Our Team

57 Stars has a diverse team with extensive experience in international private equity investment and stakeholder engagement. The firm’s senior investment team has worked together for almost 20 years, and nearly 80% of the investment team has experience making direct investments.

15

languages spoken
by our team

30% speak Mandarin

20+

countries lived in

Presence in

6

cities globally

300+

combined years of
PE experience

Carl Balit

Managing Director

Samantha Bendorf

Senior Staff Accountant

Amit Chandra

Managing Director

Cheng Chee Mun

Managing Director

Steve Cowan

Co-founder & Managing Director

John Engel

Managing Director

Mitchell Fenster

Chief Financial Officer

Kevin Horvath

Assistant Vice President

Alexandra Jung

Senior Advisor

Marina Leytes

Senior Vice President

Tim Liu

Vice President

Bernard McGuire, Jr.

Managing Director

Stephen O'Neill

Co-founder & Managing Director

Claire Organick

ESG and Impact Associate

Gene Pohren

Co-founder & Managing Director

Lindsey Sullivan

Director

Joshua Tecce

Analyst

Kyoko Terada

Director

Charles Toy

Managing Director

Solomon Tsegaye

Vice President

Kim Viands

Office Manager

Chris Zachary

Senior Analyst

Grace (Yunge) Zhao

Vice President of Accounting

Stella Zhuo*

Director

* Beijing 57 Stars Consulting Center is an independent entity; neither it nor Ms. Zhuo is an employee or agent of 57 Stars.
Carl Balit

Carl Balit

Managing Director

Mr. Balit joined 57 Stars in 2007. At 57 Stars, Mr. Balit participates in the analysis, selection, and monitoring of fund investments and co‐investments across the firm’s target markets. His fund investment experience is principally focused on growth, control, and special situations strategies, while co‐investments he has overseen span financial and consumer services sectors.

Prior to joining 57 Stars, Mr. Balit gained operating experience with a Canadian apparel manufacturing company and was involved in leading the shift of the company’s production platform to Asia. Mr. Balit holds a BA in Economics from Colby College, and joined 57 Stars from Georgetown University, where he completed an MBA and an MS in Foreign Service. He is fluent in English and French.

Samantha Bendorf

Samantha Bendorf

Senior Staff Accountant

Mrs. Bendorf joined 57 Stars in 2018. She is responsible for managing the firm’s internal accounting function.

Prior to joining 57 Stars, she was a payroll manager at a public accounting firm in Dallas, Texas. During her time there, she managed all facets of the payroll department and also performed dynamic accounting functions. She holds a BA in Accounting and Finance from Middlesex University Dubai.

Amit Chandra

Amit Chandra

Managing Director

Mr. Chandra joined 57 Stars in 2008, and is responsible for sourcing, due diligence, structuring, and monitoring of investments in private equity partnerships and co‐investments across 57 Stars’ target markets. He is a member of the advisory boards of several private equity funds, and has more than a decade of private equity experience across the US and Emerging Markets.

Prior to joining 57 Stars, Mr. Chandra was an associate at Key Principal Partners, where he was involved in mezzanine and equity investments in middle‐market companies. He was also involved in leveraged finance transactions as an associate at KeyBanc Capital Markets. Mr. Chandra has prior experience as a supply chain consultant for J.D. Edwards & Co. He holds a Bachelor of Engineering degree from The Maharaja Sayajirao University of Baroda, an MS in Management Science from Case Western Reserve University, and an MBA from the University of Chicago. Mr. Chandra is from India and speaks English, Gujarati, and Hindi.

Cheng Chee Mun

Cheng Chee Mun

Managing Director

Mr. Cheng joined 57 Stars in 2009, and is involved in identifying and monitoring investments in Asia, in addition to leading the firm’s subsidiary in Singapore.

Prior to joining 57 Stars, Mr. Cheng was an Investment Manager with Allianz Private Equity Partners (APEP), a 100% indirect subsidiary of Allianz SE and a leading private equity fund‐of‐ funds manager. In that role, he was one of the team members who started APEP’s Asia office in Singapore and was responsible for APEP’s private equity fund investments in Asia. Prior to APEP, he worked for Neptune Orient Lines, a Singapore‐headquartered global transportation and logistics company, first as a feeder operations executive in charge of South Asia network operations and later as a strategic planning manager overseeing Corporate Strategic Planning and M&A activities.

