Executive Leadership

Our executive leadership team is comprised of experts in information technology, marketing, operations, retirement plan administration and management, product development and the servicing of retirement products. Our Board of Managers includes some of the retirement industry’s top leaders.

Pete Kirtland

Chief Executive Officer
“The reason we founded Aspire, and what still drives us today, is the ability to create better retirement outcomes for hard-working Americans. It is very fulfilling to see the positive impact we have made, and will continue to make.” Bbio-image-link

Mark Agustin

Mark Agustin

President | COO
“Aspire’s associates truly take pride in delivering exceptional solutions with world-class service every day so that our partners and plan sponsors can excel at what they do best—improving retirement investment outcomes for individuals and families up to and through retirement.” Bbio-image-link
Mark Agustin is the President and COO of Aspire Financial Services, responsible for overseeing the company’s strategy, direction and leadership of day-to-day operational functions, including Operations and Processing Support, Client Services, Technology Development and Infrastructure, Finance, Billing, Legal and Human Resources. In this capacity, Mark has helped provide management oversight for a number of strategic growth initiatives. Mark joined Aspire in January 2012 as Chief Financial Officer and was instrumental in leading the company through its first equity financing with FTV Capital.

With over 22 years of financial and operational management experience, Mark possesses an impressive track record of successfully leading public and privately held mid-market companies across multiple industry sectors to improve operational and financial performance through various stages of growth and expansion. Previously, Mark served as Senior Vice President and Chief Operating/Financial Officer of a leading global healthcare IT solutions provider and played a pivotal role leading the company through its start-up phase and ultimate strategic merger with a larger entity. Prior to that, Mark served as Senior Vice President and Chief Financial Officer of Carrier Enterprise, one of the largest independent distributors of consumer products. In this position, Mark helped form the joint venture in building out the company’s fiscal and operational infrastructure, which resulted in substantial earnings and market share growth. Mark also served as Chief Operating Officer and/or Chief Financial Officer for various companies, including PMSI/AmerisourceBergen, Zavata, Watsco, IMR Global, and HealthPlan Services.

Mark received his BS in Finance and Accounting from Widener University.


Mike Gottfried

Co-Founder | SVP, Product Management
“We saw a need in the marketplace that traditional vendors were not fulfilling—being a true partner to the financial professional and TPA focused on service and technology to meet their needs without a traditional requirement of proprietary products that limited choice and ultimately participant outcomes.” Bbio-image-link

Mike Gottfried is Co-Founder and Senior Vice President,  Product Management of Aspire Financial Services,
responsible for providing oversight and guidance in facilitating the access to tools, technology, resources and related capital to ensure Aspire consistently exceeds service-level expectations.

With over 17 years in the retirement plan industry, Mike possesses a wide range of experience in the Defined Contribution market, focusing on client service delivery, including daily recordkeeping and administration, plan conversions, account planning, performance management and sales support. Previously, Mike spent two years with InvestLink Technologies, where he served in a variety of roles. Mike’s responsibilities initially included software training, data conversions and software quality assurance. He later went on to sales support and sales within the organization. Prior to InvestLink, Mike worked for United Asset Management (UAM) Retirement Plan Services where he was involved in the new plan conversions and daily valuation administration of existing plans. This experience allowed Mike to further his knowledge of daily processing, including virtually all types of transactions, investments, and same-day late processing. Prior to UAM, Mike held several positions at Dreyfus Retirement Services including team leader and 401(k) call center representative, resolving participant inquiries on a daily basis.

In 2010, Mike was recognized as a Florida Finalist for Ernst & Young’s prestigious Entrepreneur of the Year award and in 2011 named as #18 on the
Tampa Bay Business Journal Fastest 50 Growing Companies list. Mike currently serves on the TD Ameritrade Operations Alpha Board.

Mike received his BBA from Hofstra University.


