Mergers & Acquisitions has named 18 dealmakers as honorees of its 8th annual Most Influential Women in Mid-Market M&A.

The women being honored hail from a variety of firms in the M&A ecosystem including private equity shops, law firms and investment banks. Several have founded or co-founded their own firms and have appeared on this list in past years. Among them are Beatrice Mitchell of Sperry Mitchell & Co, Marilyn Adler of Mizzen Capital, Heather Faust of Argand Partners, Suzanne Yoon of Kinzie Capital Partners and Sheryl Schwartz of ALTI Financial.

Others are Wall Street veterans who have worn a variety of high profile hats throughout their career and paved the way for other women in finance more than once. Case in point is Alexandra Lebenthal of Houlihan Loukey.

All have significant influence inside their companies and in the wider middle-market dealmaking universe. They each also have an ongoing commitment to advance the state of women in financial services.

In the eight years since this list was first published, inroads have been made, but gender diversity still has a long way to go. “Sadly, there are still too few women in M&A and private equity, especially at senior levels,” points out Mitchell. “The industry needs to create greater opportunity and career paths for women. Women bring too much talent and ambition for the industry to ignore.”

Women hold 23 percent of all investing roles at private equity firms in the Americas but account for only 13 percent at the managing director level, according to research published in 2022 by global consultant McKinsey & Co.

“I strongly believe in the power of mentors and strive to be a role model for others, particularly women in private equity. As the industry does more to embrace women as dealmakers and operational leaders, it’s critical that they have another woman in leadership to offer guidance and advocate for them,” says Anna May Trala, managing director and CFO at GTCR, a two-time winner of the award.

“I believe that I have an incredible opportunity and obligation to raise the profile of women and serve as a visible example of success in the industry through my engagement with the media, women’s groups, philanthropic endeavors and speaking events,” says Yoon, who launched Kinzie Capital Partners in 2017.

“Mentorship and sponsorship of women is also so important, which is why I am active with groups like Private Equity Women Investor Network (PEWIN) and Women’s Association of Venture and Equity (WAVE) that serve as an incredible support system and network for women, especially young professionals looking to advance their careers,” she adds.

Advancing the state of women extends to female-led companies too. For example, Lebenthal points out that Houlihan Lokey now tracks all of the firm’s women-led deals through a quarterly update that underscores its commitment to being “the investment bank that speaks to female CEOs.” She highlights a deal like Thinx (Kimberly-Clark acquired a majority stake in 2022), a brand that has led to the rapid expansion of the period underwear category.

“Spotlighting deals like Thinx shows how women are rewriting the narrative around companies that previously have been seen as taboo or embarrassing. It’s important that our female bankers, CEOs and clients all feel empowered to talk about these deals,” says Lebenthal, who is currently a senior advisor in Houlihan Lokey’s financial sponsors group where she leads specialized investment banking advisory for women-led companies. “I always like to say, ‘This isn’t your grandfather’s M&A anymore.’ “

Below you’ll find links to Q&As with each of the 2023 Most Influential Women in Mid-Market M&A. An additional 17 women received honorable mentions.

[Editor’s Note: We will open nominations for the 2024 Most Influential Women in Mid-Market M&A in early October, two months earlier than the last few years. Winners will be announced in January. Please mark your calendars and stay tuned later this year.]

2023 Most Influential Women in Mid-Market M&A
Marilyn AdlerManaging PartnerMizzen Capital
Sonya BrownGeneral PartnerNorwest
Heather FaustCo-Founder, Managing PartnerArgand Partners LP
Laura HeldPartner, Executive CommitteeShamrock Capital
Helana Robbins HuddlestonPartner, Manufacturing and Distribution Industry,
Co-Leader, Transaction Advisory Services
CohnReznick LLP
Elizabeth Karter Managing PartnerMizzen Capital
Alexandra LebenthalSenior AdvisorHoulihan Lokey
Beatrice MitchellCo-Founder, Managing DirectorSperry Mitchell & Co.
Michelle MooreEquity PartnerReed Smith
Melissa MounceManaging Director, Leadership Talent & DiversityGTCR LLC
Anne PhilpottManaging Director, Junior Capital & Private Equity SolutionsChurchill Asset Management
Larissa RozyckiManaging DirectorHarris Williams
Sheryl SchwartzCo-Founder, Chief Investment OfficerALTI Financial
Kimberly SmithPartner, Global Chair-Corporate DepartmentKatten
Anna May TralaManaging Director, Chief Financial OfficerGTCR, LLC
Solange-Marie VelazquezManaging Director, TechnologyWilliam Blair
Amy WollensackPartnerAkin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld LLP
Suzanne YoonFounder, Managing PartnerKinzie Capital Partners
2023 Honorable Mentions
Laurie CervenyPartner, Managing Partner of Industries and Strategic InitiativesMorgan, Lewis & Bockius LLP
Amy ChristensenPartner, Co-Head of HealthcareThe Vistria Group
Cameron ContizanoPartner, Co-Chair ESG + Impact,
Co-Chair Washington, D.C.
Goodwin Procter LLP
Alysa CraigManaging Director, Head of SPAC BankingStifel
Hannah Stone CravenManaging PartnerStone-Goff Partners
Jennifer FullerManaging Director, Fintech & Financial Services Investment BankingKBW, a Stifel Company
Sylvie GadantPartner, Practice Leader, Transaction Advisory ServicesCitrin Cooperman Advisors LLC
Joanna Stone HermanPartnerOaklins DeSilva+Phillips
Kristin JohnsonManaging DirectorAltamont Capital Partners
Karin KovacicManaging DirectorBaker Tilly Capital LLC
Duffy LorenzPartner, Chair of Chicago Transactional Practice GroupBaker McKenzie
Carolyn MathisPartnerHarbor View Advisors
Beth MichelsonSenior Managing PartnerCartesian Capital
Margarita Pineda-UceroManaging DirectorAudax Private Debt
Natasha PloosterCOOBridgepoint Investment Banking
Susan RoddyManaging Director, Consumer, Food & Retail GroupHoulihan Lokey
Holly SmythManaging DirectorB.Riley Securities