John Bessone was born and raised in Michigan as an athletic department brat at Michigan State University, where his father was the ice hockey coach for 28 years. After graduating from high school where he captained the football and track teams, he headed east for a post-graduate year at Phillips Exeter Academy in Exeter, New Hampshire, and played football and hockey. After Exeter, John matriculated at Williams College in Williamstown, Massachusetts, for the next four years. He was a member of the College Council, lettered in hockey, and spent his junior year mentoring 35 freshmen by living in a dormitory with them for the year as a Junior Advisor. After graduation from Williams, John spent one year in Chicago working at Chubb Insurance in their training program before heading back east to work for ABC Sports in New York. Over the next seven years working full-time and many years after that working on a part-time basis, he traveled the world covering sporting events of all kinds for ABC, including multiple Major League Baseball World Series, five Indianapolis 500s, college football national championships, and three Olympic games. John won an Emmy Award as an associate director for his work on the 1984 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles.
In 1986, John and his wife Lisa both left sports-related jobs and moved to Chicago, and John joined the boutique Investment Banking Firm of Richland Gordon & Company, a middle-market buy-side firm. Over the next five years, they closed deals with private equity firms ranging from $10mm up to $100mm. From there, John moved on and joined Stevenson & Company, another Chicago-based investment banking firm predominately working sell-side M&A. In 1994, Lisa’s company, Outside Magazine, moved to Santa Fe, New Mexico, and John opened a Western office for Stevenson. Then, after several more years working with Stevenson & Company, John joined another boutique investment banking firm, KTL Industries, which was headquartered in Memphis, again to cover the Western U.S. for them.
In 2006, John was hired by Fort Washington Capital Partners, the private equity arm of Fort Washington Investment Advisors, an Ohio-based investment advisory company, to run a $45 million co-investment fund that Fort Washington was charged with managing for the state of New Mexico. As part of the contract, Fort Washington needed a professional on the ground in New Mexico and reached out to John to manage the fund. Over the next 10 years, along with other venture and private equity investors, they led initial and follow-on rounds of investment in nine New Mexico-based companies and orchestrated the sale of one. During that time, John also operated in an institutional sales role for Fort Washington, covering the West Coast and calling on institutional investors and their consultants to pitch the investment strategies that Fort Washington offered to institutional clients.
However, with almost 30 years of merger and acquisition experience and involvement in transactions with a total market value of over $500 million, John wanted to get back into a more direct M&A-focused business and joined Affinity Ventures in the summer of 2018.
John and Lisa live in Santa Fe, where they raised their two children: Mary (33), currently a practicing attorney in Chicago, and Peter (30), an investment banker in Denver. They have two horses, two dogs, and three cats. They love the outdoors and hiking with the dogs. Lisa rides her horses throughout Northern New Mexico, and John enjoys playing senior hockey and golf. And they never take the 300 days of sun in New Mexico for granted.
- Fort Washington Investment Advisors, Santa Fe, New Mexico, and Cincinnati, Ohio
- Stevenson & Company, Santa Fe, New Mexico, and Chicago, Illinois
- KTL Industries, Santa Fe, New Mexico, and Memphis, Tennessee
- Richland Gordon & Company, Chicago, Illinois
- ABC Sports, Inc., New York, New York
- Bachelor of Arts, Williams College, Williamstown, Massachusetts
- Post Graduate Degree, Phillips Exeter Academy, Exeter, New Hampshire
- Association for Corporate Growth, (ACG)
- Directors Guild of America, (DGA)
Community Activities and Personal Interests
- Family, ice hockey, golf, and hiking
- Founder and Former president of Santa Fe Youth Hockey Association
Won Emmy Award for work on 1984 Summer Olympics