Robert I. Kauffman
Chairman and Chief Executive Officer
Robert I. Kauffman has served as our Chairman and Chief Executive Officer since January 2021. Mr. Kauffman was a co-founder, principal and member of the board of directors of Fortress Investment Group LLC from its founding in 1998 until 2012. During his tenure at the firm, Mr. Kauffman served as a member of Fortress’s management committee and was responsible for the management of Fortress’s European private equity investment operations. While at Fortress Mr. Kauffman was primarily focused on distressed debt restructurings, real estate and other asset based and financial services businesses. In the course of his career, he has been involved in a wide variety of investment activities, including private fund raising, initial public offerings, primary and secondary public share offerings in multiple jurisdictions, take private transactions, as well as billions of dollars of bank and capital market debt financings and securitizations.
Prior to co-founding Fortress, Mr. Kauffman served as a managing director at UBS, from 1997 to 1998 in its Principal Finance area. Prior to that he was a principal at BlackRock Financial Management Inc., from 1993 to 1997 playing a key role in raising and investing their first Private Equity Fund, BlackRock Asset Investors. Previously, Mr. Kauffman worked at Lehman Brothers from 1986 to 1993 primarily focused on the mortgage and securitization markets both in the U.S. and Europe.
Since his departure from Fortress in 2012, Mr. Kauffman has brought his extensive business experience to a variety of private investments, including a non-controlling stake in University Bancorp Inc., a mortgage focused community bank based in Ann Arbor, Michigan.
Mr. Kauffman serves on the board of directors of University Bancorp Inc., Hagerty Insurance, and an advisory board member of McLaren Racing LTD., a leading UK based Formula1 racing team. Mr. Kauffman is currently the chairman of the Race Team Alliance, an association of NASCAR Cup Series teams; a co-owner of Chip Ganassi Racing, a professional American racing team active in IndyCar and NASCAR racing; and the owner of RK Motors, a leading restorer and reseller of classic cars; and Speed Digital, a SaaS business focused on the collector car market.
Mr. Kauffman is also an investor and advisory board member of Off The Chain Capital, a cryptocurrency focused hedge fund.
Mr. Kauffman earned a degree in Business Administration from Northeastern University in 1986.
D. Kyle Cerminara
Mr. Cerminara has been a director since April 2021. Mr. Cerminara has over 20 years’ experience as an institutional investor, asset manager, director, chief executive, founder and operator of multiple financial services and technology businesses. Mr. Cerminara co-founded Fundamental Global in 2012 and serves as its chief executive officer.
Mr. Cerminara is a member of the board of directors of a number of companies focused in the reinsurance, investment management, technology and communication sectors, including FG Financial Group, Inc. (Nasdaq: FGF) (formerly known as 1347 Property Insurance Holdings, Inc.), which operates as a diversified reinsurance and investment management company, since December 2016, GreenFirst Forest Products Inc. (TSXV: GFP) (formerly Itasca Capital Ltd.), a public company focused on investments in the forest products industry, since June 2016, BK Technologies Corporation (NYSE American: BKTI), a provider of two-way radio communications equipment, since July 2015, Ballantyne Strong, Inc. (NYSE American: BTN), a holding company with diverse business activities focused on serving the entertainment and retail markets, since February 2015, and Firefly Systems Inc., a venture-backed digital advertising company, since August 2020.
He was appointed chairman of FG Financial Group, Inc. in May 2018 and served as its principal executive officer from March 2020 to June 2020. From July 2020 to July 2021, Mr. Cerminara served as director and President of FG New America Acquisition Corp. (NYSE: FGNA), a special purpose acquisition company, which merged with OppFi Inc. (NYSE: OPFI), a leading financial technology platform that powers banks to help everyday consumers gain access to credit. He was also appointed chairman of GreenFirst Forest Products Inc. from June 2018 to June 2021. Mr. Cerminara has served as the chairman of Ballantyne Strong, Inc. since May 2015. He also previously served as its chief executive officer from November 2015 through April 2020. Mr. Cerminara was also the chairman of BK Technologies Corporation from March 2017 until April 2020. He also served on the board of directors of Limbach Holdings, Inc. (NYSE: LMB), a company which provides building infrastructure services, from March 2019 to March 2020; Iteris, Inc. (NYSE: ITI), a publicly-traded, applied informatics company, from August 2016 to November 2017; and Magnetek, Inc., a publicly-traded manufacturer, in 2015. He previously served on the board of directors of blueharbor bank, a community bank, from October 2013 to January 2020, and he previously served as a Trustee and President of StrongVest ETF Trust, which was an open-end management investment company, from July 2016 to March 2021. Previously, Mr. Cerminara served as the co-chief investment officer of CWA Asset Management Group, LLC, a position he held from January 2013 to December 2020.
