The 20 Most Notable Tufts University Alumni in Business

Tufts University Campus

When you want to break into the business world, it helps a great deal if you went to a good school. Having the right contacts and classmates can undoubtedly assist you in easing your transition into the working world. Tufts has the reputation of an Ivy League school, and they only accept about 19% of their applicants, so they’re more than a little selective. Students who meet the right criteria can even occasionally cross-register for a few Harvard classes.

The result is, of course, that they produce some brilliant minds. The top twenty notables are all in big business. Many have helped change society as we know it. Though numerous fantastic business people are Tufts Alumni, we’ve compiled a list of the most recognizable faces and successful entrepreneurs and executives.

1. Jacqueline Hernandez

As a woman in the media industry who does not perform, we thought we’d start with Mrs. Hernandez. It’s hard to break through the glass ceiling, but that never stopped this mogul. She has led marketing initiatives that encompass the underserved Hispanic community, won numerous awards including being named on PEOPLE en Español’s “25 Most Powerful Women” in 2009 and 2011. That is only the tip of her iceberg, and yet finding information about her is extremely limited compared to her male counterparts despite her achievements. We’re impressed with her work, and that wins her the first spot on our list.

2. David W. Burke

David Burke is the only dead man to make our list. He passed away five years ago, but his legacy remains. As the former Executive Vice President of ABC, and several other positions he held with the network over the years, David helped to create the entertainment and media that several generations grew up watching in the pre-internet/cable/streaming era. In addition to his contributions to broadcast media, he was also well known as a confidante and advisor to various political figures including at least two presidents (Kennedy and Clinton).

3. Rob Burnett

You may love Letterman, or hate him, but there’s no denying how influential the show was. Rob Burnett was the head writer for the show beginning at the age of 29. He was involved in Letterman’s production for over three decades in addition to becoming the Executive Producer at Worldwide Pants. You can see him in the Sundance film The Fundamentals of Caring, where he discusses what he learned there and how it influenced his filmmaking career and his life.

4. Susan Decker

As Independent Director at Costco Wholesale Susan Decker helps provide cost-effective bulk food to millions of people each year. In her previous role as the President of Yahoo! she was instrumental in the formation of the internet dynamo that brings people news, financial advice, and even email accounts. Last year she spoke out on internet data collection issues and public faith.

5. Cary Granat

If you haven’t heard of Walden Media and Miramax, it’s possible you grew up without a television. While that’s certainly the case for some people, it’s uncommon. Regardless, Cary Granat helped found a massive media movie-making empire and helped create fifty-seven feature-length films. He also helped pioneer new modes of business in 3d cinema.

6. Bernard Marshall Gordon

Bernie to his friends, family, and subordinates, holds dozens of patents, but he’s known for his philanthropy and for being what Wikipedia calls “the father of high-speed analog-to-digital conversion.” B.M. Gordon is also very well known for his contributions to education. He stated, “I have said that when Electronic Design started 50 years ago, the average kid graduating from high school was better educated than some of today’s engineers,”so he focuses a great deal of his energy on improving education, especially for engineers like himself.

7. Meg Hourihan

One of our favorite things about Meg Hourihan is that she is a working stay at home mother. She helped to found Pyra, which you may not know by name off the top of your head. You probably do recognize their subsidiary “Blogger,” a little bit better. In addition to raising two kids, speaking out on numerous topics, being involved in projects like Funding for Innovation: U.S. Clean Energy Innovation, she also keeps up her own blog.

8. Ellen J. Kullman

Ellen Kullman is a mechanical engineer. She’s also on the board of trustees at Tufts. We can only assume she must have amazing organizational skills since those are only a couple of her many accomplishments. She spent years as the CEO at DuPont. Most recently, Ellen has been with Goldman Sachs since 2016. Dell, UTC, and Amgen Inc. are also among her current responsibilities. In short, she is a woman who helps influence and direct billions of dollars. Admirably, she is also a chairperson on the Public Responsibility Board at Goldman Sachs, and she served on President Obama’s Council on Jobs and Competitiveness.

9. Shari Redstone

Shari Redstone is what you might call a mover and shaker in the entertainment industry. After taking over for her aging billionaire father, she was attempting a CBS/Viacom merger. Since she controls both anyhow, it makes sense that she might want to combine her resources. Discovery Inc. who own several stations like HGTV and TLC in addition to Discovery and Discovery Kids may have offered themselves for sale to CBS and Shari as well. CNBC and Vanity Fair have both done stories about it, and Vanity fair is calling it the Corporate Coup of the Century. The merger didn’t work out as planned, but it seems only a matter of time before she finds a way. While her detractors cite her cutthroat politics, the fact remains that she is one of the wealthiest women in the world and she controls a considerable portion of the entertainment industry.

10. Joel Simkhai

If you’re not familiar with Grindr or Blendr, you may be a little behind the times. You’re almost certainly not gay and dating. Even if internet hookups and dating apps are ‘not your thing,’ you would still have heard about it from everyone else. While Joel himself claims that he created Grindr for selfish reasons (to meet more gay men like himself) it certainly worked out well. So well in fact that he recently sold to a Chinese gaming company for a reported $245 million. He took the money and ran, just not very far. He still uses the app he invented, but now he does so from a 10.5 million dollar mansion overlooking LA.

