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Executive Team


Larry Brown

President
Starwood Mortgage Capital

Mr. Brown is the President of SMC, overseeing all of the lending and subsequent securitization activities of the firm. Prior to forming SMC, Mr. Brown was a co-founder, Managing Director and Chief Operating Officer of AllBridge Investments, an investor in the commercial real estate capital markets. Before co-founding AllBridge, Mr. Brown started Deutsche Bank Mortgage Capital, L.L.C., a wholly owned subsidiary of Deutsche Bank, in May 1999 and served as President and Chief Executive Officer through April of 2005. While at DBMC, he oversaw more than $23 billion in public and private securitized transactions as well as the origination of over 750 loans totaling approximately $9 billion. Prior to the formation of DBMC, Mr. Brown served as President of WMF Capital Corp., where he oversaw all commercial real estate finance and capital markets activities of the company. Before joining WMF CC, he was the Managing Director of Commercial Real Estate Finance at First Union National Bank (now known as Wells Fargo), co-founding the Real Estate Capital Markets Group and overseeing the origination and subsequent distribution of commercial mortgage-backed securities including over $6.5 billion in public/private securitized transactions. Prior to joining FUNB, he was a Senior Vice President in the Real Estate Finance Group at Donaldson, Lufkin & Jenrette, supervising the negotiation, documentation, and closing of more than $1.5 billion of securitized commercial mortgage transactions. Before joining DLJ, Mr. Brown was an Associate at the law firms of Baker & McKenzie and Mudge, Rose, Guthrie, Alexander & Ferdon, where he specialized in real estate banking and real estate finance law.

Mr. Brown graduated Magna Cum Laude from Tufts University and earned his law degree from Georgetown University School of Law.


David Auerbach

Senior Vice-President
Loan Origination

David Auerbach is a Senior Vice President at Starwood Mortgage Capital which he joined at its inception in 2011. Mr. Auerbach plays a key role in the company’s CMBS loan origination, structuring, and securitization processes across all property types. Mr. Auerbach has significant experience in real estate capital markets and has been an active participant for nearly 15 years. Prior to joining Starwood Mortgage Capital he was a Director at Deutsche Bank Mortgage Capital and a Vice President of Wachovia Securities Real Estate Capital Markets. Mr. Auerbach began his career at Thomas D. Wood and Company, a life insurance correspondent mortgage banking company and earned his MBA from the University of Miami after receiving a BBA from Florida International University.


Jeremy Beard

Senior Vice-President
Capital Markets

Mr. Beard is a Senior Vice President at SMC, responsible for managing the securitization of loans originated by the firm.  Prior to joining SMC, Mr. Beard was a Director at Deutsche Bank Mortgage Capital, L.L.C. where he was involved in securitizing more than $17 billion of commercial loans.  Before working at DBMC, he was a Vice President in the Commercial Real Estate Finance group at First Union National Bank (now known as Wells Fargo), originating commercial loans across all product types before subsequently moving to the securitization group.  Prior to returning to First Union, he was a Senior Vice President at WMF Capital Corp. where he led a group of multifamily loan originators.  Before joining WMF CC, he was one of the original members of the Commercial Real Estate Finance group at FUNB, focused on multifamily loan origination.  Prior to joining FUNB, he was an Analyst in the Real Estate Finance Group at Donaldson, Lufkin & Jenrette.

Mr. Beard received a B.A. in Government from Connecticut College.


Matthew Cox

Vice President
Credit Underwriting

Mr. Cox is a Vice President of SMC, responsible for credit underwriting of CMBS loans. Prior to joining SMC, Mr. Cox spent more than 15 years in CMBS underwriting and origination at JP Morgan Mortgage Capital, Deutsche Bank Mortgage Capital, LLC and Bank of America Merrill Lynch. During the 9 years spent at Deutsche Bank, Mr. Cox structured more than $4.0 Billion of commercial mortgages for CMBS securitization.

Mr. Cox received his B.S. in Financial Management from Clemson University and M.S. in Real Estate from Georgia State University.


Steve DeRose

Senior Vice-President
Loan Origination

Mr. DeRose is a Senior Vice President at Starwood Mortgage Capital, where he is responsible for originating, structuring and closing loans on all property types for securitization. Prior to joining SMC, Mr. DeRose was a Director at Tannery Brook Partners, a boutique real estate investment bank providing advisory services to clients on commercial real estate matters, which included mergers and acquisitions, property-level recapitalizations and debt restructurings. Prior to his time at Tannery Brook Partners, Mr. DeRose served as a Director in Wells Fargo Securities’ Special Situations Group, where he was responsible for the workout and restructuring of principal investments in structured commercial real estate debt throughout the country. In this role, Mr. DeRose was responsible for overseeing an approximately $1.3 Billion loan portfolio. Prior to working in the Special Situations Group, Mr. DeRose held various positions within the bank’s predecessor, Wachovia Securities’ Real Estate Capital Markets platform, much of which was spent in the firm’s Structured Finance Group, originating bridge loans, mezzanine loans, preferred equity and JV equity investments.

