Archive for the ‘Alumni News’ Category

Four alums named to DiversityMBA Top 100 Under 50 list

Thursday, July 23rd, 2015

Four alumni of Tulane University’s A. B. Freeman School of Business are among the honorees in the 2015 DiversityMBA Magazine Top 100 Under 50.

UPDATED-DiversityMBA-325The list, compiled by DiversityMBA Magazine, recognizes exceptional minority and multicultural executives — including African Americans, Asians, Hispanics, foreign nationals and women — who have achieved success in highly competitive corporate, government or entrepreneurial environments. The 2015 list was chosen from a pool of 300 nominees. Executives and emerging leaders selected for the list represent 25 disciplines, 15 industries and 20 different graduate degrees.

This year’s Freeman School honorees are Gary Cao (MBA ’97), vice president of Cardinal Health; Ruben Garcia Espejo (MBA ’01), vice president of finance, EnLink Mindstream; Shane Price (MBA ’09, MGM ’09), senior consultant, Engage Partners; and John Suarez (BSM ’04, MBA ’10), financial adviser, Merrill Lynch.

Cao and Garcia were honored as executive leaders while Price and Suarez were chosen as emerging leaders.

Diversity MBA Magazine is an internationally distributed publication targeting women and multicultural professionals in corporate America and government as well as entrepreneurs and business students.

The honorees will be featured in DiversityMBA Magazine’s summer 2015 issue and will be honored in September at the magazine’s Business Leaders Conference and Awards Gala, which this year takes place at the DoubleTree by Hilton in Oak Brook, Illinois.

To learn more about the honor and see the complete list of this year’s honorees, visit


Alumna honored with WFF Trailblazer award

Thursday, March 19th, 2015

The Women’s Foodservice Forum (WFF), the industry’s premier leadership development organization, has honored Lorna C. Donatone (BSM ’80), COO and education market president at Sodexo, with the 2015 Fritzi Pikes Woods Trailblazer Award. The award recognizes individuals dedicated to improving gender diversity in the foodservice industry.


Lorna C. Donatone

A member of the Business School Council, Donatone is a founding member of SWIFT (Sodexo’s Women’s International Forum for Talent). Under Donatone’s leadership, Sodexo Education has established a strong record for promoting women across its ranks.

“Lorna’s outstanding efforts to promote gender diversity have had a meaningful impact on the number of women serving in leadership roles at Sodexo,” said Ira Solomon, dean of the Freeman School. “She embodies the values we endeavor to instill in students, and we are fortunate to benefit from her insight and leadership on Business School Council.”

A board member of the National Restaurant Association since 2005, Donatone currently serves as vice chair and trustee of the National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation. She is  past chair of the board of directors of the Women’s Foodservice Forum and is a member of the board of trustees for the Culinary Institute of America. Donatone previously served on the board of Entertainment Cruises and was most recently elected to the board of Jamba Juice Inc.

A member of the Sodexo North America Executive Committee, Donatone has served as president of Sodexo Education since 2010. She joined Sodexo North America in 1999 and has held several key roles in the company, including president of School Services in 2007 and president of Spirit Cruises in 2002. Donatone began her career with Deloitte & Touche in Dallas and has also worked in the airline, banking and high-tech industries.


Freeman 50 welcomes the Class of 2016

Monday, August 18th, 2014

The Freeman School rolled out the red carpet for incoming MBA students on Thursday (Aug. 14) with a first-of-its-kind networking reception for students in the full-time and professional programs.

Lauren Siegel (MBA '15), left, and Christine White (MBA '09) helped welcome incoming MBA students to the Freeman School at a reception hosted by the Career Management Center and the Freeman 50 .

Lauren Siegel (MBA ’15), left, and Christine White (MBA ’09) helped welcome incoming MBA students at a reception hosted by the CMC and the Freeman 50.

Hosted by the Freeman 50, the business school’s young MBA alumni advisory board, in conjunction with the Career Management Center and the Stewart Center for Executive Education, the MBA Welcome Reception was designed not just to welcome new students to Freeman but also to introduce them to networking and hopefully help them create a support system for the next two years. Faculty, staff and more than 50 MBA alumni attended the reception to meet, mix and mingle with the new class.

