College of Law’s Innovation Law Center to Host “Venture to Victory: Pioneer Perspectives in Tech, Venture, and Private Equity” Symposium

(Syracuse, NY – January 24, 2024) Syracuse University College of Law’s Innovation Law Center (ILC) is hosting the “Venture to Victory: Pioneer Perspectives in Tech, Venture, and Private Equity” Symposium on Tuesday, February 13 from 1:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. in the Melanie Gray Ceremonial Courtroom. 

The symposium will feature a panel of successful entrepreneurs, financial investors, and legal experts in a discussion on the challenges that high-growth, privately held tech companies face as they take on private equity, venture capital, or other forms of funding. Panelists will cover investment deals they have completed, trends in financing, and their career paths in the technology commercialization space.  

Those interested in the legal, financial, business, and entrepreneurial aspects of high-growth companies are encouraged to attend. The event is free.


Brian Gerling L’99, Professor of Practice and Executive Director of the ILC, will moderate the discussion. 

The event will be streamed live and a recording will be made available for those who cannot attend. CART will be provided.

The symposium is co-sponsored by the New York State Science & Technology Law Center, the College of Law’s Corporate Law Society and Intellectual Property Law Society, and the Blackstone LaunchPad at Syracuse University Libraries. 

The panelists are: 

Peter Alfano L’94, Partner, DLA Piper  

Alfano represents private equity sponsors, corporations, and lenders in a wide variety of domestic and cross-border finance transactions, including leveraged acquisitions, corporate financings, dividend recapitalizations, restructurings, and asset-based lending transactions. He has experience across several tech industries and advises companies in connection with intercompany finance arrangements, corporate restructurings, and general corporate matters, including for private equity-owned portfolio companies.       

Luke Cooper L’01, Founding General Partner and Managing Director, Latimer Ventures 

Cooper is the Founding General Partner and Managing Director at Latimer Ventures. Latimer Ventures is an enterprise-focused Venture Capital firm dedicated to helping Black & Hispanic founders build and exit the next RedHat, Datadog, or Tableau. He spends most of his time fundraising and nurturing a strong pipeline of early-stage enterprise SaaS companies.  
Before Latimer, Cooper was a 2x successfully exited enterprise software founder (Cybersecurity & Insurtech) with both exits to Fortune 300 acquirers. In 2020, he sold his company, Fixt, an enterprise-focused third-party administration software, to Assurant (NYSE:AIZ), a Fortune 300 leader in insurance risk management. After raising a $6.5M Series A, he became one of three Black Founders to reach a profitable exit that year. 

James Kelly L’99, Partner and Chair, New York Private Equity, DLA Piper 

Kelly is a strategic advisor to private equity funds and operating companies across many industries. He focuses his practice on representing private equity funds in all aspects of their investment activities, recently acting for Atlas Holdings, Bregal Partners, The Carlyle Group, Oaktree Capital Management, and Stellex Capital Management, among several others.  

He is recognized by The Legal 500 US in Private Equity Buyouts and has been recognized for numerous consecutive years by Chambers in New York M&A, has been featured in Buyouts, including a Buyouts Deal of the Year, The Deal, Bloomberg,and Law360as well as other leading publications. He has presented for several education providers, including Practicing Law Institute and Strafford, and has received recognition for his pro bono work, including the Pro Bono Publico Award from The Legal Aid Society. Kelly is a member of the Syracuse University College of Law Board of Advisors.                                   

Lon Levin L’80 – President, SkySevenVentures 

Levin is President of SkySevenVentures, which invests in, advises, and provides executive services for space and other technology businesses. He has more than 40 years of experience as an executive and entrepreneur in the telecommunications, media, and aerospace industries. 
Recently, from 2017-2023, Levin was an executive for Lockheed Martin Space developing new businesses and markets. He served as President and Chief Executive Officer of GEOshare, an entrepreneurial subsidiary of Lockheed Martin, and as Vice President-New Ventures. 
Levin co-founded XM Satellite Radio and played executive leadership roles in the formation and development of other satellite, space, and media companies including Mobile Satellite Ventures, XM Canada, Slacker Radio, American Mobile Satellite Corporation, TerraStar Networks (mobile satellite), GEOshare (condosats), and Parsec (lunar telecommunications). 
He served as a U.S. Delegate negotiating technology treaties at many International Telecommunication Union conferences and holds five telecommunication satellite patents. Levin has served as a Special Government Employee on the Defense Department’s Defense Business Board and the NASA Advisory Council. 

Levin is Treasurer and a member of the Board of Directors of The Planetary Society and Board Member Emeritus of the Space Foundation, where has was Chairperson from 2014-16.  

Kevin Whittaker L’02, Chief Legal & Compliance Officer, Ripcord  

Whittaker is the Chief Legal & Compliance Officer and Corporate Secretary of Ripcord, a NASA spinoff specializing in the digital optimization of data through robotics and AI. Ripcord is backed by Silicon Valley’s leading investors, including Kleiner Perkins and Google Ventures.

Whittaker provides counsel on Venture Financing, M&A, Operations, Human Resources, and Governance. As a member of the Executive Leadership Team, he plays a pivotal role in aligning the company’s business strategies with legal and compliance standards, fostering collaboration with stakeholders, customers, and investors.

Whittaker was a speaker at Match-Up 2023, speaking on: “AI Unleashed: Pioneering a New Epoch of Innovation” which explored the profound impact of artificial intelligence (AI) on diverse industries and its pivotal role in shaping the future. Before becoming an in-house corporate counsel, he was a Partner at Reed Smith, and of counsel to Baker McKenzie and Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe.