Our Team

James Beaver
Treasurer/Director of Finance

Cedric de Beer
Vice President

Nic Christoforou
Investment Officer

Victoria Crisp
Investment Analyst

Neal DeLaurentis
Vice President

Thomas Fitzgerald Heck
Investment Analyst

Mwewa Kapotwe
Investment Analyst

Kate McNamara
Investment Analyst

Fawzia Naqvi
Vice President

Jordan Pipkin
Administrative Assistant

Aruna Ramsamy
Investment Officer

Catherine Sandy-Margao
Program Officer

Maria Santos Valentin
Secretary and General Counsel

Donysha Smith
Communications and Administration

Jocelyn Songco
Investment Officer



James Beaver - Treasurer/Director of Finance
James Beaver joined SEDF in September 2011 as Director of Finance. Beaver has a Bachelors of Arts in Accounting from the University of Delaware. A Certified Public Accountant, Beaver began his career at J.H. Cohn, moving on to the banking industry with several years experience as a Vice President and Controller in the Alternative Investment division of Credit Suisse Securities.


Cedric de Beer - Vice President
Cedric de Beer joined SEDF as Vice President and Director of Africa Operations in July 2009. Based in Johannesburg, he is responsible for opening up new investment areas in Africa and monitoring the progress of new investments. He also represents SEDF on the Board of Nurcha, of which he was the founder and formerly the chief executive. With SEDF and government support, Nurcha has financed the construction of more than 300 000 low income houses in South Africa over fifteen years Prior to this, de Beer was the Director of Urbanization for the City of Johannesburg. He has directed the Rural Health Services Development Unit at the Witwatersrand University Medical School, in addition to setting up and co-directing the Centre for Health Policy there. Furthermore, he worked with an environmentally focused rural development agency and served on the executive board of the National Union of South African Students and on the Board of the Independent Development Trust. De Beer has a BA in Political Science from the University of the Witwatersrand.


Nic Christoforou - Investment Officer
Nic Christoforou joined SEDF in 2013 as an Investment Officer based in Johannesburg, and is responsible for new investments and monitoring the progress of existing investments in Southern and East Africa. His prior roles were in Investment Banking with a focus in Private Equity, Corporate and Structured Finance and Real Estate Development Finance. Christoforou’s responsibilities included deal origination and marketing, deal screening, analysis and structuring, deal evaluation to credit boards and completion, and client account monitoring. He previously worked within the corporations of Deloitte, Board of Executive Merchant Bank, Nedbank Corporate Bank, Rand Merchant Bank, and Norfund - the Norwegian Development Finance Institution, managing investments in East and Sub Saharan Africa. Christoforou was previously an Investment Director in the investment committee of the FIPA Fund in Angola on behalf of Norfund, and the Managing Director of Lord Securities South Africa, managing and structuring Special Purpose Vehicle on behalf of Lord Securities New York. He has also held Director positions in Black Economic Empowerment Corporations in South Africa involving project acquisitions, investments and development, and the Head of Workout and Restructuring in Land Bank SA. Christoforou holds a Bachelor of Commerce in Finance and Economics from The University of the Witwatersrand, and an MBA in Finance and Entrepreneurship from Bond University Australia.


Victoria Crisp - Investment Analyst
Victoria Crisp joined SEDF as an Investment Analyst in May 2014, providing programmatic support, including underwriting equity and debt investments. Previously, Crisp worked at Standard Chartered Bank, where she spent two years as an analyst in the Mergers and Acquisitions department and one year as a Credit Analyst in the Origination and Client Coverage department. She holds a Bachelor of Business Science degree from the University of Cape Town and is a Chartered Financial Analyst level III candidate.


Neal DeLaurentis - Vice President
Neal DeLaurentis joined the Open Society Institute in 1998 as a Program Manager in the Economic and Business Development Network Program. He is currently a Vice President at SEDF, overseeing a number of portfolio companies in Eastern Europe and West Africa. He serves on the boards of directors of several SEDF portfolio companies. Previously, DeLaurentis was a Program Manager at Partners in Economic Reform, a USAID-funded project working in the coal mining regions of Russia, Ukraine and Kazakhstan. He was also part of the first group of Peace Corps Volunteers in Russia, focusing on small business development and municipal infrastructure issues. Additionally, he has worked in community banking focusing on small and medium enterprise lending. DeLaurentis has a BS in Finance from Villanova University and an MPA from the University of New Hampshire.


Thomas Fitzgerald Heck - Investment Analyst
Thomas Fitzgerald Heck joined SEDF in January 2012. He provides program support, including investment proposal evaluation, risk assessment and portfolio monitoring with a focus on SEDF’s investments in Palestine, Haiti, and Eastern Europe. Previously, Heck interned at Rodman & Renshaw Investment Banking and at the French Trade Commission, where he provided corporate finance services to emerging European maritime companies and market research analysis to French firms seeking financing from US investors respectively. Heck is fluent in French, German, and English and has an IB in Economics with Honors from the Lycée Français de New York, a BA in International Political Economy, History, and Business Management with Honors from McGill University, and an MSc in Political Science and Economics with Honors from the London School of Economics.