Prior to these roles, Mr. Cerminara was a portfolio manager at Sigma Capital Management, an independent financial adviser, from 2011 to 2012, a director and sector head of the Financials Industry at Highside Capital Management from 2009 to 2011, and a portfolio manager and director at CR Intrinsic Investors from 2007 to 2009. Before joining CR Intrinsic Investors, Mr. Cerminara was a vice president, associate portfolio manager and analyst at T. Rowe Price (NYSE: TROW) from 2001 to 2007, where he was named amongst Institutional Investor’s Best of the Buy Side Analysts in November 2006, and an analyst at Legg Mason from 2000 to 2001.
Mr. Cerminara received an MBA degree from the Darden Graduate School of Business at the University of Virginia and a B.S. in Finance and Accounting from the Smith School of Business at the University of Maryland, where he was a member of Omicron Delta Kappa, an NCAA Academic All American and Co-Captain of the men’s varsity tennis team. He also completed a China Executive Residency at the Cheung Kong Graduate School of Business in Beijing, China. Mr. Cerminara holds the Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) designation.
Martin S. Friedman
Mr. Friedman has over 30 years of commercial banking and investment banking experience, in which he applied and developed skills in financial analysis with an expertise in financial institutions, corporate finance, Securities and Exchange Commission banking compliance and management. Mr. Friedman is the Founder, a Managing Member and the Chief Executive Officer of FJ Capital Management LLC. Mr. Friedman founded FJ Capital Management LLC in 2007 and is the portfolio manager for the firm’s flagship Financial Opportunity Fund, an event-driven strategy focused on the U.S. community and regional bank sector. Mr. Friedman established the Financial Opportunity Fund and has successfully navigated the fund, creating substantial alpha since inception. Mr. Friedman created the Financial Opportunity Long/Short Fund in the spring of 2015, a fund focused on the broader financial services sector and lower market volatility and beta. Mr. Friedman also created the FJ Hybrid funds in 2017 which invests in both public micro-cap banks and private banks and has a longer investment time horizon. Previously, Mr. Friedman was Director of Research for Friedman, Billings, Ramsey Group, a research and securities trading firm, from 1998 to 2007. Prior to that, he was a securities analyst, focusing on the financial services industry with Friedman, Billings, Ramsey Group from 1992 to 1998.
Mr. Friedman currently serves on the board of directors for Dogwood State Bank based in Raleigh, North Carolina since May 2019. He served on the board of directors of Silvergate Bank in San Diego, CA from February 2019 to January 2020, and served on the board of directors of Denver, CO-based TIG Bancorp from December 2017 until October 2019. In 2013, as part of the recapitalization of Anchor Bank, Madison, Wisconsin; Mr. Friedman was elected to the board of directors where he served on the Board of the bank holding company and compensation committee until 2015. Mr. Friedman served on the board of directors of Guaranty Savings Bank in Metairie, Louisiana from 2008 to 2009, and Access National Bank, in Reston, VA from 2009 to 2019.
Mr. Friedman graduated from the University of Maryland with a Bachelor of Science in Finance.
Charles E. Nearburg
Founding Nearburg Producing Company in 1979, Charles grew it into one of the Top 100 Independent Producers in the U.S., and always operating in an environmentally conscious way, received two Environmental Awards from the Bureau of Land Management. In 2016-2017 Nearburg sold the majority of its producing assets to two firms backed by Warburg Pincus and Carnelian Capital. Mr. Nearburg also owns STOL Aviation which is developing a world class “back country” short take-off and landing airplane, and Nearburg Racing which prepares vintage Formula 1 cars for competition. He is also a minority owner and advisory board member of McLaren Racing LTD, a top Formula 1 and Indy Car Team.
In honor of his son, Rett, who lost an 11-year battle with Ewing’s at age 21, Charles devotes substantial time and resources in support of Ewing’s Sarcoma cancer research and was instrumental in founding the Rett Nearburg International Ewing’s Sarcoma Research Symposia, of which six have now been held (www.rett.org).
A lifelong car racer, his career includes driving a 333SP Ferrari at Le Mans, finishing 4th and 10th overall at the Sebring 12-Hours, and driving the late Walter Payton’s Indy Car in the 1997 CART/FedEx Championship. In September 2010 at the Bonneville Salt Flats driving the “Spirit of Rett” streamliner, Charles set a 414 MPH FIA record with a top speed of 422 MPH. This made the “Spirit of Rett” the fastest single engine normally aspirated car in history, as well as the 3rd fastest internal combustion engine car in history. Charles is one of only 6 people in history to have set a piston engine car record at over 400 MPH. The “Spirit of Rett” was built in the Nearburg Racing shop.
A graduate of Dartmouth College, Charles received AB, BE, and ME degrees at Dartmouth’s Thayer School of Engineering, where he has been on the Board of Advisors for 30 years. He is also a Trustee of University of Texas Southwestern Medical Foundation; the Petersen Automotive Museum in Los Angeles; the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena; and a Life Trustee of the St. Mark’s School of Texas in Dallas. He is a past Trustee of the Maryland Institute College of Art in Baltimore; The Hockaday School in Dallas; and the Hood Museum of Art at Dartmouth College.