Dipankar Mandal

EVP | Chief Information Officer
“I look forward to helping shape Aspire’s systems and platforms to be recognized as the industry-leading technology platform.” Bbio-image-link

Dipankar Mandal is Executive Vice President and Chief Information Officer of Aspire Financial Services, responsible for formulating and leading Aspire’s IT strategy, technology evolution roadmap and IT resource model for the company’s conflict-free open-architecture technology platform serving all retirement plan stakeholders.

With over 25 years of experience as a technology executive/entrepreneur leading technology-focused business process outsourcing (BPO) companies, Dipankar possesses an impressive track record building and leading complex technology solutions for industry-leading companies. Previously, Dipankar was Managing Partner at ObjectSol, specializing in mobile application development, where he created complete mobile and web-based systems to quickly bring a client’s business concept to life and automated business processes. Prior to that, Dipankar was a Principal at agilisPragma, a company specializing in agile and pragmatic execution of time-sensitive business critical projects, where he focused on the application of process and technology to address complex business problems. Dipankar was also Founder/President of Acclaris, a leading consumer-driven health plan technology and service organization, designing and building a globally distributed service delivery framework servicing millions of clients. Dipankar also served as Senior Vice President and Chief Technology Officer of ABR Information Services (now part of Ceridian), a leading provider of HR benefits and retirement administration and outsourcing services, where he was responsible for all IT platforms and related infrastructure, and was instrumental leading the company through a number of system consolidations.

Dipankar received his Engineering, Electronics and Telecommunications degree from Jadavpur University.


Shelia Reed

Chief Marketing Officer
“The company caught my attention because it is the industry's best-kept secret—an innovative brand delivering unique value. Aspire truly makes a difference for its customers, partners and participants by conducting business in their best interest.” Bbio-image-link

Shelia Reed joined Aspire Financial Services in April 2013 as Chief Marketing Officer, responsible for leading marketplace and client experiences to drive awareness, acquisition, retention and loyalty, with a focus on multi-channel integrated marketing strategies across digital, brand, partner, communications, and white-label client programs.

As a senior professional in the marketing industry, Shelia brings a proven track record of success with impactful creative execution that motivates internal and external audiences, resulting in market-share value. Shelia’s knowledge of professional services, technology solutions, and business process outsourcing, as well as her strong leadership skills, have contributed to the success of several industry-leading organizations with high-impact, strategic branding and market positioning. 

Previously, Shelia served as Vice President of Marketing at PMSI, one of the nation’s largest providers of specialty products and services for the workers’ compensation and liability markets, where she built a world-class and respected brand both internally and externally. Prior to PMSI, Shelia served as the Global Brand leader for KPMG Consulting and BearingPoint. In this capacity, she led marketing strategies for 19 market segments in seven countries; led the rebranding efforts of the global brand from KPMG Consulting to BearingPoint in 130 countries; and held critical roles in the strategic repositioning from trading on the NASDAQ to the NYSE, global acquisitions, and strategic service offering initiatives. Shelia started her career at Kraft Foods in an analytical capacity for new product launches. 

Shelia launched the Tampa chapter of the nationally known The CMO Club and served as president for 18 months. She is also an active member of the CMO Council and Women in Pensions Network, as well as a Marketing Mentor in the University of South Florida mentorship program, and a frequent speaker at conferences and industry panel discussions.

Shelia received her BS in Business Management with a concentration in Marketing.



Stephen Tague

Chief Technology Officer
“Aspire provides the opportunity and challenge to design and create the technology that will improve our internal operations, and more importantly, better assist plan participants in reaching their retirement goals.” Bbio-image-link
Stephen Tague is the Chief Technology Officer of Aspire Financial Services, responsible for managing and supporting the delivery of Aspire’s recordkeeping technology infrastructure, development and enhancement initiatives delivered on time and within budget by establishing a repeatable and rapid IT development model capable of delivering our current mission-critical projects, as well as future technology automation and enhancement initiatives.

