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Update | Spring/Summer 2023

8 to Watch: Alumni Leading with Purpose

Meet WSB alumni who are making an impact

Chris Malina and Haley Tollison

Photography by Daniel Berman, Timothy Devine, Genelle Lengvenis, Jim Newberry, and Paul L. Newby II

Donovan Malloy

Donovan Malloy

BS ’11, MBA ’19

Senior Human Resources Consultant


View Donovan’s story
Kelly Kollock

Kelley Kollock

BBA ’16

Manager of ESG


View Kelley’s story
Amber Porter

Amber H. H. Porter

MBA ’19

Senior Venture Capital Associate

American Family Insurance Institute for Corporate and Social Impact

View Amber’s story
Akhil Remesan

Akhil Remesan

MBA ’22


Madison Lake Capital

View Akhil’s story
Amber Scott

Amber Scott

MBA ’14

Director, Real Estate Debt and Equity Investment

Northwestern Mutual

View Amber’s story
Joe Loehnis

Joe Loehnis

MBA ’18

Chief Executive Officer

Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra

View Joe’s story
Kelly Johnson

Kelly Johnson

BBA ’15

Merchandise Manager

Adidas Team Sports

View Kelly’s story
Tim Schlidt

Tim Schlidt

BBA ’15

Co-Founder and Partner

Palo Santo

View Tim’s story

Donovan Malloy (BS ’11, MBA ’19)

Title: Senior human resources consultant, Microsoft
Previous jobs:
Talent engagement and development manager, compensation manager, diversity champion team lead, and other HR roles, Nielsen

Why he’s among the 8 to Watch: Malloy puts people at the center of everything. His inclusive and systematic approach to human resources at Microsoft helps ensure a harmonious balance between individual and corporate needs. “We all have to pitch in to be able to make a business successful,” he says. “If we can do that in a way that honors who we are individually and then what we can do collectively, that’s how we succeed.”

A strong foundation: Growing up in Los Angeles, Malloy says attending college in Wisconsin wasn’t exactly on his radar—but receiving a prestigious Posse Foundation scholarship allowed him to enroll at UW–Madison and study consumer science. He later was accepted into the Human Resources Emerging Leaders Program at Nielsen where he began his HR career in full. There, Malloy traveled to Shanghai, China, to create and deploy a new career development framework for employees.

Impact of a WSB degree: Engaging in classroom discussions with other working professionals about real-life situations and challenges during his evening MBA program was invaluable preparation for a high-level career in HR.

Matching with Microsoft: Malloy was hired at Microsoft in 2019, moved to Seattle, and got to work building and establishing systems to foster deeper connections among the company’s many teams—something that took on added importance during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Building a pipeline: Being able to recruit more diverse talent into HR has driven Malloy throughout his career because he sees room to create long-lasting change. “As we develop the next generation of business leaders, we have to think about our processes differently. HR is a great home base for that work because we can be a representation of what we need to see within a broader business.”

Kelley Kollock (BBA ’16)

Title: Manager of ESG, Hilton
Location: Arlington, Virginia
Previous jobs: Various roles in planning, product design, inventory, and pipeline management, Target

Why she’s among the 8 to Watch: A leader in the emerging field of environmental, social, and governance (ESG), Kollock shapes initiatives for sustainable travel and increased corporate responsibility for one of the world’s largest hotel chains. Since joining the company in 2022, Kollock and her team helped land Hilton on the Dow Jones Sustainability Indices—a benchmark for corporate sustainability efforts—for the sixth straight year.

From red to green: At WSB, Kollock majored in marketing and supply chain management before accepting her first job with Target. There, she worked alongside a design team incorporating circular economy principles into their work—and extending the life of everyday products—which further developed her interest in sustainability and pushed her to explore careers in the ESG field.

Impact of a WSB degree: With over 7,000 hotels in Hilton’s portfolio, Kollock has her hands full when it comes to incorporating sustainability strategies at diverse properties around the world. Fortunately, her education has given her a leg up in logistics. “I would encourage anybody to take a supply chain management course. It helps you see the whole picture. You are really only one piece in what’s often a bigger puzzle, and it’s helpful to have that mindset when looking at challenging scenarios.”

Best advice for students: Kollock never expected to spend her final spring break as a WSB student in Germany studying the country’s auto industry—but she couldn’t pass up the chance to travel and get practical, hands-on experience. “If somebody’s offering you an opportunity for something, take advantage of it. Even if it doesn’t immediately sound like your thing, it’s oftentimes worth it.”

Amber H. H. Porter (MBA ’19)

Title: Senior venture capital associate, American Family Insurance Institute for Corporate and Social Impact
Location: Madison
Previous jobs: Managing partner, Multihyphenate Productions; chief of staff to CEO, seed-stage startup; theater literary assistant, ICM Partners; various other roles in the performing arts industry

“I’m really proud that I was able to break into this work.”

