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Spotlight on AIM Alumni

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Steve Thune

May 5, 1958 - January 30, 2024

SThune

Steve “Tuna” Thune recently passed away after a long and courageous battle with cancer. Steve joined AIM in 1996 as a Regional Sales Director covering Financial Institutions located on the West Coast. He was a consummate sales professional, an invaluable asset to our team, and was loved and respected by his colleagues and clients. Steve was also the recipient of the esteemed Carl Stevens Victor Award which was voted on by his peers. Victor = Versatility / Integrity / Consistency / Tenacity /Organization / Respect

Beyond his professional achievements, Steve was known for his kindness, compassion, and generosity. He had a genuine concern for the well-being of others and touched thelives of everyone he encountered. His warmth and sincerity created a strong bondwithin our sales organization, making him not just a colleague, but a friend to all.

Steve is survived by his life partner, Denise Nakamura, and his brother and sister who reside in Vienna, Virginia. Denise spent the past 23 years at Putnam Investments as a Senior Regional Consultant. Steve and Denise met at an industry conference in Santa Barbara over two decades ago and built a wonderful life together in the South Bay area.

There will be a celebration of Steve’s life on Saturday July 13th in Manhattan Beach, CA.
It will be a great way to share stories and reflect on many wonderful memories.
Please contact Mike Vessels for additional information.
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. / 203.803.9071 cell

"Steve was a whole lot of fun," remembers Janice. "You never saw him without a smile on his face. He was a good sport as well. Long ago, at a FNIC conference, we were required to do a “skit” and so John Frame, Janelle Herzog , Steve and I  did a skit from “The Beverly Hillbillies”. Steve played Jethro to Janelles’ Ellie Mae. It was a performance we were all happy to forget! I had the great fortune to see Steve on a regular basis after he left AIM as he would travel in his management role with his American Century Wholesaler in the SF area and our paths would cross at various offices and conferences. A kinder person or more free of a spirit you would never know. His love for Denise inspired him everyday. Rest In Peace my friend."

 

 
 

We hope you made it to Kirby Ice House! Thank you everyone who joined the fun. Log on and click on Photo Gallery to see all the great pictures. It is always a treat when alumni from outside of Houston join the happy hour. This year, Beth Brown came from Washington. 

The happy hour was a smash! Truly familyBarrett Sides

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The Institutional Group really showed up!Patti Hefley

Thank you to Bryan Johnson, Obsidion Media for taking pictures.

 Michael J. "Mike" Cemo, 78, of Houston Texas, passed away on December 25, 2023. He is survived by his wife, Rebecca and children, Stephanie and Jason.

Mike joined AIM in 1988 and retired in 2004. During Mike's life, he made significant contributions. His larger than life personality impacted so many people, and he brought his passion, energy, sense of humor and fun to everything he did, impacting people and organizations, including his community, AIM and his alma mater.

"Mike’s legacy is indeed large," said Bob Graham. "He certainly was a major factor in AIM’s success. In fact, I kind of divide AIM’s history from its founding to it’s merger with Invesco into two eras – the pre-Mike Cemo era and the Mike Cemo era. Certainly AIM had established a reputation in the institutional money market fund in the pre-MC era, but it was the acquisition of some excellent equity funds in 1986 and Mike’s joining AIM that took AIM to a whole new level. Mike knew what it took to successfully market retail funds through brokers and advisors and built AIM into a marketing powerhouse. Mike was full of energy and that energy infected the whole company."

"Plus Mike was a lot of fun. He was one of the funniest people most of us had ever met. He would keep us in stitches with his stories, including many on himself, such as during his band days. I especially enjoyed the times I got to travel with Mike on road shows or board meetings or sales events, etc. He would always keep everybody thoroughly entertained."

Mike's joining AIM took AIM to a whole new level

Bob Graham

 

The award represented the sum total of all of AIM’s hard work for the 90’s…..most likely to not be replicated in something as volatile as the financial markets

Gary Crum

Baron's recap of the 90's represented the culmination of all parts of AIM’s teamwork..from Cemo’s sales efforts to our investor services and our various investment teams

Gary Crum

"There are so many stories about Mike that it is hard to pick out just one or two. One thing that sticks in my mind though is what I believe was the first time I met Mike. We had recently acquired the Charter, Constellation and Weingarten Funds and Ted had asked Mike to have lunch with him, Gary and me, so that he could give us some advice on how to market the funds. I remember we had lunch across the street at Tony’s (it could have been Maxim’s at the time) and Mike was very gracious about giving us retail fund amateurs (at the time) some helpful advice. Little did any of us know at the time Mike would end up at AIM with us."