With 30 years of experience in technology development and 15 in financial services/recordkeeping, Stephen possesses an impressive track record of delivering development initiatives through a host of major technical platforms and database schema. He joined Aspire in November 2011 as part of the InvestLink Technologies acquisition, serving as the Vice President of IT and was a prominent leader in delivering Aspire’s recordkeeping technology initiatives. In January 2013, Stephen became Chief Technology Officer of Aspire. Prior to Aspire, Stephen served as the Chief Technology Officer at InvestLink Technologies. In this capacity, he led the company through its move to Microsoft’s .NET platform and later presented the InvestLink technical business case on the move to .NET at Microsoft’s annual Financial Services Developers Conference. Prior to InvestLink, Stephen served as the Senior Technology Officer at JobDirect.com and has held various senior technical positions at NCR, Sheridan Software Systems and Bankers Trust.

Stephen received his BS in Chemistry from the University of Sydney. 

Steven D. Shackelford

SVP | Strategic Sales
“I joined Aspire because I want to be associated with a brand built on providing innovative, cost-effective and strategic retirement business solutions to service the growing demands of the industry. I look forward to advancing the long-standing commitment to meeting the needs of Aspire’s clients and their respective customers.” Bbio-image-link
Steven D. Shackelford is Senior Vice President Strategic Sales at Aspire Financial Services, responsible for securing large business process outsourcing opportunities with strategic clients throughout the country.

With over 27 years of experience in the financial services industry and a proven track record of successfully delivering customized solutions across all facets of the retirement spectrum, Steven implements sales strategies designed to reach companies that are seeking ways to cost effectively outsource administration functions to focus more on their core competencies.

Previously, Steven served as EVP, National Sales with Plan Administrative Inc. helping to build out their strategic sales organization. Prior to that, Steven spent 27 years with American Funds in many senior leadership capacities for both sales and operations, focused on enhancing the financial advisor and intermediary client relationship experience.

Steven holds FINRA Securities Licenses Series 6, 63, and 26.


Mark Luckinbill

SVP | Managing Director of
403(b)/457/IRA Markets
“Aspire’s core commitment to improve participant outcomes through a flexible and transparent proprietary retirement management system is the foundation for the future of defined contribution plan investing. Financial advisors and plan sponsors are just beginning to discover Aspire. That’s what makes this very exciting.” Bbio-image-link
Mark Luckinbill joined Aspire Financial Services in January 2013 as Vice President and Managing Director of the 403(b)/457 markets, responsible for leading the overall strategy and growth demand of the company's open-architecture platform to address the growing demand from 403(b) and 457 plans for transparency and conflict-free offerings.

With more than 20 years in retirement plan design and distribution, Mark possesses a wide range of knowledge in the non-ERISA space, successfully developing new business partners and managing key institutional relationships. Mark’s energy, leadership skills and expertise leverage the benefits of broadening the company's distribution partner network in the K-12, higher education and government markets, expanding Aspire’s presence in the non-ERISA market segments.

Previously, Mark served as Managing Director and Senior Vice President at ING where he managed sales, service and distribution for the 403(b) and 457 plans across 13 states, providing FINRA supervision to more than 200 advisors while managing over 2,000 independent distribution partners. In this role, Mark successfully developed key relationships with large clients including the State of Florida and the City of Nashville, while developing agency and independent distribution with key specialty firms in the 403(b) and 457 market segments.

Mark maintains Series 7, 24 and 65 registrations. He received his BS in Business Administration from the University of Denver.

Kristin McCarthy

VP | Client Services
“I joined Aspire because it offers me the opportunity to affect change with a dynamic, evolutionary organization that is committed to providing a consultative and superior client experience and allows me to follow my philosophy that ‘The secret of change is to focus all of your energy not on fighting the old but on building the new.” Bbio-image-link
Kristin McCarthy is the Vice President of Client Services at Aspire Financial Services, overseeing both Client Management and Customer Service. Kristin’s focus has been to implement a more cohesive client engagement model designed to provide a consultative and superior client experience. Kristin also assists in the development of business strategies including the evaluation of operational needs and requirements for new product and service offerings.

Kristin brings over 16 years of third-party administration, consulting and business development experience to Aspire. Kristin’s knowledge and experience designing, implementing and servicing clients further leverages Aspire’s ability to deliver an overall exceptional client experience. Kristin joined Aspire as Key Account Executive in 2013 and became the Director of Key Accounts in 2014.

