Our Team


Proteus has assembled an experienced management team and intends to hire additional oil and gas/energy specialists and consultants for its field acquisition and development program. There are currently several candidates for senior petroleum engineers, geologists and geophysicists and reservoir analysts being considered.

Officers and Directors

Roger Howard – Chairman. J. Roger Howard is a licensed petroleum engineer and has held a number of executive and technical positions with ChevronTexaco and its predecessors, Texaco and Getty Oil. Among his many assignments was to manage all of Texaco’s Permian Basin assets. He has extensive oil and gas M&A experience, both domestic and international. Mr. Howard is a Registered Petroleum Engineer in the State of Texas. He received his BS in Petroleum Engineering from the University of Texas (1969).

Bennett J. Yankowitz – Founder and CEO. Mr. Yankowitz is Proteus’ founder and Chief Executive Officer. He has had extensive experience in oil and gas and as a real estate investor and developer. He also has 20+ years of experience as a corporate attorney with leading law firms, specializing in securities, financial and M&A transactions. Mr. Yankowitz earned his B.A. degree in Mathematics from the University of California, Berkeley, his J.D. degree from the University of Southern California, where he was an editor of the Southern California Law Review, and his LL.M. degree (First Class Honours) from the University of Cambridge, where he was an Evan Lewis-Thomas Scholar at Sidney Sussex College. He is a member of the California and New York bars.

Naomi A. Nakagama – Co-Founder and Director. Ms. Nakagama is one of Proteus’ co-founders and is a Director. She is a former Senior Vice President-Finance of Entergy Corporation, a Fortune 500 energy corporation, and prior to that had an 11-year banking and finance career and ultimately headed the Energy Sector in Project Finance at BNP Paribas (the largest bank in France) for North and South America in the late 1990’s. Throughout her banking and business career, she has been responsible for over $3.0+ billion in project financing, as well as developing and executing key financial and JV structures in excess of $500 million in sustained, economic value specifically to support growing companies’ cash flow and valuations from inception through IPO. Independently, she has provided capital and corporate/business formation services to numerous technology companies and entrepreneurs since 1992, resulting in initial seed capital, technology transfers, venture capital and mergers. She graduated with distinction from UCLA in 1987.

James S. Thomson – Director. Mr. Thomson has had a long and distinguished business career. Since 2001 he has been a member of the board of Directors of Sumitomo Corporation and also serves as an investment advisor for North American Power. From 1996 to 2000 he was President and CEO of CNG International, a $3.5 billion international electric and natural gas company. From 1990 to 1996 he was Vice President and General Manager– Asia Pacific for Edison Mission Energy, where he was responsible for development, finance, construction and operations in the Asia-Pacific Region. From 1983 to 1990 he was Vice President–Operations, Fuel, and Power Contracts for SITHE, responsible for development, finance, construction and operation of seven cogeneration plants. From 1976 to 1983 he held various positions with San Diego Gas & Electric Company, and from 1970 to 1976 was in the U.S. Navy Submarine Service. Mr. Thomson received a B.S. in Industrial and Systems Engineering from Georgia Institute of Technology (1970), an M.S. in Industrial and Systems Engineering from Iowa Sate University in 1976 and an MBA from the University of Michigan in 1981.

Thomas H. Kato – Director. Mr. Kato, age 38, is a member of our board of directors. Since 2008 has been the founder and Chief Executive Officer of Merchant Hub, a multi-national credit and debit card processing company. From 2003 to 2007, Mr. Kato was the President of Kato Companies, a commercial real estate development company. He is a licensed commercial general contractor.

Ken Teague – V.P., Development. Mr. Teague is responsible for all of Proteus’ field operations as well as serving on its acquisitions team. He has 28 years’ experience in the energy resource and infrastructure industries, with an emphasis on project development. From 1997 to 2006, he was the head of Project and Business Development for ARB, Inc., where he was responsible for development and review of new business ventures and process improvements for domestic and oil and gas exploitation (including several of the assets has and is in the process of acquiring), domestic energy infrastructure development, international pipeline and facility construction projects in the U.S., Canada, Guyana, Mexico, Canada and Uganda.. He also served as Vice President Operations of Frontier Utilities of North Carolina, and had executive positions at Mobil Oil Company, Mojave Pipeline Company and Union Pacific. He has a chemical/petroleum engineering degree from Texas Tech.

Daniel Franchi – Vice President, Operations. Mr. Franchi has a 27 year career in the oil and gas industry whose scope includes engineering, field operations, upstream oil and gas M&A, and international finance. As a former officer and executive of Unocal, in addition to leading major international financings, Mr. Franchi was accountable for the numerous operations projects at fields throughout the LA Basin, including the rebuild of oil and natural gas field facilities to process produced crude oil. Aspects included: project justification, bidding, permitting, and construction supervision through to implementation of the project. Upon Unocal’s acquisition by Chevron Texaco several years ago, Mr.Franchi has been leading the recovery and development of small, independent oil producing single asset companies. Mr. Franchi received his B.Sc in industrial engineering from California State Polytechnic Institute and his M.Sc. in industrial and systems engineering and his MBA from the University of Southern California. He is a registered Professional Engineer in California.