For graduates from the class of 2014, the event amounted to a mini-reunion, but it was also a way for them to give something back to the Freeman School and offer incoming students some still-fresh insights about the MBA program and the job search process.

“It was a great opportunity to meet the new students and share our experiences with them,” says Eryn Bell Wood (MBA ’14), a member of Freeman 50. “They really seemed to enjoy the interaction with us as we just graduated in May.”

To see more photos from the Freeman 50/CMC  MBA Welcome Reception, visit the Freeman School’s Flickr page.






Alum brings “social dining experiment” to Freeman

Monday, September 16th, 2013

As Al Green croons in the background, a chef assembles small plates of sous vide pork belly with shiso and corn espuma at a work station in the front of the room as Paco Robert, the evening’s host, places them in front of diners gathered at two long, candlelit tables.

Paco Robert, who founded Dinner Lab to create one-of-kind experiences for adventurous eaters, brings his startup company to the business school for a live case study on the fast-growing social dining venture. (Photo by Ryan Rivet)

Paco Robert (MBA ’11), center, brought his fast-growing social dining venture Dinner Lab to the Freeman School for a live case study on the business. (Photo by Ryan Rivet)

The scene may sound like something out of a trendy restaurant, but the dining room in question is actually an MBA classroom at the A. B. Freeman School of Business.

Robert (MBA ’11) brought his innovative startup Dinner Lab to the business school earlier this month for a live case study on the fast-growing social dining venture.

A graduate of the Culinary Institute of America, Robert founded Dinner Lab a year ago to create one-of-kind experiences for adventurous eaters. For a $100-per-person annual fee, members are invited to special communal dining events presided over by both up-and-coming and renowned chefs and hosted in extraordinary locations. One dinner took place overlooking the city on the 21st floor of Canal Place, which was under construction at the time. Another was held in an abandoned church off Magazine Street.

The case study was part of New Product Development in the Hospitality Industry, a new MBA elective that focuses on innovation in the hospitality sector.

“The course was created to focus students on the consumer experience in hospitality-related ventures,” says Ralph Maurer, professor of practice and instructor in the course. “From that perspective, it was great to be able to bring in Paco to talk with students about the business and what he’s done to create this very successful, very innovative product.”

Since its start in New Orleans last year, Dinner Lab has branched out into Austin, Nashville and New York, and all but Nashville — which just launched — have a waiting list to join. Despite the rapid growth, however, Robert says the focus of the concept remains the same as when he started.

“It’s all about the food, the people and the experience,” Robert says.


TABA elects eight to board of directors

Thursday, August 29th, 2013

The Tulane Association of Business Alumni (TABA) has elected eight members to serve on its board of directors. The new board members’ three-year terms began in January 2013.


Shannon Brice


Aimee Adatto Freeman


Dominik Knoll


Frank Russo


Katie LaCorte Teen


Lindsey Varney


Chris Williams

The new board members are Brian Banks (BSM ’04, MACCT ’05), supervisor at Bourgeois Bennett; Shannon Brice (MBA ’04), chief financial officer of Richard’s Disposal; Aimee Adatto Freeman (MBA ’95), owner and president of Adatto Freeman Strategic Consulting; Dominik Knoll (MBA ’10), CEO of the World Trade Center of New Orleans; Frank Russo (MBA ’92), senior manager for Governance, Regulatory & Risk Strategy at Deloitte & Touche; Katie LaCorte Teen (MBA ’11, MGM ’11), partner and account management director at the Marketing Hub; Lindsey Varney (MBA ’12), regional social media coordinator for Harrah’s New Orleans; and Chris Williams (MBA ’11), project analyst with Barriere Construction.

The Tulane Association of Business Alumni (TABA) was established in 1938 to encourage the active involvement of alumni in supporting the Freeman School’s goal to be one of the leading business schools in the nation and the premier business school in the southern United States. TABA achieves that mission by focusing its efforts in the areas of career management, development and external relations.


Outgoing GBC president leaves legacy of progress

Thursday, June 13th, 2013

One night last spring, Albin Soares (MBA ’13) was working at his computer when he got a text message from one of his colleagues on the Graduate Business Council, the Freeman School’s student government organization.

“Hey, you need to calm down for the day,” the message read.

Outgoing GBC President Albin Soares (MBA '13) earned a reputation among faculty and staff as one of the most active presidents in the organization's history.

