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Saara Romu | At-Large Trustee

Class of 2007, Master of Business Administration

Headshot: Saara Romu

Why I Serve

I grew up in a log cabin without electricity or running water in the middle of the woods in Ontario, Canada. It was a rustic upbringing and I didn’t have childhood dreams of taking over the world. However, my parents strongly valued education and encouraged me to university. I’m a first-generation graduate and that has created opportunities I never could have imagined as a child.

My graduate school experience was amazing. MBA programs tend to be cutthroat and problematically competitive, but UW creates an atmosphere that is supportive, caring, and collaborative. It’s a holistic approach that proves education is not a zero-sum game. As a student, there was a focus on female leadership and representation, diversity, and discussions around sustainability. The rest of the world is just now catching up with what UW was teaching over a decade ago. UW is an incubator for future thought.

I worked at the Gates Foundation for nearly a decade. During that time, I proposed and spearheaded a program whereby UW students worked on Foundation projects to gain professional experience and contribute to philanthropic endeavors. I was consistently blown away by the caliber of student participants. As a trustee, I want to continue creating opportunities that benefit both students and the general community. UW is a unique institution and a regional treasure.

Biography

Saara Romu is the principal lead at Selkea, a management consulting firm. She previously was a Senior Program Officer at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. She oversaw global program grant-making initiatives, the convening of partners, and was a relationship manager liaising between the Gates Foundation and University of Washington. She received an undergraduate degree in biology from Queen’s University at Kingston in Ontario, Canada. While earning a Masters of Business Administration from the UW Foster School of Business, she served as MBAA Vice-President of Resource Development and supported incoming students as a Fritzky Leadership Fellow. In 2010, she received the inaugural UW Foster School of Business Builders of Our Future Leadership Award for her commitment to service.