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The Team


Volunteer corps of experienced, dedicated professionals
 
Emily Young, General Counsel 
Emily Young is responsible for ARK's legal issues and advises ARK senior managers andits Board of Directors on a wide array of legal matters.  Emily also works with the senior managers to ensure ARK operates within both state, federal and international laws.  Emily has experience in various fields of law, including real estate and bankruptcy, which enables her to bring unique insight and expertise to ARK.  Emily is currently an attorney at GCG, Inc. and specializes in assisting corporations with their reorganization and restructuring through Chapter 11 proceedings.  Emily has a LL.M. in Tax and J.D. from the University of San Diego and a B.A. from Mount Holyoke College. 
 
Patrick Nee, CTO
Patrick advises ARK on technology, provisioning, and operations, and built our website.  Patrick has engineering degrees from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the Tokyo Institute of Technology, and an MBA from Colombia University. He has worked in software development for twenty years as a founder or as part of the executive management team in ventures including Priceline WebHouse, Yappr.com, and BenefitPort, LLC.  He has lived in Boston, New York, Tokyo, Milan, and Panama City.
 
Patrick Pryor, CFO and Treasurer
Currently works for UBS and is the Head of Shared Services for the Corporate Real Estate & Administrative Services group.  Pat has spent the majority of his career working in various roles related to Real Estate, Controlling and Finance for financial services firms including Morgan Stanley, AIG and Wells Fargo.  Pat has an MBA from Columbia University’s Graduate School of Business and a BA in Economics and Political Science from University of Richmond.  Pat lives on Long Island with his wife Kim and their four children.
 
Ayesha Vera-Yu, CEO and Co-Founder
Prior to ARK, Ayesha was a banker by day and self-taught farmer at night.  In 2006, Ayesha managed the restructuring of a rice farm in the Philippines and effected its turnaround to an organic and integrated farm that produces rice and vegetables, and rears free-range livestock targeting a new customer base.  From 1997 to 2009, Ayesha was with Paribas and then BNP Paribas, where she was involved in the bank’s leverage finance, acquisition finance, and debt syndications activities.  As a Director and business team leader at BNP Paribas, Ayesha led teams that originated, structured, and syndicated large and high profile debt financings to support corporate acquisitions, leverage buy-outs, restructurings and recapitalizations.  She worked with a diverse set of companies ranging from small, middle market to Fortune 500 businesses in various industries including media, entertainment, communications, retail, and general services and manufacturing located in the US, Canada, Brazil, and other parts of Latin America.  Her work helped her develop a keen understanding of the critical elements of a successful business; gave her experience to lead and manage teams effectively; and to launch new initiatives across borders, all which have been key foundations for her work in ARK.   Ayesha received an MBA from Columbia University’s Executive Program and a BA in Biology and Chemistry from Mt. Holyoke College.  Originally from the Philippines, Ayesha lives in New York City. 
 
Jerry Topitzer, Co-Founder
Jerry is a Managing Director in investment banking at JPMorgan where he spent the last 14+ years structuring innovative capital markets transactions, launching new businesses and developing new products for the firm.  He holds two provisional patents for financial services products, has successfully launched two businesses and six new products, and brings his entrepreneurial skills to the launch of ARK.  Jerry earned an MBA from Columbia University and a BA from Haverford College.  Jerry lives in New York City.
 
Pat Topitzer, Director of Operations and Growth Management
Pat brings 20 years of expertise in integrating meaningful quality metrics into widely distinct organizations and assisting non-profit service organizations in a wide variety of settings.  She founded Pat Topitzer Associates, a management consulting firm specializing in quality improvement and growth management.  Her clients ranged from the joint union/management businesses of Fortune 500 companies; local, statewide, national and international voluntary agencies; as well as public child welfare organizations.  Of note is Pat and her colleagues' extensive work with the Navy Family Service Centers network at the Pentagon and throughout the US.  Pat has published widely and offered numerous training courses in the fields of evaluation, outcomes measurement and continuous quality improvement at national and regional conferences since the 1980s.  Pat was the Chief Operating Officer at the Council on Accreditation from 1983 to 1996.  She holds a MS from Columbia University School of Social Work and a BA from Mt. Holyoke College.  She lives in New Haven, CT.  
 
Doris Zahner, Director of Measurement and Evaluation
Dr. Doris Zahner joined the ARK team in 2010 to develop performance metrics to measure the impact and efficacy of ARK's programs. She holds a PhD in Educational Psychology and an MS in Applied Statistics from Teachers College, Columbia University. Her undergraduate degree in psychology is from Cornell University. Currently, Doris is a Measurement Scientist at a not-for-profit organization that specializes in educational assessment. Prior to her position as a Measurement Scientist, Doris was a program director at a not-for-profit licensure and certification firm and helped her clients develop and manage high-stakes licensure and certification examinations. She is an Adjunct Assistant Professor at both Barnard College and Teachers College where she has been teaching courses on statistics since 2002. Doris was also a post-doctoral research associate at the Stevens Institute of Technology where she worked on an NSF-funded research grant studying the use of diagrams in Information Systems design. In her free time, Doris likes to cook, host dinner parties, and travel to tropical destinations to SCUBA dive. Doris lives in New York City with her husband and two cats. 
 
Richard Gray, Board Member
 
For over 30 years, Rick has advised clients in a broad range of complex financial transactions. He has broad experience in U.S. domestic and international financial transactions, representing both lenders and borrowers, in working capital financings, asset-based financings, acquisition and other leveraged financings, letter of credit and other trade financings, workouts, project finance and derivatives. These transactions have involved businesses in a wide variety of industries, including media & telecommunications, technology, chemicals, manufacturing, utilities, oil & gas, mining, automobiles, satellites, financial services and construction.
Rick frequently speaks and writes about banking and related matters and has published articles in Butterworths Journal of International Banking and Financial Law (for which he was a member of the Editorial Board), the International Financial Law Review and the Loan Syndications & Trading Association (LSTA). He has been recognized by Chambers as a leading banking and finance lawyer for Latin America and the United States and by International Who’s Who of Business Lawyers (Banking).
Rick  is also an associate in SIEPR (Stanford Institute for Economic Policy) and a member of the Asia Society.
 
 
 
ARK Philippines, Local Coordinator