Spotlight on AIM Alumni

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Hal Barr: April 6, 1964 - February 1, 2021

Hayley Cestafe, Hal's daughter shared that Hal passed away February 1, 2021 from severe complications from Covid. Hayley was able to be by his side and hold his hand. 

"Hal loved his family - both his children and his AIM family", said Patti Hefley. Jim Salners hired Hal in 1995 as a NYSE Wholesaler. "Jim was a well liked wholesaler with a strength in presenting," said Jim. "I had  Hal join Steve Gregory and myself in what we called our Speakers Bureau. He developed several unique presentations, the most popular being what he titled 80/20. He was much in demand." 

A Memorial Service will be held later this year. In lieu of flowers, the family is asking that you please consider making a donation to the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF) in Hal's memory. Here is the link

Hal is pictured with his son Keaton, who is studying at LSU, his daughter Hayley, who is practicing medicine and his son-in-law, Eddie.

Hal loved his children and his AIM family.


I was able to be there and hold his hand.

Daughter Hayley

In January 2016, we featured on the blog when he shared his new book, The First Billion's The Toughest. Hal said: "AIM was the highlight of my working career. It was a phenomenal place to work. Ted Bauer, Bob Graham and Gary Crum drove a sense of community and family. I had not experienced it before then and I have not experienced it after AIM. When the take over came through it definitely changed the whole complexion of the company. And with the passing of Ted Bauer, the change was complete," reflected Hal.

AIM was the higlight of my working career. Ted Bauer, Bob Graham and Gary Crum drove a sense of community and family

Hal Barr, 2016

His sales knowledge and experience are shared in his book, The First Billion’s The Toughest. Hal said the book was the culmination of 30 years in the profession of sales and highlights the many insights and lessons he learned. In the book he shared: "That is what sales is all about — it is making people feel comfortable with the decisions they make. If you would admit it, we are all engaged in wide varieties of activities that are in essence sales each day, be it trying to make a point during a board meeting in your workplace, or persuading our kids to heed our advice. Probably, the biggest sales proposition you will ever make is persuading someone to marry us; it is simply an attempt to sell something — love — to a person to whom you are attracted. I mean seriously, it does not get any bigger than that. To say we hate selling may be true, since we are all involved in selling each day of our lives, we could tell that understanding the Art, Science and Method of sales can help us become more successful in any endeavor we pursue."


Denise Byington: 1964-2020

We are very sad to share that Denise Byington, who worked at AIM from 1988-1993, passed away on December 5, 2020 after a courageous battle with cancer.  A private mass service was held for Denise's family on December 11. A larger celebration of her life is anticipated to be held in the summer of 2021 so that more dear friends and former colleagues may participate. 

Denise was a 1986 Finance graduate from Texas A&M, and soon after began her career with AIM where she was successful in many roles over the years, including serving as a fund accountant, manager of portfolio administration, and as an equity trader. Denise continued her career as an equity professional with J.P. Morgan Chase before retiring from the investments business after the birth of her daughter, Caroline.

Denise will be remembered for her beautiful smile and generous spirit 


Janet Luby was with AIM from 1987 -,1995 and returned to the firm in 2011 where she is still employed today. Janet was blessed to know Denise for more than 30 years. They worked together in Fund Accounting in the late 1980’s, before Denise moved to Investments and subsequently to JP Morgan. "This was such a fun and exciting time for all of us, and for AIM which was growing rapidly.  We formed very strong friendships and the “AIM girls” of which she was a part are even closer today," said Janet. 

"To say Denise was intelligent was an understatement, and she was so good at what she did," recalls Janet. "What set her apart is how she did it.  She had such a quick wit and sense of humor and could immediately see the irony or amusing side of any situation and deliver the most hilarious take on it.  These zingers were delivered in her quiet, soft spoken way which caused many a double take, then you’d see the mischief in her eyes and laugh all the harder." 

Continues Janet, "The key adjectives I’d use, however are kindness and love which she brought to everything and everyone.   She was such a wonderful person and friend.  Her faith, grace and courage through both her husband Bert’s battle with cancer and then her own were breathtaking. I’ll miss her always."


The “AIM girls” of which she was a part are even closer today

Janet Luby

Dana Sutton feels lucky to be one of the “AIM Girls”. "I was privileged to spend time with Denise in more recent years,." said Dana. "Her love of family and friends was quite evident.  The other thing that struck me quite profoundly was how intentionally she lived her life – she was very thoughtful about what she did and took opportunities to do the things that were important to her.  She was such a light – she will be greatly missed.

