Investment Professionals

With A Proven Track Record

Hawthorn's investment professionals have extensive and substantive experience working together to maximize advantage on behalf of their investors. We form a cohesive and entrepreneurial group with varied backgrounds in private equity, venture capital, investment banking, leveraged finance and strategic management consulting.

Each member of our uniquely talented team contributes to the investment decision-making process for our portfolio companies. This synergistic involvement coupled with the significant personal investments made alongside our Funds by the senior members of our team means that we are operators and shareholders, just like our portfolio management teams.

We have worked together for years and have a long and successful track record of making disciplined and highly profitable investments.

Christopher Payne

CEO & Managing Partner

Mr. Payne is the Managing Partner and Founder of Hawthorn Equity Partners. Hawthorn is the successor to Genuity Capital Partners, a private equity business that he founded in 2005 in conjunction with Genuity Financial Group. Mr. Payne was Managing Partner of this business and primarily responsible for all of its investing activities, representing assets under management at its peak in excess of $400 million. Previously, from 2000 through 2005, Mr. Payne was a Managing Director within the Merchant Banking Group of CIBC. Mr. Payne was responsible for sourcing and managing a large pool of private equity investments for the bank in early stage North American businesses. Mr. Payne worked closely with the head of CIBC World Markets and the head of the Retail Banking operations on various investment strategies. Prior to CIBC (1998 - 2000), Mr. Payne was an entrepreneur working with a group of investors and executives in Silicon Valley on the formation of a business that ultimately became PayPal. Prior to these activities (1992 - 1998), Mr. Payne worked at BMO Nesbitt Burns as a vice President in M&A and later helped start BMO Nesbitt Burns Equity Partners, a North American mid-market focused merchant bank. In his formative years, Mr. Payne worked for Merrill Lynch (1985 - 1987) in M&A and then for The Blackstone Group (1987 - 1990) working on many large public M&A transactions and leverage buyouts. Mr. Payne holds an Honour’s Bachelor’s Degree in Commerce from Queen’s University and an MBA from The Wharton School.
(416) 687-5299

Eric Ceresnie


Mr. Ceresnie joined the firm in 2016. Previously, he was a Vice President at Monomoy Capital Partners, an operationally oriented middle market private equity firm with $1.5 billion of committed capital. Prior to Monomoy, Eric was a Manager in the Restructuring Practice of Ernst & Young LLP where he advised debtor and creditor clients through the restructuring process. Prior to joining Ernst & Young, he was Vice President of Strategic Planning and Finance at Sleep Innovations, a private equity owned manufacturer of bedding products. Eric began his career at A.T. Kearney as Senior Business Analyst advising Fortune 500 clients on supply chain, manufacturing and operations strategy engagements.

Eric holds and Bachelor and Masters of Science in Industrial and Operations Engineering from the University of Michigan, where he graduated with honors as a Fellow of the Tauber Institute for Global Operations and the Engineering Global Leadership Honors Program.
(734) 276-5632


Senior Partner

Mr. Tomes joined Hawthorn in February 2014 after working with the firm's partners since 2006 on a variety of investments.  Mr. Tomes was the Managing Partner of HIlco Equity Partners in Chicago from 2003 – 2013 where he focused primarily on middle-market investment opportunities in the United States and Canada.  From 1998 – 2003, Mr. Tomes was a founding partner of Wynnchurch Captial a middle-market private equity firm based in Chicago and Canada with a similar focus.  Mr. Tomes spent his formative years working for Continental Bank (1988 – 1989) and GE Capital (1989 – 2008) in various areas, ultimately serving as a Managing Director of GE Capital’s Merchant Banking Group.  Mr. Tomes received his B.A. from Kenyon College and his Masters from the University of Chicago.  Mr. Tomes has served on numerous boards and investment committees with over $5 Billion of leveraged middle-market investment experience.
(847) 736-3844