Senior Leadership Team Biographies

Patrick MacKrell

Patrick J. MacKrell, CEO

Patrick J. (Pat) MacKrell is CEO of Pursuit. Prior to joining Pursuit in 2001, Pat practiced commercial and banking law in New York, representing a number of financial institutions and businesses. Pat is a veteran of the United States Marine Corps and served at a number of posts and stations prior to his release from active duty as a Major. He is a graduate of York College of the City University of New York and Albany Law School and is admitted to practice law in the state and federal courts in New York State.

Pat is a member of numerous boards including The New York State Small Business Development Center Advisory Board and the New York State Economic Development Council.

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Tom McHale, President

Tom McHale serves as President of Pursuit, a role that he assumed in January 2021. Tom is responsible for the operations of the organization and leverages his experience and leadership to drive relationships, technology solutions, and strategies that increase access to capital for businesses throughout Pursuit’s tri-state footprint.

Tom joined the Pursuit team in 1997 and held various roles before being named regional president for the Hudson Valley and New Jersey in 2010. Throughout his tenure at Pursuit, Tom has led numerous technology, partnership and organizational growth initiatives—including those that contributed to a 40 percent increase in lending activity in his region.

A longtime resident of the Capital Region, McHale is involved in various local organizations including as a board member and volunteer for Junior Achievement of Northeastern New York and the Clifton Park Soccer Club. Tom holds a B.A. in Economics and an MBA from SUNY Albany.

Owen Burns

Owen Burns, Executive Vice President, Chief Financial Officer

Owen Burns serves as Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer for Pursuit. His primary function is oversight of the Accounting Department, which is involved in all financial matters of the company, including the inflow and outflow of funds. He is responsible for financial reporting and all of Pursuit compliance relative to income tax and corporate insurance matters. Mr. Burns is also responsible for the oversight of human resource functions, including the implementation and administration of all employee benefit options, such as health insurance and 401(k) plans. Most other human resource administration is managed in this department, as well.

Mr. Burns has served in various departments within Pursuit, including time as a Staff Accountant, WTC Fund Program Manager and Credit Analyst. In December 2007, he was elected Assistant Vice President. In March 2009, he was named Acting Controller, and shortly after to Vice President and Controller. In December 2011, he was elected Senior Vice President and Chief Financial Officer. In January 2021, Owen was promoted to his current position, Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer.

Mr. Burns joined Pursuit in February 2000, as an intern, while pursuing an undergraduate degree in Accounting from Siena College. He began his full-time employment with Pursuit as accountant in June 2001, while continuing to pursue his degree from Siena. He graduated from Siena College in May 2005 with a BBA in Accounting.

Owen enjoys spending time with his family, wife Andrea, son Braiden and daughter Kailyn, playing and watching most sports, and enjoying time at the family camp during summers.

Steve Cohen

Steven Cohen, Executive Vice President, President of Pursuit Community Finance

Steven Cohen is president of Pursuit Community Finance. Prior to joining Pursuit in 2015, Steven was executive vice president and deputy commissioner at Empire State Development, where he led the Department of Small Business Services and Community Economic Development. Under his leadership, the agency launched new access to capital and business advisory programs totaling over $200 million, leveraging $1 billion in private investment.

Steven also previously served as senior vice president for Seedco Financial Services where he worked in executive management and economic development, as well as loan portfolio management. He also founded and ran a music production company in San Francisco.
Steven has a bachelor’s degree from UC Berkeley and a master’s in public administration from Harvard’s Kennedy School.

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Bryan Doxford, Executive Vice President, Chief Operations Officer and President and CEO, Prudent Lenders

Bryan Doxford serves as Executive Vice President and Chief Operations Officer for Pursuit. In his role, Bryan is responsible for driving the success of loan processing and servicing for the enterprise at-large. He also serves as President and Chief Executive Officer of Prudent Lenders, Pursuit’s lender service provider affiliate.

Bryan initially joined the Pursuit team as a loan officer in 2010. Since then, he also served as Pursuit’s Community Lending Program Manager and as Chief Lending Officer for Pursuit Community Finance. In these roles, Bryan developed significant lending relationships with banks, non-bank lending institutions, technical assistance providers and other lending professionals in the industry. In 2018, Bryan assumed the role of President and CEO of Prudent Lenders. In his tenure, Prudent Lenders has grown to provide many financial institutions with SBA lending and portfolio management services.

Prior to joining Pursuit, Bryan worked for Zions Bank as a regional director, overseeing the bank’s SBA 504 lending efforts along the East Coast. Bryan holds an MBA from the Stern School of Business at New York University (NYU). He lives in New York City with his wife Emily, who is also an alumna of NYU. Together, they have two young daughters: Grace and Lillian. Bryan is an avid runner, cyclist, and outdoorsman; though his greatest avocation is being a “girl dad.”