11. Christopher Williams and Janice Savin Williams

Co-founders of The Williams Capital Group, the Williams do everything together. Since they both attended Tufts, and then married and went into business as a couple, we thought it would be nice to include them as a pair. Their Capital Group consistently ranks among the top underwriters in the country. In fact, the pair are so well known for their financial prowess that banks like First Republic come to them for testimonials.  Individually they each have such a laundry list of achievements we could do a pair of articles just on their careers and awards.

12. Arthur Ochs Sulzberger, Jr.

The fifth of the six Sulzbergers to be the owner and publisher of the New York Times, Arthur Ochs Sulzberger Jr. was succeeded by his son Arthur Gregg Sulzberger in 2017 when he retired. Regardless, twenty-five years is a long time to be the publisher of one of the most influential and well-known newspapers in the world. Presiding over the era when people began seriously and primarily transitioning from print to computerized media can’t have been easy. Moreover, he managed to keep the Times in business as dozens of other papers became history.

13. Wendy Selig-Prieb

Wendy self describes as the “Ultimate hyphenate,” a woman who is, “Mom, Wife, Chief Entrepreneurial Optimist, Board Member, Businesswoman, Mentor, Advocate for Women and Families, Friend, Baseball Fan.” As a result, it’s not hard to see how she achieved a spot on the list of notable Tufts alumni in business. From sports to women’s fashion, and even business mentoring, Wendy is living the dream and proving that women really can do it all.

14. Neal Shapiro

PBS and NBC are so well known, and Neal along with them, that it seems almost silly to enumerate his accomplishments in business. For anyone who might not know this, Neal is known for his record-breaking fundraising efforts. He’s won awards as a producer and worked for three decades in every type of media from print to internet. His work in sustainable business re-modeling is nothing short of inspired and helped to keep public television on the air in New Jersey.

15. Laura Lang

Time Inc. is a division of Time Warner Entertainment. Ms. Lang was a CEO there for a mere two years before she moved on to running her own Narragansett Ventures, a venture capital and investing firm. Before she ran these two incredibly successful organizations, she was Chief Executive Officer of Digitas Inc. You may not recognize the name of this parent company, but it’s the largest digital agency in the world for years.

16.Andrew and Lea Fastow

The term ‘notable’ can have more than one connotation. Andy Fastow is certainly the most notable criminal on this list. As the CFO for Enron, he landed in jail for five years.  Of course, working for a company like Enron in the first place doesn’t particularly speak well to your morals or character. How rotten do you have to be to get your own nationwide apology tour? Andrew was charged with seventy-eight counts of conspiracy, money laundering, and fraud. If this isn’t ‘notable,’ then we’re not sure what could ever qualify. His wife Lea only did a year, and she didn’t get an apology tour. She also didn’t get charged with near as much despite her inclusion on parts of his scheming. Like the Williams, they worked together so we’ll include them as a pair.

17. Jamie Dimon

When it comes to big business, Jamie Dimon absolutely makes the list. The same probably could not be said if we were ranking good intentions. The CEO of JP Morgan Chase Corporation has faced tough financial situations as a banking mogul. Not personally tough, since he makes about $31 million a year. However, he wasn’t able to answer a question about how his employees who earn $16-20/hr could survive a budget shortfall.  While he seems beyond competent to fulfill his own prophecy of a “banking golden age,” he doesn’t seem to care much about implementing the Dodd-Frank Act to protect consumers from bad loans and other knowingly-created financial pitfalls that harm huge numbers of consumers. Sadly, being a remarkable success isn’t defined by the goodness of your actions.

18. John Bello

Who hasn’t had a Sobe? Though they may have reached the pinnacle of their pop culture popularity during the mid to late 90s, the refreshing fruity drinks are still incredibly common and consumed all over the place. If you’ve ever grabbed one out of the cooler section on a hot summer day, you can thank John Bello. After all, you don’t win the Ernst and Young award for National Entrepreneur of the Year without doing some serious business.

19. Seamus Blackley

If you or anyone in your family or group of friends play video games, then Seamus Blackley had a hand in that process. As a co-creator of the Xbox, he helped to shape the modern gaming world into what it is today. It shouldn’t surprise you to learn that this genius physicist once worked with the Fermi Supercollider. His expertise in flight and physics helped bring more realism to the video game universe and create more fully immersive experiences. Though many people will sadly never know his name, every gamer everywhere has probably been touched by his work either directly or by competitors who had to keep up with his brilliant advances.

20. Pierre Morad Omidyar

We placed Pierre Omidyar in the final spot on this list for two reasons. His name deserves to be remembered, and he created something that people use worldwide every day. Pierre is an economist and philanthropist, but perhaps better known for being the founder of eBay.  He worked for competing companies Apple and Macintosh before he founded his empire. He wrote his first computer program when he was only 14 years old, so it probably wasn’t much of a surprise to those who know him that he ended up thriving in computer-based business. Now he’s on the board for his own company, but with a hefty net worth of (estimated) $12.8 Billion, he hardly needs the work. For his extraordinary contributions and because his business allows so many others to get their products to consumers, we wanted his name to be the one that we leave you to contemplate as the most notable on the list.

Final Thoughts

If you know a straight A student with a 4.0 or higher GPA, you might want to suggest that they apply to Tufts. They won’t be as far in debt as a Harvard grad even though they might get to take classes on the Harvard campus. Additionally, they probably have a fair shot at getting into business for themselves if this list is any indication. These incredible Alumni have changed the face of business and the world with their accomplishments, and we have no doubt the next generation of Tufts grads will be just as impressive. We can’t wait to see what they come up with next.


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