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CohnReznick Adds Two to Executive Board

Sheslie Royster

New York-based CohnReznick, an IPA 100 firm, announced the election of partners Sheslie Royster and Kristen Soles to its executive board. They will serve three-year terms, along with Northeast regional MP Alan Wolfson, who was re-elected.

Kristen Soles

With more than 30 years of experience in partnership taxation, federal and state tax energy incentives, financial instruments and transaction taxation and corporate tax, Royster leads the firm’s tax practice out of its Baltimore office. Soles leads the government contracting industry practice in Tysons, Va., specializing in FAR/CAS compliance, indirect cost rate structuring, cost reporting and final incurred cost proposal compliance.

“Considering today’s challenging business environment, the role of our board takes on even greater importance in establishing and driving CohnReznick’s strategic priorities,” says CEO David Kessler. “Sheslie and Kristen bring forth unique qualifications and leadership skills that will help CohnReznick and our clients capitalize on the many different opportunities that lie ahead.”

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CohnReznick Enhances Transactions and Turnaround Advisory Practice

With an eye toward the complexities and unique challenges of the post-pandemic marketplace, New York-based CohnReznick, an IPA Top 100 firm, has combined its transactional, restructuring and dispute resolution, valuation and project finance advisory services under one transactions and turnaround advisory umbrella to be led by managing principal Claudine Cohen.

The transactions and turnaround advisory practice will work to help businesses dealing with M&A opportunities, financing new capital projects, business and asset valuations, restructuring to improve performance, bankruptcy negotiations and exit management.

“We structured the new practice to allow for on-demand mobilization of seasoned professionals who collaboratively will design and execute a path forward with clients as they navigate complex situations or make a game-changing decision,” says Cohen. “Now more than ever during these uncertain times, we plan to help clients achieve optimal outcomes that protect and grow stakeholder value with a service approach founded on impact, insight and integrity.”

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CohnReznick Admits Michael Staub as Partner in Renewable Energy Practice

Michael Staub

New York-based CohnReznick (FY19 net revenue of $653 million) has announced that Michael Staub has joined the firm and been admitted as an assurance partner in the renewable energy practice.

Staub will focus on strategies supporting utilities and large strategic investors, both of which have become increasingly active in renewable energy.

Before joining CohnReznick, Staub was an assurance director in the power and utility practice of a Big 4 firm. In this role, he advised audit and non-audit clients on complex accounting issues including wholesale electric generation operations, business combinations and adoption of new accounting standards. He assisted clients in the application of regulatory accounting for various state and federal rate orders.

During a two-year tour in Paris, Staub evaluated Sarbanes-Oxley compliance in adoption and post-merger environments.

“Mike has a unique understanding of the power industry and we are confident that he will play an integral part in our future growth initiatives and success for many years,” says Anton Cohen, CohnReznick’s renewable energy industry practice leader. “With the pace of M&A activity picking up in the renewables sector, Mike’s expertise in this area, which includes supporting over $1.8 billion of power generation acquisitions, will be a major asset to our clients and to our firm.”

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CohnReznick Elects 12 New Partners, Advances Four Others to New Leadership Roles

New York-based CohnReznick (FY19 net revenue of $653 million) has admitted 12 professionals to its partnership ranks. Additionally, CohnReznick has elevated four veteran partners to new leadership positions within the firm.

The newly elected CohnReznick partners are:

  • Sedic Ampanas – advisory, New York
  • Yelena Belaks – tax, New York
  • Matthew Derba – national assurance, New York
  • Melissa Ferrucci – assurance, Hartford, Conn.
  • Kevin Gokey – assurance, Stamford, Conn.
  • Sean Granat – tax, New York
  • Jeff Hollman ­– assurance, Los Angeles
  • Daniel Levin – tax, New York
  • Karin Ludquist – assurance, Baltimore
  • Vincenzo Toppi – advisory, Roseland, N.J.
  • Natalie Tronkina – advisory, Los Angeles
  • Jason Zimmerman – assurance, New York

Those named to new leadership roles include:

Ira Weinstein becomes managing principal of real estate and cannabis industries, with the responsibility for firm growth in these industries. Scott Szeliga succeeds Weinstein. He is an expert in new markets tax credits, renewable energy and multi-family housing.

Bill Pidgeon and Marc Wolf, assurance partners, have been named co-leaders of CohnReznick’s financial services practice. They succeed Jay Levy, who recently took over as OMP in New York.

“Every day, each of these outstanding individuals shows both our clients and our firm what world-class client service is all about,” says CEO David Kessler. “Moreover, in both their professional and personal lives, these leaders clearly embody CohnReznick’s sense of purpose: creating opportunities for our people, making a difference for our clients and strengthening our communities.”

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CohnReznick Forms Privacy Advisory Group

New York-based CohnReznick (FY19 net revenue of $653 million) has expanded its cybersecurity and privacy practice by establishing a privacy advisory group.

