Meet Our Team
Ophir Sternberg began his career assembling, acquiring and developing properties in emerging neighborhoods in New York City, which established his reputation for identifying assets with unrealized potential and combining innovative partnerships with efficient financing structures to realize above average returns. Sternberg came to the United States in 1993 after completing three years of military service within an elite combat unit for the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF).
In 2010, Sternberg shifted his principal focus to South Florida. Again, taking the contrarian view, he led Lionheart Capital in the acquisition of several trophy luxury residential development sites at deeply discounted valuations. Dedicated to working with only best-in-class partners, Lionheart Capital has since completed numerous transactions including the development of two Ritz-Carlton projects.
Under Sternberg’s leadership, Lionheart Capital executed numerous, marquee real estate transactions and repositions, including The Ritz-Carlton Residences in Miami Beach, which resulted in a total sell-out value in excess of $550 million as well as the purchase of the development’s site, the former Miami Heart Institute. Additionally Sternberg led the $120 million sale of The Seagull Hotel, making it the highest grossing hotel sale of 2020 in Miami Beach.
Sternberg and Lionheart Capital are currently in development on a number of other projects, including but are not limited to retail properties in Miami’s fashion and culture epicenter, The Design District. In addition to The Ritz-Carlton Residences, Miami Beach, Lionheart Capital also completed The Ritz-Carlton Residences, Singer Island in Palm Beach building a reputation for developing high-end luxury branded properties.
In 2017, Sternberg founded Out of the Box Ventures, a Lionheart Capital subsidiary, to acquire and reposition distressed retail properties throughout the United States. With over 30 properties in 17 states, Out of the Box Ventures currently controls over 6 million square feet of big box stores, shopping centers and enclosed regional mall properties with plans to improve and expand upon these acquisitions.
Sternberg and Lionheart Capital are dedicated to working with best-in-class operators and partners such as Marriott International. Lionheart Capital has been able to execute numerous, marquee transactions due largely in part to Sternberg’s extensive industry relationships particularly with key institutional investors.
In March 2020, Sternberg became Chairman of OPES Acquisition Corp., or OPES, a special purpose acquisition company, or SPAC. On June 30, 2020, OPES announced a definitive agreement to merge with BurgerFi International LLC. The OPES-BurgerFi merger closed on December 16, 2020 to form BurgerFi International Inc. Sternberg is the Executive Chairman of the post-combination company. BurgerFi is a fast-casual “better burger” concept that consists of approximately 125 restaurants nationally and internationally. The OPES team, led by Sternberg, evaluated over 50 potential targets and negotiated business combination terms with multiple candidates in a span of a few months and acquired BurgerFi at what it believed was an attractive multiple relative to its peers.
In addition, since its inception in December 2019, Sternberg has been the Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Lionheart Acquisition Corporation II, or LCAP II, the company’s second SPAC (Nasdaq: LCAP). On August 21, 2020, the company raised $230M with its initial public offering and was welcomed into the Nasdaq family with the ringing of the opening bell. On August 21, 2020, the company raised $230M with its initial public offering and was welcomed into the Nasdaq family with the ringing of the opening bell. On July 12, 2021, Lionheart Acquisition Corp. II announced its business combination with MSP Recovery, a leader in data-driven solutions, recovering improperly paid benefits on behalf of Medicare, Medicaid and commercial payers.
In March 2021, Lionheart III and Lionheart IV were filed as the company’s third and fourth SPACs, respectively as $100 million and $250 million dollar raises. Lionheart III plans to be listed on Nasdaq under the ticker LION and Lionheart IV plans to be listed under the ticker LHIV. Sternberg is a the Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Lionheart III and Lionheart IV, SPACs that may seek to acquire a broad range of businesses. On November 4, 2021, Lionheart III, raised $250M with its initial public offering and was welcomed into the Nasdaq family.
On October 11, 2021, BurgerFi announced the acquisition of Anthony’s Coal Fired Pizza & Wings, creating a multi-brand platform of premium casual restaurant concepts. BurgerFi was named Fast Casual’s #1 Brand of the year for 2021 in the “Top 100 Movers and Shakers” list, and the top fast casual better burger chain in USA Today’s “10 Best Readers’ Choice Awards” for 2021. With the acquisition of Anthony’s, BurgerFi will have 177 systemwide restaurant locations across the country through its two premium casual dining brands, with 61 Anthony’s locations and 116 BurgerFi locations. The transaction closed on November 4, 2021.