Mr. Cheng holds a BS in Electrical Engineering from Kyoto University in Japan and an MBA from INSEAD in France. He is fluent in English, Mandarin, Cantonese, and Japanese.

Steve Cowan

Steve Cowan

Co-founder and Managing Director

Mr. Cowan co‐founded 57 Stars in 2005, and is a member of the firm’s Investment Committee.

Prior to 57 Stars, Mr. Cowan served at Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC) as a Director in the Investment Funds Department, where he was responsible for structuring new funds, designing and implementing the program’s asset allocation plans, selecting managers, and overseeing a large portion of the USD 3.5 billion investment funds program. Mr. Cowan also helped design OPIC’s groundbreaking capital markets insurance product. Prior to his tenure at OPIC, Mr. Cowan was an attorney at Munger, Tolles & Olson in Los Angeles, and at Milbank, Tweed, Hadley & McCloy in New York. He has served as Adjunct Professor of Law at American University’s Washington College of Law, and as an advisor to the governments of Colombia and Canada with respect to developing private equity programs.

Mr. Cowan holds an AB in Political Science and Development Studies (magna cum laude and with honors) from Brown University and a JD from Harvard Law School. In addition to English, he has knowledge of Cantonese, Mandarin, French, and Spanish.

John Crocker

John Crocker

Head of Business Development

Mr. Crocker is Head of Business Development at 57 Stars responsible for capital formation and capital retention across the investment strategies of the firm.

Prior to joining 57 Stars, Mr. Crocker has had an extensive career in alternative investments. He was a fiduciary at both Donaldson Lufkin & Jenrette (“DLJ”) and Capital Z Investment Partners, deploying significant amounts of capital across various geographies and sectors. He has been an intermediary raising capital for financial sponsors at Citibank and Atlantic Pacific Capital, among others. He started his career in management consulting at Bain & Company and his financial career in investment banking at DLJ.

Mr. Crocker holds an A.B. in General Studies from Harvard College, where he majored in Economics. He received an M.B.A. from Harvard Business School.

John Engel

John Engel

Managing Director

Mr. Engel joined 57 Stars in 2007, and is responsible for the sourcing, due diligence, structuring, and monitoring of private equity investments across the firm’s target markets. Mr. Engel participates on the advisory boards of several private equity funds. He has more than a decade of private equity investment experience in both the US and Emerging Markets.

Prior to joining 57 Stars, Mr. Engel worked for Pacific Corporate Group, a private equity investment advisory firm. Mr. Engel holds a BS (magna cum laude) in Biochemistry / Cellular Biology from the University of California at San Diego, and is a CFA Charterholder.

Mitchell Fenster

Mitchell Fenster

Chief Financial Officer

Mr. Fenster joined 57 Stars in 2010, and is responsible for the financial and operational aspects of the firm, including managing the treasury function for 57 Stars funds and overseeing the quarterly reporting process for investors. He also serves as the Associate Compliance Officer for the firm.

Prior to joining 57 Stars, Mr. Fenster was the Vice President of Finance and Operations for The Global Fund for Children, an international nonprofit supporting vulnerable children in emerging markets, where he was responsible for all accounting, finance, human resources, and internal operational activities. He also worked as the Chief Financial Officer for Phyto‐Riker Pharmaceuticals, a Ghana‐based manufacturer and distributor of essential medicines, and previously as an investment officer for Modern Africa Fund Managers, a private equity firm focused on sub‐Saharan Africa. In addition, he has worked in the Investment Fund Departments of OPIC and at the Inter‐American Development Bank, and as a financial consultant for KPMG Barents Group in Mongolia. Mr. Fenster started his career as a case manager for a US benefits consulting company before moving to Moscow, Russia, as a financial manager for a real estate developer.