John Tchetchenian – Vice-President, Investor Relations. Mr. Tchetchenian is responsible for securing equity capital and debt for the purposes of future acquisition and Proteus business expansion.During his 20+ year career, he has established relationships with private equity firms, high net worth investors and has worked to provide project finance, business consulting and real estate management to his clients.

Richard Moon – Controller. Mr. Moon has numerous years of experience in the areas of finance, accounting, treasury and corporate development. Over the course of his career, he has held several management positions in companies such as Sony Pictures, Unocal Corporation and Rentech, an alternative energy company based in Los Angeles. While at Unocal, Mr. Moon held positions in corporate development and treasury and advised executive management on numerous strategic and financing alternatives. As a Director of Finance at Rentech, Mr. Moon was responsible for development of the company’s long-term strategic plan. He also played a vital role in direct commercial negotiations with strategic partners, which led to the signing of several milestone agreements. Mr. Moon graduated from UCLA with a degree in Economics, holds an MBA in Finance from the University of Southern California, and is a Certified Public Accountant.

Administrative Management

Annie Newman – Administrative Manager. In her early career Ms. Newman was a paralegal case manager working in various areas of law including: products liability and environmental at Brobeck, Phleger & Harrison and biotech patent infringement at Lyon & Lyon. She was paralegal manager at Akin, Gump, Strauss, Hauer & Feld, LLP. As a consultant she has worked with companies and individuals in finance, retail, and entertainment providing legal consulting and general business advice. Before she joined the Proteus team, she was Managing Director of the International Medical Assembly at the United Nations. Ms. Newman graduated with a liberal arts degree from Antioch University.

Board of Advisors

The Advisory Board was put together to give Proteus access to fields, operators and land assets before they come to the market for a negotiated bid as well as field financing. These are key components to Proteus’ success. The right relationships make it easier to identify the fields that are a match for the Proteus business model. The Advisory Board of Proteus consists of the following members:

David Dunlap – Co-founder and former Executive Vice President and Director of Proteus from 2005-2007. David’s iBanking firm, Impact Capital Advisors, LLC www.impactcapital.com is currently advising Proteus with its financings and M & A strategies.

Peter J. Cockcroft. Peter Cockcroft is a well known international oil industry executive with a proven track record for successfully managing international energy businesses in various countries, including entrepreneurial project identification, management and implementation (including financing), both in the petroleum and power sector. He has been Country Manager in six different countries, and was responsible for the first combined gas field/power project ever developed in Asia. Peter has a reputation for having extremely high-level contacts in the Asian region, and is often consulted by host governments on international negotiations and energy policy. He is also a well know Petroleum Geologist and Petroleum Engineer, with over 40 published articles, and regularly lectures worldwide for the Society of Petroleum Engineers. Peter’s executive positions include Chairman of Baraka Petroleum (BKP.AX)(2005-2006); Advisor to the CEO of Premier Oil plc (2001-2005); Managing Director of Premier & Shell Pakistan B.V. (1999-2001); and Resident Manager and Chief Company Representative, Indonesia, BHP Petroleum (1996-1998). He is currently on the Boards of Directors of Australian Oil Company (AOC.AX), Sky Petroleum (SKPI.OB) and Kuwait Energy, the first private Kuwaiti oil company.

Bruce Crager. Bruce Crager is an experienced oil and gas executive with over 30 years in offshore production. He was formerly President of ABB Offshore Systems and President of Smit-Oceaneering Cable Systems and Senior Vice President of Oceaneering International. He has held several engineering positions in the oil and gas industry and has published widely on a number of technical issues in offshore drilling and production. Mr. Crager received his B.S. in Ocean Engineering (Cum Laude) from Texas A&M University (1975) and his Master of Business Administration from the University of Houston (1979).

Karén Setian. Karén Setian is a Managing Partner of Forseti Capital, LLC, a financial consulting and investment banking firm located in Beverly Hills, California. Born and raised in Yerevan, Armenia, he moved to the United States in the 1990’s where he quickly achieved success as a business leader. Among the most distinguished of Karén’s business accomplishments was his work with the Exodus Group, where he lead an elite consulting team for the former Soviet Republics. Of equal importance was Karén’s tenure as a project planner in charge of developing markets in former Eastern Block Countries with Sieben Sterne GmbH. A fluent Russian speaker, he continues to focus on transactions with the Russian Federation and CIS member States.

George Simmons. George Simmons has over 30 years experience as an oil and gas executive, and is currently CEO of Hat Creek Energy which was formed in 2004 as the oil and gas asset acquisition arm of a major family office based in Denver. He previously was CEO of Simpact Oil and Gas, CEO of Cody Energy (which he turned around from a loosing operation and eventually sold to Cabot Oil & Gas), President of two major subsidiaries of KN Energy, and CEO of Consolidated Oil and Gas.