In May 2021, Sternberg became Co-owner of the legendary and iconic American speed boat racing brand, Cigarette Racing Team, synonymous for custom-made, handcrafted, high-powered luxury performance powerboats. Cigarette’s reputation as the market’s premier powerboat builder has roots deep in offshore racing’s history where performance made its early run for glory. From its inception in 1969, the company grew in size and reputation, based on the hard-racing, fast-lane living of its founder, Don Aronow. The Cigarette brand has grown in sophistication, becoming a product excellence company which focuses on impeccable engineering and beautiful design. Cigarette now builds the finest powerboats for the most loyal and discriminating performance boaters, using only the best in materials, technology and workmanship.
Allison Greenfield, is Chief Development Officer at Lionheart Capital, with over 25 years of experience in the management, operations, marketing and organization of real estate investments.
Beginning her career in the real estate industry in sales in Manhattan, Greenfield co-founded Oz Holdings, LLC in 1995. At Oz, she worked to realize the full potential of undervalued assets through renovation, construction and unique marketing campaigns.
At Lionheart Capital, and its subsidiaries, Greenfield has been involved in all aspects of an investments lifecycle including operations, design, construction and marketing. Greenfield’s responsibilities continue to be the implementation of development and repositioning plans, with particular specialization in Development and Construction activities.
Greenfield is also a trained architect; a trade she learned to better compliment her duties with the firm. Ms. Greenfield studied Architecture at The New School University, Parsons School of Design and holds a Bachelors Degree in History from Barnard College/Columbia University.
Paul has also acted as board member at several emerging growth companies, primarily in the energy, technology and infrastructure sectors. Recent experience included acting as Chief Financial Officer at dual-listed (Canada/Sweden) solar energy development company. Here Paul was responsible for managing all finance functions, including financial reporting, treasury & cash management, corporate finance, regulatory/SEC compliance matters and investor relations. While at Etrion (as CFO) Paul implemented risk mgmt controls, robust reporting templates with Audit Committee, and improved institutional investor relations through improved scoring by ISS and Glass Lewis.
Prior to this, Paul acted as chief commercial officer for a dual-listed (Canada/US) independent power company with over 2500 MW of power generating assets under management. Here Paul oversaw expansion of the company from 15 employees to 300+ and internalization of key corporate functions (Asset Mgt, HR, IR, Legal). Paul chaired the Investment Committee and had primary responsibility for $1.5B merger that more than doubled the company market cap, involved integrating union/non-union employees, multiple accounting platforms.
Paul has a BA from Amherst College and an MBA from the Harvard Business School.
Faquiry Diaz Cala is currently the Chief Operating Officer for Lionheart Capital and its affiliated entities. In this role, he leads Mergers & Acquisitions and Corporate Strategy.
An investor and operator, over the past 25 years, Mr. Diaz Cala has held positions as an executive, board member, and observer at various public and private corporations in the US and internationally. He has also served on the boards of several non-profit organizations and educational institutions.
He is a graduate of the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania and resides in Miami, Florida.
Jessica Wasserstrom is the Chief Legal Officer for Lionheart Capital, LLC and its affiliated companies. She is a highly-skilled attorney with nearly 30 years of high-level local, national and international experience and expertise. Jessica spent more than half of her legal career at Weil, Gotshal & Manges, LLP, one the nation’s most prestigious law firms, before serving as Vice President for a subsidiary of Wells Fargo and then returning to the full-time practice of law at Meland, Russin & Budwick.
She has a breadth and depth of experience and knowledge in a myriad of legal disciplines and is responsible for handling or overseeing all legal matters within the Lionheart group of companies. Originally from Pennsylvania, Jessica holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Systems Engineering from the University of Pennsylvania, a Bachelor’s Degree in Accounting from the Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania, and a Juris Doctor degree from Georgetown University Law Center.
Lowry Brescia is the Vice President of Operations at Lionheart Capital. She oversees the project management and property management for Lionheart’s various retail properties throughout the United States. This includes the coordination of off-site operations and the development of valuable strategic initiatives for the company. She has over 19 years of experience in international marketing, branding, public relations and client services for multi-national organizations and individuals within the diplomatic, hospitality, non-profit, and legal fields.
