REACHING OUT FELLOWS, CLASS OF 2017

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Anna Schmid

Boston University, Questrom School of Business

  • About Anna

    I grew up in Natick, Massachusetts and graduated from Wesleyan University in Connecticut with a B.A. in Psychology. I'm very active and an avid athlete (and huge Sox fan - Dad was actually down the street at Fenway when I was born) and play soccer, basketball, softball, and try to swim, ride horses, camp, and do as much yoga as possible! I am currently studying for my MBA at Boston University in Health Sector management and working part-time for Sonzia, which produces touch screens designed specifically for individuals with developmental disabilities.

     

    What made you consider business school?

    As the coordinator for 4 research studies since graduation, I discovered the need for skilled managers in the healthcare field who both understand the industry and additionally have strong management and communication skills.

     

    What are you most excited about in terms of your time in business school?

    I'm excited to meet people, and to learn about what ideas and solutions are out there that are able to make good healthcare and good quality of life more accessible to more people. I'm also excited about learning how to take these ideas and then translate them into a healthy, successful business.

     

    Who are some leaders (in the LGBT community, in business, or in society) that most inspire you?

    Abby Wambach, Ellen Degeneres, Barney Frank.

     

    What's one thing everyone should know about you?

    I have a very playful sense of humor. And I love coffee.

     

    What are you doing during the summer before you start business school?

    I am working part-time consulting for a startup company called Sonzia, which produces touch screens for children and adults with developmental disabilities. I'm also spending time with family on Martha's Vineyard, camping with friends in Maine and Vermont, and enjoying as many local shows and concerts as I can.

Austin Fang

University of Chicago, Booth School of Business

  • About Austin

    Austin Fang is a first-year MBA candidate at University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business. He grew up in the Maryland suburbs of Washington, D.C. He majored in Biomedical Engineering and Psychology at Johns Hopkins University. Prior to Booth, Austin worked at Bloomberg LP as a financial software developer programming for the news functions on the Bloomberg Terminal. He enjoys playing volleyball, following professional tennis, and watching sitcoms and romcoms.

     

    What made you consider business school?

    After working at Bloomberg LP for five years, I felt that my career trajectory had stagnated. I had been promoted from junior software developer to senior software developer, but the responsibilities of my role were very much the same. When I tried taking on other responsibilities on the more product management side, I found that my input was not taken very much into account due to my lack of a business background. I'm looking forward to business school to develop my management skills and develop some business acumen.

     

    What are you most excited about in terms of your time in business school?

    I'm most excited for meeting new people from all over the world and from different backgrounds. Additionally, I'm looking forward to getting my career back on track. I was feeling very frustrated at my last job, so I'm excited for all the new opportunities that business school and an MBA can bring.

     

    Who are some leaders (in business, in the LGBT community, in society) that most inspire you?

    I am most inspired by Billie Jean King. Not only was she a phenomenal tennis player, but she also helped found the Women's Tennis Association, fought for equal prize money for men and women, and is an LGBT icon. In business, I admire Jeffrey Raider, a fellow JHU alum and co-founder of Warby Parker and Harry's. I find what he's doing breaking up the monopoly in the eyewear industry with Warby Parker is so brilliant and inspirational.

     

    What's one thing everyone should know about you?

    I'm the biggest professional tennis nerd in the world. This year, I've already been to a tennis tournament in Palm Springs, CA and Hamburg, Germany. I'm absolutely devastated that I'm no longer in NYC as I'll be missing the US Open in a couple weeks.

     

    What are you doing during the summer before you start business school?

    I was fortunate enough to have two weeks of #funemployment before my lease ran out in NYC. In that time, I was able to go to all the Broadway shows (including this year's Tony Award winning musical and play), museums, and restaurants that I never had time for. Afterwards, I attended a bachelorette party in Charleston, participated in the ROMBA tech trek in SF, and traveled around Europe for two weeks. After meeting Rafael Nadal at a tennis tournament in Hamburg, celebrating gay pride in Amsterdam, and exploring Berlin for the first time, I'm finally moving to Chicago to prepare for school.

Aqeela Nanji

University of Toronto, Rotman School of Management

  • About Aqeela

Ben Chadwick

Duke University, Fuqua School of Business

  • About Ben

    Originally from Needham, MA, Ben majored in Government & Legal Studies and minored in Economics at Bowdoin College.  A member of the lacrosse team and Bowdoin Men Against Sexual Violence (BMASV), Ben led multiple initiatives on campus to create a more LGBT-friendly athletic department.  After graduating from Bowdoin in 2011, Ben joined Teach For America as a high school math and special education teacher in New Orleans, LA.  From there, to expand his business background, Ben worked as a consultant at Kaiser Associates, a boutique strategy consulting firm in Washington, DC.  Starting in the fall of 2015, Ben enrolled at Duke University – Fuqua School of Business and hopes to work in the technology sector after receiving his MBA.  Eventually, Ben would like to couple his experiences in business and education to ultimately make an impact in the budding education technology industry.

     

    What made you consider business school?

    After working as a consultant and teacher, I knew an MBA would give me the necessary tools to ultimately make a larger impact in the education world down the road.

     

    What are you most excited about in terms of your time in business school?

    I am most excited to learn from my classmates, who come from all over the world with a diverse array of industry experience. 

     

    Who are some leaders (in business, in the LGBT community, in society) that most inspire you?

    My former high school teacher, Andy Bigelow, has been the most inspirational LGBT leader I've ever met.  He made the largest impact on my life, as well as many other student he's taught in the past, and I am forever appreciative to have him as a mentor and friend.

