Alumni Distinguished Leadership Award

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Acceptance Speech

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Sam Yagan is a leading and widely-recognized serial entrepreneur or “netreprenuer” who has successfully launched, grown and sold companies in the consumer internet sector. In addition to his role as co-founder and CEO of OkCupid, he also enables budding entrepreneurs to get their start through Excelerate Labs, a leading start-up accelerator in Chicago which provides seed money and an abundance of mentoring. Yagan is a champion of disruptive innovation that “changes the game” and works by effectively addressing cost, quality and fun, and is an ardent proponent of technologies that make information free and ‘technologies for good’. Yagan is a sought-after speaker at entrepreneurial forums and is frequently interviewed by mainstream, business and technology media. As a driving force in the growing Chicagoland innovation and entrepreneurial ecosystem, Yagan is on the Board of Directors of the Chicagoland Entrepreneurial Center and serves on the boards of several start-up companies. He has been named to Billboard Magazine’s list of “Top 30 Executives Under 30,” Crain’s “Tech 25,” Silicon Alley Insider’s “Top 100”, and most recently named to Crain’s Chicago Business list of “40 Under 40.” Sam and his wife Jessica Droste Yagan ’95 are donors to the IMSA Fund and seeded the Eric McLaren Endowment for Integrative Learning and Ethical Leadership with a significant contribution to the IMSA Fund this year. They are also supporters of IMSA’s TALENT program and the IMSA-Project A.L.S Partnership, and served as IMSA’s convocation speakers in 2007. Yagan received his B.A. in Applied Mathematics from Harvard College and an M.B.A. from the Stanford Graduate School of Business.

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