David H. Reed

David H. Reed is founder and principal of Shepard Capital Partners and is currently making and managing equity and junior capital investments for the firm.  Since 2002, Mr. Reed has led or participated in over $300 million in fundings for buyouts, startups and growth capital across multiple industries.

Mr. Reed received a Bachelor’s in Business Administration with a concentration in Accounting from Emory University in 1987, and completed the Sloan Fellows Program at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Sloan School of Management in 2002, where he earned a Masters of Business Administration.   Prior to Sloan, he was a CPA in the State of Florida and was involved in three successful start-ups in the business services/consulting field.

Mr. Reed is a co-founder of The Sustany Foundation, Housing First Steps Forward, Inc. and CRISP of Tampa and serves on the Boards of Bankers Financial Corporation and Precision Build Companies, among others.  He is a member of the Florida Chapter of YPO Gold, and a former member of the Board of Governors of the Sloan Fellows Program at MIT.

John DeLaVergne

John DeLaVergne

John DeLaVergne is a native of Tampa, FL where he has been practicing commercial real estate for over fifteen years and is currently President of the boutique commercial real estate brokerage & advisory firm DeLaVergne & Company. John graduated from Florida Atlantic University with a BS in Business Administration and a minor in Real Estate. He is a member of the Florida Gulfcoast Commercial Association of Realtors as well as the Commercial Investment Real Estate Institute where he has earned the prestigious designation of Certified Commercial Investment Member (CCIM). John has been involved in successful commercial real estate transactions valued at over $150,000,000 since heading up the firm 8 years ago and $500,000,000 in his career. John is actively involved in local civic and social clubs, such as Tampa Chamber of Commerce (member of the Board, chair of the Workforce Housing Committee), Leadership Tampa Alumni (Leadership Tampa Class of 2015, Sponsor Committee Chair and Cabinet Member), Tampa Downtown Partnership, Westshore Alliance, Economic Club of Tampa, and Ye Mystic Krewe of Gasparilla (former 2nd Lieutenant and Board Member). John also serves on The Salvation Army Tampa Area Command Advisory Board where he was the 2020-2021 Board Chair and is Secretary of the Board for Housing First Steps Forward, a non-for-profit he helped start that focuses on housing the chronically homeless and providing them with wrap around services.

Michael Merrill

Michael Merrill’s forty-five year career includes senior executive leadership positions in both the private and public sectors. He recently retired after serving ten years as the County Administrator of Hillsborough County, Florida reporting to an elected seven-member county commission as the chief executive responsible for all day-to-day operations of a major urban county with a $6+ billion budget and over 5,000 employees who provide wide-ranging municipal services to a population in excess of 1.2 million, including services to homeless residents and military veterans. For twenty years prior to becoming County Administrator, Mr. Merrill was responsible for the issuance of municipal debt to pay for the capital and infrastructure needs of the County. Following that assignment, he served for two years as an Assistant County Administrator.

Mr. Merrill’s private sector experience includes seven years with a large U.S. national bank where he managed the commercial and residential real estate holdings of a major REIT over a four-year period, followed by three years as Vice President of Public and Corporate finance. He then served briefly for one year as Vice President of Corporate Finance with a regional investment banking firm before taking an assignment in Europe where he served as Financial Controller and a Director of the French and UK subsidiaries of a U.S. capital goods manufacturer.

Mr. Merrill had the opportunity during his tenure as County Administrator to serve with amazing individuals and community non-profits who shared one goal: to do everything possible, and sometimes doing the impossible, to improve the lives of the County’s homeless individuals and families. This rewarding experience enabled him to meet and work closely with the principals and directors of Steps Forward, and he is very grateful for the opportunity to now serve on the Board with these dedicated servant leaders.

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