Mr. DeRose holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Economics and Business Management and a Master of Science in Finance from the University of Florida.


Leslie Fairbanks

Executive Vice President
Contract Finance

Ms. Fairbanks is an Executive Vice President and Head of Contract Finance at SMC. She is responsible for the negotiation, documentation, legal due diligence and closing of the company’s loans. Ms. Fairbanks was formerly the Managing Director and Head of Wachovia Bank’s Commercial Mortgage Loan Servicing business, then the nation’s largest loan servicer with a portfolio under management of approximately $400 billion. During this period, she served terms as the Chair of the Master Servicer/Trustee Committee of the Commercial Mortgage Securities Association and a member of the Servicer CEO Committee of the Mortgage Bankers Association. Prior to running the servicing business, Ms. Fairbanks was a Managing Director in Wachovia’s Structured Finance group where she was responsible for the negotiation, documentation, legal due diligence and closing of the group’s floating rate bridge and mezzanine loans and preferred equity investments. Prior to joining Wachovia, Ms. Fairbanks was a Senior Vice President of WMF Capital Corp. where she was responsible for the negotiation, documentation, legal due diligence and closing of the company’s CMBS loans. Prior to joining WMF CC, Ms. Fairbanks was a real estate attorney at New York City law firms including Willkie Farr & Gallagher and Brown & Wood (now known as Sidley Austin), where she represented banks, investment banks and other capital providers in their CMBS and other commercial real estate finance transactions.

Ms. Fairbanks graduated Magna Cum Laude from Seton Hall University and earned her law degree from New York University School of Law and her MBA from Wake Forest University.


Jim Freel

Senior Vice-President
Loan Origination

Jim Freel is a Senior Vice President of SMC, responsible for originating fixed-rate loans for securitization on all commercial property types nationwide. Prior to joining SMC, Mr. Freel was a Relationship Manager with two NY-based local banking institutions, State Bank of Long Island and more recently, Amalgamated Bank, where he was responsible for both loan production and portfolio management of commercial real estate properties located throughout the northeast. Previously, Mr. Freel spent 9 years at Deutsche Bank Mortgage Capital, LLC, starting in 2000 as an Associate and rising to the Director level by 2007. While at DMBC, Mr. Freel successfully originated more than $1 billion of CMBS loans nationwide, with an emphasis on the northeast.  Prior to working at DMBC, Mr. Freel was a CRE Analyst in the CMBS group at Salomon Smith Barney, and before that in the Commercial Real Estate department of Dime Savings Bank of New York. Mr. Freel received his Bachelor’ Degree in Finance from Georgetown University.


Rich Highfield

Chief Credit Officer
Starwood Mortgage Capital

Mr. Highfield is SMC’s Chief Credit Officer responsible for risk management and underwriting.  Prior to joining SMC, Mr. Highfield was a Director at BlackRock Solutions.   During his tenure at BlackRock, Mr. Highfield worked with the Commercial Real Estate team of the Financial Markets Advisory group and served as project lead or co-lead on the valuation and risk assessment of two government agency commercial real estate debt portfolios totaling over $50 billion and over 35,000 positions.  Additionally, he worked as a senior member of teams engaged to perform acquisition due diligence.  Prior to joining BRS, Mr. Highfield was an Executive Vice President at David L. Bonuccelli & Associates, an independent fiduciary and pension fund advisory firm that worked with clients such as the California State Teachers’ Retirement System and the California Public Employees’ Retirement System.  In this position, Mr. Highfield was responsible for assessing risk and advising on commercial real estate debt financing, restructuring and monthly monitoring and reporting of the funds’ investments in over 20 commercial real estate debt funds and numerous other joint ventures.  Prior to joining David L. Bonuccelli & Associates, Mr. Highfield was a Principal at Banc of America Securities within the Real Estate Structured Finance Group where he held several positions from origination through the servicing of primarily CMBS loans.  While a Senior Originator, Mr. Highfield originated approximately $1 billion in production from 2005 to 2008.  As Team Lead of the Large Loan Underwriting group, Mr. Highfield underwrote approximately $4 billion in structured transactions from 2002 through 2004.  In the Capital Markets Servicing Group, Mr. Highfield served as a Portfolio Management Team Lead, overseeing the master servicing of approximately 2,000 CMBS loans within 17 securitizations.  Prior to Banc of America Securities, Mr. Highfield was a Staff Appraiser at Shiplett-Wilkins & Associates (now Grubb Ellis) specializing in due diligence, feasibility studies and the valuation of industrial, retail, office, hotel and multifamily assets throughout the southeastern U.S.