Mwewa Kapotwe - Investment Analyst
Mwewa Kapotwe joined SEDF in 2013 as an Investment Analyst covering Sub-Saharan Africa. Previously, Kapotwe worked in the Corporate Finance team at Renaissance Capital in London, where he focused on equity capital markets and mergers and acquisitions transactions in the Natural Resources sector across Africa. He holds a BA in Financial Economics from Newcastle University and an MBA from INSEAD.


Kate McNamara - Investment Analyst
Kate McNamara joined SEDF in 2013 as an Investment Analyst based in New York. Kate previously worked in debt capital markets within the investment banking divisions of BNP Paribas and Crédit Agricole where she focused on leveraged finance transactions for energy companies and esoteric structuring, respectively. Kate began her career at JP Morgan in high yield fixed income research. She holds a Masters in International and Development Economics from Yale University where she studied in the Economic Growth Center of the University's Department of Economics. Kate received her Bachelors of Arts Cum Laude from Barnard College, Columbia University where she majored in Political Science and completed minors in Economics and Religion.


Fawzia Naqvi - Vice President
Fawzia Naqvi joined SEDF in May 2006 and serves as a Vice President. Naqvi's responsibilities include structuring and implementing investment strategies in microfinance, mobile banking, micro-insurance, SMEs, affordable housing and other social sector development initiatives globally. Additionally, she co-manages OSF's Pakistan Economic Policy initiative. Before joining SEDF, Naqvi worked for five years for Women's World Banking as a microfinance specialist, with responsibility for Pakistan and other Asian countries, and for ten years with Citibank in New York, where she worked for the Financial Institutions Group for Emerging Markets. She has a BA in International Relations from Mount Holyoke College and her masters from the School of International and Public Affairs at Columbia University.


Jordan Pipkin - Administrative Assistant
Jordan Pipkin joined SEDF as an Administrative Assistant in May of 2014. Previously, she served as a volunteer teacher in rural Thailand and interned with Global Solutions Pittsburgh, a non-profit organization that promotes global interdependence to address disparities in Education and Human Rights. Pipkin holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science and certificate in Global Studies from the University of Pittsburgh.


Aruna Ramsamy - Investment Officer
Aruna Ramsamy joined SEDF in 2010 as an Investment Officer. Based in Johannesburg, she joins SEDF’s Southern and East African team. Prior to SEDF, she was an investment banking associate at Moelis & Company in New York where she focused on mergers and acquisitions as well as restructuring advisory transactions. Additionally, she worked as an investment banking associate in the Leveraged Finance Origination and Restructuring Group at Credit Suisse and was an analyst in the Global Energy Group where she focused on the utilities and power sector. Ramsamy has a BCom with First Class Honors in Economics and Finance from McGill University and an MBA from INSEAD.


Catherine Sandy-Margao - Program Officer
Catherine Sandy-Margao joined SEDF in 2009 as a Program Officer, in which she acts as the lead implementer of activities in Sierra Leone, which focus on agriculture, access to finance, and empowerment of the private sector. Sandy-Margao is a Sierra Leonean based in Freetown, and for two years, she served as a Project Officer for the IFAD/ADB funded projects -Agricultural Sector Rehabilitation Project/Rehabilitation and Community based Poverty Reduction Project. She worked for many years as a Research Officer at the Sierra Leone Institute of Agriculture Research. Additionally, she has performed short-term consultancies for FAO and worked on gender and HIV/AIDS issues. Sandy-Margao holds a BS in Agriculture from Njala University College, Sierra Leone, and an MS in Agricultural Economics from the University of Kiel, Germany.


Maria Santos Valentin - Secretary and General Counsel 
Maria Santos Valentin has been with SEDF since 1998. She currently serves as Secretary and General Counsel. Before SEDF, Santos Valentin worked for ten years as an international corporate securities lawyer for Brown & Wood (now Sidley Austin) and Clifford Chance on emerging market transactions in Latin America and Eastern Europe. In addition, Santos Valentin worked for two years as a senior commercial associate with the Overseas Private Investment Corporation. Santos Valentin has a BA in Economics from Fordham University and her JD from Yale Law School and is a member of the New York Bar and the American Bar Association.


Donysha Smith - Communications and Administration 
Donysha Smith joined SEDF in January 2014. She functions both as SEDF Communications and Administrative staff. Previously, Smith worked in Human Resources at the Cerberus Operations & Advisory Company and has had various roles in media outreach, publications, storytelling, and online engagement for both non and for profit organizations. Smith is a producer and playwright and holds a BFA from New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts.


Jocelyn Songco - Investment Officer
Jocelyn Songco joined the Soros Economic Development Fund in 2008. She serves as an investment officer focusing on West Africa, with an emphasis on agribusiness. Prior to joining the Open Society Foundations, she worked in reorganization services with Deloitte Financial Advisory Services and as a credit analyst for MBIA Insurance Corp. Songco also served as a Peace Corps volunteer teaching English in Ethiopia and as a Crisis Corps volunteer with the International Rescue Committee in Guinea. Songco has a BA in French and psychology from the University of California Los Angeles, an MBA in finance and economics from Columbia Business School, and a Masters of International Affairs in economic and political development from the School of International and Public Affairs at Columbia University. She is a CFA charterholder.