Mike would keep us in stitches with his stories

Bob Graham

Dawn Hawley had the pleasure of working with Mike from his first days at AIM in 1988 through his retirement and thereafter on the Cougar Investment Fund at the C. T. Bauer College of Business, through 2019. "Our phone conversation in October 2023 was to remind him he needed to be ready for the next AIM Alumni gathering," said Dawn. "As always, he was upbeat and said he was working on it - with that lilt in his voice that always made you smile."


A favorite memory of Dawn's is from Mike's 44th birthday. "The day before his birthday, we had one of our graphic arts experts enlarge a picture of Mike's face" remembers Dawn. "We made copies and passed it around to everyone on the floor to make their own personal "Mike Cemo" masks. When Mike walked onto the floor that morning there was a sea of Mike Cemo's looking back at him - everyone participated - Mike Cemo everywhere you looked! Can you imagine that - Mike loved it and could not believe what we had done - and of course, we did it because we all loved Mike! Although we had many Mike Cemo's that day Mike was one in a million who will be missed."

A number of tributes are shared on the AIM Funds Facebook page. The University of Houston C.T. Bauer College of Business commemorated Mike and the story about Mike from fall 2007 is a heartwarming walk down memory lane.

Mike had a lilt in his voice that always made you smile

Dawn Hawley

Simon Hoyle shared that the service was beautiful. "As many of you know, Mike was an alumnus and HUGE supporter of UofH," wrote Simon. "Their academic representatives expressed genuine gratitude for his contributions. He's made an impact that will live on for a long time-through the lives of others. A feat few people may think to do, and far fewer accomplish. We heard stories from his high school/ college buddies- including amusing ones related to his days in his band, and his love for fast cars.

Patti Terrill Hefley and Jim Salners shared heartwarming and entertaining stories. Jim recognized AIM for being an environment well beyond the walls of a mutual fund company. We started (and continue!) to be a closely knit community that is family of another kind. Think about that. Most people never work for a company that turns into that experience. Jim nailed it by alluding to the fact the care factor went as far as setting up an FB page for us to stay connected. Mother AIM I guess you could say. Jim was great and shared his personal story about AIM, how he got there and what it meant to him, and Patti shared a number of funny stories and some personal ones, too. So glad they were there representing us. Two of the best."

Mike was one of our biggest gifts, and we had many

Simon Hoyle

Patti was Mike's assistant at American Capital and when Mike moved to AIM, she followed two weeks later. "Mike was brilliant, funny, fearless, dynamic, a marketing genius, a philanthropist and friend," said Patti. "I always knew that our connection was more than “boss /assistant”. The Cemo family treated me as one of their own. He made work fun – when he got a new idea in his head, his energy was off the charts. How could we not get excited too? When he retired in December 2003, I decided it was time for me to retire as well. I stayed an additional six months and retired in June, 2004. I spent a few hours with him and Becky the week before he passed and I will always be thankful for that gift. I’ve always said that I had the best seat in the house – right between Cemo and Salners!"

I've always said I had the best seat in the house - right between Cemo and Salners! 

Patti Hefley

Andy Beal shared a picture of Mike Cemo rockin' it out at Bachelor's Gulch in Vail.

Patrick Fleming shared that Mike was one of the first people I met when I joined AIM in 1991. He had an employee party at his beach house and he took the time to talk to me, a part timer who worked in the mail room. He was a very kind and generous man.

Jim Salners wrote on Facebook that Mike Cemo was the leader of a rather talented group of salespeople at AIM and their in-house support. "He was the epitome of the phrase “he’s forgotten more about mutual funds than most people ever knew”. I was lucky to call him, boss. He lead our sales team at AIM for a decade and a half, that saw AIM become the “Vortex of Mutual Fund Money”. Mike was tough but extremely fair. He ran a very tight ship but rewarded excellence. There are many, many of us who worked for him, whose lives and families were changed forever. Thank you, Boss."

Greg Stock shared that there would not have been the growth and friendships at AIM without Mike. "He treated everyone at all levels and departments with the upmost respect," said Greg. "You add in his friendships with everyone and his good heart and you know why AIM had its growth for decades!!!Great Man with passion and respect.  RIP Mr. Cemo! Your are already missed by so many of us from AIM!!!"

Lanny Sachnowitz shared that Mike was instrumental in taking AIM to another level of growth and accolades, and he was so proud of and left a wonderful legacy at the University of Houston. My sincere condolences to his family and friends.