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Jim Conroy, Executive Vice President & Regional President for LI, NYC, Northern NJ, and Lower Hudson Valley

James (Jim) J. Conroy, III serves as executive vice president and president of Pursuit CDC. In his role, Jim is responsible for driving the growth of the organization’s SBA 504 loan program throughout New Jersey, New York, and Pennsylvania. The SBA 504 loan program provides small businesses with financing for major fixed assets and debt refinance at below-market interest rates. 

Jim joined the Pursuit team in 1997 and previously served as senior vice president and regional president for Upstate New York and Pennsylvania. Prior to joining the Pursuit team, Jim was an economic developer in Albany County. During this time, he was responsible for business retention activities, led numerous redevelopment programs and assisted in the re-constitution of the Albany County Al Tech Loan Fund.

Jim received his B.A. from Siena College and his MBA from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. He is a veteran of the United States Marine Corps and served in Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm. Jim has been involved in several charities and non-profit organizations including the Rensselaer County Chamber of Commerce, Catholic Charities Community Caregivers, St. Anne Institute Foundation, Wildwood Foundation, LaSalle School for Boys, Girls Inc. of the Greater Capital District, and Mater Christi Church. Jim resides in Albany, NY with his wife, Karen.

Jim Goldrick

James J. Goldrick, Executive Vice President

James J. Goldrick serves as executive vice president at Pursuit. In his role, James is responsible for overseeing the metropolitan New York market including New York City, Long Island, Northern New Jersey and New York’s Hudson Valley. He previously served as senior vice president and regional vice president for New York City and Long Island.

James has more than 20 years of banking and finance experience having previously worked for Prudential Securities, Chase Manhattan Bank and M&T Bank. James obtained a Bachelor of Science degree in Finance from St. John’s University in Jamaica, NY. He received formal credit training at Chase Manhattan Bank.

In addition to his role with Pursuit, James serves as an executive board member of the Long Island Business Development Council and a director of the Long Island Chapter of the Risk Management Association. He is an active member of the Commercial Industrial Brokers Society, the Richard J. O’Brien Foundation and St. Anthony’s Father’s Guild. James obtained a Bachelor of Science degree in Finance from St. John’s University in Jamaica, NY. He resides in Syosset, NY with his wife, Carol, and three children: James, Thomas and Victoria.

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Laura Kozien, Senior Vice President, Director of Marketing

As Senior Vice President, Director of Marketing, Laura is responsible for leading integrated marketing, customer acquisition, and communications strategies, with a focus on online customer acquisition and brand development. Laura brings more than 17 years of experience developing and leading marketing programs that reach small business owners with a focus on helping women and entrepreneurs of color access capital and resources.

Prior to joining the team at Pursuit, Laura spent more than a decade in U.S.-focused marketing roles at global microfinance organization Accion, most recently serving as Senior Director of Marketing at the New York, NY-based Accion U.S. Network. There, she led the launch of national-scale online marketing programs and a website that was awarded the 2015 Gramercy Institute Award for financial services marketing.

Laura holds a BA in International Studies from Bentley University in Waltham, MA and was a 2014 participant in the Aspen Institute’s Emerging Leaders in Microenterprise program. She is a board member at Start Small Think Big, a nonprofit provider of pro bono legal and financial advisory services for small business owners in New York City and the Bay Area. Laura enjoys supporting local small businesses in her adopted hometown of Troy, NY.

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Chris Levy, Executive Vice President, Chief Credit Officer

Chris Levy serves as executive vice president and head of credit at Pursuit. In his role, Chris is responsible for shaping credit policies and procedures for the organization, as well as managing underwriting, loan committee reviews, and other credit-related strategies.

After interning with Pursuit, Chris joined the team full time in 2012 as an underwriter. Shortly thereafter, he was promoted to oversee the credit department. Chris’s deep knowledge of SBA underwriting, credit, policy management and team management have allowed him to continue to expand his role at Pursuit throughout his tenure. Chris oversaw Pursuit’s administration of the Paycheck Protection Program, which resulted in over 7,000 loan approvals for $475 million. Chris’s leadership has resulted in thousands of small businesses obtain financing to start and grow.  

Chris was awarded the Coleman Report 2019 SBA Emerging Lender of the Year award and served as a panelist at the 2019 annual conference for the National Association of Development Companies (NADCO). Chris serves on the Albany Country Club Board, enjoys playing golf, and is an avid Yankees fan. He also enjoys family vacations in the Outer Banks during the summer. Chris holds a B.S. in Finance from the University of Maryland Robert H. Smith School of Business and received his Juris Doctor degree from Albany Law.

Leesa Naimo-Fredette

Leesa Naimo-Fredette, Senior Vice President and General Counsel

As Senior Vice President and General Counsel, Leesa oversees and operates the legal department and all legal matters for the company. This includes ensuring that all loan closings for Pursuit met the required regulations. Prior to becoming a member of the Pursuit team in 2011, Leesa worked in a private practice and specialized in small business development and growth.

Leesa is a graduate of Russell Sage College and obtained her Doctor of Law degree from Albany Law School. She is admitted to practice in the State of New York, the Northern District of New York, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, and the State of Florida. Leesa also holds an MBA from Union College.

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