The founders of Commonwealth Group have diverse backgrounds but share a vision for encouraging innovative economic development, expanding access to capital for small-scale entrepreneurs, and creating the jobs and wealth that can sustain local communities. They have long supported a sustainable approach to economic development.
|Michael Sauvante, Partner, Executive Director of Investment Division & Chief Architect
Michael Sauvante brings almost 40 years of experience in founding and running more than a half dozen companies in diverse industries. He is an expert in new venture creation, also within mature companies including pioneering work at HP Labs, and has long been a progressive thinker in the field of sustainability, corporate social and environmental behavior, and corporate responsibility. Michael also has a deep understanding of general corporate law, corporate securities law, banking and tax law and more.
Sauvante’s philosophy for building sustainable businesses is outlined in The Triple Bottom Line: A Boardroom Guide , published in 2001 in the “Director’s Monthly” of the National Association of Corporate Directors (NACD). His efforts to change California’s laws (in 2004) to make corporations more socially and environmentally responsible (six years before the first state approved benefit corporations – see below) is highlighted in the book, Megatrends 2010: The Rise of Conscious Capitalism, by Patricia Aburdeen. He expanded on that topic in an article Rewiring Corporate DNA, published in 2008 by the Center for Business as an Agent of World Benefit at Case Western Reserve University’s Weatherhead School of Management.
That paper pointed out that if society wants to change corporations to make them more socially and environmentally responsible, then jurisdictions (like states) would have to change their corporate statutes to redefine the “purpose” of a corporation and its legal obligations to include those objectives. It called for establishment of a new kind of for-profit corporation that would exist alongside conventional for-profit corporations, but would require this new category of company to pursue some public benefit along social and/or environmental dimensions. New corporations could be organized under either structure.
Two years later, Maryland became the first state in the country to create what is now commonly called a benefit corporation, a structure that very closely resembles what Michael recommended in his white paper. To date, 29 states and the District of Columbia have adopted similar statues (including Delaware!). This represents one of the most sweeping changes in corporate law in the nation’s history, one whose long-term ramifications are just beginning to be felt. No benefit corporation has gone public as of April 2016, but under Michael’s leadership, Commonwealth Group has formed its own BDC as a California benefit corporation and plans to take it public as soon as possible. It will likely be the first public benefit corporation BDC in the country, and perhaps the first public benefit corporation of any kind.
Along with Vari MacNeil, Michael founded The National Commonwealth Group in 2008. The National Commonwealth Group is a think tank dedicated to the study and promotion of socially responsible business and financial institutions. It focuses on local economic development and support for Main Street businesses, particularly around capital formation and credit. Their efforts led to extensive involvement in the banking and corporate securities spaces, where Michael and Vari developed a number of game changing strategies to unleash funding for Main Street business, including a new model of community banking owned by the public rather than private shareholders, and a new way to regulate capital formation for small businesses.
In The Inevitable Future of Capitalism (2008) Michael captured the trends he saw occurring within capitalism and the interplays among capitalism, society and the planet. He explores what forces will bring about fundamental shifts in today’s capitalism, unfolding as the concepts of sustainability, socially responsible/impact investing and ESG issues gain traction worldwide.
Many of Michael’s other ideas were published in a number of articles, books and other writings including, A New Stock Exchange Where People and the Planet Matter (2010) which explores the question, “What if there were a stock exchange where society and the environment were the top priority and profit a means to maintain continuity and not an end in itself?” Corporations listed on such an exchange would be valued based on how well they served society instead of solely by short-term profit. (Such a U.S. exchange is now on Commonwealth Group’s drawing board and another has been already formed in the U.K. called the The Social Stock Exchange showing that it is an idea whose time has come.)
His article A Primer on “Going Public: How companies too small for the national stock exchanges can access public capital (2010) laid out the concepts that later would be known as crowdfunding. The article incorporated a number of the ideas for a more complete version of crowdfunding than is being contemplated. Michael later promoted the concept for regional stock exchanges, which resemble crowdfunding portals. His regional stock exchange idea was subsequently explored in the book Local Dollars Local Sense by Michael Shuman.
In 2002, Michael was recognized by the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, as one of 35 “Technology Pioneers” worldwide. For a full bio and comprehensive list of his writings, visit www.commonwealthgroup.net/sauvante.
|Vari MacNeil, Partner, Chief Communications & Creative Officer
Vari MacNeil’s professional experience spans more than 20 years in online and offline content strategy and development, brand strategy, and communications. She consults on content issues for multinational companies.
Vari was previously with Azina Communications, a publishing and Internet consulting firm she co-founded in 2003. Before that she was Executive Director of Member Media for USAA, an international financial services company, where she was responsible for mass communications to 1.4 million member-customers.
As Director of Content at marchFIRST/divine, an international Internet consultancy, Vari developed content and brand strategy for multinational companies. She was previously executive editor of The Health Network channel and executive editor of WebMD. Vari started her career as a newspaper and magazine editor.
Vari brings an international background, having grown up in Scotland and worked for many years in Germany, mostly in Munich, Stuttgart and the Bavarian Alps.