Prior to joining Lionheart, she served as Director of Public Relations & Client Services and Project Manager for 11 years at the world-renowned international tax, trust and estate boutique law firm of Cantor & Webb P.A. During her time there, she managed a wide range of projects and assets for ultra-high-net-worth international private clients.
Ashley Thornburg is the Vice President of Retail Leasing for Lionheart Capital and its affiliate Out of the Box Ventures. Thornburg has over 13 years of retail experience and most recently formed Elevated Commercial Real Estate in 2013 serving numerous clients, including Equity One, Regency Centers, and First Washington, among others, on the third party leasing of their shopping centers. She currently serves on the ICSC South Florida Idea Exchange Committee and is a former Miami-Dade ICSC NextGen Chair and Broward ICSC committee member.
Thornburg has been awarded for her excellence in retail leasing and received the 2010, 2011 and 2016 CoStar Power Broker Awards. Prior to forming Elevated Commercial, Thornburg spearheaded leasing of Publix Super Markets’ portfolio of seventeen South Florida owned centers – among other third party assignments in Dade, Broward, Palm Beach and Martin counties as the South Florida office for Orlando based Crossman & Company. Thornburg is an honors graduate of the University of Florida and received her M.B.A. with honors from the Crummer Graduate School of Business at Rollins College in Winter Park, Florida.
John Petersen is Comptroller at Lionheart Capital with more than 25 years of experience in public accounting and financial management within the hospitality and real estate industries. During his career he has coordinated and managed the business side of several ventures across the U.S. and Canada, developing a broad expertise in financial operations, systems and reporting.
Originally from California, Petersen started his career in 1982 with the public accounting firm of Deloitte Haskins and Sells in Alberta, Canada, now Deloitte and Touche. He left public accounting to join the hospitality industry in 1985, devoting himself to the financial management of major hotel properties in the Canadian Rockies, New York City and Miami.
While in New York he became extensively involved in real estate development and the acquisition, retrofitting, redevelopment and operation of choice hospitality properties in the northeastern U.S. After moving to Miami, during his six-year tenure at Carnival Hotels and Casinos, he directed the financial operations of the luxury five-star Grand Bay Hotel in Coconut Grove.
In 1999, Petersen joined Flagler Holding Group, a predecessor partner of Lionheart Capital, as CFO and oversaw all administrative and financial matters relating to their major condominium developments in Miami.
As Controller at Lionheart Capital and its 15+ affiliate companies, Petersen is responsible for all administration, including internal/external reporting, forecasting and budgeting. Petersen studied Economics at UCLA and holds a Bachelor of Commerce (Business) in Accounting from the University of Alberta in Canada.
Colin Carby is the Director of Development for Lionheart Capital.
Carby has 20 years of real estate experience developing large scale mixed-use, hospitality, residential, retail and commercial projects in North America, Middle East, Asia, and the Caribbean markets.
Since 2002, Carby has represented entities, such as LVMH, Dubai World, Capital Partners, Midtown Miami, City of Miami, and Bank of America, leading global acquisitions, pre-development due diligence, master planning, and full cycle development management initiatives, which yielded several million square feet of lifestyle communities.
In 2020, Colin joined Lionheart Capital to redevelop several large scaled assets, such as Lakeside Mall in Michigan, which is a 94-acre master planned initiative.
Mr. Carby received his B.A in real estate development at Georgia State University in Atlanta, GA.
Karla Rooks is the Senior Architect at Lionheart Capital. Rooks comes from architectural and construction background before joining Lionheart Capital, having worked at architectural firms for 26+ years and 3 years at construction companies mainly in high end residential and hospitality projects. Her work has taken her to South America, Central America, Caribbean and the Middle East in which she participated in high end hospitality and multifamily residential projects. Rooks holds a Bachelor’s degree in Architecture from the University of Zulia and a Masters in Architecture from the University of Cincinnati.
Bob Simons is the Senior Project Manager for Lionheart Capital. Simons is responsible for estimates, design management and operations for Lionheart Capital’s projects. Simons current focus is on the construction of The Ritz-Carlton Residences, Miami Beach.
Over the course of his 40 year career, Simons has overseen the successful delivery of skyscrapers, high-rises, airport and industrial projects as both the Project Director for leading domestic and international General Contractors and as an Owner’s Representative.