Deborah Bernstein, Aquiline’s ‘Indomitable’ Partner, Dies at 41

Deborah Bernstein, who worked at Goldman Sachs Group Inc., Pequot Capital Management Inc. and Aquiline Capital Partners LLC in the 15 years since she graduated from Stanford University’s business school, has died. She was 41.

She died on May 10 at her home in New York City after a prolonged battle with breast cancer, her mother, Caroline Kresky, said yesterday in an interview.

“Deborah was a shining star who passed far before her time,” Bernstein’s parents and husband, David Miller, wrote in an obituary posted online.

Bernstein was a partner since November 2008 at New York-based Aquiline, the private-equity firm founded by Jeffrey Greenberg in 2005 after he left Marsh & McLennan Cos. as chief executive officer. Aquiline invests in financial services such as insurance, banking, securities, asset management and financial technology.

“She made a lasting impact on the firm including building our Financial Technology group and developing our talented team,” Aquiline said in a statement released yesterday by communications firm RLM Finsbury. “We will miss Deborah and her indomitable spirit.”

Bernstein joined Aquiline after eight years at the San Francisco and New York offices of Pequot Ventures, a venture capital unit of Pequot Capital Management. Bernstein was a general partner who co-led the firm’s investment efforts in financial services technology, according to Aquiline’s announcement of her hiring in 2008.

Finished Marathons

She had left Pequot Ventures after its principals formed a new firm, FirstMark Capital LLC earlier that year.

An athlete who completed marathons in Seattle and New York, Bernstein was active in charitable causes including Dress for Success, which helps women find jobs and stay employed. She also loved cats and would whip out her checkbook to give money to shelters after petting their animals, her mother said.

“Deborah touched a lot of lives in a lot of meaningful ways,” Kresky said. “Even her doctor wrote me an e-mail that he was heartbroken. She wasn’t just good at what she did -- she had a real gift with people.”

Deborah Lisa Bernstein was born on July 1, 1971, in Washington, and grew up in Atlanta, the daughter of Kresky and Michael Bernstein. She studied economics at Dartmouth College, in Hanover, New Hampshire, graduated summa cum laude in 1993 and was elected to the Phi Beta Kappa academic honor society.

MBA Degree

She began her career at Goldman Sachs as an analyst in the Financial Institutions Group, focusing on consumer credit and insurance, mergers and acquisitions and corporate finance. She then returned to school, earning her MBA degree from Stanford’s Graduate School of Business in 1997.

“Deborah Bernstein is back from Stanford, returning to New York with her cat Rangoon to begin a new post at Goldman Sachs,” a class notes item from 1997 on Dartmouth’s alumni website said.

In that second stint at Goldman, from 1997 to 1999, she was an associate in the Principal Investment Area focusing on buyouts and venture-capital investing. She worked from 1999 to 2001 as a principal at Thomas Weisel Capital Partners LP, a private equity fund.

Bernstein and Miller, a fellow Dartmouth graduate, married in 2002. The two had met at a fraternity party during her sophomore year. They went their separate ways for five years after college before bumping into each other in the Hamptons, on New York’s Long Island, on Independence Day weekend in 1998, according to an article in Dartmouth’s student newspaper.

Miller is chief marketing officer at eFront, a New York-based company providing software for financial companies.

The couple’s son, Asher, is 5 months old.

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