Mr. Highfield received a B.S. in Finance with a concentration in Economics from the University of Florida.


Lance Johnson

Senior Vice-President
Loan Origination

Mr. Johnson is a Senior Vice President within the national loan origination Team of SMC. He is responsible for sourcing, structuring and closing fixed rate loans on all property types for securitization. Prior to joining SMC, Mr. Johnson spent 15 years with Wells Fargo Bank and its predecessors. Most recently, Mr. Johnson was a Director in the ORE Department of Wells Fargo’s Wholesale Bank where he was responsible for overseeing a portfolio of commercial and residential assets that totaled $500 million in the Central and Southeast regions. Prior to working in the ORE Department of Wells Fargo, Mr. Johnson was a Director in Wachovia Bank’s Real Estate Capital Markets division. He spent over 10 years in that group (1998-2007) and was involved with the origination, deal management and securitization of $5 billion in funded debt transactions during that time. Before joining the CMBS group at Wachovia, Mr. Johnson was an Assistant Vice President in First Union’s Mortgage Banking Group where he underwrote and packaged loans sold to life insurance companies. (1997-1998). Prior to working in the Mortgage Banking Group of First Union, Mr. Johnson was a Stockbroker for PaineWebber where he created, developed and executed short and long term financial strategies for clients. (1995-1996).

Mr. Johnson received a B.A. in Finance and earned his MBA from the University of Notre Dame.


Jaime Leonti

Senior Vice-President
Credit Underwriting

Mr. Leonti is a Senior Vice President of SMC, responsible for credit underwriting. Prior to joining SMC, Mr. Leonti was a senior underwriter with credit approval authority at Wells Fargo Bank. In addition to his underwriting responsibilities at Wells Fargo, Mr. Leonti was responsible for training junior staff members and assisting in the asset management and servicing of portfolio loans. Previously, Mr. Leonti spent over 8 years as a senior underwriter at Deutsche Bank. During his tenure at Deutsche Bank , Mr. Leonti underwrote over $7.0 Billion of commercial mortgages for CMBS execution. Prior to Deutsche Bank, Mr. Leonti spent 7 years at Univest Financial Services and Bank South. In addition to underwriting, Mr. Leonti’s experience includes construction lending/servicing, asset management and CMBS surveillance.

Mr. Leonti received his B.S. in Financial Management from Clemson University.


Craig Picket

Senior Vice-President
Loan Origination

Craig Picket is a Senior Vice President within the national loan origination team of SMC.  He is responsible for sourcing, structuring and closing both fixed and floating rate loans, on all property types, to be held on book or for securitization. Prior to joining SMC, Mr. Picket was an Executive Director at Ladder Capital Finance and prior to that he was a Managing Director in the Real Estate Capital Markets Group at Deutsche Bank.  Mr. Picket holds a B.A. from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst and an M.S. in Real Estate Investment and Development from New York University.


Jamie Ruggiero

Senior Vice President
Loan Origination

Mr. Ruggiero is a Senior Vice President at SMC, responsible for originating, structuring and closing loans on all property types for securitization. Prior to joining SMC, Mr. Ruggiero was a Managing Director at MC Five Mile where he held similar responsibilities. Prior to MC Five Mile, Mr. Ruggiero spent 12 years (2001-2013) at CIBC in their real estate lending department where he was responsible for originating both fixed rate (CMBS) and floating rate loans. Before joining CIBC, Mr. Ruggiero was an associate at UBS and its predecessor company, Paine Webber Real Estate Securities. Mr. Ruggiero started his career at Liberty Property Trust, an office and industrial REIT where he was responsible for leasing the company’s office and industrial portfolio in suburban Maryland.

Mr. Ruggiero received his B.S. from Carnegie Mellon University with a double major in Industrial Management and Spanish.