As a co-founder of Commonwealth Group, Vari has helped develop programs around small business capital and credit issues, and the sustainable development of local economies. She is the recipient of multiple awards for print and online content.
| Patricia Carlson, Partner, Vice President of Administration
Patricia Carlson has a successful track record in the administration of startup and growth companies. She brings over 30 years experience in founding and running more than a half dozen enterprises. She has managed all administrative functions, including accounting, taxes, personnel, inventory and facilities, as well as all the administrative functions of the boards of directors. She is an ABA certified paralegal and has completed the first year of law school for a JD.
|Scott McIntyre, Managing Director, Phabriq Development
Founder and Chief Architect of Commonwealth’s Campus Ventures subsidiary, Scott is a lifelong entrepreneur and venture catalyst. He founded strategy/media/capital firm Phabriq Development in 1997, and is a founding member currently sitting on the Board of Directors as President of the Crowdfunding Professional Association, the leading 501(c) 6 trade group formed by the change agents responsible for Crowdfunding’s inclusion in the JOBS Act of 2012. Scott is an active speaker in the US and abroad, with frequent appearances in China and India, and maintains an active network of leading foreign alternative finance bodies, with associates in over 20 countries.
Scott has been a recognized pioneer in Education Technology since his role as a founding executive of REAL Education in 1994, the startup that built the first online education platform, launching worldwide as eCollege at IPO in 1999. eCollege is now a cornerstone product of Education market leader Pearson, having acquired eCollege for $477 million in 2007. Scott is currently concluding his appointment at The University of Toledo, having architect-ed and implemented the school’s first Office of Student Entrepreneurship & Engagement.
Whether helping student entrepreneurs, transitioning workers or small business owners, Scott is passionate about economic sustainability.
|Janice Dru, Board President, Inkwhy, Inc.
Janice Dru is adept at connecting businesses owners with online networks and individuals to help them expand their reach; offering support on the latest Internet technologies in order to maximize interactivity; creating more accessibility and reaching highly targeted influencers through social media.
She is experienced in financial services, B2B and B2C sales, higher education, staff development, contract negotiations, digital media and marketing.
A graduate of Princeton University, Janice is board chair of a non-profit organization, The Center for Election Science, and also advocates creating value in the world to sustain future generations.
|Steve Kuntz, Managing Partner, MBL Capital Group LLC
Steve Kuntz has successfully driven business development efforts as co-founder and chief executive officer for software and web development company, Inkwhy Inc.
Steve has brought his knowledge and relationships to clients, supporting the growth and value of his network of executives, entrepreneurs, and investors by assisting with the raising of capital and business development at the highest levels. Earlier in his career, Steve was a registered representative for New York Life Insurance Company and the Mainstay Family of Funds. He achieved Executive Council status in his first year as a field agent.
Steve is a graduate of Temple University with Dual Bachelor’s Degrees in Human Resource Administration and Risk Management. In 2012, Steve earned a Certificate in Entrepreneurship, Business, Management, Marketing, and Related Support Services from Rutgers University, Center for Management Development.
He advocates integrity, transparency, collaboration and fairness in business partnerships and builds strong connections through an authentic, relationship-oriented approach.
|Laura Anthony, Esq. Attorney, Founding Partner, Legal and Compliance LLC
Attorney Laura Anthony is the founding partner of Legal & Compliance, LLC, a national corporate and securities law firm. Ms. Anthony’s focus is on small and mid-cap private and public companies, BDCs (business development companies), the OTC Marketplace, going public transactions, private placement and corporate finance transactions, crowdfunding, regulatory reporting requirements, FINRA and DTC requirements, state and federal securities laws, mergers and acquisitions, general corporate law and business transactions.
Ms. Anthony is an honors graduate from Florida State University College of Law and has been practicing law since 1993. Prior to founding Legal & Compliance, LLC, she served as Chief Legal Counsel for a national investment banking firm and NASDAQ broker dealer with over 200 employees.
Ms. Anthony headed the firm’s legal and compliance department and coordinated all legal work for the firm including all aspects of FINRA and SEC regulations, FINRA arbitrations, and public and private transactions.
Ms. Anthony is also the creator and author of www.SecuritiesLawBlog.com and www.LawCast.com staples for news and regulatory developments in the small and mid- cap marketplace. Ms. Anthony is a member of; Cystic Fribrosis Foundation Arthur’s Jam event committee; the Society of the Four Arts Contemporaries, Young Friends of the Norton Museum of Art, Palm Beach County Zoo Society, Kravis Center for the Performing Arts, the Crowdfunding Professional Association (CfPA), Palm Beach County Bar Association, the Florida Bar Association, the American Bar Association and the ABA committee on Federal Securities Regulations.
Ms. Anthony and the Legal & Compliance team have represented issuers, buyers, sellers, underwriters, placement agents, investors, and shareholders in mergers, acquisitions and corporate finance transactions valued in excess of $1 billion. Legal & Compliance has represented in excess of 200 corporate vehicles and private entities in reverse merger, initial public offering and direct public offering transactions.
