Our Team

The Ascendant Compliance Management Team

Ascendant’s core strength is our people. Our team members have complementary and diverse backgrounds that enable us to partner with you to make compliance a source of strength.

Jon Higgins

President, Director

Jon is President and Director of Ascendant Compliance Management. Formerly Jon was Chief Operating Officer (COO) and acting President at National Regulatory Services (NRS). During his 17 years' experience in the compliance industry, he created the first Investment Advisor database and research tool housing public information from the Form ADV on over 28,000 Investment Advisers. He also engineered the Certified Compliance Program (CCP), a compliance educational training program. He is the recipient of the Public Service Award from the State of Connecticut presented by the Secretary of the State, Susan Bysiewicz. He is an avid supporter of non-profit organizations throughout the Northwest Corner of Connecticut to help children and families in need.

Jacqueline Hallihan

Executive Director

Jackie is a Director of Ascendant Compliance Management and has over 25 years' regulatory and risk management experience. She was the founder of National Regulatory Services (NRS) which started the compliance resource business and served as its President for over 20 years. She also founded the National Society of Compliance Professionals (NSCP), a non-profit organization for compliance officers, staff and lawyers serving the compliance industry. It now boasts over 2000 memberships. Jackie has been a leading speaker to compliance professionals, including in-house training programs and various other industry association conferences, and has received numerous industry awards.

Jackie also serves as Director, Clerk of the New England Broker Dealer Investment Adviser Association (NEBDIAA), a non-profit organization, incorporated in 1997. The purpose of NEBDIAA is to provide a forum for the professional exchange of information among investment advisers, broker dealers, and persons who provide services to investment advisers and broker dealers, and to direct communication among its members which will improve their ability to serve the needs of their respective clients. The forum will help NEBDIAA’s members meet the increased regulatory demands placed on investment advisers, broker dealers, and persons who provide services to investment advisers and broker dealers.

Samantha Addonizio

Senior Consultant

Samantha recently joined Ascendant as a Compliance Services Consultant. From 2013 to 2015, she was the Chief Compliance Officer and General Counsel at Saguenay Strathmore Capital, a global investment management firm. Previous to this, Samantha was the Director of Compliance at VelocityShares, LLC and its affiliates. Prior to joining VelocityShares in 2010, Ms. Addonizio was the Compliance Officer at Lone Pine Capital, LLC, an investment adviser to private investment vehicles. Before that, she was a Compliance Officer at AIG Financial Products Corp. (2004-2007) and at Ramius Capital Group, LLC (2000-2004).

Samantha has held the following FINRA licenses: General Securities Principal, Registered Options Principal and General Securities Representative. She received a B.A. from Lehigh University in 1991 and a J.D. from Pace University School of Law in 1994.

Samantha assists Ascendant clients with various compliance services including annual reviews, business practice reviews and compliance auditing.

Owen Beck

Director Client Services, ACM

Owen joined the Ascendant team in October of 2015 as the Director of Client Services for ACM and is on the front lines of customer support for users of our compliance software. Since graduating with a BS from the University of Vermont in 2008, he has worked in a variety of customer service roles, and returns to that capacity after a brief stint in the healthcare industry. Along with system administration duties, he provides technical assistance and training services to ACM subscribers and serves as a direct link between users and the development team.

Matt J. Calabro

Director of Institutional Wealth Manager Services
New York

Matt leverages his compliance and operations experience in the investment management industry to assist advisers and investment companies in advancing the effectiveness of their compliance programs. His experience gives him a broad view of an organization’s business, enabling him to develop compliance solutions that support an organization’s strategic goals. Matt has developed and enhanced annual compliance review processes for investment advisers, mutual funds and broker-dealers. Further, he has implemented due diligence oversight programs for third parties, including investment sub-advisers, transfer agents, fund administrators and technology providers. At Ascendant, Matt assists organizations with annual compliance reviews, risk assessments and compliance policy development.