     

    What's one thing everyone should know about you?

    I love to travel, and I am looking forward to taking advantage of the various global study opportunities business school provides!

     

    What are you doing during the summer before you start business school?

    Before business school, I am traveling domestically to visit friends and family across the country. 

Ben Fichera

UCLA, Anderson School of Management

  • About Ben

    Ben started his career at Accenture working with clients to realize business process and technology changes. His roles focused on project management and delivery of business intelligence technologies. He was an active member of the Accenture LGBT Network, leading the group in Boston for over three years. In the fall, Ben will start his MBA journey at UCLA Anderson, with the goal of using both his engineering and consulting experience to switch into a product management role. In making this switch, Ben hopes to expand his sphere of influence from thousands of business users to millions of consumers.

     

    What made you consider business school?

    To successfully transition from consulting to product management, I know that I’ll need a diverse network of colleagues and a strong foundation of business knowledge. I see an MBA as the perfect bridge to both of these things. 

     

    What are you most excited about in terms of your time in business school?

    I’m truly excited to tap into the collective wisdom of my peers and professors, and to contribute what I’ve learned in my career as a consultant and as a LGBT leader. 

     

    Who are some leaders (in business, in the LGBT community, in society) that most inspire you?

    Elon Musk and the team at Tesla took a number of large risks for the sake of a product they knew the world couldn't continue without, and I admire their tenacity and technical acumen. It's also really cool that a company that started by making a luxury sports car could eventually be a leading provider of distributed energy storage.  I'm also inspired by Tim Cook's leadership at Apple. Taking over for one of the most beloved and revered figures in the technology industry left some pretty big shoes to fill. Yet since he took over, Apple's market capitalization has doubled and shows few signs of weakness. And, as the first Fortune 500 CEO to come out, he will no doubt inspire many LGBT professionals to reveal their authentic selves in the workplace.

     

    What's one thing everyone should know about you?

    I'm an avid fan of independent music, and I can't wait to take advantage of LA's vibrant music scene.

     

    What are you doing during the summer before you start business school?

    I’m moving from Boston to Los Angeles, so any time I can get away from packing and apartment hunting will be spent hiking, sailing, and biking around my favorite spots in New England.  

Ben Fong

University of California Berkeley, Haas School of Business

  • About Ben

    Ben Fong has experience in developing economies, trade, and cross-cultural communication working as a U.S. diplomat. Most recently Ben worked as an international economist for the Asia-Pacific region where he helped conduct U.S. trade diplomacy through vehicles such as Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) and the Trans-Pacific Partnership. Ben previously worked as Vice Consul and Acting Chief of American Citizen Services in Nuevo Laredo, Mexico, where he worked on immigration issues and helped Americans in distress. In Mumbai, India, Ben served as Assistant Cultural Attache where he oversaw cultural programs, educational exchanges, and outreach for the U.S. Consulate. Ben speaks Hindi, Spanish, and Mandarin. He graduated from Stanford University and received a Master in Public Affairs from Princeton University. He is from Houston, Texas. Ben is currently pursuing a MBA from Berkeley-Haas.

     

    What made you consider business school?

    Looking for a career change from public service into business, especially into tech.

     

    What are you most excited about in terms of your time in business school?

    Meeting classmates, learning about business

     

    Who are some leaders (in business, in the LGBT community, in society) that most inspire you?

    Elon Musk, Bill Gates

     

    What's one thing everyone should know about you?

    I have a black belt in taekwondo.

     

    What are you doing during the summer before you start business school?

    Working for most of the summer, but taking a short trip to Spain and Portugal with a college friend.

Brandon Perkovich

Yale School of Management

  • About Brandon

    Brandon Perkovich is an MD/MBA candidate and aspiring leader in healthcare. Hailing from Southwest Florida, Brandon attended Harvard College where he studied the history of medicine, focusing on the history of HIV/AIDS, Psychiatry, and LGBTQ experiences with the American healthcare system. While an undergrad, he began working in the world of epidemiology and public health research with a focus on under-studied and high-risk LGBT subpopulations. He moved to San Francisco after college to work in health care administration. When it became clear that the career he endeavored to build involved directly providing patient care, he started medical school at the University of California, San Francisco in 2012. He will be continuing his medical training in Emergency Medicine after finishing his MD. He interrupted his medical training to pursue an MBA at the Yale School of Management in 2015. He continues to be involved in research, with a focus on HIV/AIDS, LGBT health issues, and health care quality improvement. He hopes to bring together clinical know-how and managerial acumen in the world of health care administration. Outside of his professional life, he's an avid trail runner, urban cyclist, collector of old medical educational materials, crossword enthusiast, and James Bond buff.

     

    What made you consider business school?

    Over the course of medical school it became clear that the problems I found most engaging, the leaders and mentors I found most inspiring, and the work I found most rewarding all were located at the intersection of patient care and administration. I needed a way to broaden my training, and business school offered an opportunity to accelerate my career as an aspiring leader in healthcare.

     

    What are you most excited about in terms of your time in business school?

    I'm most excited about the people! There are precious few opportunities in life to really dig in and get to know a cohort of folks from so many different walks of life who share a desire to help push their respective fields.

     

    What's one thing everyone should know about you?

    That I maintain an open invitation for a morning run, trail run or otherwise!

     

    What are you doing during the summer before you start business school?

    Road tripping across the USA!