Judy Selby and Alison Bird have joined the firm as managing directors and will co-lead the group, working with the national leader of the cybersecurity and privacy practice, Shahryar Shaghaghi.

Selby and Bird have significant experience providing strategic advice to companies on privacy-related matters, the firm says. Each brings a deep understanding of privacy law and governance best practices to CohnReznick. They are both based in the New York office.

“Companies across virtually every industry are now impacted by rigorous privacy regulations and laws including the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA), the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and upcoming changes to Gramm Leach Bliley (GLB),” says Shaghaghi. “With the addition of Judy and Alison’s expertise to our growing cybersecurity and privacy advisory practice, we are well situated to assist our clients in the development of their privacy programs while addressing their compliance needs.”

Selby says the group’s goal is to provide businesses with “privacy on demand” advisory services.

Bird adds, “Our growing capability to help companies in a wide range of industries protect their data assets, proactively address regulatory mandates, and create robust privacy policies and procedures is another way we can help them achieve competitive advantage.”

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CohnReznick Adds Eight Team Members to Restructuring and Dispute Resolution Practice

New York-based CohnReznick (FY19 net revenue of $653 million) has announced a major investment in expanding its restructuring and dispute resolution practice.

The firm has added eight industry veterans, including four partners, a managing director and three senior managers.

The senior members of the group are an already-established team joining the firm to expand and enhance debtor, creditor and fiduciary services across key industries, including financial services, health care, manufacturing, technology and not-for-profit.

The firm aims to help clients improve financial and operational performance in good times as well as prepare for the expected economic downturn.

Cynthia Romano, principal, will join Kevin Clancy to co-lead the practice. Romano has more than 25 years of experience in performance improvement, turnaround management, transaction support, and investment analysis. She will work from New York and Long Island offices in Jericho and Uniondale, N.Y. Romano is an expert in the industry, public speaker, writer and award winner.

Eric Danner, partner, is based in Boston and New York. He provides advisory services to publicly traded and privately held companies. Danner focuses on crisis management, as well as implementing turnaround business plans tailored to clients’ needs.

Antony Walker, principal, is based in Boston. He is experienced in financial and operational planning and execution, as well as turnaround and crisis leadership.

Chris Creger, principal, works from New York and New Jersey. He provides financial advisory, business restructuring and transaction support services. He has served the New York Turnaround Management Association in various roles and has won awards for his engagements.

In addition to these four principals/partners, the following professionals have also joined the CohnReznick team:

  • Debbie Hill, managing director
  • Jaime Angarita, senior manager
  • Molly Jobe, senior manager
  • Joonam Hwang, senior manager

Keith Denham, managing principal of CohnReznick Advisory, says, “For more than 20 years, CohnReznick has been a leader in helping organizations transform operations and maximize value. These eight award-winning advisors embody the collaborative, strategic approach CohnReznick is known for while enhancing our restructuring experience and capabilities in important industry segments.”

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CohnReznick Expands Financial Sponsors and Financial Services Practice

New York-based CohnReznick LLP (FY19 net revenue of $653 million) has expanded the leadership team of its financial sponsors and financial services practice through the admission of three professionals to its partnership group.

Joining CohnReznick are partners Gary Berger, Joshua Blumenthal and John Donovan.

Berger and Blumenthal are based in the firm’s New York office. Donovan is based in Los Angeles.

“Gary, Josh and John collectively bring a wealth of experience and underscore our commitment to building a best-in-class, forward-thinking team to meet the needs of clients in financial services,” says Jeremy Swan, MP of the practice. “Our practice continues to grow in the middle market hedge fund, private equity and alternative investment fund spaces.”

Together, these leading finance professionals bring decades of experience working in the alternative investments industry, including hedge funds, private equity funds, venture capital funds, and fund of funds.

CohnReznick’s financial sponsors and financial services practice has grown revenue by 30% and added more than 50 fund clients over the past year, the firm says. Key markets for the practice include Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, and New York/southern Connecticut.

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CohnReznick Adds Four to Restructuring and Dispute Resolution Practice

New York-based CohnReznick LLP (FY18 net revenue of $623.7 million) has admitted three principals and one partner to its restructuring and dispute resolution practice.

Cynthia Romano, principal, will join Kevin Clancy to co-lead the practice. She is based in the New York and Jericho, N.Y., offices. Both are responsible for strategic growth, client relations, marketing and talent development. Romano has more than 25 years of experience in performance improvement, turnaround management, transaction support and investment analysis across a range of key industries.

Eric Danner

Eric Danner, partner, is based in Boston and New York, where he provides advisory services to publicly traded and privately held companies, serving a range of industries. With more than 20 years of experience, Danner focuses on crisis management, as well as implementing turnaround business plans tailored to clients’ specific needs.

Antony Walker, principal, is based in Boston. Walker has 30 years of experience in financial and operational planning and execution, as well as turnaround and crisis leadership. He serves clients across numerous major industries, including health care, hospitality, manufacturing, not-for-profit, retail and technology.

