Board of Directors: Investment Management Company

J. Keith Benedict, CFA

Chief Executive Officer

Keith Benedict is the chief executive officer of South Summit Capital Management LLC and the chief investment officer of the John M. Belk Endowment. He implements an investment strategy focused on accessing high-quality ideas, opportunities and investment partners.

Keith was formerly executive vice president and managing director at A.G. Hill Partners, LLC, where he managed investments across asset classes and served as a trust fiduciary and general counsel. 

He earned his Bachelor of Arts degree in English literature from Vanderbilt University and his Juris Doctor from Washington and Lee University School of Law.

Keith is a member of the State Bar of Texas and a Life Fellow of the Texas Bar Foundation. He is a Chartered Financial Analyst Charterholder.

Samuel B. Bowles

Managing Director

Sam Bowles is a managing director and a member of the board of directors of New Republic Partners. He also serves as a member of the firm’s executive committee and investment committee. Sam brings extensive expertise and experience in the areas of private equity, investment management, capital markets, and mergers and acquisitions.

His prior experience includes roles as a managing director of Threadridge Investment Partners, a fully integrated single family office and holding company, and as a principal at Carousel Capital where he sourced and executed private equity transactions and monitored portfolio companies. Sam also worked at Morgan Stanley in the mergers & acquisitions group in New York.

He holds a bachelor of science degree in business administration from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and a master of business administration degree from Harvard Business School.

Sam currently serves on the boards of the UNC Healthcare System where he serves as chairman of the finance committee, the Greater Charlotte Cultural Trust, the Endowment for the Mint Museum where he serves as chairman, the endowment of St. Peter’s Episcopal Church where he serves as chairman of the investment committee, and the Kenan-Flagler Business School.

Claude S. Burton


Claude Burton is an advisor to SkyKnight Capital. He has been involved in SkyKnight’s investments in AmWINS, Core Specialty and Watco. 

Prior to his involvement with SkyKnight Capital, Claude held C-level roles at Conductor and Mandic Cloud Solutions, working alongside Riverwood Capital. 

He also served as an advisor to the President’s National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform, also known as the “Simpson-Bowles Commission.” 

Claude was part of the private equity team at New Mountain Capital and was instrumental in launching New Mountain’s debt business. He began his career at J.P. Morgan in investment banking in the mergers & acquisitions group.

Previously Claude served on the board of directors for symplr and Heffernan. He served as a board observer for IMA, Patra, and 3Gtms. 

Claude received a Bachelor of Science in economics from Duke University, magna cum laude. He is a graduate of the joint MBA and MPP degree program at Harvard Business School and Harvard Kennedy School where he was a George Leadership Fellow.

Janet R. Cowell

Former N.C. State Treasurer & Former Chairman

Janet Cowell is the chief executive officer of the Dix Park Conservancy. In this role, she leads strategic initiatives to promote, fund and develop the park, including a broad scope of programmed activities and special events. Janet leads with a vision for the park to be a transformative public space for everyone to enjoy.

Prior to leading the Dix Park Conservancy, Janet was the chief executive officer of Girls Who Invest, a non-profit with a mission to increase participation by women in the field of investment management. 

Janet served North Carolina as the first woman to hold the office of state treasurer. She stabilized and strengthened the pension fund in the aftermath of the Great Recession and stock market drop and grew the fund from $60 to $90 billion, with a compound return of more than 7.5 percent over eight years. She also strengthened supplemental retirement programs for state and local employees, reducing fees and providing additional options and improved oversight.  

As state treasurer, she took on the responsibility of managing the health plan for over 900,000 state employees and retirees. She improved the financial stability of the plan while increasing services and options for members. 

She is a former chair of the North Carolina Banking Commission. She also served as a state senator in the North Carolina General Assembly. Her first foray into elected office was as a member of the Raleigh City Council. 

Janet earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in finance from the University of Pennsylvania and an MBA from the Wharton School of Business.

Jeremy S. Dancu


Jeremy Dancu is a principal at SkyKnight Capital where he serves on the investment team. 

His previous experience includes work on private equity investments at Silver Lake Partners. He began his career at Goldman Sachs in the investment banking division. 

Jeremy graduated summa cum laude from the University of Notre Dame with a Bachelor of Arts degree in finance and economics.

Matthew C. Ebbel

Managing Director & Founder

Matthew Ebbel serves as a managing partner and founder of SkyKnight Capital. 

Prior to founding SkyKnight Capital, he was a managing director at New Mountain Capital where he helped the firm grow from an initial $770 million private equity fund to a $15 billion alternative asset manager. 

Matt began his career at McKinsey & Company as a business analyst in corporate finance and strategy.

In addition to his board role at New Republic Partners, Matt serves on the board of directors for AmWINS, Core Specialty, Heffernan and DOCS Dermatology. He is a former board member for MedVet, AeroCare, Watco and WhiteWater Express. 

He graduated magna cum laude from Harvard College with a B.A. in economics. He  is a CFA charterholder.

Thomas K. Hoops

Chief Executive Officer

Tom Hoops is the chief executive officer at New Republic Partners. He leads the firm’s innovative investment platform, bringing insights and experience from a 35-year career in global asset management and fresh perspectives on the new dynamics of financial markets.

