The University of Nebraska–Lincoln College of Business and the Chancellor’s Commission for the Status of Color invited three notable business alumni back to campus for Homecoming. Recognized as distinguished alumni by the university, the trio — Aakriti Agrawal, '16 & '22 from Phoenix; Ivan Gilreath, '82 from Scottsdale, Arizona; and Josiah Hood, '15 from Chicago — shared their experiences with students, faculty and staff at Howard L. Hawks Hall.
Aakriti Agrawal, '16 & '22
A self-proclaimed data and financial services nerd, Agrawal is the manager of data governance and management at American Express in Phoenix. She helps internal departments manage data effectively at the publicly traded Fortune 100 global company.
Agrawal first came to Nebraska from India for her bachelor's degree in actuarial science and finance. While working for Ameritas in data governance, she also earned a Master of Business Administration degree from Nebraska. During her weekends, she taught herself to be a computer programmer and co-founded a grassroots nonprofit, Girls Code Lincoln, in Lincoln, Nebraska, to ignite passion for technology and leadership in young girls with the long-term goal of closing the gender gap in S.T.E.M. The 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization teaches girls ages fourth to ninth grades about technology through creativity, community, collaboration and confidence.
“I'm currently in the process of starting my second nonprofit — The Nonprofiting Org — which provides support for nonprofit founders,” said Agrawal, who was nominated for the Forbes 30 Under 30 List for social impact. “My time at Nebraska taught me to step outside of my comfort zone. There were a lot of opportunities that I never expected to lead to anything, but they did — so I learned early that I should try different things and see where they take me.”
Ivan Gilreath, '82
A proven corporate executive completing a successful tenure leading and growing a multimillion-dollar nonprofit, Gilreath serves as president and CEO of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Scottsdale. Prior to that role, he was president and CEO of Boys and Girls Clubs of the Midlands where his responsibilities included overseeing an annual budget of more than $9 million. He also successfully led a $25 million capital campaign to grow the number of clubs from eight to 14 and established multiple partnerships, including three major school districts and the Omaha Police Department. He also held executive positions with ING and Mutual of Omaha.
Born in Omaha, Nebraska, the first-generation college student followed his brother to Nebraska and earned his bachelor’s degree in marketing. He later graduated with an MBA from the University of Nebraska at Omaha and received a group exercise leadership certification from Harvard Kennedy School Executive Education.
“The speech communications course at Nebraska served me well, as I had a deep fear of public speaking. That class helped me so much in my career, and the principles of marketing class sent me down the path to finding my major. The upper-level marketing courses on consumer behavior really hooked me, and Sanford Grossbart (professor emeritus of marketing) was very instrumental in me learning to love and pursue marketing,” Gilreath said.
Josiah Hood, '15
As a portfolio manager at Covenant Trust, Hood manages multi-asset portfolios for high-net-worth clients. A Chartered Financial Analyst® charterholder, he has eight years of experience in portfolio management working with leading firms such as BMO Global Asset Management and Seafarer Capital Partners.
Born in Okinawa, Japan, Hood grew up in Bellevue, Nebraska. He started at Nebraska as a computer science major and found his way to finance because it's “a path where you're rewarded for intellectual curiosity.” A Jackie Robinson Foundation (JRF) Scholar, he was one of 42 scholars throughout the nation selected during the 42nd year of the program — significant as Robinson's professional baseball number was 42. Hood later earned an MBA from the University of Chicago Booth School of Business, specializing in finance, strategic management and entrepreneurship, and also started Testament, an estate planning platform that partners with nonprofits to help them engage in planned giving conversations with their donors.
“At Nebraska, Mark Davis (an academic advisor) allowed me to be a student ambassador for the college. He was instrumental in making sure that I knew about the many opportunities and resources at the university," Hood said. “While involved in Students Today Leaders Forever, an alternative spring break organization that drove home the importance of civic leadership and community involvement and led two service trips to Washington, D.C., and Tempe, Arizona. Today, I give back by mentoring the next generation of leaders with Big Shoulders Fund and Chicago Scholars.”
Published: November 6, 2023