Homecoming Grand Marshals honored for contributions to university

The Grand Marshals are the tri-chairs of the new campaign Mizzou: Our Time to Lead.
Portrait of Homecoming Grand Marshal Catherine Allen. Courtesy of the MU Alumni Association

Each year, MU honors distinguished alumni to serve as the Homecoming Grand Marshals. This year, the university will kick off the Mizzou: Our Time to Lead fundraising campaign during Homecoming. It is the largest fundraising campaign ever at MU, according to a News Bureau press release. Tri-chairs of the campaign Catherine Allen, José Gutiérrez and Richard Miller are the honored Grand Marshals.

Catherine Allen Chairman and CEO of The Santa Fe Group

As chairwoman and CEO of The Santa Fe Group, Catherine Allen is a leader in technology strategy, financial services, business innovation and breaking gender barriers.

“When I started at the university, there weren’t many women in business, and I knew (attending MU) was a way that I could be in business: by taking classes in the journalism school and in the business school,” Allen said.

Hailing from the small town of Perry, Allen was in Pi Beta Phi and chose MU because it was a place where she wouldn’t face discrimination as a woman getting an education.

“There was a time when smart women (were not as rewarded as they are now),” Allen said. “You had limitations on what careers you could go into.”

Allen established The Santa Fe Group in 1996, which became a strategic partner to BITS, a company she founded and served as the CEO of until 2007.

Allen served in several senior executive positions throughout her career. She was the director of corporate planning for Dun and Bradstreet. There, she created the Electronic Yellow Pages Association. She was also a consultant to CBS, Inc. on new technologies and international trade. She served in several positions at Citicorp in the retail, bankcards and corporate Technology divisions. She was the founding chair and president of the multi-industry Smart Card Forum for Citibank.

She credits her time as a Tiger for her success in technology and business.

“(MU) is a first-rate, world-class university; it enhances your reputation as well as (your) educational background,” Allen said.

Allen has appeared on television several times including CNN, ABC’s “Good Morning America,” CBS’ “This Morning” and “Eye on America,” MSNBC, NBC News and NBC’s “Dateline” and PBS’ “Nightly Business News.”

Allen served on President Barack Obama’s New Mexico Finance Committee and the New Mexico State Investment Council. She also sits on the boards of several corporations.

She was given a Lifetime Achievement Award twice: once by U.S. Banker Magazine and again by the Executive Women’s Forum.

Not only did she graduate from MU with a bachelor’s degree, but also received an honorary doctorate in 2006.

She looks forward to returning home to old traditions.

“First of all, it is going to be fun,” Allen said. “I don’t think I have been in a parade since I was 16 years old.”

Richard Miller CEO of Miller’s Professional Imaging and Mpix

Despite growing up in Pittsburgh, Kansas, Richard Miller comes from a long line of Missouri Tigers.

“My dad, my two uncles and my grandfather all played football at the University of Missouri, so I grew up as a Missouri football fan,” Miller said. “It was a no-brainer for me.”

After graduating with a bachelor’s degree in math, Miller began working for his father’s professional photography lab that he started in 1939. He went on to win Kansas Photographer of the Year twice, and later took over as president and CEO of his father’s multi-million dollar company.

He still uses things he learned during his years as a Tiger in his business.

“In terms of the math, the statistical analysis and the computer work, those are things that I still use every day at my business,” Miller said.

In 2001, he opened a new branch of his company in Columbia and in 2003, he launched an online-based edition of the company called Mpix.

He has given back to the School of Nursing several times. In 2011, he funded MU’s Safe Practices Room for the School of Nursing, where students learn how to keep themselves and their patients safe. He also supports the Fund the Drive for Nurses Golf Tournament and the annual banquet and awards ceremony for the School of Nursing. He also has co-funded a gala dinner for the Dean’s External Advisory Council, on which he serves.

Miller sees Homecoming as reuniting with a comfortable and familiar past.

“It’s an opportunity to reacquaint yourself with family and lots of friends that you don’t necessarily see any other time of year, except for Homecoming,” Miller said. “The Mizzou campus really is a family.”

The university has decorated Miller with awards. He has an honorary doctorate and won the 2012 Champion of Hope Award from the MU Children’s Hospital. In 2004, he was awarded the Faculty-Alumni Award from the Alumni Association.

He also serves on several MU gift societies such as the Jefferson Club, Mosaic Society, Davenport Society, Chancellor’s Society, McAlester Society and Grace Bibb Society.

The Miller family tradition continues. All five of his children have either graduated or attended MU, leading to another generation of Miller Tigers.

José Gutiérrez President of AT&T Wholesale Solutions and Access Management

José Gutiérrez is a showcase of the American Dream—immigrating here, working hard and achieving success. He came to MU from Madrid speaking very limited English. Fast-forward 30 years and he is the president of AT&T Wholesale Solutions and Access Management, a multi-billion dollar business owned by AT&T.

“Mizzou changed my life, and Mizzou is America for me,” Gutiérrez said in an interview with the University of Missouri International Admissions Blog. “It embraced me and made me work very, very hard — harder than I had ever worked. But the people at Mizzou changed my life and still do.”

As president, he leads a team of domestic and international professionals from 152 countries that oversees service to carriers, wireless providers, cable operators, Internet service providers and content providers.

Since English is his second language, Gutiérrez did not understand many of his lectures. He relied on textbooks, which were written in English, so he had to read slowly. But, as he told Mizzou Magazine in 2013, he also had the support of his professors and felt the university really invested in him.

Gutiérrez graduated summa cum laude with both a bachelor’s degree and a master’s degree in accounting in 1984 and 1985, respectively. In 1991, he worked in the merger and acquisition department at Southwestern Bell in St. Louis. After 15 years at the company, he became president and CEO. The company merged with AT&T in 2005.

Gutiérrez is a Jefferson Club Fellow, a Chancellor’s Society Annual Member and a Davenport Society Sponsor. He serves on the Trulaske College of Business Strategic Development Board, the Missouri 100 Advisory Board and advises the Thompson Foundation for Autism and Neurodevelopmental Disorders. He is an endowed life member of the Mizzou Alumni Association and received their Faculty-Alumni Award in 2008.

Gutiérrez’s legacy continues for the next generation. His son is following in his father’s footsteps as an accounting major at MU.

Morgan Jenkins contributed to this report.

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