About Dogtopia

Board of directors


  • Chairman, CEO & Executive Team with franchise experience
  • Environmental Biologist and Canine Behaviorist
  • Senior Instructional Designer
  • Certified Dog Trainers
  • New Store Opening Support Team
  • Franchise Retail and Operations Specialists
  • Real Estate Professionals
  • Marketing/Branding/Digital/PR Experts
  • Industry-Specific Cleaning Protocols
  • Leading-Edge Technology Providers


Headshot of Chris Kempner

Chris Kempner, Chairman

Chris Kempner has been involved with Dogtopia for the past few years. Red Barn Dog Holdings LLC acquired the largest Dogtopia franchise territory with plans to open more than 30 daycares across the East Coast. Prior to founding Red Barn Equity partners, Chris was vice president at Private Equity Firm Metalmark Capital. Chris has experience in both investing and private equity and has worked in numerous financial positions, including as an investment banking analyst at Goldman Sachs. He received an MBA from Harvard Business School and a bachelor’s degree from Yale University. He was born and raised in New York. He and his fiancé Kelly have one furry family member named Maisie.

Neil Gill

Neil Gill, CEO/President

Neil Gill is CEO and President of Dogtopia Enterprises. Neil has spent more than 35 years in franchising with international brands such as KFC, Pizza Hut, Brinker International and Gloria Jean’s Coffees. He has experience in taking franchise brands through IPOs and worked in a variety of sectors from on-line education, weight loss, bakery and Asian tea. Neil has a love of franchising and the entrepreneurial spirit it enables in everyone involved.

Andy Freeman

Andy Freeman, Board Member

Andrew M. (Andy) Freeman has more than 16 years of middle-market private equity investment experience. Andy began his private equity career in 2001 as a Senior Associate with Fremont Partners.  Andy subsequently led, managed and harvested numerous successful investments at Paine & Partners (and its predecessor firm) between 2005 and 2016, becoming a partner of the firm in 2014.  Andy joined H.I.G. Capital as a Managing Director in 2017.  Prior to becoming a middle-market private equity investor, Andy financed and invested in large real estate projects and real estate companies at NationsBanc Capital Markets and Westbrook Partners. Andy received a BS in History and Economics in 1995 from Duke University, where he graduated cum laude, and earned his M.B.A. from the Stanford Graduate School of Business in 2001.

David Barr

David Barr, Board Member

David began his career with Price Waterhouse and then joined Pizza Hut within its finance department before joining Great American Cookies as its CFO before becoming its CEO. As previous Chairman of the International Franchise Association (2019-2020) , David has been a frequent speaker on Capitol Hill and has met with congressional leaders and White House staff to discuss the impact of laws impacting small businesses and franchising. David currently sits on the board of directors of a variety of public and private entities, both domestic and international, with focus on consumer-facing companies, including Capriotti’s Sandwich Shop, Domino’s Pizza, Farm Burger and Lash Lounge. In addition to the various positions he holds, utilizing his own private equity, Barr is a franchisee of KFC, Taco Bell, Capriotti’s and Spice & Tea Exchange.

David K Lenhardt, Board Member

David K. Lenhardt, Board Member

David is the former President & CEO of PetSmart, the largest US retailer of pet food, supplies, and services. He joined PetSmart in October 2000, as senior vice president of Services, Strategic Planning and Business Development. In June 2013, he was named chief executive officer and in April 2014, he was named president and chief executive officer. David led the strategic review process of PetSmart in 2014, resulting in the sale of PetSmart to BC Partners for $8.7B, representing the highest equity valuation in the history of the company and the largest retail LBO in history.

David stepped down as CEO in March 2015 upon the closing of the transaction. David currently serves on the board of directors of Casey’s General Stores, The Michaels Companies, and Natural Balance Pet Food.  He also serves on the board of Phoenix Children’s Hospital and Phoenix Art Museum.

Jay Abramson, Board Member

Jay joined Halle Capital Management, a growth equity investment firm, in 2020 as a Senior Partner. Prior to joining Halle, Jay spent 34 years at Cramer Rosenthal McGlynn, an investment management firm, where he served as CEO and Co-CIO. Jay is a Trustee of Montefiore Health System and chairs its investment committee and is also a Trustee of the Albert Einstein College of Medicine. Jay was an Overseer at the University of Pennsylvania Weitzman School of Design and is a graduate of the Wharton School and the Law School at the University of Pennsylvania.

Jodi Watson

Jodi Watson, Board Member

Jodi Watson has served on several boards and in C-level operating roles: Senior VP and interim CMO at Petco, President of Consumer Direct at Wolverine Worldwide, and VP, Direct Marketing Services for Williams-Sonoma, Inc. Jodi currently serves on three other companies’ Board of Directors: Petmed Express, Inc. and Dakota Supply Group. She also sits on three companies’ Advisory Boards: SmartCanister, QLTY Objective WorkBoots, and 12 Interactive Insights. Jodi holds a Master’s degree in Human Centered Design and a Bachelor’s degree in Marketing and Management.

Justin Korsant

Justin Korsant, Board Member

Justin Korsant is Chief Executive Officer of Long Light Capital, a New York-based family investment company that invests in both public and private markets across numerous industries. Justin oversees all aspects of the investment function, including asset allocation, portfolio management, and strategic planning. In addition to his Long Light Capital responsibilities, he also oversees the management of the Korsant family office. Before joining Long Light Capital, Justin held positions in the capital markets groups of Barclays Capital and Lehman Brothers. He serves on several corporate and non-profit boards and advisory committees. Justin is a graduate of the University of Miami with a BA degree in Economics.