Tom is one of the chief architects of the firm’s vision for providing clients with next-level access to investment and credit solutions usually reserved for large institutional investors. 

Prior to founding New Republic Partners, Tom held senior level executive positions in leading global financial services firms, bringing expertise in global asset management, strategic investments and corporate strategy. 

His experience includes leadership as a member of the executive committee at Legg Mason Global Asset Management where he was responsible for the firm’s global product organization, global M&A and strategic investments. He held a number of posts at Wells Fargo, including head of Affiliated Managers at Wells Fargo Asset Management, global chief operating officer of Wachovia’s Evergreen Investments, and chief investment officer of Wachovia’s Strategic Ventures Group. 

Tom received his bachelor’s degree in computer science and economics from Duke University, a J.D. degree from the University of North Carolina School of Law and an MBA from the Kenan-Flagler Business School at the University of North Carolina. 

Tom also holds the Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) designation and is a member of the North Carolina Bar Association and the Bar of the Supreme Court of the United States.

James Arthur “Art” Pope

Chairman & Chief Executive Officer

Art Pope is the chairman of the board of directors and chief executive officer of Variety Wholesalers, Inc. He formally joined the company alongside his father in 1986. Headquartered in Raleigh and Henderson, North Carolina, the company owns and operates over 400 discount merchandise retail stores with 10,000 employees in 18 states.  

Art also serves as the chairman and CEO of the John William Pope Foundation, a family foundation established in 1986. The foundation has given over $200 million in charitable grants to meet human needs through direct humanitarian assistance and provided opportunities for the future through higher education and public policy research. 

He began his career as an attorney with the law firm Wyrick, Robbins, Yates and Ponton in Raleigh, North Carolina. 

He has a long history of public service. In 1985, at 29, he served as special counsel to North Carolina Governor Jim Martin. He served four terms as a North Carolina state representative, spanning 1989-1992 and 1999-2002. He also served as the North Carolina state budget director under Governor Pat McCrory from 2013-2014. From 2020 through the present, he has been a member of the board of governors of the University of North Carolina.

Art has contributed his time to many philanthropic and service organizations, including The Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation (chairman), Institute for Humane Studies at George Mason University (pastchairman), BEST NC – NC Business Leaders for Education (board of directors), Hurricane Matthew Recovery Committee (member), UNC Advisory Committee on Strategic Directions (member), and the Golden L.E.A.F. Foundation (board of directors). 

He has been honored with the Order of the Long Leaf Pine and is a recipient of the William Richardson Davie Award from University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. 

Art earned his bachelor’s degree with honors in political science from UNC-CH and a Juris Doctor from Duke University. He is a member of the North Carolina State Bar. 

David S. Routh

Managing Director

David Routh is a managing director at New Republic Partners where he serves as a member of the firm’s executive committee and as a member of the board of directors. He works with senior leadership to evaluate strategic acquisitions and grow the firm’s network of clients and team talent. He also advises clients on philanthropic planning and gift strategies. David brings decades of experience in advising high-net-worth families, endowments and foundations. 

David retired in 2022 as the vice chancellor for development at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. While there, he led the nationally acclaimed, record-breaking “Campaign for Carolina,” which raised over $5 billion for the university. He also served as the chief executive officer of the UNC – Chapel Hill Foundation — the university’s central foundation — and as a board member of the Chapel Hill Investment Fund, the university’s $5 billion endowment.  

Over the prior 25 years, David held a variety of roles at U.S. Trust in New York as well as North Carolina Trust and Bank of America. He led the high-net-worth/ultra-high-net-worth team serving individual, family office and not-for-profit clients in North Carolina and the Southeast region. He had oversight of the national institutional relationship teams serving endowment and foundation clients, and was a managing director of the charitable services group based in New York serving large colleges, universities and community foundations. 

David has always been active in not-for-profit board leadership. He currently serves on the boards of the Eshelman Institute for Innovation, the Morehead-Cain Scholarship Fund and the Angelman Syndrome Foundation. He chairs the board of the Advancement Leadership Lab, a leadership development program for select large public universities. 

David received his Bachelor of Arts degree in economics and religious studies, with Phi Beta Kappa honors, from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Ralph N. Strayhorn

Chairman, President & CEO

Ralph Strayhorn is the chairman, president and chief executive officer at NRPI. He leads the firm’s growth strategies in markets throughout the United States, with a focus on southeastern states.

Ralph brings insights and experience from a longstanding career in financial services, including chief executive officer of First Avenue National Bank headquartered in Ocala, Florida, chief administrative officer and member of the board of directors at BNC Bancorp, and president and chief executive officer of SterlingSouth Bank & Trust Company. 

His expertise in lending, compliance and operations guides the firm’s philosophies and practices in delivering top-tier service to clients.

Prior to leading NRPI, Ralph led a private consulting practice focused on helping banks navigate mergers, sales and complex compliance issues. His leadership of bank transitions earned praise from boards of directors and regulators alike.

He was appointed by the Governor of North Carolina to the board of the Golden LEAF Foundation where he served as the chairman of the investment committee. He was recently reappointed to the board by the Speaker of the House.

Ralph received his bachelor’s degree from the University of North Carolina and his J.D. from the University of North Carolina School of Law.