— Amber H. H. Porter (MBA ’19)

Why she’s among the 8 to Watch: Through her work with the American Family Insurance Institute for Corporate and Social Impact, Porter facilitates investments in companies aimed at closing equity gaps in America with a specific focus on economic opportunity and healthy youth development. She embodies the company’s philosophy of dreaming fearlessly and is committed to enacting social change.

Lights, camera, action: As a theater major who paid her dues in the entertainment industry before pursuing an MBA in arts administration, Porter initially had her sights set on landing a managing director job with an arts organization. While at WSB, she quickly became a leader in diversity, equity, and inclusion work, and soon realized she could leverage her experience and business education to directly impact causes that were important to her.

Redefining what’s possible: When American Family Insurance launched the institute, the company reached out to WSB looking for interns—and ended up finding a perfect match in Porter. She admits her path into venture capital wasn’t exactly traditional, but says that’s a good thing. “I’m really proud that I was able to break into this work and have the chance to set a new narrative about the kind of person who can do VC.”

Investment in action: Porter and the institute recently backed a company called CNote, which helps large companies move capital into underserved communities at scale.

Impact of a WSB degree: “I leverage everything I learned in the MBA program on a daily basis.”

Giving back: A recipient of scholarships for both her undergraduate and graduate education, Porter says she feels a duty to pay it forward. She’s an active mentor of interns and maintains her connection to the arts by serving on the board of Madison’s Forward Theater Company.

Akhil Remesan (MBA ’22)

Title: Partner, Madison Lake Capital
Location: Madison
Previous jobs: Founder and CEO, Foodcliff; private equity associate, Borgman Capital; senior consultant, Deloitte; associate, Wisconsin Investment Partners

Why he’s among the 8 to Watch: While earning his MBA, Remesan launched his own private equity firm, Madison Lake Capital, and immediately hit the ground running. Within a month of his WSB graduation, the firm closed on its first acquisition. With a focus on lower- to middle-market companies—especially those in Wisconsin—his philosophy is to partner with company leaders to ensure mutual growth and prosperity.

From founder to finance: After earning an undergraduate degree in engineering and later working as a consultant, Remesan launched a mobile food ordering startup, Foodcliff, and found himself drawn to the financial aspects of running a business. That later spurred his decision to move on from Foodcliff and pursue an MBA in corporate finance and investment banking. Remesan chose WSB because of the solid curriculum and expert faculty.

A different approach: As opposed to turnaround firms, Madison Lake Capital specializes in buying stable companies who are looking to sell—and their collaborative approach has resonated with clients. “We talk to the seller and emphasize that we’ll take care of their people,” Remesan says. “We also take pride in partnering with the management team when we come in to ensure everyone gets a say in company strategy.”

Impact of a WSB degree: Remesan credits his professors for listening to his vision for Madison Lake Capital and guiding him along the way—even outside of the classroom. “They truly wanted me to be successful,” he says. “That helped build my confidence and created the sense that I had people I could always call with questions.”

Amber Scott (MBA ’14)

Title: Director, real estate debt and equity investment, Northwestern Mutual
Location: Newport Beach, California
Previous jobs: Various underwriting and market associate roles, Northwestern Mutual; project manager, Community HousingWorks

Why she’s among the 8 to Watch: With more than $10 billion of direct transactional experience across asset classes, Scott is an experienced leader in real estate. In addition to balancing debt and equity investments at Northwestern Mutual, she helped the company launch a new impact investing fund in 2021 aimed at building capital and creating economic opportunities in predominantly Black communities in the Milwaukee area and beyond. “That work has huge potential to impact the trajectory of families and individuals for generations,” she says.

A voice for change: As a first-generation college and postgraduate student from California, Scott studied economics and quickly became inspired by real estate’s potential to create generational wealth. Having grown up in a community where many residents faced financial insecurity—and were frequently excluded from economic policy discussions—Scott saw a career in real estate as a way of building stability not only for herself, but for those who don’t have a seat at the table.

Impact of a WSB degree: With a nudge from some supportive colleagues, Scott decided to pursue an MBA with a specialization in real estate and urban land economics at WSB. In addition to the specialized curriculum in real estate, she says the best education she received was in the business of people and how to best work alongside others from various backgrounds to achieve mutual goals.

Homeward bound: Scott joined Northwestern Mutual in 2014 and worked in the company’s Milwaukee headquarters before transferring to a field office back in California about an hour from where she grew up. “Having the opportunity to apply my institutional real estate expertise to the cities and communities that I was really familiar with was super exciting,” she says.

Best advice: “Be courageous enough to move forward despite your fear. You are more than enough, so create the spaces you need to show up as your true authentic self.”

Joe Loehnis (MBA ’18)

Title: Chief executive officer, Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra
Location: Madison
Previous jobs: Executive director, First Tee South Central Wisconsin; cello teacher/performer; professional golfer

“I saw the impact that music had on me, and I had the opportunity to give that same impact to kids and watch them develop as people. ”

— Joe Loehnis (MBA ’18)

Why he’s among the 8 to Watch: When the pandemic turned the performing arts industry upside down, Loehnis pulled out all the stops to keep the Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra (WCO) in front of audiences and relevant to the community. He’s delivering a new brand of leadership to a new era, introducing creative ways to deliver artistic experiences that entertain, inspire, and unite a growing and diverse modern audience.