Outgoing GBC President Albin Soares (MBA ’13) earned a reputation as one of the most active presidents in the organization’s history.

Soares puzzled over the message for a second before realizing what it was about.

“I looked and I had sent out 74 emails that day,” laughs Soares, the outgoing president of the GBC. “So I was like, ‘Okay.’”

Days like that weren’t unusual for Soares, who earned a reputation among faculty and staff as one of the most active, involved presidents in recent GBC history. From working with faculty to revamp the MBA program to making sure that the television in the GW2 lounge stayed tuned to CNBC, no issue was too big or too small for Soares, who brought boundless enthusiasm and unrelenting tenacity to the job.

“Over the last year, I think I spoke with Albin more than I did with my associate deans — or my wife for that matter,” quips Dean Ira Solomon. “While I can’t say that I agreed with every idea Albin brought to me, there’s no question his extraordinary drive and determination made Freeman a better school. One just needs to look at his record of accomplishment to see the profound impact he had on the Freeman School.”

Over the course of the year, Soares’ achievements included establishing a discussion lounge for graduate students, bringing in a host of guest speakers, and lobbying successfully for the creation of an experimental “offboarding” program to provide graduating students with a formal send off. When he found out that alumni participation in giving was one of the criteria used in ranking surveys, he succeeded in getting not just a pledge but a check from almost every member of the 2013 graduating classes.

Perhaps most prominently, Soares co-chaired with Dean Solomon the task force dedicated to rewriting the Freeman School’s mission statement and core values during the recent strategic planning process. In that respect, he played a substantive role in defining the Freeman School’s direction for the next five years.

“There’s not one big, bright, shiny thing I accomplished as GBC president, but I can say we chipped away at a lot of things that needed to be done,” Soares says of his tenure as president. “I think that’s what I’m most proud of.”

A native of Southern California, Soares worked a variety of jobs — including stints in the entertainment industry, as a Mercedes-Benz salesman and as a legislative aide to U.S. Rep. Charles Boustany — before deciding that he needed an MBA to pull everything together and give him the skills to get to the next level. Since graduating in May, Soares has relocated with his family — his wife, Elizabeth, and 11-month-old son Bennett — to the San Diego area, where he hopes to launch a business idea he developed at the Freeman School, but as an alumnus and a new member of the Freeman 50, the Freeman School’s young MBA advisory board, he plans to remain involved with the Freeman School for many years to come.

“We’ve had some really stellar professors, some who have been life changing,” Soares says. “That’s probably the thing I liked best and it’s probably the thing we all liked best about the Freeman School. Having a small class, everyone knew each other’s names. We’ve gone on three international trips together, we’ve worked on projects, done team building. I hope that that bond continues as we all move on with our careers.”



Graduate Reunion Party draws more than 150 alumni

Tuesday, April 30th, 2013

More than 150 alumni and guests from the classes of 1968 through 2008 gathered in City Park Friday night (April 26) for the Freeman School’s third annual Graduate Alumni Reunion Party.

The event, which took place in Parkview Terrace (second floor of the old City Park Casino building), is a chance for the Freeman School to recognize alumni of graduate programs (MBA, MFIN and MACCT) celebrating milestone graduation anniversaries. This year’s party honored graduates from the years ’08, ’03, ’98, ’93, ’88, ’83, ’78, ’73, ’68 and ’63.

The reunion is also a chance for friends and former classmates to catch up with each other and to catch up with the Freeman School. Dean Ira Solomon attended the reunion along with a number of faculty and staff members, and he gave attendees a brief update on the state of the school. Lauren Nelson (MBA ’13), a member of the Graduate Business Council and president of Tulane’s chapter of MBA Women International, also spoke to alumni, offering guests a few comments about life at Freeman from a student’s perspective.

The party also included the presentation of a check to Freeman on behalf of the reunion classes. Members of this year’s reunion classes together pledged more than $300,000 to the Freeman School to provide support for a wide range of operating expenses. Reunion fundraising efforts are continuing through June 30, 2013, so if you haven’t yet made a gift, you can visit  the Freeman School’s online giving page to make your pledge.

To see all the photos from this year’s Graduate Alumni Reunion, visit the Freeman School’s Flickr page.