Bryant R. Ramirez

University of Texas at Austin, McCombs School of Business

  • About Bryant

    Bryant Ramirez, from San Francisco, California, is a ROMBA Fellow attending the McCombs School of Business at the University of Texas at Austin. After business school, Bryant is interested in pursuing a role in corporate or digital strategy at a leading, innovative Fortune 500 company, particularly within the technology or travel/hospitality industries.    Bryant earned his bachelor’s degree from UCLA, majoring in Business Economics and graduating Magna Cum Laude, Phi Beta Kappa and College Honors.    Bryant began his professional career as a management consultant at Deloitte Consulting, with a focus on technology strategy and implementation. Bryant has significant experience working with various Fortune 100 companies to solve many issues facing today’s corporate environment, such as implementing next-generation financial planning systems and delivering cloud and digital strategies.    Bryant has also founded a nonprofit called Sparkr (sparkr.org), which aims to make business schools the hubs of innovation leadership, particularly among communities that are underrepresented in our society’s leadership today.    Outside of his professional career, Bryant’s interests include traveling around the world (33 countries and counting) playing guitar and vocals, attending concerts and festivals, and rooting for his favorite sports teams. Go Niners, Warriors, Bruins and Longhorns!    Bryant is proud to be among the first ROMBA Fellows, which will provide a platform to change the culture and dynamic of LGBT inclusion in the business world, where people who identify as LGBT have an equal voice and footing in all levels of business leadership.

     

    What made you consider business school?

    Business school provides me the avenue to re-explore my place in the business world through building a solid educational foundation, establishing my personal brand and fostering lifelong friendships with my class. While consulting taught me many foundational business and professional skills, I wanted to continue my career elsewhere, where I could focus as a strategist within a particular field.

     

    What are you most excited about in terms of your time in business school?

    I want to learn as much as I can from the perspectives and experiences of as many of my fellow classmates and apply these learnings to how I approach my professional career and personal growth moving forward. This will be the last time I will be in this kind of an academic “safe space” to explore various perspectives openly and frankly.

     

    What are you most excited about in terms of your time in business school?

    I want to learn as much as I can from the perspectives and experiences of as many of my fellow classmates and apply these learnings to how I approach my professional career and personal growth moving forward. This will be the last time I will be in this kind of an academic “safe space” to explore various perspectives openly and frankly.

    Who are some leaders (in business, in the LGBT community, in society) that most inspire you?

    I’m most inspired by leaders who started with “nothing”, worked their way to make an impact in their respective industries, and go well beyond their “fields” to make a social impact. People like Bono, Tim Cook, and Oprah Winfrey come to mind here. They all have demonstrated that a person from a modest family upbringing could work their way up to both attain individual acclaim and create societal impact.

     

    What's one thing everyone should know about you?

    I love to explore, especially when I get to explore along with others. Whether it’s music, traveling, sports, or food, I always find an avenue to learn something new and impart my own perspectives upon new experiences. It’s just another way to keep continually growing and learning.

     

    What are you doing during the summer before you start business school?

    After accepting my offer to McCombs, I spent about 5 months traveling throughout 18 countries in the Asia Pacific and Europe. Before you ask for my “favorite”…     Most unique: Burma, Most scenic: New Zealand, Most “naturey”: Australia, Best food: Japan, Best architecture: tossup between Denmark (Copenhagen) and Austria (Vienna), Most late nights: Thailand

Jeff Lindquist

Northwestern University, Kellogg School of Management

  • About Jeff

    Jeff is an MBA Candidate (Class of 2017) at the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University.     Prior to joining the Kellogg MBA, Jeff worked at Navigator, Canada's leading high-stakes public strategy and communications consulting firm. Prior to Navigator, he worked in the investment banking divisions of Canaccord Genuity in Toronto and Goldman Sachs in New York.  Jeff is deeply committed to advancing equality issues for the LGBTQ community, especially at home in Toronto. He currently serves on the Steering Committee for Egale Youth Housing, a crisis counseling center for homeless LGBTQ youth in Toronto and the driving force behind what will become Canada's first homeless shelter and transitional housing facility devoted to these youth. He has also volunteered for Casey House, Canada's pioneer HIV/AIDS hospice, located in Toronto.  Jeff holds an Honours Business Administration degree, with Distinction, from the Ivey Business School at Western University.

     

    What made you consider business school?

    I wanted to build on what I've learned thus far in my career by meeting and learning from interesting, driven and diverse individuals at business school. It's also a great opportunity to reflect, in a structured way, about what my career path may look like and, more importantly, what I can contribute to society over the course of my career.

     

    What are you most excited about in terms of your time in business school?

    Making tons of new friends at Kellogg. The people at Kellogg are truly what makes it such a special place. And it helps that the Kellogg LGBTQ community is vibrant and active!

     

    Who are some leaders (in business, in the LGBT community, in society) that most inspire you?

    Ed Clark, an LGBTQ ally and the former CEO of TD Bank Group, is the perfect example of the c-suite leader I am determined to be. He put LGBTQ issues at the cornerstone of his business strategy in the 1990s with a very simple idea: if his organization was free of prejudice, his employees could be the very best they could be. Since then, TD Bank’s support of the LGBTQ community has transcended internal HR measures and funding for pride parades – it is a part of their public identity, and builds awareness and acceptance in communities and classrooms across Canada. TD Bank’s bold stance for the LGBTQ community has had an instructive effect, and many large Canadian corporations have followed suit by tackling a wide range of diversity issues.

     

    What's one thing everyone should know about you?

    I am a terrible chef - but a wonderful dinner guest!

     

    What are you doing during the summer before you start business school?

    Travelling to South America and Europe, and making the move from Toronto to Evanston sometime in between!