Mr. Fenster has a BSBA in Accounting and Finance from Washington University in St. Louis and an MBA from Georgetown University. He has extensive experience working throughout the world including in Ghana, Mongolia, and Russia.

Kevin Horvath

Kevin Horvath

Assistant Vice President

Mr. Horvath is the Assistant Vice President at 57 Stars responsible for supporting the firm’s fundraising and investor relations efforts.

Prior to joining 57 Stars, Mr. Horvath was a manager at Emerging Markets Private Equity Association (EMPEA), the global industry association for private capital in emerging markets. As part of the organization’s research team, he helped direct EMPEA’s data program, provided market intelligence to association members, and served as a representative on the Latin America and Private Credit councils.

Prior to EMPEA, Mr. Horvath conducted research on international financial flows, monetary policy, and the angel investing landscape in leading markets. He holds an MA in International Economics from American University and a BA in International Affairs from the George Washington University.

Alexandra Jung

Alexandra Jung

Senior Advisor

Mrs. Jung joined 57 Stars in 2009, and is based in the firm’s Munich office. She is active in the sourcing, due diligence, and monitoring of funds, primarily across Emerging Europe, including Central and Eastern Europe, South East Europe, Turkey, Russia, and Israel.

Prior to 57 Stars, Mrs. Jung was a Senior Investment Manager with Allianz Private Equity Partners in Europe and Asia. During her tenure with APEP, Mrs. Jung was responsible for the origination and execution of fund investments totaling USD 1.5 billion, while overseeing an existing portfolio of USD 1.3 billion in aggregate commitments. Her APEP experience also includes design and implementation of investment and origination processes as well as fundraising activities with third‐party clients.

Prior to her time at APEP, Mrs. Jung was with BrainLAB, a Munich‐headquartered medical device company, first as Product Manager in charge of setting up the company’s Japanese presence and later as Management Associate. Mrs. Jung holds a Master in Theoretical Physics from Ludwig‐Maximilians‐University in Munich. She speaks English, German, French, and Spanish.

Marina Leytes

Marina Leytes

Senior Vice President

Ms. Leytes is a Senior Vice President focusing on ESG integration and impact strategy at 57 Stars. She also supports overall investor relations efforts.

Prior to 57 Stars, Ms. Leytes was with Sarona Asset Management, an impact‐focused emerging markets fund manager, where she led investor relations and ESG and impact management efforts. Ms. Leytes also worked for the World Economic Forum as a Project Manager for Impact Investing and Blended Finance Initiatives. She began her career at Metropolitan Real Estate Equity Management, LLC (a Carlyle subsidiary), where she led portfolio analysis and reporting for the company’s funds.

Ms. Leytes holds a BA (magna cum laude) in Computer Science from New York University and an MA in Development Economics from Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs. She speaks English, Russian, and Spanish.

Tim Liu

Tim Liu

Vice President

Mr. Liu joined 57 Stars in 2010, and is a member of the firm’s investment team. He is active in the due diligence and monitoring of fund and co‐investment opportunities. He is also responsible for fund performance and underwriting analytics.

Prior to joining 57 Stars, Mr. Liu interned at the Pacific Corporate Group in La Jolla, CA, where he engaged in projects covering enterprise business development and performance analytics research. He holds a BS in Management Science from University of California at San Diego. Mr. Liu is fluent in English and Mandarin and has a working knowledge of Japanese.

Bernard McGuire, Jr.

Bernard McGuire, Jr.

Managing Director

Mr. McGuire joined 57 Stars in 2008, and is a member of the firm’s Investment Committee. He participates in the sourcing, due diligence, and monitoring of fund investments and co‐investments across all of the firm’s markets and represents the firm and its investors on multiple fund and coinvestment advisory boards.

Prior to 57 Stars, Mr. McGuire served at Overseas Private Investment Corporation as a Director in the Investment Funds Department. During his tenure with OPIC, Mr. McGuire led the origination and execution of emerging markets alternative asset fund investments totaling USD 1.3 billion and USD 680 million, respectively, while managing and restructuring a USD 600 million global portfolio of OPIC legacy investments. His OPIC experience includes new product development, fund creation, and investments in Africa, Asia, Eastern Europe, and Latin America, covering strategies such as growth equity, buyout, infrastructure, distressed debt, real estate, mezzanine, and asset‐backed securitization. Prior to his time at OPIC, Mr. McGuire executed and managed venture capital and private equity transactions in Asia while living in Hong Kong, Beijing, and Sydney from 1992 to 2003.