Chris Creger, principal, is based in New York and New Jersey. He provides financial advisory, business restructuring and transaction support services to corporations, debtors, bondholders, hedge funds, law firms, lending institutions, private equity firms, secured lenders, unsecured creditors and other constituents.

These seasoned financial and operational restructuring professionals are a valuable strategic addition, the firm announced. Collectively, they bring a wealth of experience with prior employment at numerous top firms, including Bain, BDO, CR3, CRG, Deloitte, Epiq, PwC and TRG. With the addition of these new partners, the practice is able to expand and enhance its national debtor, creditor and fiduciary services across key industries including financial services, health care, manufacturing and technology.

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CohnReznick Elects David Kessler Next CEO

David A. Kessler

David A. Kessler

New York-based CohnReznick LLP (FY18 net revenue of $623.7 million) announces that the partnership group has elected David A. Kessler to serve as its next CEO starting Feb. 1, 2020 at the completion of CEO Frank Longobardi’s term.

Kessler is a member of CohnReznick’s executive board and is currently the MP for the real estate practice, the firm’s largest industry practice, directing the strategies and overseeing operations for the affordable housing, commercial real estate, construction and tax credit groups.

He led CohnReznick’s commercial real estate practice for many years, building a strong national practice and reputation for the firm among developers, investors, private equity fund managers, REITs and other industry stakeholders.  He is actively involved with the firm’s advisory, assurance and tax practices.

Kessler previously served as the co-OMP of the firm’s Bethesda, Md., office, where he is based. Kessler is a home-grown leader who began his career at CohnReznick legacy firm Reznick Fedder & Silverman immediately after graduation from the University of Maryland. He has been with CohnReznick for more than 33 years.

Kessler frequently speaks on a variety of business topics at conferences throughout the U.S. and has developed and taught real estate accounting courses at Georgetown University and the University of Maryland.

“My goal is to build upon Frank’s outstanding leadership by continuing to distinguish CohnReznick as the firm with an inclusive environment to foster the careers of our people while providing state of the art solutions to help our clients achieve their vision for their businesses,” Kessler says.

Longobardi will continue in his role as CEO while working closely with Kessler during the transition. “As a highly skilled and experienced advisor, David’s approach to client service clearly demonstrates that being immersed in the issues and opportunities for your industry builds successful relationships and propels growth,” Longobardi says. “His vision for this firm is exciting and I am confident in his ability to lead CohnReznick’s next chapter of success.”

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CohnReznick Former Chairman and CEO Passes Away

Ken Baggett

Ken Baggett

Kenneth E. Baggett, former Chairman of the Board at New York-based CohnReznick, passed away, according to an announcement from the firm.

As co-CEO of CohnReznick and, later, Chairman of the Board, Baggett helped establish CohnReznick as a top national advisory, assurance, and tax firm and was instrumental in propelling its growth. For nine years, he served as managing principal and CEO of the CohnReznick predecessor firm Reznick Group, leading it to a top 20 national ranking among public accounting firms.

Much of his work focused on building and strengthening communities. As a trusted advisor to clients and colleagues alike, his technical knowledge and broad industry experience was matched by a warm sense of humor and deep compassion for others. His expertise encompassed a range of real estate and tax issues related to the development and structuring of multi-family and commercial ventures. He provided structuring advice to developers, builders, syndicators, investment banks, corporate investors, and housing finance agencies. He was also extensively involved with student and military housing development; advised clients on low-income housing tax credit issues; and represented numerous long-term healthcare facilities and clients involved with rehabilitation and revitalization projects. To say he was a luminary in real estate is not an overstatement.

Baggett earned many honors for his contributions to the accounting profession. In 2017, he was inducted into The Advisory Board’s “Winning Is Everything” Hall of Fame which recognizes leaders whose influence advances the CPA profession and leaves a legacy of innovation. He was consistently listed as one of the “Top 100 Most Influential Accountants” by Accounting Today and as one of the “Top 100 Most Influential Practitioners” by CPA Magazine. For three consecutive years, he was recognized by his peers as one of INSIDE Public Accounting’s five Most Admired Peers. He served as a past World Chair of the International Group of Accounting Firms (now PrimeGlobal). A proud and active alumnus of Auburn University, Baggett was recognized as one of the top 40 alumni in the last 40 years by its School of Business and was named an outstanding alumnus by the Auburn University School of Accountancy.

Baggett spent much of his career in Atlanta before retiring near his beloved alma mater in Auburn, Alabama. He served as president and board member of the Georgia Affordable Housing Coalition, served on the board of Government Transformation Initiative, and was president and board member of the Auburn University School of Accountancy Advisory Council.

He is survived by his wife Missy, his two sons Chris (Emily) and Cole (Montsé), and two beloved grandchildren, Polly and William. He leaves a legacy of innovation and community service that continues to inspire his CohnReznick family, industry colleagues, and friends.