Jessica Kaiser

MIT, Sloan School of Management

  • About Jessica

    Jessica Kaiser is a first-year MBA candidate at MIT Sloan School of Management, with an interest in the applications of digital identity and analytic technology in management. Most recently, she was an early employee at Rocket Fuel, an artificial intelligence leader in programmatic advertising that went public in 2014. While there, she built a team that partnered with clients and engineering to deploy non-standard solutions. She majored in Mathematics and minored in Literature at Northwestern University, where she was the co-president of Rainbow Alliance. Thanks to AI, Jessica has free time with which she enjoys rugby, exercise, music, and overcooking her dinner.

     

    What made you consider business school?

    My career experience thus far has been entirely in analytics, which has been great with regards to building technical and quantitative experience. However, as I surveyed my career options, I felt that without an MBA, I would continue to be decision support, instead of a decision maker. When I ultimately decided to attend Sloan, it was because the education there will strengthen my quantitative background but give it broader application.

     

    What are you most excited about in terms of your time in business school?

    I am most excited for two things: 1) to meet an incredible bunch of people, and 2) to learn about all the amazing things that they've done, are doing, and will do.

     

    Who are some leaders (in business, in the LGBT community, in society) that most inspire you?

    There are so many people! But since attending Lesbians Who Tech this year, I've been following Megan Smith for inspiration.

     

    What's one thing everyone should know about you?

    In college, I was an alto saxophone carrying member of the Northwestern University Marching Band. (Go 'Cats.)

     

    What are you doing during the summer before you start business school?

    I am interning as a Product Analyst at Snapchat. Other highlights: traveled solo in Peru, celebrated the Obergefell v. Hodges decision at San Francisco Pride, and visited the future-historic birthplace of James T. Kirk. Live long and prosper.

Jess Sun

University of California Berkeley, Haas School of Business

  • About Jess

    Jess is a first-generation Chinese, born and raised in Minnesota. She studied Management Information Systems and Marketing at the University of Minnesota and then worked as an IT project manager for Target Corp prior to business school. Through that role, and her experiences coaching high school debate and advising her alma mater on supporting diversity within the IS major, she has come to be passionate about technology as a tool for education and reaching underserved groups. In her spare time she enjoys live music, reading, rollerblading, food, yoga and the great outdoors.

     

    What made you consider business school?

    I have many interests and know business school will help me blend them in my future career path.

     

    What are you most excited about in terms of your time in business school?

    The opportunity to know and learn from my classmates.

     

    What's one thing everyone should know about you?

    "If you had fun, you won!"

     

    What are you doing during the summer before you start business school?

    I've gotten to do a lot of fun traveling before business school - it has truly been the best summer of my life! I went on a canoe trip to the Boundary Waters, traveled to Nicaragua, went on a cross-America road trip starting in Charlotte, NC and ending in San Francisco, hung out in New York, and hiked the Andes and volunteered in the rainforest in Peru.


     

Joe Stauffer

Carnegie Mellon University, Tepper School of Business

  • About Joe

    Joe Stauffer will begin his MBA at Carnegie Mellon University’s Tepper School of Business in the fall of 2015. Originally from Northwestern Pennsylvania, Joe has spent the last five years working in Washington, DC for the Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA). Joe worked in the Regional Income Division of BEA  on transfer payments, wages & salaries, supplements to wages and salaries, and taxes. As a Disposable Personal Income subject matter expert, he received a Department of Commerce Bronze Medal Award for his work harmonizing data structures. He also learned to program in SAS and SQL while at BEA. His current career interests lie in entrepreneurship and product management for a technology company.    While at BEA, Joe received his MA in Applied Economics from the Johns Hopkins University. In 2008, Joe graduated Summa Cum Laude from the University of Pittsburgh earning a BS with honors in Economics. During his time at the University of Pittsburgh, Joe was named an Undergraduate Research Fellow and studied the effects of public school qualities on housing prices.    Joe has been an active rower for the DC Strokes Rowing Club, a not-for-profit independent LGBT rowing club, and competed at the Head of the Charles in 2011. 

     

    What made you consider business school?

    I wanted to explore a new career path and also some entrepreneurial ideas in business school. While I feel that I have a strong background in economics, data analysis, and programming, I felt that business school would provide me with additional skills that will help me succeed in other areas of business.

     

     

    What are you most excited about in terms of your time in business school?

    I’m excited to meet classmates who have very different skills and perspectives than I do. There are several professors I’m excited to learn from. I’m most excited to learn about new aspects of business and to take on new challenges.

     

    Who are some leaders (in business, in the LGBT community, in society) that most inspire you?

    Jeff Bezos, Tim Cook, John Bogle, Nate Silver, Megan Smith, Alan Turing, and my parents

     

    What's one thing everyone should know about you?

    I'm a data nerd. I like to see empirical evidence and to make decisions based on data.

     

    What are you doing during the summer before you start business school?

    I have been working at the Bureau of Economic Analysis until the last minute. At BEA I’ve been wrapping up a proposal to change the way non-refundable tax credits affect state personal income and transitioning some of my other work to my replacement. I have also been working through my “DC Tourist List.” There were still a few spots I wanted to get to before I departed. Other than that, I’ve been trying to stay on top of all the business school action items I’ve been receiving.