The other thing that struck me quite profoundly was how intentionally she lived her life

Dana Sutton

A proud Texan, Denise was intentional in her quest to be a positive impact on others, as shown by the gifts she and her family made to the Texas A&M Mays Business school for an endowed scholarship for Finance or Supply Chain Management majors, and to the Texas A&M EnMed program, a revolutionary initiative that allows medical students to simultaneously earn a Doctor of Medicine and a Master of Engineering in four years.  

Denise loved to travel and enjoyed fine art and food. She, Bert, and Caroline lived in London, England from 2009 - 2012. During this happy period, they made many lifetime friends and enjoyed the art, culture, and food of Europe. Denise completed the Camino de Santiago spiritual pilgrimage in 2018, walking 100 miles through Spain with her sister Carrie Byington and friends. 

She brought kindness and love to everything and everyone

Janet Luby


Denise is survived by her daughter Caroline Marie, her parents Al and Margot Byington, her siblings Carrie and Alan Byington and by many family members and friends in Texas and beyond, including her dear friend Jerry Mason. Denise was preceded in death by her husband Humberto Garcia.

In lieu of flowers, the family requests memorial donations be made to the MD Anderson Cancer Center for research or care related to pancreatic or lymphoma cancer, or to the Texas A&M University Engineering Medicine program.

Condolences may be left on Denise Byington’s online guest book.


Bonnie Donovan passed away following a lengthy illness on April 30, 2020. 

Bonnie worked with Mary Kay Coleman from 1994-2005, where her final position was Manager, Shareholder Relations. 

Mary Kay Coleman remembers the contributions Bonnie made to her team and the firm. "It has been said that when hiring people look for three things: integrity, intelligence, and initiative" said Mary Kay. "These qualities define Bonnie as a person and an employee. Bonnie always saw what needed to be done and got it done. She never missed a deadline. She was a superior writer and editor and an inspirational leader and supervisor. She had a quick wit and breezed through the office with a lively step and kind word for everyone she encountered along the way."

Brian Wirwicz was hired by Bonnie in 2000, and saw her and husband Gerry for lunch several months ago. "Bonnie was taking a chance on an experienced writer with no background in the financial industry when she hired me in consultation with Mary Kay Coleman," said Brian. "Bonnie’s mentorship skills, collegial leadership, insistence on excellence and good humor – especially under pressure – created an atmosphere of camaraderie and loyalty among her staff. She was an amazing woman I’m privileged to have met, worked for and learned from. I’ll remember her, and miss her, forever."

In addition to her full-time career in writing, publishing, and editing, Bonnie was married for over 50 years and has two daughters and four grandchildren.

Bonnie worked on publications for various employers, including St. Joseph Hospital and the American Productivity & Quality Center. She completed her career as an Assistant Vice President at AIM Management Company (now Invesco), where she was much admired by her associates as one of the best bosses ever.

Read the obituary.

Mike Rome loves to make things happen. As a former college football and baseball player, he knows about calling plays and the value of getting on base or carrying the ball, even if you don’t get a touchdown or a run. From looking to make a better life for their clients through wealth management, to the boards he sits on, along with his family and faith, Mike wants to make a positive difference. He feels so lucky to have had numerous mentors take time to help him get better at whatever he was doing along the way.

The culture at AIM was that we were given the latitude to make mistakes which in turn helped us get things done- Mike Rome

Mike joined Chilton Capital Management in 2016.The first very positive thing he noticed about the firm was how impressive the intellectual capital was of Chilton’s people. As CEO, he strives to provide a calming influence and a can do attitude. His role has evolved more recently into a business development orientation and he supports each teammate to lead and move the company forward.

“Being a difference maker is throwing things out there and seeing what sticks. If it sticks, it makes it easier to put things together and then good things happen,” believes Mike. “Making mistakes is part of the path to growth. The culture at AIM was that we were given the latitude to make mistakes which in turn helped us get things done because we weren’t afraid of any backlash. Those mistakes helped us get better which in turn created really good people. I work on the principle that all of us are going to make mistakes. I encourage everyone to try. Don’t hold back. Our philosophy is that we won’t judge you for making a mistake. We are going to work with you to recognize your effort and we will sit down and go at it again and again. By doing that you grow and learn so much,” said Mike. 

Being a difference maker is throwing things out there and seeing what sticks.   - Mike Rome

“They (AIM leadership) did a fantastic job building the culture from Day One,” said Mike. “It was so impressive to see that happen. It is not easy to do, and, they did it across all age groups. AIM grew so quickly, and they were able to maintain that culture of caring for each other. People thought of themselves as the AIM family. And it still carryovers today.”

