Justin Cooper is the Founder and CEO of Layla Capital. Mr. Cooper began his career at Silo Financial Corp., a private commercial bridge lender based in Stamford, Connecticut, where he underwrote, sourced, and asset managed bridge loans. After Silo, Mr. Cooper joined a New York based distressed debt, special situations and lending fund with more than $1.7 billion in AUM, where Mr. Cooper managed a portfolio of 50+ assets across the continental U.S. Thereafter, he was asked help launch the fund’s private lending strategy, where he built a team and grew the loan origination business from the ground up.  Subsequently, Mr. Cooper led the direct lending business of a Family Office located in New York and Miami. Mr. Cooper’s focus at the Family Office was on originating senior-secured, first mortgage bridge loans, mezzanine loans and preferred equity investments in the $1M to $40M range. Mr. Cooper graduated magna cum laude from Syracuse University with dual Bachelor of Science degrees in Finance and Accounting. Mr. Cooper also was awarded a Master of Science degree in Finance from Syracuse University, in which he finished first in his class. He resides with his wife and two children in Delray Beach, FL.


Maxwell Deibel is a Partner at Layla Capital and concentrates on loan origination, underwriting, asset management, and loan servicing.  Max joins Layla from Stabilis Capital Management, LP where he was Managing Director responsible for running the direct lending strategy and a top producing bridge loan originator for five years. Prior to Stabilis, Mr. Deibel worked at Knighthead Funding (formerly Silo Financial Corp.), where he focused on loan origination, asset management, and underwriting. Prior to Knighthead, Mr. Deibel worked at M&T Bank and Sonic Automotive. Mr. Deibel graduated from Syracuse University with dual Bachelor of Science degrees in Finance and Entrepreneurship.  He resides in Delray Beach, FL.


Jeff Grasso is the Founder & Managing Partner of Vesta Realty Partners. Before launching Vesta, Mr. Grasso was Senior Vice President and Head of Acquisitions at Silverstein Properties, Inc., where he was responsible for sourcing, capitalizing, and executing acquisition, development, and corporate investments in the United States, Europe, and Asia. Jeff also managed Silverstein Properties’ EB5 Regional Center. Prior to joining Silverstein, he worked in the portfolio management group of ING Clarion Capital, a $5 billion AUM credit opportunity fund. He was responsible for the acquisition and asset management of an ABS portfolio in addition to acquiring and originating high yield whole loans. Mr. Grasso received a B.S. in Accounting, Finance, and Real Estate from the Martin J. Whitman School of Management at Syracuse University. He is a member of the Kuhn Real Estate Center Advisory Board at Syracuse University and a full member of the Urban Land Institute.


Yildiray Yildirim is the William Newman Chair Professor in Real Estate Finance and the Director of the Steven L. Newman Institute at Baruch College. He serves on the editorial board of Real Estate Economics. He is the co-creator of the Jarrow-Yildirim framework for pricing inflation linked securities. He has taught finance and real estate courses, including real estate finance and investment, real estate capital markets, case studies in real estate investment, fixed income securities, and corporate finance. Yildiray is the former Chair of the Finance Department at the Whitman School of Management at Syracuse University.


Professor Yildirim is a Fellow of the Weimer School of Advanced Studies in Real Estate and Land Economics. He graduated from Yildiz Technical University with a B.Sc. in Computer Science and Engineering, and he received both his M.A. in Economics and Ph.D. in Statistics at Cornell University.

Joseph J. Tuso

Mr. Tuso is currently a partner at Reed Smith LLP, one of the world’s largest law firms, which he rejoined in July 2019. His practice focuses on both the origination and resolutions of complex investments and other special situation transactions across the U.S., including the due diligence, structuring, risk management, workout, and resolution process of portfolio investments.  Mr. Tuso’s corporate, funds and finance experience has covered numerous industries including commercial real estate, hotels, shipping, energy, and others, and he has closed hundreds of investment transactions worth billions of dollars.

Prior to re-joining Reed Smith, Mr. Tuso spent eight (8) years at Stabilis Capital Management, LP, a New York City based registered investment adviser with a focus on asset oriented stressed, sub-performing and other special situation credit transactions, both originated and purchased, in various C-Suite roles, including as its Chief Operating Officer, General Counsel, Head of Asset Management, and Chief Compliance Officer, as well as an officer of the funds Cayman offshore feeder funds.  In those capacities, Mr. Tuso had primary responsibility for assets under management from the point of origination to resolution and implementing strategies for growth of the funds. 

Mr. Tuso earned his Juris Doctorate from the University of Pittsburgh Law School, where he graduated Magna Cum Laude, was inducted into the Order of the Coif, and was the Business Manager of the University of Pittsburgh Law School Law Review.