Jonathan Aronoff

University of North Carolina, Kenan-Flagler Business School

  • About Jonathan

    Jonathan is a member of the UNC Kenan-Flagler Business School Class of 2017. He previously led the corporate and foundation fundraising team at the Council for Economic Education, where he also built the major gifts program and established the Vantage Point: Real World Perspectives on the Economy annual symposium. Prior, Jonathan held other positions in non-profit development, primarily in research and data management for the Women’s Refugee Commission. He began his career teaching Art History in Dallas Public Schools and managing an after-school college readiness program for elite track athletes in NYC. As a proud member of the Executive Committee for J Street NYC from 2013 to 2015, Jonathan engaged Senators and members of Congress to advocate for a strong U.S. role in resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict through a two-state solution. He graduated from The New School with a B.A. in Liberal Arts, Concentration in Economics. Jonathan and his partner Vincent Cheung enjoy cooking together, road trips, and competing for their dog Raffi’s affection.

     

     

    What made you consider business school?

    I’m eager to gain the foundational business education, strengthen my network, and further develop my leadership skills to transition to the private sector. I was inspired by some extraordinary MBAs who showed me that I could realize my passion for business while contributing to the community just as much as through a career in non-profit.

     

    What are you most excited about in terms of your time in business school?

    I already know these are going to be two of the best and most intense years of my life, during which I’m going to build lifelong relationships. I’m very excited to take part in my school’s new Energy concentration, take on real-world projects in finance and strategy consulting, and work with the UNC Pride Club to leverage partnerships across student groups.

     

    Who are some leaders (in business, in the LGBT community, in society) that most inspire you?

    Paul O’Neill, former Chairman of the RAND Corporation and Chairman & CEO of Alcoa – first learned from him about the value of transparency, how business expertise can be harnessed to contribute to the public sector in unique and powerful ways, and the importance of digging deeper and speaking up even when you’re expected to keep quiet.    Megan Smith, Chief Technology Officer of the United States and former CEO of Planet Out – a visionary and inspiration who, among other things, taught me that I didn’t need to be wary of engaging the LGBT community in my professional life. That doing so wouldn’t distract from my achievements or talents, especially if I applied the same passion, skill, and leadership to everything I set out to do.

    What's one thing everyone should know about you?

    If I look deadly serious, I’m probably joking.

     

    What are you doing during the summer before you start business school?

    My summer was business school and it was fantastic! Along with 150 of my classmates, I took early classes in Finance, Accounting, and Statistics and had an awesome time exploring North Carolina.

Kendall Toarmina

Rice University, Jesse H. Jones Graduate School of Business

  • About Kendall

    Kendall Toarmina is a passionate leader focused on human capital and human resources. She has experience in human capital consulting including diversity and inclusion, benefits, and talent acquisition and retention. She has worked in the private and public sector and completed a Fulbright scholarship in Argentina.  She is currently president of Rice’s LGBT business student club and Net Impact club. Kendall lives in Houston TX with her partner Melanie and their two rescue dogs.

     

    What made you consider business school?

    I wanted to gain skills, expand my network, and boost my career.

     

    What are you most excited about in terms of your time in business school?

    I am excited about the opportunity to broaden my horizons and learn about new industries, roles, and skills, as well as connect with others.

     

    Who are some leaders (in business, in the LGBT community, in society) that most inspire you?

    My fiancé, Melanie, is my biggest inspiration. Reaching Out has introduced me to several leaders I often think when I need inspiration, such as Vivienne Ming (Inventor, Scientist, Entrepreneur) who showed me you can be your authentic self while changing the world, and Kate Kendell (Executive Director of National Center for Lesbian Rights) who told me to be “braver than you think you are”.

     

    What are you doing during the summer before you start business school?

    I am working for most of the summer, but will do a little traveling to visit family and friends before the start of classes.


Mitch Doering

University of Minnesota, Carlson School of Management

  • About Mitch

    Mitch grew up in Central Minnesota.  He received his Bachelor of Science in Applied Economics from the  University of Minnesota-Twin Cities.  He takes full advantage of the great outdoors in his free time by running/cycling to and from work in Minneapolis and spending as much time on the lake as possible during the warmer months.     

     

    What made you consider business school?

    Growing up, I was always dead set on going to Law School.  Business school was always on my radar as a dual-degree option, but I didn't realize how well it aligned with my career goals until I sat down with a recruiter for at the University of Minnesota's Carlson School of Management. I had a very candid conversation with her early on about what I was aiming to achieve.  I soon learned that business school more closely aligned with my goals - so I took the leap!

     

    What are you most excited about in terms of your time in business school?

    I'm most excited about building a new routine and many new friendships in b-school!  I learn fastest by surrounding myself with people who will challenge me to think differently both in life and business. I believe that's exactly the kind of setting business school will immerse me in and it's one of the reasons I'm most excited to start this fall.

     

    Who are some leaders (in business, in the LGBT community, in society) that most inspire you?

    From a business perspective, Tom Ford comes to mind for his involvement with the CFDA and his portfolio of work turning around luxury brands over the past two decades.

     

    What are you doing during the summer before you start business school?

    Professionally, I'm continuing my work at Target until August, and then taking some time off to vacation abroad before school ramps up. I'll be continuing in my current contract role as a Social Media Curator throughout the summer and into my MBA.     Personally, I'm taking some time off to visit Tel-Aviv and Jerusalem, Israel and Istanbul, Turkey for 10 days in August, (leaving in just over 24 hours). 

     

     

     

Nathan DeCarolis

Carnegie Mellon University, Tepper School of Business

  • About Nathan

    Nate hails from Northwestern Pennsylvania, where he fostered a love of science and curiosity about the natural world. After earning his B.S. in Interdisciplinary Studies focused on neuroscience from American University (DC), Nate worked at two biotech firms in the DC-area before pursuing his Ph.D. During his graduate studies in Integrative Biology at University of Texas, Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas, Nate explored the resident stem cell population in the adult mouse brain. His research then led him to the laboratory of Theo Palmer at Stanford University, where Nate led a team of students and interns while exploring how the cellular microenvironment around a stem cell informs its fate choices to either remain stem-like or to differentiate into a neuron. At the same time, Nate became involved in a new graduate program on Stem Cell Biology and Regenerative Medicine, where he enjoyed working with graduate and medical students. He is passionate about teaching, mentoring, and "science-ing," but above all else, enjoys hanging out with friends and trying new beer.

