duty in April 2004 and served with the Charlie 2/4 Battery of the 214th Fires Brigade. He gained deep leadership experience working alongside his superiors and fellow soldiers. Here he had the honor and privilege of being chosen to be part of a funeral honors detail team that was in charge of conducting the 21-gun salute, folding the flag, and presentation of the flag to the designated flag recipient, and playing of Taps for veterans and for soldiers who died in the line of duty in Oklahoma and Arkansas. During his active-duty career, Henry led 12 soldiers and was in charge of 12 HEMTT trucks and trailers. In 2007 Henry left the United States Army with an honorable discharge.
Henry holds a doctorate in Chiropractic from Life University of Marietta, Georgia. Henry currently lives in Pflugerville, Texas, a suburb of Austin. He is an avid shooter, hiker, and runner, and he enjoys spending time with family.
Chair, Publications Committee
Paul Vancea is an aggressive entrepreneur and our youngest board member.
Paul started his career as a financial analyst for Lightower Fiber Networks, a $5B telecommunications company in MA. After 1 year, Paul decided it would take way too long to achieve his potential in the corporate world, so he quit his job and partnered with a couple of serial entrepreneurs and investors in Boston. He helped create and operate a few companies, as well as a startup investment fund. Paul also worked with Northeastern University’s Center for Research & Innovation to evaluate the market fit for 10 patents (biomedical, electro-magnetic, medical devices, etc.).
Most recently, Paul partnered with a retired transactions partner from Ernst & Young, to form a dental service organization (DSO) through which to consolidate the U.S. dental office industry.
Paul moved to San Diego, CA, from Romania with his family when he was 14. In high school, Paul was MVP of his football, wrestling and track teams while maintaining a nearly perfect GPA. His original plan was to win a football scholarship, but when learned in his junior year that he could win a scholarship for academic achievement, he quit all sports and focused on school.
Paul graduated Magna Cum Laude from Brandeis University, where he earned a triple major in Economics, Business, and Film Studies
Paul is currently working with the Massachusetts Corrections Institute (MCI) where he teaches FDIC’s “Money Smart” finance class, to both minimum and maximum security inmates. He is also a member of Toastmasters International, where he delivers frequent speeches and serves as Treasurer.
Paul likes to hike, box, work out, and be deliberate about doing something that scares him every single day. He has 11+ years’ experience of martial arts, including Tae Kwon Do, Jiu Jitsu, Wrestling and Boxing.
Serial tech entrepreneur, journalist, advisor, and speaker. Christina Björnström has previously cofounded 3 startups, held executive roles at tech companies, and served as President and Executive Director of the Swedish American Chamber of Commerce New England (2015-2018), where she helped establish Boston as a point of national/strategic interest for the Swedish government.
Christina has launched several seminal STEM initiatives in Boston including hackathons for elementary school children and innovation bootcamps. Currently the Cofounder and CEO of a stealth artificial intelligence/security platform, Christina is also the Founder of Ström Consulting, an MBA admissions consultancy, and regularly advises autonomous driving, AI, and cryptocurrency startups on fundraising, business development, and commercializing R&D.
A frequent contributor to panel discussions and podcasts on entrepreneurship, deep tech, and women in tech, Christina serves as an Instructor for FutureHack, Community Leader for Fishbowl’s Women in Tech, Judge for the Hult Prize Finals, and mentor for the Entrepreneur Futures Network.
Christina holds a BA(Hons) Politics and Human Rights from the University of Essex and an MA in Sustainable Development and Environmental Management from Harvard University.