Mike was a graduate of St. Thomas High School and earned his degree in economics from the University of Houston in 1968. During his professional career, he spent 18 years as Senior Vice President of Marketing at American Capital Management, followed by 15 years as President and Chief Executive Officer of AIM Distributors, Inc., the retail-marketing arm of AIM Management Group Inc., as well as a director of AMVESCAP PLC. In 1996, Mike received the distinguished national honor in the mutual fund industry of being named Marketer of the Year by the Financial Times.

In honoring Mike’s legacy, we not only celebrate his achievements but the enduring positive impact he made as well.

UH System Chancellor Renu Khator

Outside of his career, Mike had an extreme passion for his alma mater, the University of Houston. He felt it was important that the city of Houston have a top-tier business school to offer its students. With that said, he was instrumental in laying the groundwork that would become the C. T. Bauer College of Business. For those efforts, in 2001 he was appointed by Governor Rick Perry to the UH System Board of Regents where he served from 2002 – 2008 and was Vice Chairman of the Board for two years.

In 2002, he was named a Distinguished Alumnus of the Bauer College of Business.

During Mike's life, he made significant contributions to his community. Those contributions include board memberships in the C. T. Bauer College of Business, Founder of the Cougar Fund, University of Houston Foundation, Houston Museum of Natural Science, the Society of the Performing Arts, the Association for Community Television, Houston House Foundation, MD Anderson Cancer Center, the Houston Center for Photography, and the Ronald McDonald House-Houston. In 2000, he and his wife Rebecca founded the Michael and Rebecca Cemo Foundation donating to causes promoting higher education and aid to veterans affairs, local food insecurities and animal welfare.

In his early years, Mike was a member of two bands, The Jim Askins Combo, started at St. Thomas High School and the Sixpentz, which produced six records, one reaching the Billboard 100. Mike's probably the only University of Houston regent to ever crack the Billboard Top 100. He always said, "I did it to get girls."

Mike was a proud man, but never boastful, an incredible storyteller and visionary. He was also a fisherman and outstanding photographer. He was charismatic, with a generous and infectious energy that would command and light up any room. The contributions he leaves behind will be his legacy. He was loved by many and will be missed immensely.

A memorial service and reception was held at the University of Houston - AD Bruce Chapel on Thursday, January 11.  In lieu of flowers, please donate to either the University of Houston Athletics or the C.T. Bauer College of Business. University of Houston System, Gift Processing and Records, PO Box 867, Houston, Texas 77001.

To plant trees in memory, please visit the Sympathy Store.

 

Michael J. "Mike" Cemo, 78, of Houston Texas, passed away on December 25, 2023. He is survived by his wife, Rebecca and children, Stephanie and Jason.

Mike was a graduate of St. Thomas High School and earned his degree in economics from the University of Houston in 1968. During his professional career, he spent 18 years as Senior Vice President of Marketing at American Capital Management, followed by 15 years as President and Chief Executive Officer of AIM Distributors, Inc., the retail-marketing arm of AIM Management Group Inc., as well as a director of AMVESCAP PLC. In 1996, Mike received the distinguished national honor in the mutual fund industry of being named Marketer of the Year by the Financial Times.

Outside of his career, Mike had an extreme passion for his alma mater, the University of Houston. He felt it was important that the city of Houston have a top-tier business school to offer its students. With that said, he was instrumental in laying the groundwork that would become the C. T. Bauer College of Business. For those efforts, in 2001 he was appointed by Governor Rick Perry to the UH System Board of Regents where he served from 2002 – 2008 and was Vice Chairman of the Board for two years. In 2002, he was named a Distinguished Alumnus of the Bauer College of Business.

During Mike's life, he made significant contributions to his community. Those contributions include board memberships in the C. T. Bauer College of Business, Founder of the Cougar Fund, University of Houston Foundation, Houston Museum of Natural Science, the Society of the Performing Arts, the Association for Community Television, Houston House Foundation, MD Anderson Cancer Center, the Houston Center for Photography, and the Ronald McDonald House-Houston. In 2000, he and his wife Rebecca founded the Michael and Rebecca Cemo Foundation donating to causes promoting higher education and aid to veterans affairs, local food insecurities and animal welfare.

In his early years, Mike was a member of two bands, The Jim Askins Combo, started at St. Thomas High School and the Sixpentz, which produced six records, one reaching the Billboard 100. Mike's probably the only University of Houston regent to ever crack the Billboard Top 100. He always said, "I did it to get girls."