     

    What made you consider business school?

    I first considered business school during my graduate studies as a scientist; I realized that there were many gaps in my training, specifically with regards to managing people and managing money. Scientists are very well trained to run and design experiments but often lack skills needed to run a laboratory. I thought business school would fill the knowledge gap.

     

    What are you most excited about in terms of your time in business school?

    I am really excited about meeting so many new people, hearing their stories, and learning about motivates and inspires them.

     

    Who are some leaders (in business, in the LGBT community, in society) that most inspire you?

    I am inspired by Tim Cook, the out CEO of Apple. 

     

    What's one thing everyone should know about you?

    I'm a goof-ball who enjoys socializing and helping people feel comfortable in otherwise uncomfortable situations.

     

    What are you doing during the summer before you start business school?

    I am finishing a post-doctoral fellowship at Stanford, traveling to a few European destinations for work, and then taking a long drive from California to Pennsylvania.

     

Ned Mitchell

UCLA, Anderson School of Management

  • About Ned

    Ned Mitchell is a first-year MBA candidate at the Anderson School of Management at UCLA. Ned was previously an associate in the mezzanine private equity investment team at Crescent Capital Group in Los Angeles, where he evaluated new investment opportunities and helped manage Crescent's investment portfolio across multiple industries. Prior to Crescent, Ned worked in the investment banking division of Credit Suisse in New York, where he focused on conducting strategic reviews, mergers and acquisitions, and raising capital for financial institution clients. Ned has also served on the board of directors of the New York City Anti-Violence Project, a non-profit organization that is a national leader in working to end all forms of violence against the LGBTQ community. Ned holds a BA in history with distinction from Yale University.

     

    What made you consider business school?

    Business school made so much sense to me because it offered the opportunity to press the "Pause" button for two years on my career to take stock of what I have learned from my past experiences and, most importantly, to set myself up to continue to learn by aligning my passions with my talents.

     

    What are you most excited about in terms of your time in business school?

    To stop saying "I wish I could..." and just do it.

     

    Who are some leaders (in business, in the LGBT community, in society) that most inspire you?

    When Tim Cook came out, not only as a gay man who happens to run the most valuable company in the world, but as a multi-dimensioned, full-fledged, actual person, I was overcome with the sense that the world had just changed in a big way. Bringing your true, authentic self to all aspects of your life without question brings the very best out in you. 

     

    What's one thing everyone should know about you?

    I love to cook and experiment with new ingredients from the farmers market, but I take far too long to get dinner on the table. A friend once assured me, facetiously, "If it doesn't take at least an hour and a half to make, it's not worth eating." In an ideal world without competing demands for time, maybe I'm onto something!

     

    What are you doing during the summer before you start business school?In July, I went up to San Francisco and participated in the Reaching Out Tech Trek. I had a phenomenal time meeting with some amazing companies and getting to know other awesome LGBTQ people about to start their MBAs.

Phil Gazaleh

University of Toronto, Rotman School of Management

  • About Phil

Ryan Keating

Boston University, Questrom School of Business

  • About Ryan

    Ryan Keating is a first-year MBA candidate at the Questrom School of Business at Boston University, where he is concentrating in Health Sector Management. Prior to Questrom, Ryan worked at AgaMatrix, a medical device company offering innovative, low-cost glucose meters for diabetes management. His position at AgaMatrix exposed him to the research and development of new medical products and the operations of a mass manufacturing facility. Ryan became interested in biotechnology while receiving his B.S. in Biological Engineering at MIT, and he enjoys hiking, skiing, and going to the symphony.

     

    What made you consider business school?

    I felt that continuing my education with an MBA could open more opportunities than I could have accessed with a bachelors degree. While at AgaMatrix, I became interested in how the company formed partnerships with retailers to sell the meters and test strips and organized the operations team to help develop the next generation product. I hope to build on these interests in the Health Sector Management program at BU.

     

    What are you most excited about in terms of your time in business school?

    Coming from a research and engineering background, I am looking forward to growing with a completely different curriculum. I am also excited to meet other MBA students at BU, in the Boston area, and across the US and to learn from their experiences and goals.

     

    Who are some leaders (in business, in the LGBT community, in society) that most inspire you?

    Samuel Brinton, an activist working to end conversion therapy.  Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, writer and social activist. 

     

    What's one thing everyone should know about you?

    I love being outdoors!

     

    What are you doing during the summer before you start business school?

    I am wrapping up at my job, enjoying some beach time in Maine, and going on a trip to Ireland.

Sam Young

New York University, Stern School of Business

  • About Sam

    Sam was born and raised in Boca Raton, Florida and graduated from the University of Florida in 2010. Following graduation, Sam moved to New York City to work for KPMG in their financial services audit practice where he specialized in investment banking and asset management clients.   After about a year and a half, he left KPMG to join The Carlyle Group in their Global Market Strategies division where he supported a broad range of efforts, including: valuation, investment & tax structuring, performance analysis, investor relations, budgeting, operations, management reporting and strategic planning for Carlyle Mezzanine Partners, a family of two mezzanine capital private equity funds.  Outside of work, he is a bit of a foodie and passionate about traveling and health & wellness. 