Matt is an experienced chief compliance officer, having served as CCO for registered mutual funds, investment advisers and a family of UCITS funds. Before joining Ascendant, Matt was Deputy CCO at Delaware Investments, where he led the daily activities of the firm’s compliance department covering advisory, fund and distribution activity. Under his leadership, Delaware implemented specific improvements in its guideline compliance, advertising review and Code of Ethics programs. Prior to Delaware, Matt spent 20 years in Raymond James’ investment advisory business, where he led mutual fund operations. While there, he implemented and upgraded controls, processes and technology and also served as the first full-time CCO to the mutual funds following the adoption of the Compliance Rule. Matt began his career as an auditor at Price Waterhouse.

Matt earned his B.S. in Accounting and his Masters of Accountancy from the University of Florida – Fisher School of Accounting. He is a certified public accountant.

Lisa Caruso

Senior Compliance Manager

Lisa has been in the compliance consulting industry since 1993, working with both broker-dealer and investment adviser firms in the preparation and filing of their registration documents and managing their on-going compliance concerns. Lisa assists broker-dealer clients with all aspects of the FINRA new membership application as well as the continuing membership application process, including developing business plans and written supervisory policies and procedures.

She has extensive knowledge with the IARD and CRD filings that include Forms BD, BR, ADV, U4 and U5. Lisa also assists firms with annual updating amendments, annual renewal filings and other required regulatory filings (DTCC, OATS, SIPC, MSRB, etc.). She has extensive knowledge & experience with both the broker-dealer and investment adviser state registration filings requirements as well as the post-registration requirements. Lisa also provides consulting services, annual compliance program reviews and risk assessments to Ascendant's clients. Before joining Ascendant Compliance Management, Lisa was a Senior Consultant at National Regulatory Services.

Michael Chiappetta

Senior Marketing Communications Manager

Mike joined the Ascendant team in 2015 after more than a decade in major media. He was most recently a senior writer for FOX Sports. He has worked as a professional writer and editor for global brands including NBC, AOL and Vox Media. Prior to that, he worked crafting copy for leading companies in the entertainment and personal care products industries. Mike writes content for the Ascendant Compliance Manager, assists with Ascendant’s ComplianceCasts and ComplianceCasts Minutes, creates and edits whitepapers, articles, reports and press releases, and holds responsibility for several other marketing and communications functions.

Sally Cole

Manager, Client Accounts

Sally joined Ascendant Compliance Management in 2007 with over 12 years' compliance experience, six of these years with conferences and educational services and six years in accounting. Sally provides the leadership and organization of compliance educational programs, both live and on-line, to further the understanding of compliance rules and regulations, by offering interactive training programs which clarify regulatory issues. Sally is also responsible for managing Ascendant’s administrative systems, organizing and maintaining all clients’ accounts. Prior to joining Ascendant, she was National Conference Manager for National Regulatory Services.

Roger Crain

Director of Client Services

Roger manages and nurtures Ascendant’s interaction with clients and prospective clients. While the overall goal is to find, attract, and win new clients, Client Services deploys a company-wide business strategy that embraces all client-facing departments with the goal of superior services and maximum retention. Roger ensures that Client Services has an in-depth knowledge of each customer and assures that client needs are met in ways that improve their satisfaction. Before joining Ascendant at its inception in late 2006 Roger was a Regional Sales Manager at National Regulatory Services and its Top Sales Person for 2006. Outside of the office, Roger sits on the Board of Directors of The Bissell Fund, which pays medical bills for those in need, and the Housatonic Child Care Center which provides affordable child care in the northwest corner of Connecticut.

Brian DeDonato

Director of Trading Analytics, ACM; Consultant

Brian joined Ascendant in 2014. He is responsible for driving product design, product development and business development for TradeSentry™, Ascendant’s post-trade compliance and surveillance system. Brian specializes in compliance issues related to best execution, side-by-side management, and fair dealing.

Prior to Ascendant, Brian held positions at Putnam Investments, Brown Brothers Harriman, and EnerNOC. He holds a B.S. in Business Administration from the University of Massachusetts and is a Chartered Alternative Investment Analyst (CAIA).

