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Northwestern appoints six new Alumni Regents

Regents will represent the University in Indianapolis, Twin Cities, Ohio, San Francisco, Southern California and Houston

Northwestern University has named six new Alumni Regents, who will represent the University in global communities that have large alumni populations.

The recently appointed Alumni Regents will serve four-year terms, joining 16 other regional appointees. Including the chair, there are currently 23 regents, with an additional 56 living emeritus regents.

Alumni Regents act as ambassadors for Northwestern in their regions, by both engaging fellow alumni volunteers and representing the University president at the inaugurations of other college and university presidents. They also represent the Northwestern Alumni Association’s (NAA) strategic direction and related initiatives and seek opportunities to collaborate with other volunteer leaders and organizations.

“The new Alumni Regents reflect the diversity of the global Northwestern community and help further the University’s direction toward an ever more representative and inclusive presence in alumni communities worldwide,” said Christine Olson Robb ’66 (’93 P), chair of the Alumni Regents. “I know they will represent the University well across Northwestern’s volunteer networks and in their local areas.” 

Newly appointed Alumni Regents

Chad Abraham ’91 (’21, ’25 P), Twin Cities (Minneapolis-Saint Paul)

Chad Abraham serves as chairman and chief executive officer of Piper Sandler, an investment bank and institutional securities firm. He is a member of the Northwestern University Leadership Circle and served as a volunteer on Northwestern’s Minnesota Regional Campaign Committee during We Will. The Campaign for Northwestern.

Abraham earned his bachelor’s degree in economics and political science from the Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences. After graduating, he initially spent 14 years on the West Coast as a technology investment banker. In 2005, he was promoted to head of capital markets; in 2010, he became global co-head of investment banking and capital markets; and in 2018, he became CEO. 

Abraham sits on the board of trustees for The Nature Conservancy’s Minnesota, South Dakota and North Dakota chapter, as well as for the Blake School in Minneapolis. He is the father of four daughters, one of whom graduated from Northwestern in 2021 and another who currently attends Northwestern.

Osvaldo L. Gotera ’76 (’06 P), Houston

Osvaldo Gotera began his career with Amoco Oil Company and had an extended tenure with the Amoco/BP companies in various technical, commercial and managerial positions. His roles spanned refining, crude oil and products supply, business development and negotiations. Assignments included leading multidisciplinary teams throughout the United States, Canada and Latin America.

Later in his career, Gotera was director of business development at Maverick Engineering and director of corporate growth and development at Evonik. He currently is retired. Gotera earned his engineering degree from Northwestern and also holds an MBA from the University of Chicago.

Gotera has been involved with both industry and community organizations, serving on the boards of Houston’s Instituto Argentino del Petroleo y Gas, the LaSalle Language Academy and the Cinco Ranch High School Band Boosters. 

He maintains ties to Northwestern via his affiliations with the NU Club of Houston and the NUMBALUMS (Marching and Band Alumni). Gotera was born in Cuba and now lives in Katy, Texas, with his wife, Carmen. His son, Daniel, is a 2006 Medill graduate.

Barbara L. Keller ’68, Southern California (Orange County and San Diego area)

Barbara Keller is a retired Los Angeles attorney and college professor. Over the past 40 years, Keller has been active in civic and cultural organizations in Southern California, serving as a board member of ARCS® Foundation, Orange County Chapter. A passionate advocate for quality education, Keller counsels students on college admissions and summer enrichment programs.

Keller earned a bachelor’s degree in sociology from the Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences. She was a caseworker for the Cook County Department of Public Aid before transitioning to the private sector as a trust administrator at Continental Bank. Keller received a J.D. from Loyola University Chicago in 1977 and began her legal career as an associate at McLaughlin & Irvin, an employment law firm in California. 

Subsequently, she was senior counsel for litigation and employment law at Pacific Enterprises. Keller has taught business law to undergraduate and MBA students at California State University Northridge and Los Angeles and at Pepperdine University. 

Keller has been a member of the NU Club of Los Angeles, an officer of the NU Club of Orange County and a member of the Class of 1968 reunion committees. She currently serves on the Northwestern University Leadership Circle Los Angeles Regional Board. Keller and her husband, David Auchterlonie, have been football season ticket holders for 25 years. 

Jane Peterson Kroot ’88, Indianapolis

Jane Peterson Kroot is a retired attorney who initially practiced securities law in the Chicago office of Skadden, Arps before transitioning to the in-house counsel team for a major telecommunications company, servicing multinational accounts. 

Kroot was inducted into Phi Beta Kappa in 1987 and graduated from the Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences with a degree in political science in 1988. She subsequently attended the University of Chicago Law School, earning her J.D. in 1991.

Kroot has volunteered for many years for the Northwestern Alumni Association, primarily by interviewing Northwestern University student applicants through the Alumni Admissions Council. She and her husband, Barry Kroot ’88, a graduate of the School of Education and Social Policy, are members of the Northwestern University Leadership Circle and supporters of the Wildcat Fund.

Kroot’s proudest accomplishment is her family, composed of three biological sons and four South Sudanese young men whom the Kroot family has raised since 2011. Together with her husband and all of her sons, Kroot is a founding member of Passkey-South Sudan Inc. — an organization that facilitates aid, family placement and educational opportunities in the United States for imperiled South Sudanese youth.

Michael Sapienza ’74, ’76 MBA, Ohio

Michael Sapienza has spent his career leading key initiatives across multiple roles, including marketing, business development, new product introductions and business starts. He began at Wendy’s, where he served for 10 years in numerous capacities throughout the domestic marketing department and the international division — culminating as vice president of new products and marketing analysis.

In 1988, Sapienza joined electronic payment pioneer CheckFree Corporation. As CheckFree’s first vice president of marketing, he was largely responsible for the business development and national introduction of the CheckFree Electronic Payment Service. That business scaled successfully and led to an initial public offering.

Since leaving CheckFree in 2003, Sapienza’s focus has been on helping early-stage companies scale and larger enterprises upgrade branding and technology solutions. Most recently, these have included WorthPoint, Assurex Global and DataPulse.

Sapienza is a 1974 graduate of the School of Communication and a 1976 graduate of the Kellogg School of Management. His organizational involvement includes Ohio Tech Angels, the School Choice Ohio Board, the Northwestern University Alumni Admissions Council and the NU Club of Columbus.

Sapienza’s family includes his wife (Bev), two stepdaughters (Kristin and Megan), five grandchildren and two rescue dogs.

Dennis T. Yang ’95, San Francisco

Dennis Yang is passionate about the opportunity for technology to improve lives. He has spent more than two decades launching and growing innovative companies around the globe, with a particular emphasis on education technology.

Yang is involved with multiple technology companies as an adviser, investor and board member, and he previously served as CEO of Udemy — a global provider of online education that has served more than 40 million students worldwide.  

Yang has been featured in national media sources such as The Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg, CNN, Inc., Time magazine and Fortune. He also has spoken at numerous conferences, including Fortune Global Forum, and appeared on Bloomberg TV.

He earned a bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering from Northwestern’s McCormick School of Engineering and an MBA from the Stanford Graduate School of Business.

Yang is a member of the NU Club of the San Francisco Bay Area and the Northwestern University Leadership Circle. He has been a guest lecturer for various Northwestern classes and served as an adviser for Northwestern’s Farley Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation. He also was a committee member for his 25th class reunion.