Armadillo Financial Partners LLC
Nick H. Johnson
Chairman & CEO
Mr. Johnson is the founder of the Johnson Law Group in Houston, Texas, a 20 year old firm specializing in mass tort litigation and settlements. Before founding the Johnson Law Group, Mr. Johnson was a co-founder of Johnson, Burnett & Chang, LLP in 1991. He is a member of the American Bar Association and the American Association for Justice. Mr. Johnson is admitted to the State Bar of Texas and licensed to practice in the United States District Court for the Southern District of Texas. He received a Bachelor of Arts in Political Sciences from Duke University and his Juris Doctor from the University of Houston.
Jeff M. Manley, CFP
Chief Operating Officer
Mr. Manley has a 24 year history as a finance and banking executive in Texas. In 2011, Mr. Manley joined Cadence Bank, a newly formed regional financial institution, to help build its private bank and wealth services group. At Cadence Bank, Mr. Manley was responsible for creating a Law Services practice which lends to law firms and includes loans secured by mass tort claims and structured settlements. Mr. Manley successfully grew and led the Texas team from zero to 60+ employees in a span of three years, culminating in asset growth from zero to over $3 billion in AUM and over $800 million in banking business. Jeff started his career in the management training program at Allied/First Interstate Bank in Houston. He later spent 20 Years at BBVA Compass Bank with increasing responsibilities during that time, leading the south Texas Wealth Management and Private Banking Group for BBVA Compass. Mr. Manley received a Bachelor of Business Administration from Stephen F. Austin State University and completed his Certified Financial Planning certification at The University of Houston. Mr. Manley serves as Board Chair for the Regis School and serves as a Cadence Bank Advisory Board Member.
Ted S. O’Neal
Mr. O’Neal has a long history as a general counsel and private equity executive. Mr. O’Neal combines strong experience in capital placement, finance and structured transactions with a top tier legal background and long-term partnerships with private equity groups, family offices and high net worth individuals in a variety of sectors. Mr. O’Neal serves and has served on boards and is a licensed attorney in multiple jurisdictions. Mr. O’Neal has practiced law at the international firm of Jones Day, and has served as general counsel and in other executive roles for a variety of successful companies and firms. Mr. O’Neal graduated from Princeton University where he played golf and volleyball on Ivy League Championship teams. Mr. O’Neal received his Juris Doctor from Southern Methodist University where he was a published member of the SMU Law Review.
Chief Credit Officer
Mr. Cantrell joined Armadillo Financial in 2015, and currently serves as its CCO, focusing on asset quality, risk management, and return optimization. Mr. Cantrell has over 11 years of experience in the financial services and energy trading markets. He excels in providing technical direction to achieve effective credit and business strategy deployment while protecting enterprise value. Mr. Cantrell has successfully served in key executive positions at The Commission Exchange, as its Chief Financial Officer, where he focused on developing a new asset class in the deregulated power and gas markets and EDF Trading, as its Credit Manager where he created the Strategic Credit & Structured Finance group focusing on lien based commodity supply agreements and lending relationships. Mr. Cantrell also served as a Vice President at a regional bank in Texas, where he created a loan review department, oversaw the credit analytics team, and worked closely with the Board of Directors to ensure sound asset quality was maintained. He received a Bachelor of Science in Finance from Illinois State University and an MBA from the University of Texas.
Managing Director, Business Development
Ms. Papantonakis brings twenty years of experience representing plaintiffs in all areas of mass tort and personal injury law, including but not limited to, pharmaceutical and medical device product liability, as well as asbestos and first party bad faith insurance cases. She has managed all aspects of litigation from intake to discovery through to trial and has successfully negotiated millions of dollars in settlements on behalf of thousands of clients. She has taken hundreds of depositions, prepared and argued various motions before both federal and state courts, and participated in numerous trials. She currently serves on multiple Plaintiffs Steering Committees in addition to acting as General Counsel for the Harris County Emergency Services District No.1 in Houston. Before joining Armadillo, she served as Managing Attorney for the Johnson Law Group. She received her Bachelor of Arts from Southern Methodist University and her Juris Doctor from South Texas College of Law. She is a Founding Board Member of Texas Women Rainmakers and was named a Texas Super Lawyer for 2017-2018.
Consulting Counsel, International Arbitration
Ms. Thornton brings twenty years of experience in the fields of international trade and arbitration. She has served as Senior Policy Advisor and Counsel in the Office of the United States Trade Representative. There she advised the United States Trade Representative and his Deputy on legal and policy matters relating to international trade in services and investment, intellectual property and innovation, as well as trade and investment with China and India. In this capacity, she briefed senior administration officials, Members of Congress, and numerous stakeholders on international investment agreements, which she also negotiated. Prior to her service at USTR, she defended the United States against claims arising under international investment agreements when serving on the NAFTA/CAFTA-DR Arbitration Team in the Office of the Legal Adviser at the United States Department of State. In addition to her government service, Jennifer has almost a decade of experience in private practice with several large, international law firms in New York and Washington, where she focused on international investment and commercial arbitration disputes, as well as complex litigation. She received her Bachelor of Arts from Wellesley College, her Masters in Intellectual History & Political Thought from Cambridge University, and her Juris Doctor from the University of Chicago Law School.
Melinda M. Gleason
VP – Operations and Controller
Mrs. Gleason spent 18 years overseeing the accounting, human resource, and facility management needs, including interior build-out construction & design, of three top tier law firms in the Houston area prior to joining Armadillo Financial as part of its initial launch team. The most recent seven years being with a nationally renowned mass tort law firm as their Firm Administrator & Controller. She received her Bachelor of Arts from Boston University and has completed post baccalaureate work at the University of Houston and Rice University.
Director of Business Development
Ms. Carter joined Armadillo Financial in 2015 after working as the Director of Business Development at a leading aggregating firm and spending four years in the mass tort field assisting attorneys build their dockets and their businesses through a myriad of marketing strategies. She received her Bachelor of Arts from the University of Western Ontario and obtained her master’s degree from the University of Hong Kong.