Gerry Santos

Senior Vice President
Loan Origination

Gerry Santos is a Senior Vice President within the National Loan Origination team of SMC, responsible for sourcing, structuring, and closing loans on all property types for CMBS securitization. Prior to joining SMC, Mr. Santos was an Assistant Relationship Manager at US Bank responsible for portfolio management, CRE underwriting, and sourcing new business opportunities throughout the Southern California market. Prior to US Bank, Mr. Santos launched the Southern California office for Dexia Real Estate Capital Markets (aka Artesia Mortgage Capital) and helped establish and brand the company throughout the west coast. During his 5 years at Dexia, Mr. Santos originated and closed more than $1 billion of CMBS and floating rate loans nationwide. Prior to Dexia, Mr. Santos worked at JP Morgan Mortgage Capital in Los Angeles for 5 years as an associate producer and senior underwriter, closing over $1 billion of CMBS loans nationwide. Prior to JP Morgan, Mr. Santos was the senior underwriter at Merrill Lynch Mortgage Conduit Group in Newport Beach.Mr. Santos holds a B.S. in Management from Pepperdine University and Global Enterprise Management credentials from Universidad Adolfo Ibanez in Santiago, Chile and Oxford University, England.


Michael Stone

Senior Vice-President
Loan Origination

Michael Stone is a Senior Vice President within the loan origination team of SMC, focusing on sourcing, structuring and closing new originations nationwide, through both broker and direct borrower relationships. Prior to joining SMC, Mr. Stone was a Director at Ladder Capital Finance for the previous four and a half years where he was responsible for originating first mortgage CMBS and bridge loans, mezzanine loans, and also acquiring NNN properties. Prior to Ladder, Michael owned his own real estate business in Austin, TX where he focused on sourcing CMBS debt on behalf of various Wall Street firms, raising equity for several Austin based real estate companies, and consulting with private equity firms and developers looking to enhance property operations across their commercial and multifamily real estate portfolios. In addition, Michael has held jobs at Capital Trust (now Blackstone Mortgage Trust), Donaldson, Lufkin & Jenrette, and Nomura. Mr. Stone earned his B.S. in Nutritional Science from Cornell University.


Tim Szalay

Senior Vice-President
Loan Origination

Tim Szalay is a Senior Vice President at SMC, focusing on sourcing new origination nationwide through both broker and direct borrower relationships. Prior to joining SMC, Mr. Szalay was co-founder and managing partner of Peconic Bay Capital which focuses on acquiring multifamily investment properties that have a value-add opportunity. Before co-founding PBC, Mr. Szalay was a Managing Director and Head of the Northeast Team for Deutsche Bank Mortgage Capital, LLC. While at DBMC for 10 years, his origination efforts resulted in over 190 closed transactions totaling over $4 billion dollars. Prior to working at DBMC, Mr. Szalay worked at several New York based local banking institutions. Mr. Szalay focused on the workout of defaulted loans, cleaning up the balance sheets and assisting senior management in returning the banks to a profitable position.

Mr. Szalay holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Communication from the State University of New York at Buffalo and earned his MBA in Banking and Finance from Hofstra University’s Frank G. Zarb School of Business.


Keith Thompson

Senior Vice-President
Loan Origination

Keith Thompson is a Senior Vice President within the National Loan Origination Team of SMC. Mr. Thompson is responsible for sourcing, structuring and closing both fixed and floating rate loans, on all property types, to be held on book or for securitization.

Mr. Thompson has more than 30 years’ experience in the CRE finance industry, including capital markets and life insurance balance sheet lending. For the past 20 years, Mr. Thompson has focused on CMBS execution, most recently with Deutsche Bank Mortgage Capital, LLC as Director/Commercial Real Estate Loan Officer with over $2 billion of fixed rate commercial loan originations. Prior to DBMC, Mr. Thompson was with WMF Capital Corporation and First Union Capital Markets (now known as Wells Fargo) where he was Director/Commercial Real Estate Loan Officer originating in excess of $900 million of fixed rate commercial loans throughout the U.S. Prior to Mr. Thompson’s 20 year stint of CMBS lending, he focused on long term commercial mortgage balance sheet lending for approximately 10 years with two life insurance companies. He was with Equitable of Iowa, which was subsequently acquired by ING, where he was Director of the Northeast as Senior Management. He was solely responsible for all loan closings, managed existing loans, originated approximately $200 million per year and was responsible for all inherited loan workouts in the Northeastern U.S. Mr. Thompson was also with Confederation Life Insurance Company, a Canadian Insurance Company, as Vice President for the East Coast Team, where he was part of a four person team that originated and closed approximately $450 million per year of long term fixed rate balance sheet loans for the entire Eastern U.S.

Mr. Thompson holds a B.B.A from Mississippi State University.