Adam DiPaolo

Section 13 Reporting Manager, Senior Consultant, Associate General Counsel

Adam designs practical solutions to manage regulatory challenges faced by hedge funds, private equity funds, funds of funds, and other investment advisers. In addition to providing compliance services such as annual compliance program reviews, risk assessments and acquisition due diligence, Adam established Ascendant’s Section 13 reporting capabilities and EDGAR filing agent services. He drafts and maintains corporate filings ranging from Forms ADV and PF to Forms 13F and 13H.

Adam also provides cybersecurity risk management services to Ascendant’s clients as part of Ascendant’s technology team – ranging from network vulnerability scanning to onsite cybersecurity risk assessments to assistance in implementing the NIST cybersecurity framework. He is a Certified Information Systems Auditor (CISA®), and Certified in Risk and Information Systems Control (CRISC™).

Adam practiced corporate law prior to joining Ascendant and has an extensive background in both the public and private sectors. Prior to Ascendant, Adam served as Assistant General Counsel at Capgemini – one of the world’s largest providers of Consulting, Technology and Outsourcing services. As in-house counsel to a global consulting business, he implemented pragmatic strategies to resolve complex legal and regulatory issues .

Separate from his consulting work for Ascendant’s industry clients, Adam is Associate General Counsel to Ascendant.

Adam earned his B.A. from Pitzer College, his J.D. degree from UC Berkeley – Boalt Hall School of Law, and his LL.M. in Taxation from New York University School of Law. He is a member of the New York State Bar. Adam is fluent in French and Spanish.

Allison Fraser

Director of RIC Services
New York

Allison provides compliance consulting services to investment advisers, registered investment companies and private investment funds, including conducting annual compliance program reviews and testing, developing risk assessments and preparing for SEC examinations. She also assists clients with drafting policies and procedures and preparing regulatory filings.

On behalf of Ascendant, Allison served as the Chief Compliance Officer for a family of alternative funds registered under the Investment Company Act of 1940. Prior to joining Ascendant, Allison served as a Senior Vice President of Compliance at Northern Trust Investments, Inc. (“NTI”), the asset management subsidiary of The Northern Trust Company. In this capacity, she managed and administered the compliance due diligence program for NTI’s Multi-Manager Solutions and Outsourced Chief Investment Officer businesses. Allison also was the Chief Compliance Officer of two registered funds of hedge funds advised by NTI as well as a member of the funds’ Pricing and Disclosure Committees. Before joining NTI, Allison served as the Compliance Director for General Motors Asset Management, where she assisted with the administration of the compliance program for this registered investment adviser.

Allison earned a B.S. from the University of Vermont and a Legal Assistant Certificate from The George Washington University. Allison has also obtained the designation as a Certified Fraud Examiner (CFE). The CFE credential denotes proven expertise in fraud prevention, detection and deterrence.

Deb Galli

Director of Conferences & Education

Deb is a dedicated meeting and event planner with over 20 years of experience in corporate meeting planning, conferences, fundraisers, and social events, with strengths in marketing, event creation, planning and execution. Joining the Ascendant team in 2016, Deb is responsible for the company’s conference programs.

Prior to joining Ascendant, Deb was a Marketing Manager with The Hartford supporting the Group Benefits National Sales Team, Sponsorships, and Conferences. She has also held roles in project management, creative services, and administrative management for marketing, advertising, creative and sales organizations. She has managed fundraising galas and golf tournaments for nonprofit organizations including The U.S. Olympic Committee, The Village for Families & Children, and Gifts of Love/Community Farm of Simsbury. As owner of her own event planning company, she has been the main point of contact for events from 2-1,500 guests, managed a catering company, participated in startup business ventures, and has overseen countless weddings and private parties.