Mr. McGuire earned his BA in History and BS in Political Science from Vanderbilt University, and an MBA from the Cass Business School in London, England. He speaks English and has a working‐knowledge of Mandarin and French.

Lino Núñez del Arco

Lino Núñez del Arco

Analyst

Mr. Núñez del Arco joined 57 Stars in 2020 and is a member of the investment team. He participates in the investment process, from due diligence to monitoring of private equity partnerships, coinvestments, and secondaries across Emerging Markets globally, with specific interest in healthcare and ESG investing.

Prior to joining 57 Stars, Mr. Núñez del Arco was an analyst at JP Morgan, where he advised clients across a wide range of areas, including M&A, debt refinancing, and growth capital. He holds a BS in Business Administration with a minor in Mathematical Decision Sciences from the University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill.

Stephen O’Neill

Stephen O’Neill

Co-founder and Managing Director

Mr. O’Neill co‐founded 57 Stars in 2005, and is based in the Firm’s Tokyo office. He is active in the due diligence and monitoring of fund managers across Emerging Markets globally, including in China, Korea, Southeast Asia, and Africa, as well as in business development strategies, particularly in the Asia Pacific region.

Prior to 57 Stars, Mr. O’Neill was an investment banker with significant international experience. From 1989 to 1999, he was with UBS Warburg in London, Hong Kong, Singapore, and New York, in a range of senior equity capital markets and corporate finance roles.

Mr. O’Neill has an AB (magna cum laude) in History from Brown University and an MBA (Arjay Miller Scholar) from Stanford University.

Gene Pohren

Gene Pohren

Co-founder and Managing Director

Mr. Pohren co‐founded 57 Stars in 2005. He leads private equity partnership, secondary, and coinvestments transactions, and is a voting member of the firm’s investment and management committees.

Prior to forming 57 Stars, Mr. Pohren served at the Overseas Private Investment Corporation. As a Director in OPIC’s Investment Funds Department, he oversaw significant parts of OPIC’s USD 3.5 billion private equity program and was instrumental in redesigning OPIC’s investment funds product, structure, and fund manager evaluation processes. Before joining the Investment Funds Department, Mr. Pohren worked as a Manager in OPIC’s Project Finance Department where he structured direct financings throughout the emerging markets. In 2004, Mr. Pohren took a leave of absence to accept an assignment with the Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan Board, to help design and implement an emerging markets private equity investment plan. Prior to working at OPIC, Mr. Pohren was an Associate in corporate finance at Manufacturers Hanover Trust Company.

Mr. Pohren earned a BS (with high distinction) in Business Administration from the University of Maine and an MBA from University of Chicago Graduate School of Business. Mr. Pohren is a returned Peace Corps volunteer.

Lindsey Sullivan

Lindsey Sullivan

Director

Ms. Sullivan joined 57 Stars as a Director in 2022. She assists in managing multiple aspects of the firm’s legal and financial operations, including regulatory compliance, fund formation, contracting, and corporate and fund administration.

Prior to joining 57 Stars, Ms. Sullivan served as Director of Operations & Chief Compliance Officer at a private equity firm making real estate investments in Opportunity Zones in the U.S. Before that, she was counsel in the Litigation and Enforcement practice group of Ropes & Gray in New York and Chicago, where she defended clients in investigations and enforcement actions before the Securities and Exchange Commission and routinely advised private equity firms and other investment advisers regarding their obligations under the federal securities laws, often in connection with SEC examinations. Ms. Sullivan started her legal career clerking for a U.S. Federal Court judge in the Northern District of Illinois.

Ms. Sullivan has a Bachelor of Commerce degree from McGill University, with concentrations in Finance and International Business, and worked as a Finance Specialist and Sales Strategy Analyst before receiving her JD from Northwestern University.