Previously, Kristin served as Retirement Plan Services Consultant for Gilliam Coble & Moser, LLP, where she was responsible for managing a team of plan administrators, bolstering relationships with third-party service providers and developing new business. Prior to this role, Kristin joined the firm as a Retirement Plan Administrator responsible for conducting annual administration and compliance testing as well as developing and implementing tools and processes to improve efficiency and accuracy of operations.

Kristin received her BS in Finance from Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University and her MBA from Elon University.

Kristin is a member of the American Society of Pension Professionals & Actuaries (ASPPA) and currently serves on the United Way Grant Review Priority Team. Previously, Kristin served on Elon University’s MBA Board of Advisors and was an active member and Treasurer for the Alamance County Service League.


Madeline Fennell

VP | Program Management Office

“I joined Aspire because I wanted to be part of a growth organization where I could leverage my industry experience to help make an impact on Aspire’s continued success.” Bbio-image-link
Madeline Fennell is the Vice President of the Program Management Office (PMO) at Aspire Financial Services, responsible for overseeing Implementations, Strategic Engagement Projects and Enterprise IT Projects. Within her role, Madeline manages projects that span multiple teams across the Aspire organization, as well as the plan on-boarding process for both individual plans and blocks of plans.

With over 25 years in the retirement plan industry, Madeline possesses a range of experience that includes client services, compliance, conversions, enterprise project management and training. In addition to experience on the business side of service and operations, Madeline also has experience leading teams of IT associates in business and quality analysis.

Prior to joining Aspire in 2013, Madeline spent three years at First Savings Retirement Services as Vice President, where she was responsible for TPA Services. Previously, Madeline spent 16 years at Ascensus (formerly known as BISYS) in various roles, including Supervisor of Client Services, Manager of Training, Director of Enterprise Project Management and Director of Institutional Conversions.

Madeline received her BS in Insurance from Pennsylvania State University.


Clarice Johnson

VP | Strategic Engagements
“I joined Aspire for the opportunity to work with the best and brightest minds in the industry. This team is in the market to change the retirement services game through groundbreaking technology and next-generation retirement solutions. I want to be a part of that movement.” Bbio-image-link
Clarice Johnson joined Aspire Financial Services in February 2016 as the Vice President of Strategic Engagements, responsible for supporting sales productivity and deal flow by securing the execution and close of complex BPO/Block Implementations. In this role, Clarice provides project management oversight and leads cross-functional teams throughout all phases of the engagement cycle.

With over 20+ years of experience managing national and global business transformation and technology solutions across complex organizational structures in North America, EMEA, and Latin America in a number of industry sectors, Clarice possesses deep technical knowledge of business integrations, process re-engineering, compliance & operational risk control, and quality improvement implementations. Clarice collaborates across the organization to ensure proposed deals include service, operational, and technical solutions that accurately address customer needs and are appropriately supported by key customer decision-makers.

Previously, Clarice served as Senior Director of Operations at Care Services, establishing the Long Term Care On Call Pharmacy division. Prior to that, Clarice was Director, Pharmacy Programs at HELIOS (previously PMSI), where she served as the PMO leader for the pharmacy operations division. As Director of Operations at Kforce Professional Staffing, Clarice was the regional operations leader accountable for the management and optimization of business operations for the $13M sales region and 2,000+ contingent workforce. She also served as Assistant Vice President at Citigroup Tampa, London, and New York, where she implemented global projects and analyzed business processes in Global Corporate Real Estate, Financial Reporting for Latin America, and Global Accounts Payable division to identify process gaps and process improvement opportunities.

Clarice has a Six Sigma Green Belt from Florida Atlantic University and is a Project Management Professional (PMP) from the Project Management Institute (PMI). She received her BA in International Studies and Political Science from the University of Miami and her BA in Finance with minor in Economics from the University of South Florida.