John J. Gentile

Director of Private Fund Manager Services, Director of Broker-Dealer Services

John J. Gentile is responsible for overseeing various types of broker-dealer and investment adviser consulting engagements, including conducting SEC/FINRA internal control reviews, anti-money laundering testing, written supervisory policy and procedures testing, and other consultation services.

John is a frequent speaker at industry conferences on various compliance topics, including "Effective Supervision," "Large Firm Testing,” FINRA Supervisory Control Rules” and "Anti Money Laundering Requirements for Broker Dealers under the PATRIOT Act." In 1987 John joined the SEC as a Securities Compliance Examiner, becoming a Branch Chief in 1991. He became Assistant Regional Director in 1993, supervising a team of twenty broker dealer managers and examiners. He also planned and conducted financial, operational, and sales practice examinations of the largest broker dealers and was among those responsible for a review of hedge funds' impact on broker dealer internal controls. Before joining the SEC, John was a Financial Damage Analyst with PaineWebber Inc. Most recently from 2000-2007 John was an Executive Consultant, Broker Dealer Services, at National Regulatory Services. John has an MBA from Fordham University and a BS in Finance from Central Connecticut State University. From 1995 to 2002, John was also a member of the Securities Industry Continuing Education East Coast Content Committee.

Dan Haynes

Senior Consultant
St Louis

Dan Haynes joined Ascendant in June 2017 as a consultant providing consulting services to investment advisers, registered investment companies and private investment funds.

Prior to joining Ascendant, Dan was the Chief Compliance Officer for Summit Strategies Group. Summit is a large institutional pension consultant in the Midwest with multiple private funds – ultimately around $180 billion in assets under administration. Dan implemented several aspects of, and oversaw the entire compliance program. His time there resulted in experience in NFA/CFTC registration and regulation, Private Fund oversight, and the pension consulting world overall.

Prior to Summit, Dan was the Chief Compliance Officer for Buckingham Asset Management and BAM Advisor Services. During his extensive time there, Dan oversaw not just all aspects of their compliance programs, but also provided guidance and education to over 150 RIAs across the country. Most of Dan’s time was spent overseeing acquisitions (and subsequent expansion of remote offices), implementing rules under the Dodd-Frank Act, and guiding his firms and others through examinations.

Dan is a graduate of the University of Illinois – Springfield where he earned his Master’s in Business Administration. He obtained his bachelor’s degree in finance from Millikin University. Dan has spoken at several conferences, on topics such as effective examination management, social media, and elevating compliance leadership.

Dan is also a member of the Charles Schwab Compliance Advisory Board. Through this role, Dan provides feedback to Charles Schwab on a myriad compliance and business-related items.

Catherine Hotaling

Product Development, ACM

Catherine joined the Ascendant team in May 2014. She is currently responsible for leading product development for the Ascendant Compliance Manager (ACM), a comprehensive software tool designed to manage and analyze compliance and operational risks for firms in the financial services industry. In this role she manages a team of engineers, UX designers, project managers, and interns.

Catherine earned a B.A. in Political Science with a concentration in Middle Eastern Studies from Hobart and William Smith Colleges.

Neil Kennedy

Client Services

Neil has been involved in the financial services industry for more than 24 years. He started as a financial wholesaler at Boston-based MFS Investment Management and segued into a position as a senior business consultant with Curian Capital, where he helped financial advisory firms streamline their business, increase revenue, and the value of their service and expertise. Prior to joining Ascendant Neil was the Chief Investment Strategist, and CCO of Charter Oak Investment Network LLC. Neil was responsible for the overall construction and review of client portfolios. As the investment committee chairman, he provided members with a macro level, quantitative analysis of market and sector risk, along with identifying changing leadership themes. He successfully completed the Uniform Investment Adviser Law Examination (Series 65).

Neil serves as the President of the Shepaug Student Project Foundation Inc. a nonprofit organization based in Washington, Connecticut.

