Spotlight on AIM Alumni

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Sheri Morris shared on the AIM Alumni website that Kamellia Ishak passed away April 30. Kamelia holds the distinction of having been at the firm longer than anyone else, including the founders. She began her career at AIM over 35 years ago as one of the first fund accountants. Kamellia was an integral part of the foundation of the fund administration team. Her kindness and warmth which she so freely shared with all will be greatly missed.

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After receiving a call into ministry, Tamla Wilson Groce was licensed in 2007. “In addition to being called to ministry, I felt strongly that God was calling me to attend seminary. At the time, I was head of business development for an institutional money management firm and my travel schedule was crazy. This presented a complication not only to attending seminary but I married in 2007 as well and my husband and I wanted to have a baby. Though I knew it would be a challenge I moved forward with both. Two years later, school was going well but our quest for a baby was not,” shares Tamla.

Tamla sometimes found working in finance like living on another planet. “The majority of people that you speak with have no idea about the intricacies of the industry. Walking away to focus on ministry was bitter sweet. I experienced financial benefits that are not normally experienced when one is in ministry and, as a sales and marketing person, I loved the relationships I established. Yet the peace of mind that I have and the joy of actually working in my calling are priceless. As a result, I feel compelled to encourage others to pursue their passion and move from passion to purpose,” said Tamla.

Similar to others who worked at AIM, Tamla has a variety of fond memories that include experiencing and being a part of the creativity of marketing the AIM products. “The relationships that I forged while there continue on to this day as well as my appreciation for a good glass of wine. The department dinner and the Fly-ins will always be remembered although they are like Las Vegas - what happens there stays there,” Tamla said.

Tamla is a licensed minister, wife late in life, mother of two against all odds, writer, inspirational speaker, friend and faith walker. Tamla offers a weekly blog via her website and you can follow her on Twitter @RevTamla. “As the mother of two miracle babies, I founded a fertility ministry at my church called The Waiting Room. Finishing up my Masters of Arts in Theology and Ministry at Fuller Theological Seminary this summer, I am excited to see where God will use me next,” says Tamla.



Gene Needles, AIM Alumnus and chief executive of American Beacon was quoted in the WSJ May 1. The article focused on small investors willing to commit part of their savings to less-developed countries with fast-growing economies and the potential for big returns.

Some wealth advisers argue that small investors may be better served putting their retirement savings into more-transparent investments. Even American Beacon advises that its new fund is only appropriate for long-term investors and that the fund shouldn't make up the majority of a portfolio.

"The frontier markets have done well," said Gene Needles, chief executive of American Beacon. "This is something to add to your portfolio that over time will have attractive returns," he added.

Many frontier-market bonds last year outperformed emerging-market stocks and bonds and beat returns handed to bond investors in the U.S. and Japan. The reason: risk.

Read a pdf of the article.


Note: Margaret Vinson has secured a new and exciting position as a real estate agent working for Martha Turner | Sotheby's International Realty.  'I have always been passionate about real estate and given the exciting Houston market, it's a great opportunity to follow my passion, says Margaret.  The marketing, financial and professional talents I gained in financial services are a huge asset for my new career in real estate. So if you know of anyone buying or selling, please send them my way!

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Margaret Vinson is looking for her next career opportunity and appreciates the support many AIM alumni have provided. "I am looking for an opportunity where my 24 years of experience, primarily in marketing and sales optimization, will be of value. I am flexible in terms of the capacity in which I add value to an organization (employee/contract/consultant; full-time/part-time). I welcome any tips, suggestions or referrals!"

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Margaret would love to thank the AIM Alumni. "I have been overwhelmed with gratitude for AIM alumni. So many have been generous with their time and willing to help in so many different ways as I seek my next opportunity. It has truly been an awesome experience and I feel blessed and proud to be a part of the AIM Alumni family," said Margaret.

doug odellDoug O’Dell joined AIM on February 1, 1988 at the same time as his co-worker at his previous company, Buzz Parker. Forrest Pragoff was the National Sales Manager and Doug’s first territory was the Upper Midwest and part of the Eastern States; over time this became the Mid-Atlantic States based in Philadelphia.

