Education Finance

HJ Sims and our education finance team has closed more than $7 billion in public sector and charter school financings. We are deeply experienced in helping you create, improve and build your vision.

High School

Public Financing Done Right

More than 85 years of experience has taught us one thing. It’s that personal relationships with clients are the key to success. We work with you as trusted partners and advisors, guiding you through every step of the process. We’ll answer any and all questions you have. In addition, we’ll provide guidance and advice at every opportunity. We’ve built our reputation by being nimble, smart and most importantly, human. You are not just a financing to us and you never will be. You are a unique client with your own vision and needs. We’ll work tirelessly to turn that vision into reality. And, we’ll make sure your financing is always done right.

Charter Schools are all about Them

You’re passionate about your charter school. You believe that children have a better chance of succeeding at life when they have the right educational foundation. At HJ Sims, we couldn’t agree with you more – which is why we’d like to be your financing partner. HJ Sims has completed more than $33 billion in taxable and tax-exempt financings since its founding in 1935.

Your Community, Our Experience

The right financing can lead to a stronger community and thousands of children living to their full potential and achieving their dreams. Because of this, we’ve made sure that our expertise extends into many areas…

  • Providing financing for acquisition, expansion, renovation or refinancing
  • Capital planning
  • Structuring and underwriting transactions
  • Existing debt refinancing
  • Financial modeling
  • Debt and asset management
  • Strategic capital and organizational planning
  • Repositioning strategies
  • Bank/private placement financing strategies
  • Credit enhancement
  • Loan analysis and syndication
  • Advisory services

Why choose HJ Sims?

A third-generation, family-run and privately owned firm with a history of providing tax-free bond financings for new ventures throughout the U.S., HJ Sims is your trusted partner from the very first meeting through the final closing – and beyond. We understand the financial markets, and because we know your business and your need for flexibility, you can count on HJ Sims to be a trusted advisor for objective advice, in your best interest, uninfluenced by transaction goals.

Serving the financing needs of our clients for three generations, HJ Sims brings a wealth of experience – an average of 20 years per banker – that provides us with keen insights into the evolving charter school market. We are nimble and creative, and we tailor solutions and strategies to help you maintain your independence and financial viability.

The strength of our institutional and individual investor distribution capabilities can make the difference for the success of your offering. With thousands of clients who regularly purchase bonds for start-up projects and new organizations, our individual investor capacity is incredibly strong and often results in lower interest rates and more flexible financing options for your school. We deliver the right expertise, the right strategies and the right solutions to meet your needs. Make the right choice, HJ Sims.

Our Education Finance Team

Our Education Finance Team is here to serve you in all your financing needs.

Richard Harmon

Richard (Rich) Harmon

Columbus, Ohio

Richard (Rich) Harmon serves as Executive Managing Director/Head of Education Finance leading the firm’s group, providing taxable and & tax-exempt financing, as well as solutions for early stage capital, for education organizations nationwide. Rich brings more than 30 years’ experience in investment and commercial banking, having first launched his profession with Lancaster Pollard. Throughout his career, Rich has dedicated his work to education and built one of the leading charter school investment banking practices in the country. He most recently served as Head of Public Finance with BB&T Capital Markets/Truist Securities. Rich earned his bachelor’s degree in mathematics and economics at Denison University and a J.D. degree from Capital University Law School

Robert (Rob) Nickell

Dallas, Texas

Robert (Rob) Nickell serves as Executive Vice President further developing the education finance practice with Rich Harmon. Rob began his investment banking career as an analyst at Wells Fargo over 20 years ago. Since then, he was has been a major driver in partnering with Rich to develop one of the nation’s preeminent charter school practices. Rob earned his bachelor’s degree in business administration from Emory University and his MBA from The University of Texas. Based in Dallas, TX, Rob actively works on the West Coast as well.

S Wagner Headshot - Copy

Seth Wagner

Richmond, VA

A Virginia native, Seth is based in Richmond, Virginia, serving as Senior Vice President on our investment banking team leading financings for senior living industry clients as well as serving clients in our education finance practice. To date, Seth has served in a leadership role on over 30 financing projects totaling more than $2 billion in financings over the course of his career. Seth served more than seven years with BB&T Capital Markets (now Truist Securities) in various analyst, banking and leadership roles with increasing responsibilities and was one of the youngest recipients of BB&T’s Annual Sterling Performance Award – recognizing the performance of the organization’s top 1% of employees. Seth graduated from Hampden Sydney College in Virginia with a Bachelor of Arts in Economics and Business.

Kaiti Wang, CFA®

Fairfield, CT

Kaiti Wang serves as Vice President of Education Finance. Prior to joining HJ Sims, Kaiti had experience in municipal analyst roles with S&P Global Ratings, where she was introduced to the education sector and found that each charter school has a unique story and faces varied challenges in fulfilling its mission to educate students. Kaiti has evaluated the credit profiles of the more than 300 S&P-rated charter schools. Following her time at S&P, she served as a Loan Officer with Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC), where she underwrote loans to high quality charter schools seeking funds to meet acquisition, pre-development, construction, and leasehold improvement needs for their school buildings. Kaiti graduated from UC Berkeley with a Bachelor of Arts in Economics. Since then, she has earned her CFA charterholder designation and completed a Commercial Real Estate Loan Underwriting course.


Shannon Falon

Fairfield, CT

Shannon Falon serves as Vice President. She earned an undergraduate degree in public policy from the University of Southern California, and completed research surrounding the educational achievement gap. After college, Shannon became a high school mathematics teacher in Florida, which she felt was the most challenging yet rewarding experience. She later decided to continue pursuing her education with a Masters of Business Administration from the University of Florida Business School and was her stepping stone into the world of commercial banking. Shannon managed credit risk for a portfolio of middle market companies and identified business needs while developing relationship plans focused on value-add services. After four years in this profession, she began working at Equitable Facilities Fund, where she helped the non-profit lender make facilities loans to dozens of charter schools. Throughout her career to date, Shannon has closed over $200 million in charter school loans. Consequently, her closed loans have helped serve over 6,000 students across nine networks. 


Kyle Ficker

Richmond, VA

Located in Richmond, Virginia, Kyle serves as Assistant Vice President supporting our investment banking teams dedicated to senior living and education finance. Kyle’s background in both the senior living and education areas of finance provides him with a unique ability to appreciate the nuances of each sector. Previously working with Truist Securities (formerly BB&T Capital Markets), Kyle brings his public finance expertise to HJ Sims providing skilled analysis of the many requirements to execute tax-exempt and taxable debt financings and fulfill capital planning engagements. Kyle earned his bachelor’s degree in economics from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill.

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Learn more or to start a conversation with one of our Education Finance specialists.