Rocketship Spins Off Launchpad Development Company
News coming out of Rocketship Education:
For Immediate Release
Rocketship Spins Off
Launchpad Development Company;
Laura Kozel Joins Launchpad as Chief Financial Officer
San Jose, CA, July 28, 2010 – Rocketship Education, a leading charter school network based in San Jose, CA today announced the formation and spinoff of a new, independent real estate developer, Launchpad Development Company. Launchpad’s mission is to serve the unique facilities and real estate needs of charter schools and charter management organizations (CMOs). Launchpad also announced today that Laura Kozel, Chief Credit Officer for the Raza Development Fund, one of the nation’s leading charter school facilities lenders, will join Launchpad as CFO and interim CEO.
The Rocketship real estate team pioneered the approach of identifying real estate in target geographies, and achieving rapid build-out using pre-fabricated facilities along with a variety of low-equity financing techniques. Recognizing that these skills and capabilities would be valuable to other charter schools, Rocketship CEO John Danner and the Rocketship real estate team decided to found and spin off Launchpad Development Company as a separate, independent entity dedicated to charter school facilities development and real estate financing.
“Charter schools need a full-service real estate developer dedicated to help them to identify or create the same facilities as those of traditional district schools,” said John Danner, Rocketship co-founder and CEO. “Launchpad will take everything we’ve learned at Rocketship to the next level by achieving unprecedented scale and construction efficiencies. While at RDF, Laura provided invaluable guidance that helped Rocketship develop and execute its innovative facilities strategy. Under her inspiring leadership, Launchpad will be ideally positioned to continue innovating, while expanding its charter school client base across the country.”
“I’m delighted that Laura has joined Launchpad: she has a terrific background that will be of enormous value to the organization,” said Eric Resnick, Chairman of the Launchpad board and Managing Director of KSL Capital Partners. “Laura has over twenty years of experience in commercial mortgage lending and risk management. Her insights, experience and leadership will help propel Launchpad in its efforts to assist CMO’s in their growth objectives with innovative yet sustainable facilities, financing, and development strategies.”
“I am excited to join Launchpad because I see a real need to assist charter school operators with campus development, so they can focus more of their energy on creating quality educational opportunities for the students in their communities,” said Laura Kozel. “Because charter school networks are also growing rapidly in light of continuing demand, they require a knowledgeable real estate partner.”
Ms. Kozel comes to Launchpad after serving as Chief Credit Officer at Raza Development Fund (RDF), a support corporation of the National Council of La Raza (NCLR), and the largest Latino community development financial institution (CDFI) loan fund in the nation with over $100 million in assets. During her eight-year tenure at RDF, she was instrumental in establishing a credit culture for the organization that reflects the values and mission of RDF as well as enhancing a lending approach that is now consistent with commercial lending practices of larger institutional lenders. Under her management at RDF, underwriting capacity grew substantially, from an average of $3 million per year in 2002, to $28 million per year by 2006.
Prior to RDF, Ms. Kozel was senior vice president, and CRE program underwriter for First Security Commercial Mortgage, an Illinois-based commercial mortgage banking firm with national lending programs averaging in excess of $250 million in loans per year. Before joining First Security, she was an asset manager for AM&G Asset Management, Inc., a subsidiary of Altschuler, Melvoin & Glasser of Chicago, IL, and was responsible for the negotiation and settlement of a pool of non-performing loans totaling over $140 million, securing collateral primarily in the Southwestern U.S. Early in her career, Ms. Kozel was assistant vice president at Western Savings and Loan Association in Arizona for over eight years. As a lending manager in the association's REO Department, she was responsible for all lending activities to facilitate the disposition of the real estate owned portfolio. Ms. Kozel holds a Master's Degree of Business Administration in International Management from Thunderbird, the American Graduate School of Global Management.
About Launchpad Development Company
Founded in 2010, Launchpad Development Company is an independent charter school real estate developer, founded with support from Rocketship Education, a leading charter school network based in San Jose, CA, and Launchpad’s first client. Launchpad’s mission is to serve the unique real estate facilities and financing needs of charter schools and charter management organizations (CMOs), in order to support their growth and sustainable success. Launchpad currently holds more than $20 million in real assets, with plans to more than triple its holdings and activities over the next two years.