The Sigma Alpha Epsilon Foundation is pleased to welcome Debashis Chowdhury, Jack Counts, Grant Gier, Joe Halcomb, and Les Ireland to the Board of Trustees.
Debashis Chowdhury (Minnesota ‘98)
Debashis joined the Board of Trustees in August 2020 and is a member of Minnesota Alpha. As an undergraduate, he served his chapter in various positions, including as Eminent Archon. He has a Bachelor of Science degree in Management and Economics. He is the President of Canterbury Consulting, an Investment Advisory Firm which currently manages over $25 billion in assets for clients throughout North America. Debashis and his wife, Laurel, live in Laguna Niguel, California. They have a son, who Debashis says is a “future SAE.” In his free time, Debashis enjoys golfing, spending time outdoors exploring the mountains, and is a member of the Southern California Young Presidents Organization. He also serves as a board member for the Child Abuse Prevention Center of Orange County and the Mission Hospital Foundation.
What is your favorite SAE memory, either as an undergraduate or an alumnus? My favorite memory was the twice-yearly pledge class retreat from Minnesota to Evanston to visit the Levere Memorial Temple. From what I recall, we had some fun along the way.
Why is giving back to SAE important to you? Simply put, my undergraduate experience as an SAE was the single most formative experience of my life. Skills and experiences I reflect and leverage personally and professionally to this day. I believe if I can even share an ounce of that with my fellow brothers (particularly those who are starting their business careers), it would be a very small way to repay all that I have gained from my fraternity experience.
What motivated you to join the SAE Foundation Board of Trustees? It is important to me to contribute whatever I can to perpetuate the long history and the strength of our Fraternity for the benefit of young men across the country.
Jack Counts (Oklahoma ‘68)
Jack joined the Board of Trustees in October 2019. He was initiated at Westminster College in Missouri, where he served as Recruitment Chairman and Social Chairman. He later transferred and graduated from the University of Oklahoma with a Bachelor of Business Administration degree. He is the Founder and CEO of Candid Color Systems, a photo-marketing business that supports independent photographers, helps them grow their businesses, and stay competitive in the marketplace. Jack and his wife, Alison, live in Oklahoma City. Jack has seven children, including three sons that were initiated into SAE. Jack enjoys traveling, hiking, going to hundreds of his kids’ soccer games, and is a boating enthusiast in his free time. In addition to his work with the SAE Foundation, Jack is also on the Oklahoma Kappa Board and is involved in his chapter’s alumni relations.
What is your favorite SAE memory, either as an undergraduate or an alumnus? I started my photography business IN the SAE house at OU. Initially, we did Party Pics at OU, OSU, SMU, and LSU while operating IN the SAE house. It was very memorable and great fun. Then with the help of several Brothers, I formed Candid Color Systems, where we have continued to serve independent photographers coast to coast that photograph Greek events, composites, graduations, Glamour ShotsTM, sports teams, and school pictures.
Why is giving back to SAE important to you? Being a member of Sigma Alpha Epsilon has been a terrific experience for my family and me. SAE brothers helped me make my business successful in college and beyond, and for that, I will be eternally grateful!
What motivated you to join the SAE Foundation Board of Trustees? As I mentioned, SAE has given me so much throughout my life, and I was glad to learn more and help when asked to serve on the Foundation Board of Trustees.
Grant Gier (Nebraska ‘84)
Grant joined the Board of Trustees in July 2019 and is a member from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. As an undergraduate, he served as his chapter’s Eminent Archon and Eminent Treasurer. As an alumnus, he worked for the Fraternity as Extension Director and is a past Chairman and member of the SAE Extension Advisory Committee. He has a Bachelor of Arts degree in Business Administration and Finance and has over 30 years of experience as a Business and Estate Planning Advisor with Northwestern Mutual. Grant and his wife, Betsy, live in Chicagoland. They have two adult children. In his free time, Grant enjoys travel, golf, bowling, and pickleball. In addition to serving on the SAE Foundation’s Board of Trustees, Grant also supports and volunteers for Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation.
What is your favorite SAE memory, either as an undergraduate or an alumnus? Notwithstanding the lifelong friendships I have cherished with my SAE relationships, my favorite memories have to include the two years I spent as Extension Director for SAE HQ from 1984-86. Where else could a young man from Omaha have the privilege of traveling around virtually the entire country helping other young men learn the ideals of our beloved order? Assisting interest groups and colonies achieve their ultimate goal of earning a charter from SAE was extremely gratifying. Interactions with fellow alumnae, university administrations, and undergraduates were simply the most concentrated life skills educational experiences one could ever seek.
Why is giving back to SAE important to you? It is my belief that giving back starts with the word stewardship. I have been a part and continue to be a part of an entity that has given me more than I could ever give back but can certainly try. To this day, some of my dearest friends are SAE brothers. Our Fraternity has taught me so much about people, friendship, leadership, and responsibility to others. SAE is on loan to us all and we have a responsibility to preserve and pass on its great heritage and ideals to other future brothers.
