Alumni Connections - No. 88 - November 2011

Alumni Connections is a sampling of alumni news. Alumni on the Move, Alumni to Know, CEO Watch: Taking the Lead, and CEO Watch: Making Headlines share news gleaned from media online and in print, including news submitted to Chicago Booth Magazine. Submit information about yourself or fellow alumni to

Alumni on the Move

Jiming Zhu, '01,
has been named president, consumer electronics, in addition to his role as president, China rolled products. Based in New York, the company makes aluminum.

Althea Technologies, Inc.:
Martha Demski, '77,
has been named director of new ventures. Based in Boston, Massachusetts, the department helps the university identify, protect, and license its intellectual property.

BlackRock, Inc.:
Mark Taborsky, '93,
has joined as managing director and senior portfolio manager within the multi-asset client solutions group. The investment management, risk management, and advisory services firm is headquartered in New York.

BlueMountain Capital Management:
Jonathan Moore, '99,
has joined as a London-based senior credit analyst, focusing on telecommunications, media, and technology. The private investment firm is based in New York and London.

Capitol Bancorp Ltd.:
Nicholas Hahn, '88,
has been appointed interim CFO. Based in Lansing, Michigan, and Phoenix, Arizona, the bank holding company has subsidiaries in commercial banking, mortgage banking, and other financial services.

Concord Medical Services Holding Limited:
Adam Sun, '98,
has been named acting CFO. Based in Beijing, the company runs a network of radiotherapy and diagnostic imaging centers in China.

Corporate Office Properties Trust:
Stephen Budorick, '88,
has joined as executive vice president and chief operating officer. Headquartered in Columbia, Maryland, the real estate investment trust develops office and data center properties for the US government and defense information technology field.

EcoMotors International:
Jennifer Holmgren, '06 (XP-75),
has been appointed to the board of directors. The engine manufacturer is based in Allen Park, Michigan. Holmgren is CEO of LanzaTech, a bioenergy technology firm.

FocalPoint Partners:
Thomas Mills, '10,
has joined as managing director, primarily focused on debt capital markets and special situations. He will lead development of the investment bank's Chicago office. The firm is headquartered in Los Angeles, California.

Fox Petroleum Inc.:
James Renfro, '89,
has joined as president. Headquartered in New York, the company acquires, develops, and runs small- to medium-sized oil and gas producing assets and reserves. Renfro is the former owner of Renfro Energy, LLC.

General Motors:
James Davlin, '88,
has joined as treasurer. The automaker is based in Detroit, Michigan.

Breno Oliveira, '03,
has been named investors relations officer. The consumer goods company is headquartered in São Paulo, Brazil.

Don Patrick, '88,
has been named president and chief operating officer. The company offers data, information, market intelligence, and digital services. It is headquartered in Omaha, Nebraska.

InSite Vision Incorporated:
Craig Tooman, '92,
has been appointed to the board of directors. The company develops clinical and preclinical ophthalmic products. It is based in Alameda, California. Tooman is founder and principal of Stockbourne LLC, a financial advisory firm.

LEAP Financial:
Lindy Hood, '93,
has been named chief marketing officer. Based in San Diego, California, the auto leasing company works with consumers who have difficulty obtaining credit.

M.M. Dillon & Co.:
Charles Weiss, '76,
has been named senior advisory director. The employee-owned investment banking partnership is based in Stamford, Connecticut. Weiss is founder and managing partner of JOG Capital Inc., a private equity firm.

Nissan Americas:
Mark Kaczynski, '95,
is slated to become president, Nissan Motors Acceptance Corp, effective December 1. He currently serves as controller, sales marketing. Based in Franklin, Tennessee, Nissan Americas is part of Nissan Motor Co., Japan's second-largest automotive company.

Realty Income Corporation:
Sumit Roy, '01,
has been named senior vice president, real estate acquisitions. The company is based in Escondido, California.

RS Investments:
Paul Hamilos, '08,
has joined as equity analyst on the value team. The investment firm is based in San Francisco, California.

Seacoast Capital:
Timothy Fay, '97 (XP-66),
has joined as a partner in the San Francisco, California, office. The company invests in subordinated debt and equity in lower middle-market specialty manufacturing, value-added distribution, and business service companies. In addition to San Francisco, the company has an office in Boston, Massachusetts.