Korrine Kohm

Director of Retail Wealth Manager Services
New York

Prior to joining Ascendant Compliance Management, Korrine was the Chief Compliance Officer and Head of Operations at Estabrook Capital Management, where she was responsible for all compliance functions of this SEC-registered, $2.1B investment advisory firm. Korrine began her regulatory career while working at Allied Irish Bank (NY) in the Operations Department where she was a key member of AIB’s Compliance Committee, responsible for ensuring compliance with Federal and State regulations. An active member of the National Society of Compliance Professionals for over 10 years, Korrine earned her Investment Adviser Certified Compliance Professional (IACCPTM ) designation in 2006, is a member of the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners, and obtained her Certified Fraud Examiner designation.

In addition to her experience in compliance and banking, Korrine began the 16-week intensive training course in Quantico, Virginia, to become a Special Agent with the Federal Bureau of Investigation. She has particular experience in crafting customized policies and procedures, developing and implementing compliance programs, conducting on-site compliance reviews, acquisition due diligence reviews, risk assessments and mock SEC examinations. She routinely counsels clients on various regulatory matters, including SEC registration issues, social media and advertising, policies related to diminished financial capacity, disclosures and the annual review process. She is a graduate of St. John’s University where she obtained both her B.A. in History and M.A. in Government and Politics. Korrine also attended Trinity College, Dublin, pursuing Irish history and literary courses. Korrine is a frequent speaker at industry conferences, with a particular focus on behavioral ethics and making compliance programs more effective.

Melissa Maleri

Director of Marketing

Melissa joined the Ascendant team in 2010, after spending 8 years in the sales and marketing capacity in the hospitality industry. She was most recently National Sales Manager for InterContinental Hotels, Boston. Melissa brings a passion for excellence and unparalleled customer service to her role in marketing. She has received a Masters degree, with distinction, in Business Administration with concentrations in Marketing and International Business from DeVry University, Keller School of Management, and received her bachelor of arts degree in English from Wheaton College in 2002. Melissa also studied abroad at the University of Sydney in Sydney, Australia. She has served on the Steering Committee for the MS Cure Fund and has been involved in "Light the Night" and "Race for the Cure".

Keith Marks

Executive Director, General Counsel

Keith provides consulting, annual compliance program reviews, risk assessments, on-site mock examinations and registration services to Ascendant’s clients, including hedge fund managers, private equity managers, institutional advisers, wrap fee managers, Internet-based advisers, wealth managers and financial planners. He regularly speaks to compliance professionals and advisory firm staff at in-house training programs and at various industry association conferences. Keith produced Ascendant’s Form ADV Part 2 Template, of which the firm provided over 6000 free copies in 2010-11, to assist the industry transition. Keith has been published seven times in the Schwab Compliance Review. Separate from his compliance consulting, Keith is General Counsel of Ascendant.

Before joining Ascendant, Keith helped create and deliver the IACCP designation as Director of Investment Advisor Services at National Regulatory Services (1999-2007). Keith practiced law as an Associate with Day, Berry & Howard LLP (now Day Pitney LLP), 1997-99. He also served as law clerk for the Honorable Francis M. McDonald in Connecticut’s Supreme Court (1996-97) and the Honorable Barry R. Schaller in Connecticut’s Appellate Court (1995-96).

Keith earned his Juris Doctor degree Magna Cum Laude from Western New England College School of Law (1995), and his Bachelor of Arts Magna Cum Laude from the University of Connecticut (1992) with majors in Political Science and English.

Keith also serves as President of the New England Broker-Dealer Investment Adviser Association (NEBDIAA), a non-profit organization incorporated in 1997. The purpose of NEBDIAA is to provide a forum to help NEBDIAA’s members meet the increased regulatory demands placed on investment advisers, broker-dealers, and persons who provide services to investment advisers and broker dealers.

Diego Medina

Vice President of Engineering, ACM
New York

Diego has enjoyed turning customers' ideas into applications since 2001 across a number of industries including finance, real-estate and e-commerce. He loves writing secured, real-time web applications that help you get things done. Diego is a committer to the open source Lift project and is always ready to help its community members get the most out of Lift.

