We had an awesome turnout at the annual Oregon Executive MBA spring open house on Tuesday, April 24. This year’s event was not only an opportunity to appreciate all our amazing alumni, but also to highlight one in particular who had a positive impact on every individual, community, and organization he came into contact with. The cofounder and CEO of AWS Elemental, Sam Blackman, MBA '08, died unexpecedly last year. At the open house, we honored him in a way that stayed true to his legacy by paying it forward and passing along valuable lessons about what made him a phenomenal leader.
The evening included a panel discussion featuring Blackman's peers, classmates, faculty member Ed Warnock, and a mentor and early investor who shed a light onto Blackman's distinctive brand of leadership, his inspiring personality, and the lessons he left us.
Diane Fraiman, partner at Portland-based venture firm Voyager Capital and early Elemental investor, described Blackman's unwavering confidence and foresight. Jocelyn Bourgault, a member of Blackman's study team at the Oregon Executive MBA, described his sense of humor and compassion. Elemental CMO Keith Wymbs shared stories about Blackman's obsessive pursuit of the thriftiest possible travel options. Wymbs speculated that Blackman was motivated by the thrill of the hunt for the least expensive options, as well as his frugal nature and willingness to sacrifice for the good of his company and team.
One of the biggest takeaways from the evening was Blackman's passion for and commitment to giving back to the Portland community. In fact, a run and walk event founded by AWS Elemental—the 4K 4Charity—will take place on August 29, 2018. This year's date was selected to honor the one-year anniversary of Blackman's death. All proceeds from the race's registration and t-shirt sales will benefit Rosemary Anderson High School and KairosPDX. Two additional 4K 4Charity races are held in Las Vegas and Amsterdam, coinciding with major technology conferences.
The opportunity to learn more about Sam Blackman made this year's open house truly an evening to remember. The members of the Oregon Executive MBA alumni board would like to thank everyone who made it possible, especially the Blackman family who allowed us to share his story.
—Jessica Kingrey, MBA '15, President, Oregon Executive MBA Alumni Board
Register for the 4K 4Charity race View open house photos