Joshua Tecce

Joshua Tecce

Analyst

Mr. Tecce joined 57 Stars in 2022 and is a member of the investment team, while providing support to the firm at large. He is active in the investment process, due diligence, and monitoring of private equity partnerships, co-investments, and secondaries across the firm’s target markets globally, with specific interest in impact and ESG investing.

Prior to joining 57 Stars, Mr. Tecce was an Associate at Stout, where he performed financial analyses for ESOP companies in a variety of industries as well as prepared valuation reports and opinion letters for client presentations. He holds a BBA in Finance from The College of William & Mary.

Kyoko Terada

Kyoko Terada

Director

Ms. Terada is a Director at 57 Stars responsible for investor relations and contributes to the firm’s overall business development efforts by leading marketing and branding efforts, and external communications.

Prior to joining 57 Stars, Ms. Terada was a Managing Director at Emerging Markets Private Equity Association (EMPEA), the global industry association for private capital in emerging markets. There, she co‐led the overall management of the organization, and was responsible for cultivating and expanding member relationships and strategic organizational partnerships. Prior to her tenure at EMPEA, Ms. Terada was a consultant at a management consulting firm for the telecommunications industry.

She holds a BA (cum laude) in International Relations from Boston University and has completed coursework towards an MA in International Affairs with a concentration in International Law and Human Rights at American University. Ms. Terada speaks English, Japanese and Spanish.

Charles Toy

Charles Toy

Managing Director

Mr. Toy joined 57 Stars in 2007, and is the Chief Compliance Officer of the firm and as such is a nonvoting member of the 57 Stars Investment Committee. He oversees all aspects of the firm’s regulatory obligations as a Registered Investment Adviser in the US and as an investment manager in the markets where the firm invests and raises capital. He participates in deal structuring and contract negotiations on investments in Emerging Markets globally, and manages numerous parts of the firm’s operations, from contractual relations with potential and actual investors, lenders, and service providers, to the maintenance of the firm’s infrastructure and presence in locations overseas.

Prior to joining 57 Stars, Mr. Toy served at the Overseas Private Investment Corporation for seven years, where he was General Counsel and at different times Vice President managing the project finance and private equity programs, reorganizing and developing strategic plans for the two operating departments, each with exposure of over USD 3.5 billion in emerging markets. Before and after OPIC, Mr. Toy was a partner at two major international law firms, Kaye Scholer Fierman Hays & Handler, for which he opened Hong Kong and Beijing offices and was resident in Hong Kong for seven years, and Wilmer Cutler & Pickering in Washington. He represented clients investing and starting new businesses or operations throughout Asia and around the world.

Mr. Toy has taught on the subject of foreign direct investment as Adjunct Professor at The George Washington University. He earned a BA (cum laude) from Harvard College and a JD from Harvard Law School. Mr. Toy speaks English and Mandarin and Cantonese Chinese.

Solomon Tsegaye

Solomon Tsegaye

Vice President

Mr. Tsegaye joined 57 Stars in 2017 and is a member of the firm’s investment team. He is active in the investment process and in due diligence and monitoring of private equity partnerships, co‐investments, and secondaries across Emerging Markets globally.

Prior to joining 57 Stars, Mr. Tsegaye was an emerging markets investment analyst at The Rock Creek Group, where he was involved in sourcing investment opportunities, performing due diligence, monitoring fund holdings, and conducting industry analysis in emerging markets. He holds a BA from the College of William & Mary, and an MS in Finance from Washington University’s Olin Business School. Mr. Tsegaye speaks English and Mandarin Chinese.

Kim Viands

Kim Viands

Office Manager

Ms. Viands joined 57 Stars in 2012, and supports firm operations by maintaining office systems and supervising administrative staff. Her responsibilities also include administration and management of employee benefits.

Prior to joining 57 Stars, Ms. Viands served as Office and Benefits Manager for Phase2 Technology in Alexandria, VA, where she managed all facets of office administration and employee benefits. Prior to Phase2, she was an Executive Assistant for the Director of Research, and Compliance Manager for the Chief Compliance Officer, with Legg Mason Capital Management in Baltimore, MD. Ms. Viands attended Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, VA with a concentration in Business Administration.

