Two Ocean Creek in Wyoming’s Teton wilderness holds a special place for Joel Revill. The creek cuts along the Continental Divide and snow that melts into the creek has an equal chance of flowing to either the Atlantic or Pacific Oceans. The area was a favorite place for Joel to fish, hike, and backpack while he was growing up in Powell, Wyoming, a rural area about 25 miles northeast of Cody. But it’s also a metaphor for his own travels, which carried him through the world of finance to New York, as well as San Francisco and Tokyo.
Revill, 49, is the newest member of the Myotonic Dystrophy Foundation Board of Directors, although he’s long been connected to the organization through his close friendship with MDF co-founders Jeremy and Erica Kelly and he and his wife's generous support.
Friends in Finance
After earning undergraduate degrees from the University of Oregon in Finance and Japanese Language and Literature, with time spent at Obirin University in Japan, he entered an investment banking training program at J.P. Morgan in New York in 1992.
That training program is where he met his wife Kristin, as well as Jeremy and Erica Kelly, with whom he and his wife would form a deep friendship. It was later when both couples were married and living in Marin County, across the Golden Gate Bridge from San Francisco, that Erica and her two sons were diagnosed with myotonic dystrophy and the Kellys helped launch the Myotonic Dystrophy Foundation.
“It hit us hard,” Revill said, recalling when he learned of the diagnosis of Erica and her sons. “There is no cause that would be dearer to me than this.”
As an early fundraising effort, Jeremy spent a year riding his bike to and from work in San Francisco, 32 miles a day roundtrip. Joel cheered him on, including sometimes riding his bike home with Jeremy as a gesture of support for his friends.
Joel spent 12 years in the investment banking industry. Six of those years were with J.P. Morgan, where he rose from analyst in the investment banking group to vice president. He helped establish a west coast team for the firm covering the consumer industry. The other six years he spent at Merrill Lynch, where he served as a managing director, overseeing merger and acquisition transactions and financings for consumer industry clients globally.
While at Merrill Lynch, he decided he needed a break from the spreadsheets and financial statements and enrolled in a master’s program in liberal arts at Stanford University while he continued to work. It was then he discovered an unexpected connection between his interest in Japan and his hometown of Powell—it had been the site of an internment camp during World War II for Japanese Americans—Joel had planned to write his master’s thesis about the camp.
In 2004, though, he joined Standard Pacific Capital as an investment analyst and had to withdraw from Stanford because he didn’t have time to pursue his thesis. He eventually became a managing partner at Standard Pacific, helping oversee a global investment portfolio with $2.4 billion in capital invested.
In 2013, he would launch his own investment firm in San Francisco and name it Two Ocean Capital. The name, a reference to the fact that the firm invested across the United States, Europe, and Asia, but also a reference to the place he loved in Wyoming. In the lobby of the firm was a large photograph Joel took standing in Two Ocean Creek at the fork where the creek divides in two to feed the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans.
Joel’s wife Kristin, a New England native who studied at Dartmouth College in New Hampshire, seemed an unlikely sort to fall in love with Wyoming, but she was an earth science major in college and spent time there at a geology field camp. The couple spent a lot of time visiting his home state over the years, bought a cabin, and eventually decided to raise their daughter Anna and son Sam in Jackson Hole, Wyoming.
A Man on a Mission
Joel previously served on the boards of the Jackson Hole Land Trust and First Bank of Wyoming. He hopes his financial background will make him a valued addition to the MDF board. But Joel sees the MDF board as a special opportunity.
“What’s unique about this versus other board opportunities I’ve been involved with is that there is a very tangible, real, in-our-lifetime solution, and possibly a cure,” said Joel. “It feels as though I’ve joined a team playing for a championship. It has that sense of urgency and purpose. To contribute to that is a motivating and rewarding way to give my time. It’s an honor, and I’m humbled to be asked by this board to help with this mission.”
Asked what he hopes to accomplish while on the board, Joel was unabashed. “Find a cure,” he said. “That’s why I’m doing it.”