Mike was a proud man, but never boastful, an incredible storyteller and visionary. He was also a fisherman and outstanding photographer. He was charismatic, with a generous and infectious energy that would command and light up any room. The contributions he leaves behind will be his legacy. He was loved by many and will be missed immensely.

A memorial service will be held at the University of Houston - AD Bruce Chapel on Thursday, January 11th at 1:00PM. There will be a reception to follow at the Cougar Club inside TDECU Stadium. Kindly, park at the TDECU stadium at 3700 Cullen Blvd. in lot 12A and walk over to the chapel. In lieu of flowers, please donate to either the University of Houston Athletics or the C.T. Bauer College of Business. University of Houston System, Gift Processing and Records, PO Box 867, Houston, Texas 77001.

To plant trees in memory, please visit the Sympathy Store.

Hello. My name is Mandy Stein and I am the founder of Neema International, a nonprofit organization in Tanzania committed to breaking down the cycle of poverty through grassroots education-based projects that synergize environmental and economic sustainability with creative learning and community engagement. 

Making Education a Right, Not a Privilege

In Tanzania, Neema is working to make education a right and not a privilege. The mission is to create happy, healthy, well-rounded children who will go on to become successful and productive members of society— leading their country to a better and brighter tomorrow. The school that Neema founded, Uru Community Pre and Primary School is the first step to dismantling the crushing cycle of poverty so many children here are born into. Here is a video that clearly explains the barriers to educational success for children in Tanzania and what Neema international has done to be a part of the solution.  Click here to watch the video

The School Neema founded is the first step to dimnaltling the crushing cycle of poverty

Mandy Stein

As our school is only a pre and primary school, Neema International’s Education Sponsorship Program continues to sponsor these students to attend various high quality private schools in Tanzania for secondary school, high school, and through to the completion of their university studies. Neema has graduated 20 students who are now gainfully employed and living life to their fullest potential. From Uru Community Pre and Primary School to our Digitruck and sponsorship program, the range of learning opportunities are growing everyday at Neema! This video shares the resilience of Uru students persevering to learn and graduate, and continue to higher education and gainful employment. 

The AIM community has been unbelievably generous and supportive of Neema

Mandy Stein

The majority of our funding comes from private individual donors in the United States and Canada. Every time you donate to Neema, a deserving child is able to envision a future of health, happiness and independence. 

Ways to Support Neema International

100% of all donations go directly to our projects in Tanzania and are fully tax deductible in the United States and Canada. Read the Neema International Gift Giving Instructions make donations directly on our websitesponsor  a child and last but not least, here is an itinerary that I personally put together for individuals to come and visit Tanzania and see our projects next summer. If you are interested, but the dates do not work for you, please let me know as we have other tentative dates! 

Even as a young girl, I knew that I was destined for a life of service. I wanted to help empower others, provide opportunities for people in need and to use my privilege for good. I believe in treating others the way that you want to be treated, and I try my best each and everyday to embody this philosophy.

Following my second year of university, I had the opportunity to travel to Tanzania for a volunteer abroad trip. After one short week in the country, I met a group of children in a remote village who changed the course of my entire life. It was on that day in June of 2011 that the dream of Neema International was born. Following graduation I moved into a home in that same Tanzanian village, located at the foothills of Mt. Kilimanjaro, where I still live with my adopted son Baraka and our four rescue dogs.

Neema grew tremendously over the next few years, opening its own school and residential facility for orphaned and/or vulnerable children in the village of Uru. The complex issues surrounding access to education and overall development in the community led me to pursue a Master’s Degree in Education from Harvard University. Following graduation, I returned to Tanzania more determined than ever to see Neema’s mission through. 

Neema has graduated 20 students

Mandy Stein

Today, Neema International is going strong with four education-based projects that support over 250 children and young adults, and provide jobs for over 60 Tanzanian men and women. For us, this is not a charitable endeavour, but an investment that has the potential to bring a thousand-fold return in lives empowered for generations to come. I sincerely hope you will join us on this incredible journey in creating a brighter future for Tanzania’s promising youth.” 

Here is a LINK  to our organizational profile that fully explains the work that we do, the dire situation surrounding education in Tanzania, and how you can help make a sustainable difference. 

Your help makes a sustainable difference

Mandy Stein

Thank you all for your endless love and generosity. We wish you and your families a healthy and happy holiday season and a wonderful 2024. Sending all our love from Tanzania!!

 

Love always, 

Mandy Stein