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Minnesota Alumni CEO Phil Esten accepts new role at Cal-Berkeley

August 23, 2012

University of Minnesota Alumni Association President and CEO Phil Esten will leave his position in early October to become Executive Associate Athletic Director for Advancement at the University of California, Berkeley.

“This is simply a phenomenal opportunity for me to combine two of my passions – collegiate athletics and alumni and constituent relations,” Esten said. “The University of Minnesota is a special place with wonderfully passionate alumni and it has been a privilege to serve as President and CEO of the UMAA.” 

“We’re very sorry to see Phil leave, but we are grateful for his leadership during the last two-and-a-half years and for the progress and momentum he has helped build during his tenure as President and CEO,” said UMAA Board Chair Kent Horsager.

Esten joined the UMAA in 2010 as only the seventh CEO of the 108-year-old association. During his tenure, Esten led the association through a comprehensive strategic planning process that resulted in a new mission and vision, five core values and seven strategic objectives that include three key ‘pillars’—engage, partner and advocate.

At Berkeley, Esten will oversee all athletics fundraising efforts and become part of Athletic Director Sandy Barbour’s senior leadership team. He will be charged with creating and implementing a multiyear strategic plan to increase support for Cal Athletics' 29-sport program. The move is also a return to his roots in athletics. Before becoming alumni CEO he was the University of Minnesota’s associate athletics director, managing the department’s overall strategic plan and serving as the point person in the development of TCF Bank Stadium, among other duties. 

Horsager announced that a transition team will be appointed to see the organization through the search for a new CEO. “Throughout Phil’s time at the UMAA, his primary objectives have been to engage all alumni and to foster relationships across campus,” Horsager added. “We will maintain that focus during the transition.”

A native of La Crosse, Wisc., Esten has lived in the Twin Cities for most of the last 20 years. He and his wife, Dani, have three children. “The Twin Cities and U of M community have meant so much my family and me,” Esten said. “Being CEO of the UMAA has been a cherished chapter in my decade-long history with the University of Minnesota, and has shown me how alumni can make a difference in the life of an organization.”

The University of Minnesota Alumni Association is a 60,000-member organization that fosters a lifelong spirit of belonging and pride by connecting alumni, students, and friends to the University of Minnesota and each other. The Alumni Association advocates for the University and its alumni with a credible, independent, and collaborative voice. For more information, visit or call (612) 624-2323.

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