Distinguished Alumni Awards 2022
Each year, Chicago Booth honors four alumni who are innovating in their industries. Read on to meet this year’s winners, who are leading the way forward in the NFL, investment, social impact, and biotechnology.
- June 10, 2022
- Career Impact
George U. “Gus” Sauter, ’80
Chief Investment Officer, Retired
At age 10, Gus Sauter collected deposits from friends and neighbors and started his own bank. At 12, he invested in his first stock—a local company that made snowmobiles—and launched a long and influential career in investing.
Sauter spent most of his career at the Vanguard Group, where he oversaw the management and growth of the firm’s index funds and active quant funds, and was granted a patent for the structure of Vanguard’s exchange-traded funds business. As Vanguard’s global chief investment officer, he also oversaw the management of the fixed income group.
When he joined Vanguard in 1987, the firm had one equity index fund, with just over $1 billion in assets. By the time he retired in 2012, he was overseeing $1.7 trillion of internally managed stock, bond, and money market funds.
An influential thought leader, Sauter was able to help drive change in the industry, advocating for stock market structure reform, more secure counterparty risk in derivatives, and other key changes.
In retirement, Sauter is the CEO of a startup company and serves on the faculty at the CQA Institute at Wilkes University.
Maria Kim, ’12
President and CEO
A passionate entrepreneur and advocate for social impact, Maria Kim is the president and CEO of REDF, a venture philanthropy investing in businesses that hire overlooked talent nationwide. REDF’s reach includes more than 220 social enterprises, collectively generating more than $1.4 billion in revenue and employing more than 74,000 people.
In a role she calls her dream job, Kim is spearheading REDF’s strategic goal to strengthen and increase investments in employment social enterprises, particularly those led by people of color or by people who share the lived experience of REDF’s employees.
Kim joined REDF after nearly 16 years at Cara Collective, a social enterprise dedicated to breaking the cycle of poverty through employment. In 2021, Kim drew on her work at Cara to write Voice and Vocation: A Workforce Practitioner’s Guide to Building Hopes, Jobs, and Opportunity.
Kim has always had a passion for social entrepreneurship—inspired in part by watching her immigrant parents work hard, take risks, and serve society. Under her leadership, REDF is working to build a thriving, inclusive economy where all people have the jobs and the support they need to realize their full potential.
Jason G. Wright, ’13
When Jason G. Wright was appointed president of the Washington Football Team (now the Commanders) in 2020, he made history—as both the youngest team president in the NFL and the first Black team president in the history of the league. Since joining the team, he has led a comprehensive rebranding effort, hired a more diverse and innovative staff, and improved workplace conditions.
Wright spent seven seasons in the NFL as a running back. He was a team captain for the Arizona Cardinals and the team’s labor union representative during the 2011 lockout. After pivoting to business, he became a partner in the operations practice of McKinsey & Company and led McKinsey’s global inclusion and antiracism strategies. There, he cofounded the Black Economic Institute, a research entity that analyzes the racial wealth gap, and is a prominent voice in public discussions regarding racial equity in corporate America.
At the time of his hiring, Wright said, “From football to business school to McKinsey, I have always enjoyed building exciting new things and taking on the hard, seemingly intractable challenges that others may not want to tackle.”
Sheila A. Mikhail, ’93
CEO and Cofounder
Sheila A. Mikhail’s first entrepreneurial venture was the boutique law firm Life Sciences Law. After experiencing workplace discrimination at a big firm, she wanted her own firm to welcome and support attorneys from all backgrounds. That venture led her to a gene researcher who had a revolutionary idea—and he wanted her to join his team.
Together, they launched Asklepios BioPharmaceutical (AskBio) in 2001 with the goal of creating life-changing therapies for patients with few alternatives. The pioneering company operated on a shoestring budget for 15 years, but went on to revolutionize gene therapy, helping it gain widespread recognition as a powerful and transformative technology.
In 2020, Mikhail led negotiations that resulted in Bayer AG’s acquisition of AskBio for up to $4 billion. She was recognized as the Ernst & Young 2021 Overall National Entrepreneur of the Year. Today, the company is a global operation that is changing the face of modern medicine.
Beyond her work at AskBio, Mikhail is the cofounder of many other biotech companies as well as the Columbus Children’s Foundation, a nonprofit that accelerates access to effective therapies for children with ultrarare genetic diseases.
Amid a two-decade career at the firm where he started as an analyst, Kapoor, ’04, remains committed to the value of independence.Morningstar CEO Kunal Kapoor Is All In for Investors