William E. Cole, Jr.
Mr. Cole retired in June 2006 as a partner in the assurance and advisory business services practice of the Baltimore office of Ernst & Young. During his 34-year career in public accounting, he served both public and privately-owned businesses, several of which have multi-location or multinational operations.
Mr. Cole has extensive experience serving clients in the technology, manufacturing and distribution, food processing and health care industries. He has served a variety of clients ranging in size from $5 million to over $1 billion in sales. Mr. Cole's public company clients have included The Advisory Board Company, American Woodmark Corporation, The Corporate Executive Board Company, Gene Logic Inc., Laureate Education, Inc. (formerly Sylvan Learning Systems), McCormick & Company, Wise Metals Group and XO Communications, Inc. He also served as the coordinating partner on numerous privately owned companies and as the independent review partner on a variety of companies including Avatech Solutions, Inc., Capital Blue Cross, Digene Corporation, Grotech Capital Group, Meridian Medical Technologies, Questmark Partners, RWD Technologies, Telecommunication Systems, Inc. and USinternetworking.
In addition to his audit and financial reporting experience, Mr. Cole has assisted his clients with numerous public offerings, including IPOs and debt and secondary equity offerings, consulted on acquisitions and divestitures, and assisted with financing and capitalization issues. He has extensive experience in acquisition due diligence, SEC reporting and accounting for complex equity structures.
Mr. Cole was also responsible for Ernst & Young’s Maryland Entrepreneur of the Year program from its inception in 1987 through 2006. In this role, he identified and interviewed dozens of highly successful entrepreneurs, produced the annual awards banquet and promoted local award recipients to the national program resulting in a number of national award recipients and finalists.
Mr. Cole currently serves on the Board of Directors and as Chair of the Audit Committee of FBR Mutual Funds, a family of ten mutual funds located in Arlington, Va. He has been designated as the financial expert member of the Board in accordance with the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2003. Mr. Cole is also a member of the Dean’s Advisory Council for the Robert H. Smith School of Business and is a member of the Board of Advisors and the Inner Circle for the Dingman Center for Entrepreneurship at the University of Maryland College Park. He also serves as an economic evaluator for the Maryland Industrial Partnerships Program, is a member of the American Institute of CPAs and the Maryland Association of CPAs.
Mr. Cole graduated with a bachelor’s degree in business administration from the University of Maryland, College Park in 1971. He joined the Baltimore office of Ernst & Young in 1972 after having spent two years in the finance group of Western Electric Company.
Robert E. Evanson
Mr. Evanson is a veteran executive with a strong background in finance who has been at the helm of some of the largest content companies in the country. Since retirement in 2003, he has been a Senior Advisor to Apax Partners, Inc., a $29 billion private equity company and a special advisor to The Parthenon Group, a boutique strategic consulting firm based in Boston. He retired in 2003 as the President of McGraw-Hill Education, a $2.5 billion global publishing unit. Prior to that, Mr. Evanson served as president, Higher Education and Consumer Group. He also served as executive vice president, Corporate Development, for The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc. Mr. Evanson joined the Macmillan/McGraw-Hill School Publishing Company as executive vice president and chief financial officer in 1992.
Mr. Evanson has demonstrated superior performance in many operating environments – both domestic and international. Before joining McGraw-Hill, Mr. Evanson held various posts at Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, Inc. from 1985 - 1992, including Chief Financial Officer of the corporation, Chief Operating Officer, and Chairman and CEO of Sea World Theme Parks. Prior to that he held senior financial positions at Harper & Row, Consolidated Rail Corporation, and Amtrak, and was a partner at Arthur Andersen & Co.
During the course of his career, Mr. Evanson led a number of key acquisitions, including Tribune Education; CBS Publishing Division; Times Mirror Higher Education; and Appleton and Lange. Mr. Evanson also led numerous divestitures, among them Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, Inc.; the Sea World Theme Park Group; Shepard’s McGraw-Hill; McGraw-Hill School Systems; McGraw-Hill Lifetime Learning; and SRA Technology Training. While at McGraw Hill, Mr. Evanson oversaw the start-ups of McGraw-Hill Home Interactive, McGraw-Hill Lifetime Learning, McGraw-Hill Professional Development and McGraw-Hill Digital Learning.
Mr. Evanson served on the board of Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, Inc.; the Association of American Publishers (Chairman); and the National School Boards Foundation. He currently serves on the board of Cadmus Communications Corporation, a NASDAQ-listed publishing services provider; The Princeton Review, a NASDAQ-listed testing and assessment provider; Public Education Needs Civic Involvement in Learning (PENCIL); Pace University’s Publishing Board of Advisors and Faculty; National Executive Service Corps. (NESC); Western Governors University, the nation’s leading competency-based university; The NY Institute of Technology; and Holmdel Township’s Business Relations Committee (Chairman). He holds an MBA from New York Institute of Technology and a BBA in Accounting from St. John’s University. He is also a certified accountant.
Mr. Mierzwa is principal and founder of The Fountainhead Group, a team of specialists who conduct innovation audits and assist corporations and government agencies in new product development and operational improvement. He is also the founder of Creative Agreements, a professional services firm that uses a mediation approach to form working agreements among business owners during start-up phases, and structure alliances during growth phases of their businesses. He formerly served as VP/COO of The Onyx Group, a technology company that develops software applications for master planning and management of large-scale facilities.
Mr. Mierzwa is an adjunct faculty member of the Robert H. Smith School of Business at the University of Maryland. He is also an adjunct faculty member at the University of Maryland University College, Graduate School of Management and Technology. He is a business mentor with the Dingman Center for Entrepreneurship, and was a mentor for the American Women for Economic Development business assistance program. He is an advisor and business plan reviewer for the University of Maryland's MIPS Program and its TAP Incubator Program.
His doctorate from the University of Southern California examined how entrepreneurial initiatives are launched as internal corporate ventures in public sector organizations. He holds a Masters degree from Harvard University and a Bachelors degree from the University of Illinois.