Mike is passionate about his marriage of 39 years, children, friends, and career. He was committed to sharing his story of persevering through adversity and wrote a book, Mastering Your Pain: 18 Strategies to Perform Effectively Despite Your Physical Pain. The book offers practical strategies for performing well despite your physical pain such as
• Identify the strength that your weakness enables.
• Do things that produce joy.
• Educate your loved ones about what you're going through. 

I have been blessed by the fraternity of people with whom I worked- Mike Rome

Throughout his career, Mike has been blessed by the fraternity of people with whom he has worked. “It is so healthy and wonderful to get back in touch with the people you know, trusted and worked with,” shares Mike. “It is fun to be doing most of my current work in Houston, helping people I know. I really enjoy it.”

Donna Anderson

Barron's named AIM alumnus Donna Anderson, Head of Corporate Governance, T. Rowe Price, as one of the 100 Most Influential Women in U.S. Finance.

The 100 women on the list were chosen based on their accomplishments and leadership within their organization, influence within their sector, and the capacity to shape their business or the industry in the future. Donna explains that in her role, “We have over a trillion dollars in assets under management, and we are often a top five shareholder. Through our voting and our dialog we can influence corporate behaviour.” Barron’s decision to recognize and honor influential women in finance comes at a time when business institutions themselves have begun to realize that their long-term competitiveness, and the health of the capital markets, require remediating the industry’s gender gap.

Polly was inclusive, supportive and she let me design my own role. - Donna Anderson

Donna joined AIM in 1998. “Polly Ahrendts had the greatest impact on my career at that stage,” said Donna. “She was director of research and I reported to her for half of my time at the firm. She was inclusive, supportive and she let me design my own role. I designed my corporate governance role for proxy voting, running the proxy committee for the AIM/INVESCO funds group.”

"I am honored to have played a small role in jump starting Donna’s career, and I am so proud of her accomplishments," shared Polly. "When Gary Crum told me about Donna, I interviewed her and not only recognized her smarts, but perhaps more importantly her resilience, grit and initiative. I followed Ted Bauer’s creed: Always hire people smarter than yourself, set the framework, and turn them loose with support and resources. That’s what he and Gary and Bob did for me when they hired me to set up the money market credit research at AIM in 1984. The ripple effects are amazing."

When Polly retired, Donna assumed her role. After the financial crisis corporate governance issues were more front and center. T. Rowe Price created a full-time position and recruited Donna in 2007. 

AIM had quite a bit of female leadership which was unusual at that time- Donna Anderson

Prior to joining AIM, Donna had a variety of interesting jobs including working at a newspaper, at the State Department and then before joining AIM, she went to business school. In addition to interesting jobs, she had the unique experience of reporting to women. “My current role is the first time I’ve reported to a man in my whole career, apart from a couple of short interim periods,” said Donna.

There is no greater reward than for me to see Donna take the baton and do so much more to advance diversity and inclusion in the workplace. - Polly Ahrendts

Companies with one diverse board member saw a 44% increase in their share price, on average, within a year of going public, according to Goldman research, while those with no board diversity had only a 13% increase. Board diversity is part of Donna’s wheelhouse. “While diversity is growing slowly, absolutely non diverse boards are shrinking fast,” shares Donna. “When we started our policy to vote against non diverse boards in 2017 there were 300 companies in our portfolios lacking diversity and now there are fewer than 80."

Learning of Barron's inaugural list of Top Women in U.S. Finance, Polly was thrilled. "These are issues that are close to my heart, and Dona is a woman that I care about and respect," said Polly. "There is no greater reward than for me to see Donna take the baton and do so much more to advance diversity and inclusion in the workplace and at the highest levels in finance and commerce."

Led by Donna, T. Rowe Price is also taking a vocal stance on dual class shares; a controlling shareholder with two classes of stock, like Facebook for example. “We engage with companies and advocate for a time limit on those kinds of structures,” said Donna.

With responsibility for global coverage and covering the entire portfolio, Donna finds there is always something going on.

Says Alison Mass, one of Barron's honorees, who chairs Goldman’s investment-banking division: “This is a business imperative, not diversity for diversity’s sake....This isn’t just about women. It’s about diversity of thought, of background, of ethnicity, of gender....We’re at a moment where people recognize the business imperative of diverse thinking.”

What a celebration to have one of our own recognized on Barron's list.

Thank you to Donna for making time for this interview and sharing pictures from a hike with Polly and a shower where Donna is pictured wearing a hilarious hat.