Our Team

Meet our team of trusted, experienced professionals.

Leslie Frécon

Founder & Managing Partner

Leslie has been working with management teams to develop and execute growth strategies for over 30 years. Prior to founding LFE Capital, she was senior vice president, corporate finance, at General Mills, where she had responsibility for treasury, corporate development and risk management worldwide. Her 17 years with General Mills included management positions in corporate development and operations. Her board experience includes being a director for 13 years and former audit committee chair for The Ryland Group (NYSE: RYL), one of the nation’s largest home builders, and serving on the boards of 19 LFE Capital portfolio companies. Leslie is active in the community, having served as a trustee and executive committee member of Greater Twin Cities United Way, MacPhail Center for Music, Breck School and Minnesota Opera. Leslie is currently a director of Conservancy of Southwest Florida, Forum Club of Southwest Florida and Florida Venture Forum. She speaks regularly at conferences and has been profiled in numerous publications regarding her work as a director, investor and advisor for female-owned and led businesses.

Leslie holds a BA with distinction from Stanford University and an MBA from the UCLA Anderson School of Management.

Laurent Frécon

Partner

Laurent joined LFE Capital in 2008 and manages LFE’s investment process and business development activities. His responsibilities include deal origination, due diligence, transaction structuring and execution, and portfolio company oversight. Laurent has served on 9 LFE Capital portfolio company boards and works closely with management teams on executing growth strategies and the path to liquidity. He is an experienced participant on small business growth and investing panels and manages numerous LFE relationships in deal sourcing, evaluation, financing and transactions. Laurent’s early work experience includes working in operating roles in startups and small businesses, and he is a divisional and grand prize judge for the Minnesota Cup, the nation’s largest statewide startup competition.

Laurent holds a BA from Lawrence University and an MBA from the Carlson School of Management at the University of Minnesota.

Diana LaTour

Partner

Diana joined LFE Capital in 2013 as an operating partner and in 2023 as partner. She sources and evaluates investment opportunities and serves as a director for LFE portfolio companies.  Diana has extensive experience in the formation, development and exit of new ventures in the healthcare, high-technology and consumer sectors. She served as the CEO of World Telehealth Corporation, an international medical products distribution company, and the CEO of Contour Pak International, a cold therapy healthcare product company. Diana is chair of the board for PN Medical, Inc., a respiratory medical device company and served as a director of Theranetics, Inc., a physical therapy video products company, and International Nutrition Consultants, Inc., a healthcare supplement distribution company. Diana began her career with IBM.

Diana holds a BS in mathematics from UCLA, MS degrees in mathematics and behavioral psychology from USC and is a graduate of the Advanced Management School at Harvard.

Kellie Bauer

Partner & CFO

Kellie has been part of LFE Capital since its inception and manages all internal and external financial reporting. A licensed CPA, she has extensive tax preparation and accounting skills from 20 plus years of working with small businesses. She oversees cash flow and fund return modeling, transaction structuring and documentation. Kellie’s role includes working with portfolio company CFOs to improve their financial reporting, forecasting and controls.

Kellie has a BS in accounting from Metropolitan State University and is licensed as a CPA in Minnesota.

Paula Bata

Vice President of Finance

Paula joined LFE in January 2024 and is responsible for LFE’s financial reporting and analysis, budgeting and fund administration. Her background includes seven years with Meristem and Cresset Capital most recently as corporate controller. She has been an accountant and auditor in financial services firms, foundations and public corporations such as Thrivent and Deluxe Corporation. She began her career with PWC as an auditor.

She has a BA in accounting from the University of Northern Iowa.

Eric Nesi

Associate

Eric joined LFE Capital in 2023 and is responsible for supporting LFE investment activities including: deal sourcing, due diligence, financial modeling, valuation analysis and portfolio company monitoring. Eric brings seven years of experience in data analytics, start-up business operations, as well as investment management for family offices.

He holds a BA from Notre Dame and an MBA from the USC Marshall School of Business.

Justin Wender

Senior Advisor

Justin serves on LFE Capital’s investment committees and has worked with LFE since its inception as an advisor on fund strategy and management and portfolio company issues. He is the co-founder and managing partner of Stella Point Capital, a middle-market private equity firm. Prior to Stella Point, Justin was the president of Castle Harlan and the liaison for the alliance between Castle Harlan and LFE Capital. Prior to joining Castle Harlan in 1993, he worked in the Corporate Finance Group of Merrill Lynch & Co. He has served on numerous private company boards and is a former trustee of the Weitz Funds and Carleton College.

Justin is a cum laude graduate of Carleton College with a BA in political science and has an MBA from The Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania.

Phil Smith

Senior Advisor

Phil formally joined the LFE team in 2024 but has been working with LFE portfolio companies over the past decade on liquidity events. Phil’s role is to provide advisory support for LFE investment and exit transactions. He is further focused on helping LFE diversify its portfolio to include minority founders and management teams.  Currently an Operating Partner at Altaris Capital, Phil’s background includes ten years as an MD in healthcare investment banking and ten years in leadership roles at medical software and device companies. He has served on numerous public and private company boards, as well as non-profit boards such as the Minneapolis Foundation.

Phil has a BS in electrical engineering with honors from the University of Florida and an MBA from The Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania.

Deb Langer

Operating Partner

Deb Langer joined LFE Capital as an operating partner in 2021. Deb’s prior experience includes 28 years at Lubrizol, a Berkshire Hathaway company, where she held numerous operating and corporate management positions, most recently as Senior Vice President – Corporate Strategy, M&A, Corporate Ventures. Deb led Lubrizol’s expansion into health, building the $1 billion life sciences division through acquisitions and internal development. Prior to Lubrizol, Deb was a design engineer with Eli Lilly. She has 15 patents and has authored 12 papers.

Deb holds a BS in Chemical Engineering and Biochemistry from Purdue University.

Roberta Antoine Dressen

Operating Partner

Bobbie works with LFE Capital to evaluate new investment opportunities and with portfolio companies in director roles. She is the president and CEO of the Medical Alley Association, Minnesota’s leading healthcare industry organization aimed at improving policy and innovation within the global health ecosystem. Bobbie has served on the senior leadership teams at Boston Scientific, Medtronic, UnitedHealth Group and Allina Hospitals. She serves as a faculty member for the FDA post market surveillance imitative as well as on the FDA MDEpiNet Stakeholders Advisory Board and was previously on the board of M Health of the University of Minnesota/Fairview.

Bobbie holds a BA in healthcare administration from Concordia College in Moorhead, Minnesota and an MBA from the Opus College of Business at the University of St. Thomas.

Steve Shank

Operating Partner

Steve has supported the investment activities of LFE Capital by evaluating potential investments and serving on portfolio company boards. He is the founder and former CEO of Capella Education Company. Prior to founding Capella, Steve served for 12 years as chairman and CEO of Tonka Corporation, a consumer products company. He began his career as an attorney with Dorsey & Whitney. Steve has served on the boards of Tennant Co. and Capella Education Company.

Steve has a BA from the University of Iowa, an MA from the Fletcher School at Tufts University and a JD from Harvard Law School.