A seasoned team guiding young enterprises

The leadership of the GRA Venture Fund, LLC does much more than manage an investment fund. It leverages the full power of Georgia's entrepreneurial ecosystem by connecting the Fund's portfolio companies to experienced business advisors and industry leaders.

This door-opening network helps ensure that the portfolio companies enter the marketplace not only with groundbreaking products and services, but also with the best chance of succeeding through sound leadership and strong financial management.

Connor Seabrook
Managing Director

Connor SeabrookConnor Seabrook was named Managing Director of GRA Venture Fund in July 2021. 

With 30 years of experience growing and funding young enterprises, Mr. Seabrook also serves as GRA’s director of investments and venture acceleration. 

In that role, he guides university projects through strategizing and goal-setting; identifies product development milestones; and shapes a vision for business development.

See Connor’s complete bio >

Kurt Jacobus, Ph.D., Senior Advisor

Dr. Jacobus served as managing director for GRA Venture Fund for more than two years (2018-2021).

As CEO of MedShape, Inc., an orthopedic device company he co-founded, he is a materials scientist and mechanical engineer with a track record of growing young businesses as a leader, advisor and investor. (In April 2021, MedShape was acquired by DJO, a subsidiary of Colfax Corporation / NYSE: CFX.)

In addition to MedShape, Dr. Jacobus had a founding role in three other companies and has served in a formal advisory role to five other companies.

Michelle Jarrard, Senior Advisor

Michelle Jarrard, Managing DirectorAs senior advisor, Ms. Jarrard provides counsel and expertise to the fast-growing companies in the Fund’s portfolio. Ms. Jarrard is also president and CEO of BioCircuit Technologies, a medical device company developing tools for neural interfacing and tissue repair.

The former global chief of HR and talent officer for McKinsey & Co., Ms. Jarrard had responsibilities that spanned the company's 20,000 employees and 50+ country footprint. Among them: people strategy, talent acquisition and development, partner compensation and evaluation, diversity, internal communications, HR analytics and policies and risk.


Frances (Fran) Gail Rogers
Chair, GRA Venture Fund, LLC
Fran Rogers is the founder and president of Checks & Balances, Inc., a registered investment advisory service. She also is president of WH Capital, LLC, which owns various trademarks, including Waffle House, as well as owns and leases restaurant properties. 

Previously, Ms. Rogers served as controller at Moore Capital Management, an Atlanta-based investment advisory firm, where she was responsible for all accounting, trading, and back office functions. She serves on several boards and is a former trustee and chair of the investment committee for Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta.

F. Duane Ackerman
Former President and CEO, BellSouth Corporation
Duane Ackerman had a 43-year career with BellSouth Corporation which culminated in 2007 when he retired as chairman emeritus.

Ackerman served as president and CEO of BellSouth Corporation from 1997 to 2006; as chairman of the board from 1998 to 2006; and as vice chairman and chief operating officer from 1995 to 1997. He also served as president and CEO of BellSouth Telecommunications, a local telephone service unit and the largest subsidiary of BellSouth Corporation.

Bill Midgette
Managing Partner, Fairburn Equity Partners
Bill Midgette retired from Porex Corporation in 2016 after serving as president and CEO for 13 years, and following two successful leveraged buyouts. During his tenure, Porex made several successful M&A transactions, on both the buying and selling side, on its way to becoming the global leader in advanced porous polymer solutions.

Bill now leads Fairburn Equity partners, advising early-stage technology companies, and he serves on the board of Carbice Corporation. He also spent 18 years with C.R. Bard, Inc., where he held several senior executive positions including serving as president of Bard International, Inc., Bard Medical and Bard Japan Ltd.

Charles (Charlie) Ogburn
Non-Executive Chairman of the Board, Crawford & Company
Along with his leadership role at Crawford & Company, Charles Ogburn serves on the Boards of Caribou Coffee, Cypress Communications LLC, the Duke Islamic Studies Center, Children's Healthcare of Atlanta and Cook & Bynum Funds Trust.

Previously, Ogburn was executive director at Arcapita Bank BSC and held the same position at Arcapita, Inc. He served as trustee at Cook & Bynum Capital Management LLC and attorney at King & Spalding LLP.

David M. Ratcliffe
Retired Chairman and CEO, Southern Company
David Ratcliffe enjoyed a 40-year career with the Southern Company and its subsidiaries, Mississippi Power and Georgia Power, before retiring as chairman and chief executive officer of Southern Company. He currently chairs GRA’s Board of Trustees.

Widely recognized for his leadership within the U.S. electric utility industry, David is past chairman of the Edison Electric Institute as well as the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta and the Georgia Chamber of Commerce. He also serves on the Truist and Urjanet boards.