Melanie Mendoza

Senior Consultant
New York

Melanie joins Ascendant Compliance Management as a compliance services consultant with over 30 years of investment compliance industry experience. At Ascendant, she provides consulting services to investment advisers, registered investment companies, and private investment funds to include conducting annual compliance program reviews and testing, developing risk assessments and preparing for SEC examinations. She also assists clients with website content, drafting policies and procedures, and preparing regulatory filings.

Prior to joining Ascendant, Melanie served as a Senior Corporate Compliance Officer at ICMA-Retirement Corporation. There she managed the sub-adviser due diligence program and the 40 Act board reporting process. Other responsibilities included updating Form ADV and brochures, maintenance of the Investment Advisor Manual, writing of policies and procedures, and quarterly internal compliance review activities that included AML, derivatives, liquidity, and valuation. Melanie also helped structure and write policies for the new internally managed investment activities.

Previously, Melanie was the Chief Compliance Officer for Credo Capital Management. There, she developed the firm’s compliance program, building out the internal trading and trade settlement platform, and designing the operational and administrative process for client accounting and client service. In the past, she held the positions of Trader and Portfolio Administrator at Brown Capital Management, where she traded and supported both the domestic equity and international equity investment teams. During her career, she held the position of Registered Associate at Alex Brown, where she traded and administered restricted securities, corporate buybacks, and venture capital distributions; and the position of Senior Registered Sales Associate with E.F. Hutton, PaineWebber and UBS Securities, where she worked with high net worth individuals, institutions, and wrap account platforms. In addition, Melanie’s tenure at UBS Securities included experience in back office operations & audits, compliance, and anti-money laundering programs.

Melanie earned a BA in Psychology from Notre Dame of Maryland University. She completed the curriculum of the FINRA/Wharton Certified Regulatory and Compliance Professional program.

Kelley Merwin

Director of Content, ACM

Kelley joined Ascendant in 2017 as Director of Content for ACM. In this role, she acts a liaison between the technology team and consulting force to identify, analyze and implement new content creation opportunities. This can mean anything from drafting new policy templates to developing completely new product offerings to meet changing regulatory requirements. She is passionate about making Compliance more efficient and scalable through ACM and enjoys contributing content on new regulations through the Ascendant blog.

She joined Ascendant from the Legal & Regulatory Group of Bridgewater Associates, a multibillion dollar hedge fund in Westport, CT. Prior to that, she was a project manager at The Capital Markets Company (Capco) for large-scale initiatives across Front and Middle Office at top investment banks and wealth managers, working in both New York and Bangalore, India.

She graduated summa cum laude, Phi Beta Kappa from Barnard College of Columbia University, with a degree in East Asian Studies and a minor in English literature. She is proficient in Mandarin Chinese.

Ameer Mian

Trading Analyst
New York

Ameer joined Ascendant in March of 2015 as a Trading Analyst where he is responsible for the development of quantitative testing for ACM Trade Blotter clients. He also serves as a product manager for the Code of Ethics Manager, a pre-clearance portal for access persons. Ameer holds a B.S. in Mathematics and Economics from the University of British Columbia and has completed the CFA certification program.

Mike Mirantz

Manager, Client Services

Mike has been working in the regulatory compliance industry since 2002 as a customer service manager, ensuring delivery of expert, customized individual client service. Mike divides his time between our New York and Connecticut offices, working as a liaison between consultants, sales, and education to help develop and provide customized solutions for Ascendant clients. He works closely with the Ascendant Conference and Education Department in developing, marketing and promoting our educational offerings. Before joining Ascendant, Mike was a Regional Sales Manager at National Regulatory Services.

In his leisure time, Mike serves as a volunteer with Cornell Cooperative Extension 4-H groups, is a member and past-president of Putnam Speaks Toastmasters Club and is an active volunteer with The American Red Cross of Greater New York.