What motivated you to join the SAE Foundation Board of Trustees? When I was asked to join the Foundation Board, it was easy to say yes to the idea that I wanted to be a part of something that perpetuates the true nature of our Fraternity.
Dr. Joe Halcomb (Kentucky ‘74)
Dr. Halcomb joined the Board of Trustees in October 2019 and serves on the Scholarship Committee. He also serves on the Kentucky Epsilon House Corporation and has served as a delegate to the National Convention. As an undergraduate, he served in various leadership roles, including Eminent Archon of his chapter. Dr. Halcomb is CEO of Phoenix Initiãre, a private equity firm, and is a Partner at Telegraph Hill Partners. He also serves on a number of advisory boards at the University of Kentucky (UK). Dr. Halcomb served as a senior executive of Amgen, a global biotechnology company, and Zimmer, Inc., a medical device company. He earned his Doctor of Medicine degree from UK and completed post-graduate training in Internal Medicine. He also holds B.S. and M.S. degrees in Mechanical Engineering from UK and Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), respectively. He was selected to receive an honorary Doctor of Engineering degree from UK in 2020. Joe and his wife, Joani, live in Camarillo, CA. They have two daughters and six grandchildren. Joe loves driving his restored 1957 Mercedes-Benz 190SL Roadster. He is also an avid drummer and plays a custom kit made of the burl wood of a 300-year-old poplar.
What is your favorite SAE memory, either as an undergraduate or an alumnus? As I look back on my fraternity experience, there are many fond memories—but the true friendships really stand out. It is the bonding of men of various backgrounds and beliefs around a singular set of life-directing commitments or ideals.
This is seen in the friends who are there for you in sharing the celebrations and challenges of life. Friends who stand by your side at your wedding. Friends who are by your bedside after you suffer a traumatic injury. Friends who show up at a special event and recite “The True Gentleman.” This happened to me at an announcement at UK several years ago, and it really touched my heart. I think it’s safe to say it touched everyone in the room, including the president of the University.
Some say that fraternity is where friends become family. One of the best examples of this kind of friendship for me has been in the comradery of a group of brothers who have continued the tradition of an annual ski trip for the last 30 years. The gift of this brotherhood means the world to me.
Why is giving back to SAE important to you? Giving back to SAE is important, because of what SAE has given to me. My brothers in SAE encouraged me—and gave me opportunities for leadership development. They also gave me the gift of true friendship, the kind that lasts a lifetime. I want to keep the Fraternity strong and ensure our undergraduates have the opportunity to experience those same life-changing moments around friendship, scholarship, leadership, and service.
What motivated you to join the SAE Foundation Board of Trustees Comments made by Brother Todd Buchanan at the SAE National Convention in Louisville, Kentucky. Todd spoke about the challenges in maintaining the Levere Memorial Temple (which I consider a treasure)—and appealed to the participants to help save it. I look forward to continuing to work with my colleagues to grow our financial endowment—and support educational programs for the next generation of True Gentlemen and the Levere Memorial Temple.
Les Ireland (Towson ‘86)
Les joined the Board of Trustees in November 2019 and is a member from Towson University in Maryland. He was Pledge Educator and House Manager for his chapter and served as a Senator for Towson’s Student Government Association as an undergraduate. He has a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration. Currently, he works as a Strategic Consultant, where he advises corporations on ways to increase growth and profitability and improve operationally. Les and his wife, Lori, live in Chicago, Illinois. They have two sons. In his free time, Les enjoys golf, watersports, and home improvement projects. In addition to serving on the SAE Foundation Board of Trustees, Les is an Advisory Board Member for BBVA’s mid-Atlantic region. He also continues to advise ToolBank USA after serving on the nonprofit’s board for ten years.
What is your favorite SAE memory, either as an undergraduate or an alumnus? At the Towson University (Maryland Alpha), it was living in the house and participating in numerous university events (intramural sports, Greek events) with my brothers. At the national level, it was the incredible opportunity to attend 2 Leadership Schools in Evanston; meeting brothers from around the country and seeing firsthand the history and majesty of SAE at the Levere Memorial Temple. And at a very personal level, it was my wedding day and the large turnout of SAE’s which highlighted the friendships both my wife and I had built with my brothers while at Towson.
Why is giving back to SAE important to you? Throughout your career, you often look back at times in your life that shaped you or at individuals who made a mark in your development. I strongly believe that the fraternity assisted me not only in developing my networking and leadership skills at Towson University but also in my career; working towards the team, personal and professional objectives. To me, giving back to SAE means allowing others to gain the leadership skills and interpersonal development that future leaders require and building the same lifetime bonds of brotherhood.
What motivated you to join the SAE Foundation Board of Trustees? Now approaching retirement, I wanted to formally engage with the fraternity and serve in a capacity that focuses on education, development, and the future leadership of both our fraternity and our country. Following an alumni event at the Levere Memorial Temple and speaking with several Supreme Council members, I saw the Foundation Board as an excellent opportunity to expand my philanthropic efforts in a mission that I strongly support.