Solutia Inc.:
D. Michael Donnelly, '84 (XP-53),
has been promoted to executive vice president and chief operating officer from president and general manager of performance films division. The materials and specialty chemicals company is headquartered in St. Louis, Missouri.

Starz Digital Media:
Mara Winokur, '96,
has been promoted to senior vice president, digital media, business development, and strategy from vice president, digital media and business development. Based in New York, Starz Digital Media is the digital and on-demand licensing arm of Starz, the programming company.

TTK Partners, LLC:
Daniel Horn, '91,
has joined as managing director. The mergers and acquisitions advisory firm is headquartered in Chicago.

Woodward, Inc.:
Gregg Sengstack, '82,
has been appointed to the board of directors. Based in Fort Collins, Colorado, the firm makes energy and global infrastructure equipment. Sengstack is senior vice president for Franklin Electric Company.

Yingli Green Energy Holding Company Limited:
Richard Xue, '97,
has been appointed independent director and a member of the audit and compensation committees. The solar energy company is based in Baoding, China.

Alumni to Know

To differentiate itself from the pack, Chicago-based private equity firm GTCR chose to follow a strategy of recruiting a CEO ideal for a given platform and then helping the CEO build a company, said a September 1 article in Private Equity International. As a result, the firm is known for having "one of the most intense, relentless and successful focuses on CEO recruitment in the private equity industry," the article said. The strategy has proven effective: since its establishment in 1980, the firm has invested about $8.5 billion in more than 200 companies. And the firm was expecting a hectic pace for the last two quarters of 2011. "I think it's going to be a really exciting deal-making environment for us over the next six months," said Philip Canfield, '96, co-head of the firm's financial services and technology group. "We have a lot of CEOs that we're talking to right now who have active investment ideas and businesses we think we can buy and drive transformation. So I would anticipate a lot of activity."

Many observers have expressed that the success or failure of Groupon's planned initial public offering could have a ripple effect on how Chicago is viewed as a tech center. Michael Krauss, AB '75, MBA '76, however, said that Chicago's tech community is large enough to survive no matter what happens to Groupon. "A Groupon success would be a great home run for Chicago, but we're also hitting base hits—singles, doubles, and triples," Krauss, president of Market Strategy Group, said in a September 19 article in Crain's Chicago Business. "It's not the only play in town."

The real inventor of the internet may be Joel Mambretti, PhD '77, MBA '89. He created a data link among Chicago-area universities and national labs in the early 1980s that allowed the schools to connect to a larger, faster global network of researchers, said a September 5 article in Crain's Chicago Business. Today, as director of the International Center for Advanced Internet Research at Northwestern University, Mambretti continues to engineer speed-ups and broadband capabilities. He is part of the management team of StarLight, a Chicago hub with 120 connections at 10 gigabits apiece, which, Mambretti said in the article, will soon be 100-gigabit connections.

"Women as craft beer owners are a rare breed," said Linda Nyman, '90, director of marketing for Penn Brewery, which has a female president and CEO. Nyman was one of the women in the craft beer field who was profiled in a September 8 article in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. She said her company does market to women, especially its new brew, Summer Berry Weisse. "It's very refreshing, and it's easy to taste that it's made with actual fruit rather than flavored syrup," she said.

Two Booth grads have been named by the Illinois Technology Foundation as honorees in the 50 For The Future award ceremony for top Illinois technology students. They are Eric Olson, '11, and Borna Safabakhsh, '11. Students were selected based on their interest in and potential to use technology in innovative ways.

A new mobile app by 5Degrees is in the beta stage. It lets users consolidate, manage, and interact with connections across personal, social, and professional networks. "5Degrees brings you closer to your connections. We're like Evernote for your contacts, with a dash of Google Circles thrown in," said Jeb Ory, '11, company cofounder, in a September 13 Marketwire article. Other company founders are Booth classmates Kilton Hopkins, '11, and Kelly Schwedland, '10.

Claritia, which has developed software to manage IT costs, has been accepted as an acceleration client by TECH Fort Worth, a nonprofit technology incubator. "We enable technology leaders to maximize the value of their investments in IT and clearly align their organizations with business requirements," said Raja Pabba, '08, Claritia cofounder, in a September 27 article in City Biz List. "Our solutions are aimed at delivering complete transparency into the total cost of IT ownership and delivery so executives can easily optimize and forecast their budgets."