Chris Zachary

Chris Zachary

Senior Analyst

Mr. Zachary joined 57 Stars in 2020 and is a member of the investment team, while providing support to the firm at large. He is active in the investment process, due diligence, and monitoring of private equity partnerships, co‐investments, and secondaries across Emerging Markets globally with specific interests in impact and ESG investing.

Prior to joining 57 Stars, Mr. Zachary was an investment data analyst at Cambridge Associates, where he conducted research on private equity funds across a wide variety of sectors and geographies. He holds a BS in Neuroscience as well as a BA in Economics from Bucknell University.

Phoebe Xu

Phoebe Xu

Senior Vice President

Ms. Xu joined 57 Stars in 2013 and is responsible for due diligence and monitoring of fund managers and co-investments across Emerging Markets globally, including in China, Korea, Africa, India, Southeast Asia, and Japan.

Prior to 57 Stars, Ms. Xu worked at DT Capital Partners and PwC in Shanghai, with significant private equity and M&A experience.  She holds a BA in Economics from Shanghai University of Finance and Economics and an MBA from University of Chicago Booth School of Business.  She is from Shanghai, China and speaks English, and Mandarin and Shanghainese Chinese.

Grace (Yunge) Zhao

Grace (Yunge) Zhao

Vice President of Accounting

Ms. Zhao joined 57 Stars in 2017. She is responsible for managing the accounting and tax aspects of the firm as well as for monitoring and reporting on all 57 Stars managed funds.

Prior to joining 57 Stars, Ms. Zhao spent over ten years working in a publicly traded private equity firm and a financial service company. She was an Associate Vice President and Accounting Manager with American Capital, Ltd. (acquired by Ares Capital Corp. in 2017), where she managed the accounting for and reporting on three private equity funds with assets under management of USD 2.7 billion, and was responsible for determining accounting treatment of complex portfolio company transactions. Prior to her time at American Capital, she was an Accounting Manager at E‐Trade Financial Corp., where she oversaw the accounting for and reporting on an investment portfolio of USD 23 billion, and managed special projects, including a sub‐ledger system upgrade and other process improvements.

Ms. Zhao holds an MS degree in Accountancy from The George Washington University and is a Certified Public Accountant. She speaks English and Mandarin Chinese fluently.

Stella Zhuo

Stella Zhuo

Director

Ms. Zhuo is a Director of Beijing 57 Stars Consulting Center*, which since 2020 participates in 57 Stars’ investment activities by identifying and monitoring investments in China, including due diligence of fund and co‐investment/secondary opportunities.

Prior to assisting 57 Stars, Ms. Zhuo was an Investment Manager with the alternative asset management arm of CITIC Prudential Life Insurance (CPL) in China. In that role, she was one of the team members who started the private equity, mezzanine, real estate investment practices in the firm, and was responsible for private equity and private equity real estate investment underwriting. Before CPL, she worked with Towers Watson (TW), and was one of the core team members leading its investment advisory business in China. Prior to TW, she worked with Business for Social Responsibility, and led ESG consulting services in the financial sector in China.

Ms. Zhuo holds a BS in Economics from the University of Colorado, and an MS in Finance from the University of Aberdeen. She is fluent in English and Mandarin.

* Beijing 57 Stars Consulting Center is an independent entity; neither it nor Ms. Zhuo is an employee or agent of 57 Stars.

Claire Organick

Claire Organick

ESG and Impact Associate

Ms. Organick is an Associate at 57 Stars focusing on ESG integration and impact strategy.

Prior to joining 57 Stars, Ms. Organick worked at Cambridge Associates, where she served as an investment analyst with the Sustainable and Impact Investing team. She also assisted in management of the endowment and foundation investment portfolios, allocating assets across private and public markets and focusing on impact criteria such as sustainability and diversity.

Ms. Organick holds a B.A. (magna cum laude) in Economics and French from Occidental College. She speaks English and French.