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Friends of Janet Moyer Ortega, ’81, hope a memorial scholarship fund they are launching in her honor continues her legacy of energetic commitment to Booth and alumni abroad.

“A lot of people probably never even heard of her,” said longtime friend Thomas McDonald, ’08 (XP-77), who served with Ortega on the Americas Cabinet of the Chicago Booth Global Advisory Board. “But how she acted and what she represented and her commitment to alumni, students, and the Booth brand is something we should always strive toward.”

An Indiana native, Ortega made her home in Brazil and was the engine behind Booth’s alumni events in the region. She was a founding member of the Global Advisory Board Americas Cabinet, which she co-chaired until 2012, and served as chairman of the Chicago Booth Alumni Club of Brazil. She passed away in November 2018.

It was her genuine desire to connect with others in a kind and meaningful way that drew people to her, McDonald said. At a memoriam event earlier this year in São Paolo, government and industry leaders shared stories of Ortega’s impact on them personally, on the university’s significant presence in Brazil, and on its alumni community, said Stacey Kole, AM ’86, PhD ’92 (Economics), deputy dean for MBA Programs and clinical professor of economics, who spoke at the event. The audience, many of whom were not affiliated with the school, listened attentively.

Ortega was the heart and soul of Booth’s Brazil community, said Pedro de Andrade Faria, ’02. They had worked together on the Nelson Germanos Fellowship, which provides scholarships for Booth students.

“Janet was the magnet. She was a very strong, charismatic net weaver who bit by bit built the Booth community in Brazil,” he said. “We are still mourning. Everyone misses her a lot.”

Her son Tommy Ortega remembers her legendary late nights at the computer—the last one up in a family of night owls.

“We thought she was just catching up on daily things, you know, emails. Later we learned all these things she had been doing for people. We always knew what kind of person she was, but it was surprising to us, the level of relationships she maintained with so many people. But it fits. That’s Mom,” he said.

Ortega was codirector of Saenz Hofmann, a financial boutique she founded with her husband, James Ortega. She started her career at Booz Allen Hamilton in Buenos Aires, Argentina, later working at Harris Bank in Latin America before opening her own consulting firm.

Fund organizers have raised $500,000 toward a goal of $1 million. The hope is that after they graduate, scholarship recipients will champion Ortega’s legacy, “so 10 or 20 years from now,” McDonald said, “we can get together and be proud of what they’ve built as a result of Janet.”