Left to right, class of ’03 alumni Ana Derbez, Jose Mascarell, Tsetsa Dankova and Victor Luque.


Left to right, Kell Riess, Alvin Jones (MBA ’68) and Harry Smith (MBA ’68).

Left to right, Justin Collins (MBA ’08), Lorena Rojas (MBA ’08), Philip Allison (MBA ’08), Ryan Usner (MBA ’08) and Oscar Parada.

Members of the MBA class of 2003, which had the biggest turnout of all the classes honored at this year’s party.

This year’s reunion class chairs presented Dean Ira Solomon with a check for more than $300,000, representing the collective gifts of the reunion classes. From left to right, Chuck Atwood (MBA ’73), Dean Solomon, Alex Hernandez (MBA ’03), David Heikkinen (MBA ’98), Alvin Jones (MBA ’68), John Silbernagel (MBA ’88) and Bob Kottler (MBA ’83).

Jazz Fest poster has Freeman School roots

Thursday, April 25th, 2013

In the 38 years since its debut, the official New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival poster has become as much a part of the annual celebration as Irma Thomas, Crawfish Monica and Rosemint Tea, but few fans are probably aware that the highly collectible posters—which fetch hundreds of dollars on eBay—got their start as a class project at the A. B. Freeman School of Business.

Bud Brimberg (L ’75) created the first Jazz Fest poster, shown above, as a class project in the Freeman School’s first entrepreneurship course.

In 1975, Bud Brimberg (L ’75) was a third-year law student casting about for a class to take just for the fun of it. Unable to find anything to his liking at the  law school, he wandered over to the Freeman School and signed up for the only course that didn’t require any business school prerequisites, a recently introduced class called Entrepreneurship and the New Business Enterprise.

Developed by marketing professor Bill Bennett and based on a class he’d taken at Harvard Business School, the course consisted primarily of case studies, but Bennett also required his students to complete a class project. Each student was asked to create a pro forma for a proposed business detailing the venture’s capital requirements and projected cash flows and income. Those numbers would then have to be programmed in FORTRAN and run on the university’s mainframe computer.

That’s a lot of work for just a simulation, Brimberg thought. One day after class, he approached Bennett and asked if instead of writing a pro forma he could actually start a business.

“He looked at me and he said, ‘That’s highly unorthodox,’” Brimberg recalls with a laugh. “I looked at him and said, ‘For God’s sake, it’s entrepreneurship!’ And he said, ‘Well, go ahead.’ And that was it.”

From the beginning, Brimberg focused his entrepreneurial attention on Jazz Fest, which was then in its sixth year. His original plan was to make a live recording in the Gospel Tent and release it as an album, but when that concept didn’t pan out, he went to his friend Quint Davis, producer of the Fest, and pitched his second idea: a high-quality commemorative print in the style of classic French poster art. Davis was skeptical.

“We’ve already got a poster,” he said, pointing to the cardboard placards volunteers would staple to telephone poles around town to promote the Fest.

Brimberg explained he was proposing something very different, a numbered, limited-edition print silk-screened onto museum-quality paper. Davis still wasn’t convinced.

“Okay, I’ll tell you what,” Brimberg finally said. “Maybe you’re right, but I think I can come up with some program that will work and I’ll pay you off the top a percentage of gross. No risk. I’ll underwrite the whole thing. And if I sell one poster, you’ll make money.”

The 2013 Jazz Fest poster was designed by artist James Michalopoulos and features Aaron Neville.

It was an offer Davis couldn’t refuse. Brimberg commissioned two Tulane architecture students to create a design featuring an umbrella-waving parade grand marshal with lettering in the classic art nouveau style. The hand-pulled edition of 1,000 posters sold for $3.95 each at the Fest, and Brimberg spent much of his time explaining to customers why that was such a good deal.

When the dust settled, Brimberg walked away from the Fest with less than $500 in profits (and an A in the class). It may not have been much, but it was enough to launch Brimberg on what’s become an almost 40-year career as a businessman and entrepreneur.

