UM College of Business to Honor, Host Conversation with Outstanding Alumni
MISSOULA – The University of Montana College of Business will recognize two alumni for outstanding career achievements during its spring Business Advisory Council Meeting.
John Burke, who earned an accounting degree from UM in 1982, and Mark Burnham, who graduated with a finance degree in 1984, will engage in an on-stage conversation about their careers at 3:15 p.m. Friday, April 20, in Gallagher Business Building Room 106. The event is free and open to the public.
Burke is the chief financial officer of Kampgrounds of America, a franchise system of more than 500 RV campgrounds throughout North America. Burnham is a shareholder and director with Hawthorn Construction Group and Hawthorn Senior Living, which owns and operates 60 communities in the U.S. and Canada, as well as the managing principal of OZ Cap, an advisory firm.
“One of the greatest strengths of our college is our alumni,” said College of Business Dean Chris Shook. “Graduates like John Burke and Mark Burnham are why we say that. They have had truly stellar careers, consistently give back to their communities and remain proud Grizzlies in all they do. Our outstanding alumni awards are one way we can acknowledge their success and their dedication.”
The college has named outstanding alumni since 1990 and has celebrated many graduates, including IBM executive Mary Olson, former D.A. Davidson chair Ian Davidson and KPMG audit partner Kayreen Handley.
Burke has more than 30 years of experience in public accounting and private industry including regulated utility operations, electric generation, coal mining, oil and gas exploration and marketing, telecommunications and outdoor hospitality.
His career began with Helena accounting firm Galusha, Higgins and Galusha. After four years of taxes and audits, he returned to his home town of Butte to join the Montana Power Co. Following 13 years with Montana Power, he transitioned to telecommunications with TouchAmerica as vice president and controller and then to KOA in 2004.
Burke works with the management team of KOA’s company-operated properties, evaluating capital investments, property acquisitions and divestitures, and all aspects of finance, treasury and accounting. He also devotes time to the franchise system, sharing the disciplines of finance, treasury and accounting within individual operations.
Burke’s connection to UM runs deep, as his UM-alumni parents, Jack and Nancy, met on a blind date in the late 1940s at the annual Griz-Cat game, then held in Butte. Burke also immediately passed the CPA exam when he graduated from the College of Business in 1982.
He served as a member of the Business Advisory Council in the UM College of Business from 1999 to 2002 and has been a member of the MSU-Billings College of Business Advisory Board since 2006. He volunteered with the Billings Catholic Schools Foundation Board from 2007 to 2010. As a lifetime Montanan and lover of the outdoors, Burke spends his free time golfing, playing tennis and pickleball, boating and skiing with his wife, Stella, and their three adult children.
Burnham began his career in 1985 as a loan review officer at Norwest Bank in Billings. Over the next 16 years, he gained experience in all aspects of banking while working for Norwest (now Wells Fargo) and First Bank Systems (now U.S. Bank) in Montana, Minnesota and Colorado.
In 2000, he joined Holiday Retirement Corp., the largest owner, operator and builder in the senior housing industry, based in Salem, Oregon. He served as director of finance until Holiday was sold to a private equity firm. In 2009, Burnham joined the former principals of Holiday as director of finance at Hawthorn Retirement Group, a senior housing company based in Vancouver, Washington. This company became Hawthorn Senior Living and Hawthorn Construction Group in 2017. It owns and operates 60 communities in the U.S. and Canada. Burnham currently serves as a shareholder and director of these two entities, as well as the managing principal of OZ Cap, an advisory firm.
Burnham has more than a dozen family members who are alumni or associates of UM, including his siblings and wife, Cheryl. He and his family have generously supported UM by giving to enhance faculty teaching and research, student initiatives and leadership roles. Burnham remains highly engaged with the institution, including serving on the UM Foundation board of trustees.
Burnham also is involved with his local community of Salem, Oregon, in a number of ways. He served on the board of the Boys and Girls Club and Foundation for 15 years and is a regional advisory board member for the Oregon Community Foundation. In his free time, he enjoys playing tennis and golf, as well as kayaking, traveling with Cheryl and spending time with their three grown children.