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Six national leaders appointed to Board of Trustees

Appointees include business leaders from different industries and alumni

  • Carol Bernick, CEO, Polished Nickel Management
  • Ellen Kullman, former chair of the board of directors and CEO, DuPont
  • Samir Mayekar, co-founder and CEO, SiNode Systems
  • Pin Ni, president, Wanxiang America Corporation
  • Paula Pretlow, former senior vice president of The Capital Group
  • Gwynne Shotwell, president and chief operating officer, SpaceX

EVANSTON - Six prominent business leaders and philanthropists have been appointed to the Northwestern University Board of Trustees. 

They are:

Carol Bernick

Carol Bernick is CEO of Polished Nickel Management, a privately held company that manages diversified investments and owned operating companies in retail and professional sports.

In her prior business career, she spent 37 years in key executive roles in the Alberto-Culver Company until its acquisition in May 2011 by Unilever. 

Among her various community commitments, Bernick is a board member and immediate past board chair of Northwestern Memorial Healthcare. She has served on that board for more than 18 years. She also serves as a vice chair of the Board of Tulane University, her alma mater, in New Orleans. She is a member of the Economic Club of Chicago, a member of the executive committee of the Global Advisory Board for Northwestern’s Kellogg School of Management, a member of the Women’s Leadership Board of the Harvard Kennedy School of Government and a member of the Women’s Board of the Boys and Girls Club of Chicago. 

Ellen Kullman

Ellen Kullman served as chair of the board of directors and CEO of DuPont from January 2009 to October 2015.

Prior to her 27-year career at DuPont, she worked for Westinghouse and General Electric.

She is a member of the boards of directors of United Technologies Corporation and Carbon3D. She is also a member of the international advisory council of the Singapore Economic Development Board and the National Academy of Engineering, and she is past chair of the U.S.-China Business Council. She serves on the board of trustees of Tufts University and the board of overseers of Tufts School of Engineering.

A native of Wilmington, Delaware, Kullman holds a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from Tufts University and a master’s degree in management from Kellogg. 

Samir Mayekar

Samir Mayekar is the co-founder and CEO of SiNode Systems, a venture-backed company developing advanced materials for the lithium-ion battery industry. He also serves as an advisor at the Albright Stonebridge Group, a global consultancy founded by former U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright.

Mayekar previously served as deputy chief of staff of the Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC), the U.S. government's development finance institution. He joined OPIC after serving as the national security director of the Presidential Personnel Office at the White House, where he managed all presidential appointments at the Pentagon, U.S. Department of State, Department of Homeland Security and Central Intelligence Agency. Prior to his time at the White House, he served as a budget manager for Obama for America, where he managed more than $800 million for the campaign.

Mayekar graduated summa cum laude with a bachelor’s degree from Northwestern and an MBA with distinction from Kellogg, where he was a Paul and Daisy Soros Fellow. He is a guest lecturer on energy and entrepreneurship at Northwestern and the University of Illinois. 

Mayekar is very active in the community, serving as the board president of two Chicago nonprofits and president-elect for the board of directors of the Northwestern Alumni Association.

Pin Ni

Pin Ni is the president of Wanxiang America Corporation, a wholly owned U.S. subsidiary of Wanxiang Group Company, based in Hangzhou, China. Involved in automotive and industrial markets, Wanxiang America is the source for all of Wanxiang Group/China's products in the U.S. Ni also serves as the executive vice president for Wanxiang Group. 

Ni has been serving as president of Wanxiang America Corporation since its inception in 1994.

He currently serves on the board of directors of World Business Chicago and as a member of the Corporate Leadership Council of the U.S.-China Strong Foundation and the advisory board of the RAND Center for Asia Pacific Policy. He is also a member of the executive council of the Institute for Sustainability and Energy at Northwestern (ISEN).

Ni received his bachelor’s degree and MBA from Zhejiang University.

Paula B. Pretlow

Paula B. Pretlow is a former senior vice president of The Capital Group, a $1.4 trillion-dollar privately held investment management firm.

Prior to joining Capital in 1999, Pretlow worked with Barclays Global Investors, Montgomery Asset Management and Chancellor LGT. Her investment industry experience also includes fixed-income sales with Credit Suisse and time as a portfolio engineer with AXA/Rosenberg. Pretlow has spent her entire career in finance, beginning as a corporate banking officer at Wells Fargo Bank. 

Pretlow is actively involved on several boards, including The Kresge Foundation, a $3.6 billion foundation that works to expand opportunities in America's cities, including Detroit, through grant-making and social investing in six program areas. She is a member of the Board of Visitors for the Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences, and she serves on the San Francisco Symphony Board of Governors. Also she is a member of the board of directors of her synagogue in San Francisco, Congregation EmanuEl. Her professional affiliations include the Association of Black Foundation Executives and the Executive Leadership Council.

Her other past board and community work includes the Kellogg Advisory Council; the board of Making Waves Educational Program, which serves at-risk children in Richmond and San Francisco; mentor and board member of the RTF (Toigo) Foundation, which provides scholarships and mentoring for minority business school students; and volunteer and board member of Larkin Street Youth Services, which serves the needs of homeless youth in San Francisco.

Pretlow received her bachelor of arts in political science from Northwestern and an MBA in finance and economics from Kellogg.

Gwynne Shotwell

Gwynne Shotwell is president and chief operating officer of SpaceX. Shotwell is responsible for day-to-day operations and for managing all customer and strategic relations to support company growth. 

Prior to joining SpaceX, Shotwell spent more than 10 years at the Aerospace Corporation. She was promoted to the role of chief engineer of an MLV-class satellite program, managed a landmark study for the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) on commercial space transportation and completed an extensive analysis of space policy for NASA’s future investment in space transportation. Shotwell was subsequently recruited to be director of Microcosm’s Space Systems Division, where she served on the executive committee and directed corporate business development. 

In 2014, Shotwell was appointed to the U.S. Export Import Bank's Advisory Committee and the FAA’s Management Advisory Council. Shotwell has received the World Technology Award for Individual Achievement in Space, been inducted into the Women in Technology International Hall of Fame and been elected to the honorable grade of Fellow with the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics.

Through leadership in both corporate and external programs, Shotwell has helped raise more than $1.4 million for science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) education programs reaching thousands of students nationwide.

Shotwell received her bachelor’s and master’s degrees, with honors, from Northwestern in mechanical engineering and applied mathematics and currently serves on the advisory council for Northwestern’s McCormick School of Engineering.

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