The Wharton-AltFinance Institute Team
Wharton is making the resources and expertise of America’s oldest collegiate business school accessible to promising and talented HBCUs students by introducing them to the emerging and influential alternative finance industry.
Meet the Team
DR. BURCU ESMER
Burcu Esmer is the Academic Director of the Wharton-AltFinance Institute and Senior Lecturer of Finance at the Wharton School. Dr. Esmer earned her BSc in Economics and Minor in Mathematics from the Middle East Technical University (Turkiye) with Highest Honor (Summa Cum Laude), her MA in Economics, and PhD in Finance from the University of Iowa. Dr. Esmer’s primary areas of research are empirical corporate finance, banking, and private equity. She investigates agency conflicts and their impact on corporate policies. Her articles have appeared in leading academic journals such as the Accounting Review, Journal of Banking and Finance, and Applied Mathematical Modelling. Dr. Esmer has presented her work to different audiences at various academic and practitioner conferences and workshops, and she frequently serves as a reviewer for academic journals and conferences. Burcu Esmer is a member of the American Finance Association and European Finance Association.
Dr. Esmer teaches private equity and corporate finance in Wharton Executive Education and degree programs. She is the recipient of the Wharton Teaching Excellence Award for the academic year 2018–2019.
Dr. Esmer works closely with various non-profit organizations that aim to increase diversity in asset management industries. She is the Academic Director of the Wharton-AltFinance Institute and Girls Who Invest (GWI) Summer Intensive Program. Dr. Esmer also serves on the Advisory Board of GWI.
ACADEMIC DIRECTOR OF THE WHARTON-ALTFINANCE INSTITUTE
As the Program Coordinator of the Wharton-AltFinance Institute, Kristin oversees project logistics, community outreach, research, and course-building components.
She believes in the importance of actionable inclusive curriculum development, community outreach, informational accessibility, and doing the work to create support pathways for those who need it. She is incredibly passionate about implementing informational accessibility to communicate resources and opportunities to those who have systemic decks stacked against them.
Kristin received her BA in East Asian Languages & Cultures from Bryn Mawr College.
PROGRAM COORDINATOR OF THE WHARTON-ALTFINANCE INSTITUTE
ELI J. LESSER
Eli J. Lesser is the Senior Executive Director for Innovation & Global Initiatives at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. He leads a suite of programming for students from high school, undergraduate, and early career. Following years in the classroom, Eli’s first appointment at Penn was in 2003, and he has since been an administrator in four Penn schools. His work focuses on developing new models for student mobility and helping create access points to higher education for individuals of all ages.
SENIOR EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, INNOVATION & GLOBAL INITIATIVES