The show must go on: WCO is best known for Concerts on the Square, a summer concert series that brings 250,000 people to downtown Madison. When COVID-19 hit, Loehnis knew that canceling wasn’t an option. With a venue change and some strategic reorganization, Loehnis was able to continue Madison’s beloved tradition, making WCO one of the first orchestras in the country to safely perform during the pandemic.

Musical beginnings: Loehnis picked up his first cello in third grade and was playing for the Green Bay Symphony by the time he was 16. Since then, he has been using his talent to inspire youth in his community. At one point, Loehnis was teaching cello to 25 students—while simultaneously golfing on professional tours. “I saw the impact that music had on me, and I had the opportunity to give that same impact to kids and watch them develop as people,” he says. “I got to see it come full circle.”

Impact of a WSB degree: Loehnis’ role as an executive requires him to juggle many different responsibilities—a skill he honed at WSB. “On any given day, I could be doing finance, human resources, or operations. Without even realizing it, I’m drawing from those WSB classes every day.”

Kelly Johnson (BBA ’15)

Title: Merchandise manager, Adidas Team Sports
Location: Portland, Oregon
Previous jobs: NCAA licensed merchandise manager, Adidas; senior merchandising analyst and various other roles, Wilson Sporting Goods Company

Why she’s among the 8 to Watch: Driven by a personal and professional passion for sports, Johnson creates lasting impact in industry and the community. Her desire to create new opportunities has earned her high-profile positions at both Wilson and Adidas and led her to create her own youth-focused foundation.

Merchandising 101: At Adidas, Johnson oversees operations like marketing, forecasting, and sales that are integral to launching new products. Using the analogy of a bike wheel, Johnson says that her role—the hub—works with cross-functional partners—the spokes—to connect consumers and products.

Blazing new trails: Johnson acknowledges the challenges of being a female in the sports industry, but uses her leadership skills to create pathways for others. “Even though I’m not a pro athlete, I can be that inspiration for younger females,” Johnson says. “We need more females who can lead in this industry.”

Leaving a legacy: When she was an undergraduate student, Johnson founded the Kelly Johnson Foundation to provide extracurricular and academic support to Wisconsin high school students. It has since expanded nationwide, and has awarded 17 scholarships and provided sports equipment to four high school teams.

Impact of a WSB degree: Johnson says her WSB education helped her develop a business-focused, open-minded perspective, enabling her to be creative and think on her feet. It also gave her the insight to integrate her lifelong passion for tennis into a finance position at Wilson.

Hitting the ground running…literally: An avid runner, Johnson hopes to run a race in all 50 states—and with 29 completed already, she’s more than halfway there!

Talking shop: Johnson hosts a podcast called The Daily Grind where she talks to entrepreneurs, business owners, and CEOs about goal achievement. It’s an opportune way to keep learning, she says. “Soak up as much information as possible from experts in their respective industries. Because one, that’s where they live and breathe, and two, that’s their daily grind.”

Tim Schlidt (BBA ’15)

Title: Co-founder and partner, Palo Santo
Location: New York
Previous jobs: Private equity associate, Madison Dearborn Partners, LLC; investment banking analyst, Greenhill & Co.

Why he’s among the 8 to Watch: Schlidt is on a mission to find the next breakthrough antidepressant. Driven by his own struggles with mental health, Schlidt co-founded Palo Santo in 2020, a venture capital fund focused on funding psychedelic therapies to treat conditions like depression, anxiety, PTSD, and addiction. He was named to the 2023 Forbes “30 Under 30” list in the venture capital category.

Business and biology: Schlidt’s lifelong interest in business led him to pursue finance at WSB, but growing up, he also felt a strong pull towards biology. After being diagnosed with and treated for depression in middle school, he developed an additional interest in psychology and psychiatry.

Pivoting to psychedelics: While working for a private equity firm after graduation, Schlidt began hearing about emerging data regarding the potential of psychedelics to treat mental health disorders. Impressed by the science, he began talking with psychedelic industry leaders and researchers, and the idea for Palo Santo was born. However, it wasn’t until COVID-19 hit—and put mental health in the national spotlight—that Schlidt knew the time was right to launch the fund.

A new approach: The introduction of drugs like Prozac in the 1980s revolutionized how conditions like depression were treated, but since then, Schlidt says there’s been little innovation in the field. Psychedelic therapies, he adds, have the potential to improve on these drugs by treating the root causes of these conditions and not just the symptoms.

Impact of a WSB degree: “Being able to run case studies and do interesting projects in my advanced classes has had direct applicability in my career.”

Putting in the work: While psychedelics have improved Schlidt’s life, he says any medication is only one piece of a bigger mental health puzzle. “I think the biggest misconception is you just take a pill and everything’s better. I’ve done a lot of personal work over the years, and I’m proud of where I am today.”