He went on to found ProCreations Publishing Co. and Art4Now, which together have produced the Jazz Fest poster every year with the exception of a three-year stretch in the early ’90s. In 1994, Brimberg began producing the Congo Square poster as well, and in 1998 he debuted an expanded line of Jazz Fest apparel —  BayouWear — based on the popular “HowAhYa” Hawaiian shirt he’d introduced in 1981. He also started a number of other businesses along the way, most notably Plan-A-Flex, a manufacturer of architectural design and planning kits. Brimberg sold that company to Stanley Works in 1986.

Looking back on his career, Brimberg credits the Freeman School and that first entrepreneurship class with giving him the tools he needed to be successful.

“If you try to understand what makes a frog jump by cutting it open, which is what most academics do, you really don’t know what makes a frog jump,” Brimberg says. “But if you sit there and observe the frog from every angle, you may not understand the molecular level, but you’ll understand what makes the frog jump. I think what [the entrepreneurship class] did was make me understand how the frog jumped. It showed me all the moving parts you would need to start a business and how everything locked together. So, yes, it was pretty useful.”


Freeman School launches TABA chapters in five U.S. cities

Tuesday, January 15th, 2013

The Tulane Association of Business Alumni (TABA) has announced the establishment of chapters in five U.S. cities. The five TABA chapters are Houston, Nashville, Washington D.C., New York and Miami.


TABA has established new chapters in five U.S. cities.

Establishing TABA chapters in cities outside New Orleans has been a longtime goal of the association, and TABA President Tom Spiers (MBA ’01) says he hopes the creation of these chapters will help strengthen ties among alumni in those cities and enable TABA to offer programs that better serve their needs and interests.

“The Freeman School has more than 20,000 alumni worldwide, representing an incredibly diverse population in terms of both geography and demographics,” says Spiers. “I think it’s important for us to do everything we can to engage those individuals at the local level, and the establishment of these first five TABA chapters will greatly enhance our ability to do that.”

According to Peggy Babin, associate dean for external relations, the five chapter cities were chosen based on several criteria, including the number of Freeman alumni residing in the greater area and the response of alumni in those cities to TABA’s outreach regarding the creation of local chapters.

“The five cities we chose—Houston, Nashville, Washington D.C., New York and Miami—are each home to hundreds of Freeman School alumni, and individual alumni in those cities were instrumental in providing the enthusiasm and support we needed to establish TABA chapters,” says Babin. “Our strategy is to get these chapters up and running initially and then add more cities in the coming months and years.”

For information on how to become involved with a local chapter or how to start a chapter in your city, contact Babin at or Rhonda Brown at


A message from Afghanistan

Tuesday, January 8th, 2013

Freeman School graduate Edward Crawford (MBA ’09, MGM ’09, LA ’09), an associate with Goldman Sachs & Co. in Miami, is currently deployed with U.S. Navy special operations forces in Afghanistan. He recently this holiday message to share with the Freeman community.

Dear Friends,

I write to you all today on Christmas from Afghanistan. I’ve been deployed in this remote province for 6 months now and have just a few more months to go. This deployment has been an incredible experience and has taught me a lot about what is most important in life.

Edward Crawford

We have had good times and bad times but we have always pulled through together. The fighting season here is finally over but unfortunately there has still been violence. We have lost a number of brothers in the last few weeks and the last one’s remains will arrive home on Christmas day. It has been a dramatic challenge for us to deal with the loss of these incredible men but we are cognizant of those wives who have lost their husbands and all the children who will spend their Christmas knowing that their dads will never be back. I have had the great honor of serving with these men who have given their lives for a greater cause and on this beautiful Christmas day we are remembering their sacrifice here. I thank all of you who have supported and prayed for the troops lost during this difficult mission and I pray that, on this day of birth and rebirth, their families can find some solace that their loved ones died as heroes and will never be forgotten. I wanted to thank each and everyone one of you for supporting Mary, Caroline and baby Edward in my absence and for the love and comfort you have provided. You have made this Christmas the most memorable of all.

Today is a new day, a day of joy and we are celebrating how lucky we are to have friends like you. I can’t wait to see you all back in the states in just a few months. Have a Merry Christmas, may God bless you and may the Christmas spirit dwell in each and every one of you on this special day.

The only blind person at Christmas time is he who has not Christmas in his heart.

(Helen Keller)

Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night.

Edward J. Crawford
Morton A. Aldrich Fellow & Jones Scholar
Tulane University, A. B. Freeman School of Business


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