     

    What made you consider business school?

    There were many things I wanted to accomplish both personally and professionally that I felt attending business school would allow me the opportunity to achieve. In addition, I felt attending business school would allow me the opportunity to reflect on my time since graduating from the University of Florida in 2010.

     

    What are you most excited about in terms of your time in business school?

    I am most excited about the experiences I will encounter and the people I will meet!

     

    Who are some leaders (in business, in the LGBT community, in society) that most inspire you?

    Some leaders in business, the LGBT community, and society that inspire me most are Sheryl Sandberg, Laverne Cox, and Bono. All are successful in their own right, but are also advocating for various causes in the community, such as gender equality, transgender acceptance, and social change.     

     

    What's one thing everyone should know about you?

    As cheesy as this may sound, there is a quote by Dr. Seuss by which I try to live my life, “Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don't matter and those who matter don't mind.”

     

    What are you doing during the summer before you start business school?

    Traveling!! As an undergraduate student, I made the mistake of believing that I would always have the ability to travel; however, I quickly realized the difficulty of juggling both work and travel. In addition to my summer travels, I am also working on an entrepreneurial venture. 

Silva Gentchev

University of Texas at Austin, McCombs School of Business

  • About Silva

    Silva Gentchev is a current ROMBA Fellow and 1st year student at the McCombs School of Business. She has worked primarily for start-ups in the San Francisco Bay Area for the in a Marketing capacity, including solar, biotechnology and software.    Following her MBA, Silva hopes to utilize her start-up experience to pursue product development, building and launching innovative technology products. She is passionate about the future of digital media, and how technology companies are informing the future of television, online content and media.   

     

    What made you consider business school?

     

    After 5 years working in technology start-ups, I was able to elevate and diversify my marketing skill set purely by learning as I go. However, I soon realized that in order to progress to the ranks of management I would need to build a solid academic foundation in business principles and subject matter that were not in marketing. I knew then that business school was the right decision for me, as it would allow me to focus on harnessing those skills and learning from my peers and their varied experiences.

     

    What are you most excited about during your business school journey?

     

    I am most excited to meet and learn from my classmates, and their unique experiences and perspectives. While I have a wealth of experience in marketing and start-ups, I look forward to being exposed to work environments unlike what I am used to. Additionally, I am excited about getting involved in student organizations such as Women in Business, and Entrepreneurship projects that will broaden my skill set.

     

    Who are some leaders (in the LGBT community, in business, or in society) that most inspire you?

    I am inspired by the innovative, brave and inspirational female leaders in the technology community. One such example is Anita Borg, who worked throughout her career to raise the ranks of women in the technology industry. She has been recognized for her efforts as a computer scientists, but also as an advocate for women in STEM roles. I find that her courage and her dedication to this to be inspirational, and something I seek to emulate in my own business school experience.

     

    What's one thing everyone should know about you?

    Although I do not have an accent, I was born in Bulgaria and spent most of my early life there until I immigrated to the United States at the age of 10. Most of my family still lives in Bulgaria, and I go back to visit them often.

Stephanie Letzler

Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth

  • About Stephanie

    Prior to starting her MBA at Dartmouth's Tuck School of Business, Stephanie spent four years working at Google (in three different offices! - NYC, Chicago, and Ann Arbor). While at Google, she worked as an account manager for DoubleClick Search, spending her days helping ad agencies make the most out of advanced, algorithmic ad technology.    Stephanie graduated from Northwestern University in 2011, where she was actively involved in the LGBTQ community as Co-President of the Rainbow Alliance. She was also President of Jones Residential College and was an executive member of the Residential College Board.    When she's not working, Stephanie enjoys making homemade bagels, playing and watching soccer (go NWSL!), and dreaming up ideas for startups.   

     

    What made you consider business school?

    I chose to go to business school to round out my skillset so that I could take on more interesting, challenging business problems. As a liberal arts (political science) graduate, I found that I had well-developed problem solving skills, and well-developed soft skills, but that I lacked the hard quant skills and context necessary to take on more difficult problems. With an MBA, I'll be well-equipped to take on challenging roles or start my own company.

     

    What are you most excited about in terms of your time in business school?

    I'm excited for the opportunity to explore different industries,  learn about different cultures, and really learn about all of the different moving parts that make businesses succeed.

     

    Who are some leaders (in business, in the LGBT community, in society) that most inspire you?

    Eleanor Roosevelt, James Sinegal, Richard Branson, Geena Davis

     

    What's one thing everyone should know about you?

    A longtime goal of mine has been to raise and train a dog suitable for animal assisted therapy volunteer work (and I'm planning to do so as a side project during business school).

     

    What are you doing during the summer before you start business school?

    During the summer before business school, I went to the group stages and semi-final of the Women's World Cup, moved up to beautiful Hanover, NH, and enjoyed a few months relaxing in the fresh air.

     

J. Taylor Wiegele

Harvard Business School

  • About J. Taylor

    Born and raised in the suburbs of Kansas City, Taylor headed west to study Chemical Engineering at The University of California, Berkeley. After graduating he moved to San Francisco and took a role in Research and Development at The Clorox Company where he designed and commercialized new products for Hidden Valley Ranch Dressing and Brita water filtration. He then moved south to Los Angeles where I designed the air filtration system for the Dragon space capsule at SpaceX.

    In his spare time he loves surfing (at least trying to), exploring SF, LA, and now Boston/New England, spending time with friends and family, day trips with his partner in crime, Jim, devouring political/economic podcasts, yoga, formulating his own personal care products, and staying engaged with the community through mentorship programs.

