Our investment team actively supports our portfolio companies in a wide range of value creation initiatives

Robert L. Johnson


Robert L. Johnson is the Founder and Chairman of The RLJ Companies, an innovative business network that owns or holds interests in a diverse portfolio of companies including RLJ Equity Partners. Prior to forming The RLJ Companies, Mr. Johnson was Founder and Chairman of Black Entertainment Television (BET), the nation’s first and leading television network providing quality entertainment, music, news, sports and public affairs programming for the African American audience. Under Mr. Johnson’s leadership, BET became the first African American owned company publicly traded on the New York Stock Exchange. In 2001, Mr. Johnson sold BET to Viacom for approximately $3 billion and remained the Chief Executive Officer through 2006. In July 2007, Mr. Johnson was named by USA Today as one of the 25 most influential business leaders of the past 25 years.


Mr. Johnson serves on the boards of the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of African American History and Culture, The Business Council, KB Home, Strayer Education, Think Finance, Inc., and Lowe’s Companies.


Mr. Johnson holds a bachelor’s degree in social studies from the University of Illinois and a master’s degree in international affairs from the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs at Princeton University.

Nigel M. Howard


Mr. Howard joined RLJ Equity Partners from TA Associates, a growth-oriented private equity firm with approximately $12 billion of assets under management. Prior to joining TA, Mr. Howard was an Associate at JP Morgan Partners and Quetzal/JP Morgan Partners, as well as a Summer Associate at Goldman Sachs’ Principal Investment Area in New York. Mr. Howard also worked at Salomon Smith Barney as a Financial Analyst in the Mergers and Acquisitions group. Mr. Howard received a B.B.A. from Howard University and an M.B.A. from the Harvard Business School.

Rufus H. Rivers


Mr. Rivers joined RLJ Equity Partners from The Carlyle Group, where he was a Managing Director and Co-Founder of Carlyle Mezzanine Partners, L.P., a $436 million investment fund. Prior to founding Carlyle Mezzanine Partners, Mr. Rivers was a Senior Vice President and Principal at TCW/Crescent Mezzanine, LLC, an investment firm with $4 billion of assets under management. Prior to TCW/Crescent Mezzanine, Mr. Rivers served as the Group Credit/Investment Officer of Heller Financial, Inc. Mr. Rivers received his B.A. from Morehouse College and his M.B.A. from the J.L. Kellogg Graduate School of Management, Northwestern University.

T. Otey Smith


Mr. Smith joined RLJ Equity Partners in 2006. Prior to RLJ Equity Partners, Mr. Smith was a Senior Associate and founding member at Reliant Equity Investors, a lower middle market private equity firm with $120 million of assets under management. Prior to Reliant, Mr. Smith was an Analyst in the Mergers & Acquisitions Group at Goldman Sachs. Mr. Smith received his B.A. from Morehouse College and his M.B.A. from the Harvard Business School.

Blake L. Weir

Vice President

Mr. Weir joined RLJ Equity Partners in 2019. Prior to RLJ Equity Partners, Mr. Weir was an Analyst at Robert W. Baird in their Energy Investment Banking Group. Prior to Baird, Mr. Weir was an Analyst at UnitedHealth in their Mergers & Acquisitions Group. Mr. Weir received his B.S. from Marquette University.

Paulos A. Muruts


Mr. Muruts joined RLJ Equity Partners in 2022. Prior to RLJ Equity Partners, Mr. Muruts was an Associate and Senior Analyst at Acquco in their M&A and Strategy group. Prior to Acquco, Mr. Muruts was an Analyst at UBS in their Healthcare Investment Banking Group. Mr. Muruts received his B.A. from Duke University.

Ernita F. Thomas

Chief Financial Officer and Chief Compliance Officer

Mrs. Thomas is the Executive Vice President of Finance at the RLJ Companies, as well as the Chief Compliance Officer of RLJ Equity Partners. Prior to joining the RLJ Companies, Mrs. Thomas was Assistant Controller at Freddie Mac, providing reporting and credit analysis related to securitization and mortgage guarantees. Prior to Freddie Mac, Mrs. Thomas was an Associate Vice President at The Carlyle Group, where she was responsible for corporate financial and managerial accounting functions, budgeting and forecasting, and corporate compliance; and served in a variety of roles for more than 10 years, including Manager of Accounting and Assistant Controller. Mrs. Thomas received her B.S. from Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, and is a Certified Public Accountant.