Bille Lee

VP | Operations
“A retirement solutions provider whose strategy is focused on aligning internal processes with a commitment to customer value and improving participant outcomes—that is what differentiates Aspire from the rest and why I came on board.” Bbio-image-link
Bille Lee is the Vice President of Operations of Aspire Financial Services, responsible for overseeing the operational support teams while implementing strategic direction to enhance operational automation, reporting, performance tracking, and trading capacity as well as operationalizing new product and service offerings. Her experience and understanding of the Aspire operations infrastructure and client demands continue to serve as a valuable asset in elevating Aspire’s operations area to become the industry’s gold standard.

With over 17 years in the retirement plan industry, Bille possesses an extensive amount of knowledge in the financial services and retirement industry that includes the daily recordkeeping operational functions from plan implementation, in-and-out cash flow activity, account services, trading, process fulfillment to client services and relationship management. Bille joined Aspire in August 2009 serving as the Director of Operations overseeing all of the 401(k) and 403)b operational support functions, including in-and-out cash flow, account reconciliation, transaction processing, maintenance, trading activity and client support. Prior to Aspire, Bille held a number of management roles at Raymond James Financial where she oversaw new account retirement plans and customer support. While at Raymond James, Bille was instrumental in assisting in the development of a streamlined process involving new plan implementations. Prior to that, Bille worked for Eagle Asset Management, a subsidiary of Raymond James Financial where she managed the Institutional Account Operations, managing reconciliation of all fixed and equity accounts consisting of over $10 billion in assets. During her tenure at Eagle, Bille was part of the project management team that created a network-based reconciliation system resulting in reduction of manual processes and minimizing areas of potential risk for the company.

Bille is an active member of several professional organizations, including Women in Pension Network, American Society of Pension Professionals and Actuaries (ASPPA), and Toastmasters International.

Manish Gupta

Co-Founder | Board Member
“Aspire provides an innovative service and technology platform that enables TPAs and financial professionals to deliver the best and most cost-effective solutions to help participants reach their retirement goals. As the technical co-founder of Aspire, I was excited at the opportunity to work with some of the best people in the industry, and to design and build innovative technology solutions to help realize Aspire’s vision.” Bbio-image-link
Manish Gupta is Co-Founder and former Chief Technology Officer of Aspire Financial Services. As Co-Founder and board member, Manish remains actively engaged in providing strategic oversight and direction on technology initiatives and system enhancements for the company. His contributions to Aspire have been significant and have changed the retirement industry.

With over 17 years of experience in software architecture and enterprise information systems, Manish Gupta possesses a range of experience in architecting and leveraging technology to substantially increase efficiencies to both internal and external customers, including the development and delivery of Aspire’s recordkeeping system. Prior to Aspire, Manish developed one of the first fully web-based SaaS Retirement Recordkeeping Systems for Union Bank of California. He also founded SchoolPro, using his enterprise systems experience to develop and deliver one of the industry’s first SaaS SIS (Student Information System), which allowed schools—from individual schools to entire school districts—to manage student records, billing, fundraising, and grading, using a centralized web-based system. Prior to SchoolPro, Manish founded EnterSolv, short for Enterprise Solutions, where he developed a variety of management information systems for retail, distribution, and finance. His first foray into finance was a management reporting system for Legg Mason Global Investments, which analyzed new money inflows into their mutual fund offerings. Earlier in his career, Manish served as a Financial Analyst for Metro Goldwyn Mayer. In this role, he managed revenue streams resulting from motion picture licensing agreements.

Manish attended the University of California Los Angeles.

Kyle Griswold

Board Member
“What drew me to Aspire was the management team’s deep knowledge of the retirement industry and their development of products and solutions that serve the needs of all the constituents in the market—TPAs, advisors and the end consumer.” Bbio-image-link
Kyle Griswold joined Aspire’s Board of Managers in January 2015.

As a Principal with FTV Capital, Kyle has investment responsibilities in payments and transaction processing, business services and financial services. Prior to joining FTV Capital, Kyle was an Investment Banking Associate with Berkshire Capital Securities, focusing on transactions in the financial services sector.

Kyle received his BA in Economics and Mathematics from Trinity College and is a CFA Charterholder.