Attorney Laura Anthony and her experienced legal team provides ongoing corporate counsel to small and midsize private companies, OTC and exchange traded issuers as well as private companies going public on the NASDAQ, NYSE MKT or over-the-counter market, such as the OTCQB and OTCQX. For nearly two decades Legal & Compliance, LLC has served clients providing fast, personalized, cutting-edge legal service. The firm’s reputation and relationships provide invaluable resources to clients including introductions to investment bankers, broker-dealers, institutional investors and other strategic alliances.
The firm’s focus includes, but is not limited to, compliance with the Securities Act of 1933 offer sale and registration requirements, including private placement transactions under Regulation D and Regulation S and PIPE Transactions as well as registration statements on Forms S-1, S-8 and S-4; compliance with the reporting requirements of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, including registration on Form 10, reporting on Forms 10-Q, 10-K and 8-K, and 14C Information and 14A Proxy Statements; Regulation A/A+ offerings; all forms of going public transactions; mergers and acquisitions including both reverse mergers and forward mergers; applications to and compliance with the corporate governance requirements of securities exchanges including NASDAQ and NYSE MKT; crowdfunding; corporate; and general contract and business transactions.
Attorney Laura Anthony and her firm represents both target and acquiring companies in reverse mergers and forward mergers, including the preparation of transaction documents such as merger agreements, share exchange agreements, stock purchase agreements, asset purchase agreements and reorganization agreements. Ms. Anthony’s legal team prepares the necessary documentation and assists in completing the requirements of federal and state securities laws and SROs such as FINRA and DTC for 15c2-11 applications, corporate name changes, reverse and forward splits and changes of domicile.
Ms. Anthony is an approved PAL and OTC Markets Advisor with OTC Markets Group, the creator and author of SecuritiesLawBlog.com, the security industry’s leading source for news and information, included in the ABA Journal’s “10th Annual Blawg 100,” the producer and host of LawCast.com„¢, The Securities Law Network, and a contributing blogger for The Huffington Post. Attorney Laura Anthony is recognized by Martindale-Hubbel as one of America’s Most Honored Professionals and the recipient of the Martindale-Hubbel Distinguished® Rating.
Ms. Anthony is a member of various professional organizations including the Crowdfunding Professional Association (CfPA), Palm Beach County Bar Association, the Florida Bar Association, the American Bar Association and the ABA committees on Federal Securities Regulations and Private Equity and Venture Capital. She is a supporter of several community and charities including the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, Opportunity, Inc., New Hope Charities, the Society of the Four Arts, the Norton Museum of Art, Palm Beach County Zoo Society, and Kravis Center for the Performing Arts. She is also a financial and hands-on supporter of Palm Beach Day Academy, one of Palm Beach’s oldest and most respected educational institutions. She currently resides in West Palm Beach with her husband and daughter.
Ms. Anthony is an honors graduate from Florida State University College of Law and has been practicing law since 1993.
| John Cacomanolis, Esq., Attorney, Of Counsel, Legal and Compliance LLC
John Cacomanolis is an experienced general commercial lawyer, with an extensive background in mergers and acquisitions (having completed over 400 individual M&A transactions), joint ventures (ranging in size from a few million to over $25 billion), securities compliance, capital-raising, shareholder and board compliance, private equity firm formations and operations, and both public and private company operations.
Prior to joining Legal and Compliance, from 2007 to 2015 Mr. Cacomanolis was a Partner and General Counsel at Grain Management, LLC, a private equity firm based in Sarasota, FL and Washington, D.C., which focused on investments in the telecommunications industry. At Grain, he was part of the team that took the company from start-up mode to almost $1B in AUM. He managed all legal functions for the company and its subsidiaries, including, with the CEO and CFO, development and implementation of the strategic plan for the company’s operations and growth. He oversaw all HR matters, partnership agreements, etc., and had primary responsibility for the firm’s investment/asset acquisition program; including the sourcing, evaluation, due diligence and financial modeling of properties and investments and the day-to-day operations following acquisition.
From 2004 to 2007, Mr. Cacomanolis was Associate General Counsel at Global Signal, Inc., an NYSE-listed company which owned and operated cellular communication sites. At Global Signal he had primary responsibility for the company’s 1933 Act and 1934 Act compliance, as well as its M&A function and oversight of Internal Audit, and also general corporate matters and operations. During such time he helped grow Global Signal’s asset base by 300%, and oversaw the merger of the company into a larger competitor.
Prior to Global Signal, Mr. Cacomanolis was with the law firm of LeBoeuf, Lamb, Greene & MacRae, L.L.P., from 1999 to 2004, mainly based in its New York City offices, but also working in Washington, D.C.; Jacksonville, FL; London, England and Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. At LeBoeuf, Lamb, Mr. Cacomanolis focused on all facets of corporate and transactional practice, mainly for clients in the energy and the internet/communications industries, including dozens of U.S. and international mergers and acquisitions and joint ventures, as well as IPOs and secondary stock and debt offerings.
Mr. Cacomanolis earned his B.S. from Florida State University in 1996 (With Honors, Phi Beta Kappa), and his J.D. from New York University School of Law in 1999, where he was a Note and Article Editor for the Journal of International Law and Politics. He is admitted to the Bars of New York and Florida.