Jason Morton

Advisor – ACM

Dr. Jason Morton advises ACM on applied mathematics, statistics and quantitative modeling. He is a tenured professor of Mathematics and Statistics at Pennsylvania State University. He has published papers in mathematics, mathematical finance, statistics, machine learning, computational complexity and quantum physics. His research has included factor modelling, credit derivative pricing and the foundations of deep learning.

He holds a Ph.D. in Mathematics from U.C. Berkeley, an M.A. in Economics from the University of Michigan, and an A.B. from Harvard University. In addition to his academic experience, Dr. Morton worked for Credit Suisse in Mergers and Acquisitions and Technology Investment Banking, seeded hedge funds and managed an endowment.

Tim Nelson

Chief Technology Officer, ACM
New York

Linda Noyes

Senior Compliance Manager

Linda has been in the compliance consulting industry since 2004, working with investment adviser firms in the preparation and filing of their registration documents and with compliance concerns. She has extensive familiarity with the IARD and CRD filings that includes Forms ADV, BR, U4 and U5. Linda assists firms with annual updating amendments and other types of filings as they may be required to submit. She has extensive experience with all aspects of state registration filings that begins with the application process and continues through to post-registration filings. Linda also provides consulting services, annual compliance program reviews and risk assessments to Ascendant's clients. Before joining Ascendant Compliance Management, Linda was an Investment Adviser State Services Consultant at National Regulatory Services.

Andrew Rodriguez

Director of Sales

Andrew joined the Ascendant team in January 2016 to lead sales and business development efforts for its industry leading-suite of software tools. Coming to Ascendant with a wealth of experience within the software industry, he spends most of his time building relationships with clients, developing strategic partnerships and identifying new business opportunities for Ascendant Compliance Manager. Andrew splits his time between Connecticut and New York City.

Andrew got his start in software in 2010 as the founder and CEO of a real-estate startup that provided college students and young professionals with a secure, no-fee listings platform. After moving on from the business in 2014, he spent time as a top sales executive at a digital marketing firm in New York City. Andrew is a graduate of Northeastern University with a Bachelor’s of Science Degree in History and a minor in Business Administration. In his spare time, he enjoys playing hockey, skiing and hiking.

Neil Visnapuu

Director, ACM

Neil Visnapuu is the Director of the Ascendant Compliance Manager (ACM), a web-based tool created to manage and analyze compliance and operation risks.

Neil has been responsible for the growth and development of the RegTech software platform ACM since its inception. ACM, a SaaS enterprise solution for managing compliance functions for financial services firms, currently serves 300 financial services firms with $13 trillion USD analyzed. Policies, testing, risk management and reporting are just some of the features supported within a distributed, secure environment. The specific pain point targeted in an ACM engagement is the proliferation of documents and spreadsheets that encapsulate a firm's 206(4)-7 and/or MiFiD requirements. Designed to streamline and integrate disparate compliance content, ACM offers flexibility and structure in an accessible, modern, audit-ready framework.

Neil has spent two decades in technology and financial services, with additional regulatory and CapEx roles in alternative energy sectors in Asia, Europe, and the U.S. He has experience developing strategies, teams, firms, and business plans, with particular affinity for an engineering and homegrown development culture.

Eugenie Warner

Senior Consultant, Content Expert, Associate General Counsel

Eugenie joined the Ascendant team in late 2011, and brings her legal background to the compliance arena. Eugenie was a business litigator in California, including as an associate at K&L Gates LLP and Loeb and Loeb LLP.

Eugenie focused on consumer protection defense, primarily against federal and state regulatory agencies in administrative, state, and federal tribunals. Additionally, Eugenie managed cases and litigated in the fields of intellectual property, employment, civil contempt, unfair business practices, and deceptive advertising.