Alongside his career at AIM Doug O'Dell simultaneously pursued a career in the Marine Corps Reserve with the complete support of Ted Bauer, himself a former Naval Reserve officer, Mike Cemo, and Jim Salners.

Doug tells us: “In 2000, after having been appointed to the rank of Brigadier General in June, 1999, I realized that I could not equitably keep both my AIM responsibilities in balance with my Marine Corps assignments, and decided to retire from the firm.

I did so on 10 September 2001”. Sherrie English remembers “Gene Needles got up in a meeting and said we would all be safe because Doug O’Dell was going to be in charge of security.”

Doug was recalled to active duty the very next afternoon following the attacks of 9/11. Sherrie English shares her memory of that day. “Margaret Vinson was giving a presentation and David Barnard walked in and announced what was happening. Pat Heffner covered NJ and was sitting behind me. I heard him say, “My brother-in-law works in that building.” Margaret finished her presentation. I remain floored to this day that she finished. She was so composed and wonderful. We learned later that Pat’s brother-in-law was safe.”

Margaret Vinson also remembers the day well. "I was delivering an e-Business related presentation to the sales force.  At the time, I don't think anyone comprehended exactly what was going on so I was instructed to finish the presentation.  Shortly after my presentation, everyone moved to the hotel foyer where TVs had been placed. We all watched in shock and horror as the magnitude of the events sunk into our hearts and minds", said Margaret.

Sherry recalls that the rest of the meeting was cancelled and everyone was sent home. “The only problem,” said Sherrie “is the entire sales force was in from all over the country and the airports were all shut down, so no one could fly home. People shared rental cars; they carpooled with others and even rented U-Haul trucks. I heard one person bought a used car in order to get home.”

Doug continued in active service as the Commanding General of the 4th Marine Expeditionary Brigade (Anti-Terrorism) from September 2001 until September 2004 and then as Commanding General, 4th Marine Division until his retirement from uniformed service in May 2007. During the latter assignment he also served as Commander, Marine Forces Katrina/Rita during rescue and recovery operations in Louisiana and Mississippi.

Pursuant to this, President Bush appointed Doug as Federal Coordinator for Gulf Coast Rebuilding during the final year of his administration.

Since January of 2009, Doug has been involved in a number of activities as a consultant related to disaster relief on the Gulf Coast and Haiti. He is also the Trustee for three Afghan companies: the largest water bottling plant in Central Asia, one of the largest trucking companies in Afghanistan, and a vertical construction company.

Doug owns and operates an historic inn, the Imperial Hotel in Chestertown, Maryland and tries to keep his fat out of the fire in real estate development. He also sits on the board of a for profit company and, formerly his alma mater, the Hill School in Pottstown, Pennsylvania. He now serves on the board of the Apprenticeshops in Maine, the oldest traditional boat building school in the country

“My wife Judy remains very busy. Having completed a five year stint in senior leadership at the Finacial Accounting Standards Board and the Audit Chair at GAO, she now devotes her professional time to business valuations and expert witness work. Our five sons have so far produced (with their wonderful wives) 10 grandchildren and have very successful careers as follows”

Trip, in Montclair, NJ, is a senior designer for, an Amazon subsidiary. He was recently awarded a Gates Foundation Prize for innovation

Al, in Malvern, PA, is the CEO of a large medical practice in Philly, but also consults on aero-space and space flight topics.

Andy, in Lower Gwynedd, PA is the co-founder and CMO of Clutch, an app design firm in Philly. His firm just won a top national award, ‘’The Gotta Have App”

Paul in Flourtown, PA, is a senior sound engineer (and five-time Emmy Award winner) at NFL Films

Tom has hosted his own show on the Food Network. His new restaurant near Twitter headquarters opens this month in San Francisco

Doug and Judy divide their time between their family farm in Laporte, Pennsylvania and Rockport, Maine where they regularly run into Texans who know Mike Cemo.

The couple’s hobbies run the gamut of sports...sailing, golf, and hiking, as well as heavy involvement in the photographic arts community. She is the board chair of Maine Media Workshops, one of the most highly regarded photo and film schools in the world

Doug says: “I still am rabid about the Philadelphia Phillies Eagles and Notre Dame football...I love to watch movies from the Golden Age of film with a Jack Daniels at hand!”