Charlie Ruffel

Board Member
“In the retirement arena, this is the decade of the independent advisor. And these advisors need partner vendors that understand them and embrace open architecture. In a phrase, that’s Aspire.” Bbio-image-link
Charlie Ruffel joined Aspire’s Board of Managers in July 2013. With over 30 years in the retirement plan industry, Charlie is a leading authority on global pension issues, institutional money management, and international securities services. He is the Founder and former Chief Executive Officer of Asset International, an information services company with media products including PLANSPONSOR©, PLANADVISER, NewsDash, and Global Custodian. Charlie currently serves as managing partner at Kudu Advisors, a New York City-based M&A advisory firm focused on assignments in the institutional investment management and investor services arena.

In 2003, Charlie received the National Defined Contribution Council’s Retirement Savings Advocate of the Year Award. He is a board member of Asset International, and is a fund trustee at Charles Schwab.

Charlie received his MA in History from Cambridge University and his MS in Journalism from Columbia University.

Bobby Jones

Board Member
“Having been in the retirement processing industry over the last 20 years, I have been so impressed with Aspire's commitment to creating leading technology to serve advisors, plan sponsors and participants. The company's open- architecture approach leads to greater choices, lower fees and improves the participant’s ability to create the retirement savings required to maintain lifestyles in later years.” Bbio-image-link
Bobby Jones joined Aspire’s Board of Managers in September 2009. With more than 30 years in the financial services industry, Bobby is a prominent leader with a proven track record of leading successful business development efforts for a number of organizations. He most recently served as Partner of Bluff Point Associates where he was responsible for acquisition activities, as well as oversight across several portfolio companies that focused on wealth management and retirement services. Prior to Bluff Point Associates, Bobby served as Executive Vice President of The BISYS Group, Inc., a NYSE-listed company in the information services industry that he co-founded. In this role, Bobby led the business development function for BISYS and was responsible for over 70 acquisitions as the company grew from $40 million in revenue to over $1 billion. Bobby is one of the owners of The J. Peterman Company, the catalog retailer of Seinfeld fame, as well as Blue Heron Research Partners.

Bobby serves as the Chairman of Golfers Against Cancer, an all-volunteer organization he founded to raise funds for cancer research and was awarded the Miracle Maker Leadership Award in 2011 for providing long-standing personal leadership in cancer advocacy. Bobby also serves on the Foundation board of Florida State University.

Bobby received his BS in Finance and Accounting from Florida State University and was a member of Beta Alpha Psi, an international financial information honors business fraternity, and Gold Key, an FSU leadership organization.

Bob Francis

Board Member
“Aspire is next-gen retirement services. Their transparency, customer service and focus on participant outcomes dovetail precisely with the critical issues in the retirement industry.” Bbio-image-link
Bob Francis joined Aspire’s Board of Managers in July 2013. With more than 33 years in the financial services industry, Bob is an accomplished leader with a successful track record driving profit market share growth for some of the top companies in the industry. He most recently served as Managing Director of Retirement Services at BlackRock leading retirement services and 529 business units for iShares and exchange traded funds (ETFs). Prior to BlackRock, Bob was Executive VP of Retirement Strategies at LPL, where he developed innovative TPA technology links for customized data access and download capabilities providing productivity enhancements resulting in 35% growth in channel sales. Prior to LPL, Bob served as the Chief Operating Officer of National Retirement Partners and President of 401(k) Markets at ING. Prior to his tenure at ING, Bob held various executive level positions with Aetna Capital Management and Aetna Retirement Services where he actively developed and implemented strategic acquisition targets and marketing campaigns.

Bob is a Member of the Retirement Advisory Council of Legg Mason Inc. and serves as Chairman of the NRP Operating Committee. He is also a member of industry activities, including Western Pension and Benefits, ASPPA Steering Committee, NIPA and NAGDCA, and is a frequent speaker on topics such as fiduciary responsibilities, employee communications, ERISA, and plan design.

Bob is a NASD Registered Principal with series 6, 7, 26 and 63 licenses and received his BA in American Studies – Economics from Eckerd College.

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