Stephen Presser, Founding Partner

1959 – 2023

Stephen Presser, a founding partner of the private equity firm Monomoy Capital Partners, died Mar. 26 at his home in Red Hook, NY. The cause was pancreatic cancer. He was 63.

Mr. Presser joined Cohen, Weiss and Simon, LLP, in 1987, where he spent eleven years representing unions, with a particular focus on the North American airline and steel industries.

Stephen joined KPS Special Situations Fund in 1997 to advise on airline and other industry restructuring. There, and later at his own firm, Athena Advisory Group LLC, Stephen represented the Airline Pilots Association union and the broader airline labor force, as the industry consolidated and underwent significant restructuring.

Presser and his team developed a new financing strategy to compensate unionized pilots and other employees when airlines filed for bankruptcy and could no longer support existing wage and benefit programs. The agreements that Presser penned in collaboration with his clients allowed the unions to participate in the financial upside of the merged and restructured entities.

“He was the guy who came up with the idea that when you go into bankruptcy and come out the other side, it’s in large part because of the concessions of employees and what the employees have done to save the airline,” said Lee Moak, the former president of the Airline Pilots Association union. “Because of Stephen, employees were treated as an equal partner in the restructuring, for United, Delta, AeroMexico and many others. Before Stephen, this never happened.”

For the past 18 years, Presser worked as a founding partner at Monomoy Capital Partners, a lower-middle market private equity firm that specializes in manufacturing and consumer businesses. In these sectors, Presser continued to work with unions as his team invested in and improved the operations of companies, including many household brand names, such as Friedrich air conditioners, Klaussner furniture, Anchor Hocking glassware, and West Marine boating and fishing supplies.

“Stephen was a mentor to all Monomoyans, driving integrity, kindness and humility into the foundation of our culture,” said Dan Collin, a co-founder at Monomoy. “Stephen’s love for the firm and our people was abundantly clear to everyone that knew him. His absence will be felt by all of us.”

Presser was raised in Jacksonville, Florida. He graduated magna cum laude from Brown University in 1981. He received a law degree in 1984 from Harvard University.

Presser is survived by his wife, Diane Archer, his daughter, Lizzie, his son, Michael; his mother, Anne; his sister, Marilyn; and his brother, Jeffrey.