     

    What made you consider business school?

    During my time at The Clorox Company I led a team that developed a marketing strategy for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, and Allied (LGBTQA) consumers. This was all during the time between California's passage of Prop. 8 in 2008 and its reversal in 2013. I noticed the incredible power of brands in driving national conversations and connecting authentically with consumers. Developing the overarching brand strategy and determining which executions were most appropriate was one of the most challenging and rewarding experiences I've ever had, complex in a much different way than product development. 

    My time at SpaceX solidified the decision to attend business school, as I watched the company I worked for ignite a renewed space race, dismantle a monopoly on launch services, and innovate in an incredibly complex industry by harnessing a powerful and revered brand. 

     

    What are you most excited about in terms of your time in business school?

    The people. Hands down. There's truly no environment quite like business school where people from all over the world, from every industry, with a phenomenal diversity of lived experiences come together for two years. Stepping away and reflecting combined with listening to classmates' stories (and those of the myriad of outstanding speakers and professors) really helps build self-knowledge and understanding of your own story in a unique way.

     

    Who are some leaders (in business, in the LGBT community, in society) that most inspire you?

    Harvey Milk comes to mind, first and foremost for his political activism in the seventies for the LGBT community. 

    Tyler Oakley, YouTube and Podcast personality who is best in class at leveraging celebrity to reach LGBT youth everywhere and fundraising for the Trevor Project and other LGBT rights and LGBT youth organizations.

    Annise Parker, the mayor of Houston and first openly-gay mayor of a major US city. 

    Laverne Cox, actress and transgender activist.

    And of course Reza Rahaman, my mentor and VP of R&D at The Clorox Company and a man who embodies authentic leadership. 

     

    What's one thing everyone should know about you?

    Despite a scrubbed social media presence, I'm still figuring things out just like everyone else.

     

    What are you doing during the summer before you start business school?

     

    Traveling through Europe with friends and family and soaking in the last few days in Southern California!

Tiffany Barillas

Columbia Business School

  • About Tiffany

    Tiffany Barillas worked in finance at Goldman Sachs for four years. She was an active member of their LGBT and Hispanic-Latino affinity networks. She also mentored youth through the Big Brothers Big Sisters Organization and the Sponsors for Educational Opportunity Scholars Program. She was involved in the Out for Undergrad Business Conference as a young professional and has served as the conference’s Programming Director and Executive Conference Director. She was born in Los Angeles, California and raised by two extremely hard working Guatemalan immigrants. In 2011, Tiffany received a B.S. from the University of California, Berkeley, completing a major in business administration and a minor in music. At Berkeley, she was a part of the Cal Marching Band, the Cal Women’s Rugby team, the Music Connection, and was President of the Latino Business Student Association. She will now be pursuing her MBA at Columbia Business School.

     

    What made you consider business school?

    I first heard from MBA students and alumni at a business conference as an undergraduate. From that point forward I knew an MBA would be something I would pursue in the future. After working four years in a very analytical role, I knew I had to further develop a different skill set in areas such as organizational and consumer behavior.

     

    What are you most excited about in terms of your time in business school?

    Networking, traveling, and meeting new people. CBS’s community was the number one reason I decided on the school. With one of the largest LGBTQ groups (Cluster Q) and vast ally support, I am excited to meet my classmates and future life-long friends. I have also never left the American continent so I am super excited of the opportunities CBS offers to travel and explore new cultures.

     

    Who are some leaders (in business, in the LGBT community, in society) that most inspire you?

    Marty Chavez, Julie Goodridge and Susie Scher

     

    What's one thing everyone should know about you?

    This one time in band camp…. I was in marching band through most of high school and although I hate to admit it: I LOVED IT! I was drum major my senior year and as the leader of 70+ teenagers it laid the groundwork for my leadership style.

     

    What are you doing during the summer before you start business school?

    Hanging out with my family in Los Angeles. I figure I will be doing a lot of travel the next two years and spending time with my parents is very important. I do plan on a small road-trips to Baja California (Mexico), Vegas, San Francisco, and a drive up the Pacific Coast Highway.

Zarrah Birdie

University of California Berkeley, Haas School of Business

  • About Zarrah

     

    An ever-curious adventurer. Zarrah lived in three different continents in the last five years and has a passion for travel and discovering new cultures. She loves having her beliefs questioned and challenged. She is an extroverted-introvert, love riding bikes, black coffee, a good conversation, yoga and meditation. I’m left handed and favorite color is navy blue! She’s intellectually curious and vibrantly playful.

     

    What made you consider business school?

    After working for two years in investment banking and another two in international development, I sought a means to bridge my two distinct skill sets. This combined with my desire to develop a career in impact investing, with a particular emphasis on helping develop and grow social enterprises in developing countries, fueled my desire to gain an MBA degree. The MBA will give me the ideal tool set needed to be a trusted adviser for social enterprises in developing countries - helping them strategically grow, gain access to capital etc.

     

    What are you most excited about in terms of your time in business school?

    I am most excited about connecting with my classmates both at my business school and beyond. I'm excited about creating meaningful communities around them. I'm also excited to have my opinions and worldview challenged and broadened through these interactions.

     

    Who are some leaders (in business, in the LGBT community, in society) that most inspire you?

    Tim Cook (Apple CEO) and  Debbie Gupta (Nest Corporation)

     

    What's one thing everyone should know about you?

    I'm a chocolate fiend, if you ever need anything for me, include chocolate and your wish is my command. I love trying new experiences and things, the more outlandish the better!

     

    What are you doing during the summer before you start business school?

    Travelling solo across South East Asia.