David Robinson, MBA '01, PhD '01, a finance professor at Duke University's Fuqua School of Business, was selected by the Financial Times to participate in a special weekly section in which experts in their field define five key terms. In the September 8 article, Robinson defined the terms "angel investment," "convertible note," "convertible preferred equity," "strategic alliance," and "venture debt."

William Roth, '81, co-chief financial officer of Two Harbors Investment Corp., was alongside the CEO of his company when he rang the opening bell of the New York Stock Exchange. The firm is a real estate investment trust that invests in mortgage-backed securities, residential mortgage loans, and other assets. "Since its initial public offering in October 2009, Two Harbors' market capitalization has increased to $1.3 billion from about $100 million, according to a news release from the company," said a September 14 article in

CEO Watch: Making Headlines

Adam Ashfar, '01 (XP-70)
President and CEO
Hyde Park Global Investments

Ashfar has been presenting "How Speed Traders Leverage Cutting-Edge Strategies in the Post-Flash Crash World" at the Golden Networking's High-Frequency Trading Leaders Forum 2011. The forum was being held in Chicago; São Paulo, Brazil; Singapore, and Hong Kong throughout October, November, and December, according to a September 8 article in Your Story.

Jerry He, MS '97, MBA '04
Noah Education Holdings Ltd.

The CEO talks about his company's recent transition from selling digital learning products, including the first e-dictionary, to the acquisition of Shanghai Yuanbo Education Information, which runs 18 preschools and kindergartens in China, with plans to expand. "We are going to basically buy into the north and the west of China. We already have the south and the east," He said in a September 7 article. "For operational acquisitions, we are going to buy more kindergartens and preschools in China, and also we are buying more supplementary education services, such as English training or other children tutoring center chains."

Jon Morris, '05
Founder and CEO
Rise Interactive

The interactive investment management firm was recently ranked 505th on Inc. magazine's 500/5000 list. The firm ranked as the 17th fastest-growing company in Chicago and 58th for all advertising and marketing firms, according to a September 19 article in Market Watch. "We are again honored to be listed as one of the fastest-growing private companies," Morris said. "It is through the successful relationships we have with our customers and employees that an honor like this is possible."

Ron Packard, '89
Founder and CEO
K12 Inc.

The online education company has teamed with the New York Times to put on an education conference entitled "Schools for Tomorrow: Bringing Technology into the Classroom." Packard participated in an interactive session focusing on student environment and how the classroom of tomorrow might look. "With all we have achieved in the US, we still can't say that every child is given the opportunity to receive the best education possible," Packard said in a September 15 article in Market Watch. "Whether or not a child has access to a quality education should not be determined by their geographic or socioeconomic circumstances. Technology can help break through these old barriers, but it will require bold steps, structural reforms, and a new vision on how to deliver an excellent education to all children. This conference will allow us to increase awareness about the opportunities ahead to provide a brighter future for students today and tomorrow."

Kevin Willer, '10 (XP-79)
President and CEO
Chicagoland Entrepreneurial Center

Willer has teamed with Brad Keywell, adjunct professor of entrepreneurship, to start Future Founders Foundation, a nonprofit organization for students interested in entrepreneurship and career exploration. The organization will work with a dozen middle schools and high schools in Chicago this school year, said a September 22 article in Market Watch. The new organization combines the goals of Willer's center and Connect to the Future, a group Keywell had founded, the article said. "Future Founders has been a shining success for the CEC over the last six years," Willer said. "This partnership will unlock the full potential of the program—especially with all of the great momentum in Chicago's startup community." Keywell said the partnership will expand his organization's mission by "inspiring students by showing them the doors that are opened up through education, and bringing professionals from the community into classrooms to share their expertise and their stories."

Brenda Wolf, '88
La Rabida Children's Hospital

In a September 12 article in Crain's Chicago Business, Wolf said her top job is to "improve and promote coordination of care for children with complex medical needs, such as sickle cell anemia and cerebral palsy, and increase capacity to provide services." The plan is to make the hospital less dependent on public dollars by boosting visibility and fundraising efforts, Wolf told Crain's.

Submit information about yourself or fellow alumni to