Eugenie earned a B.A. in Diplomacy and World Affairs from Occidental College in Los Angeles; and a J.D. from the University of Connecticut School of Law, where she was on the Connecticut Law Review; clerked for the United States District Court, District of Connecticut; clerked for Connecticut’s Office of the Attorney General, Antitrust Department; worked in the Criminal Clinic, Appellate Division; and studied at the University of Dublin Trinity College School of Law, for which she received UCONN’s Elihu Burritt academic success award. Currently, Eugenie’s compliance work includes, for example: annual reviews, risk assessments, mock SEC exams, and other tailored analyses; detailed registration and reporting guidance; assistance to CCOs and other C-suite executives, to enhance their respective compliance programs and risk management; and other tailored services.

Eugenie serves as a Trustee of the Salisbury Association; as a member of the Salisbury Land Trust (for which she was Chair of the Accreditation Committee); and as an alternate member of the Zoning Board of Appeals. Eugenie is licensed as an attorney in California, New York, and Florida, as well as Authorized In House Counsel in Connecticut. Separate from her compliance consulting work for Ascendant’s investment adviser clients, Eugenie is Associate General Counsel to Ascendant.

E.J. Yerzak

Director of Cyber IT Services

E.J. assists advisers to hedge funds, private equity funds, funds of funds, pension advisers, and retail investment advisers in bridging the gap between compliance and cybersecurity risk management. In addition to conducting compliance program annual reviews, risk assessments, and mock exams, E.J. is is Director of Cyber IT Services of the technology team at Ascendant which provides cybersecurity consulting services to Ascendant’s clients. In this capacity, E.J. assists firms in assessing and managing their cybersecurity risk - from network vulnerability scanning and penetration testing to onsite cybersecurity assessments and assistance in implementing the NIST cybersecurity framework.

E.J. has authored articles and alerts on emerging regulatory and technology issues, and is regularly requested to speak as a cybersecurity expert at industry conferences and events throughout the country. He is a Certified Information Systems Auditor (CISA®), Certified Information Security Manager (CISM®), and Certified in Risk and Information Systems Control (CRISC™).

E.J. holds a Bachelor of Arts in both English and Computer Science, Magna Cum Laude, from Colgate University, a Master of Science degree in Computer Information Technology from Central Connecticut State University, as well as a J.D., Magna Cum Laude, from Quinnipiac University School of Law. He is licensed to practice at the State Bar of Connecticut and in federal court before the U.S. District Court for the District of Connecticut.

Dianna Zentner

Senior Consultant
San Francisco

Dianna provides compliance services to investment advisers, registered investment companies and private investment funds, including annual compliance program reviews, risk assessments and preparation for SEC examinations.

She also assists clients with drafting policies and procedures, as well as preparing regulatory filings. Prior to joining Ascendant, Dianna served as the director of the global manager oversight and due diligence program at Russell Investments. She was responsible for the development and management of manager oversight from a compliance and operational risk perspective. Before that, Dianna was the chief investment officer and director of research at SunGard Advisor Technologies, where she was responsible for developing and leading the research and due diligence of third-party money managers (including hedge funds and fund of hedge funds). In addition, she directed the asset consulting processes for institutional and high net worth clients, which included the creation of investment policies, asset allocation proposals, manager selection, portfolio comparisons, implementation recommendations, and performance measurement analysis. She also designed the technology to ensure consistency of information delivery to internal and external customers.

From 1991 to 1995, she was a portfolio manager with Page Mill Asset Management. Prior to that, she was a sales associate with Kemper Securities Corporation from 1989 to 1991, as well as at First Boston Corporation from 1988 to 1989. During her career she has held FINRA licenses 7, 24, and 63, as well as the Certified Investment Management Analyst designation.

Dianna earned a B.A. in Management from St. Mary’s College of California.

Work For Ascendant

Ascendant Compliance Management Inc, the nation’s leader in compliance innovation for hedge funds, broker dealers and investment advisors, is expanding our consulting department. Having experienced tremendous growth Ascendant is looking for motivated compliance professionals seeking challenges and opportunities. This is a great opportunity to join a successful, growing firm in a fast paced and dynamic environment.



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Ascendant works together with clients to identify and assess critical needs through customized plans. If you need assistance with compliance functions, regulatory services, cybersecurity or technology tools, we’d love to speak with you.