Gerron and Judy Vartan: A connection that has lasted for decades
Gerron and Judy Vartan’s happy life together started with a chance meeting at Northwestern when he was a senior and she was a junior. Well, sort of.
“It turns out, I met the girl next door,” Gerron says. “I just didn’t know it.”
Gerron (EB66, KSM67) and Judy (SESP66) lived only two blocks apart, both attending Evanston Township High School. They knew of each other, but ran in different circles. Upon spotting Judy a few years later (she was the date of his fraternity brother at the time), Gerron decided he wanted to change that.
“I had not seen her since she was 15, and she looked quite different,” Gerron recalls with a laugh.
“I’m glad he noticed me across the room,” Judy says.
A mutual friend eventually set them up on a date. They married four years later.
Gerron worked in advertising in Chicago after earning his MBA from Kellogg. Judy, meanwhile, taught at Martin Luther King Jr. Laboratory School, an innovative new school created to implement total integration in Evanston.
The Vartans ultimately moved west to Modesto, California, after Gerron received an opportunity to help build the brand of E & J Gallo Wines. They then settled in the Bay Area in 1984. Soon after, he founded AEGIS Partners, a San Francisco management consulting firm focused on market strategy where he still serves as president.
Judy left teaching to raise their two children, but stayed active in education, helping to create gifted and talented programs in Modesto and serving as president of the PTA in Atherton. She now has her own business — Do-Dah Doodles — designing and producing babywear (including some with Northwestern themes).
“Northwestern is part of our identity,” Gerron says. “It’s part of who we are.”
Personal ties have kept Gerron and Judy engaged with the University across the decades. They also make giving to the Kellogg School of Management and the School of Education and Social Policy a priority and have held faculty firesides at their Atherton home, including a reception for current Kellogg Dean, Sally Blount.
“You support the things that are important to you and you feel strongly about,” Judy says. “For us, giving back is not an obligation in the sense of owing or giving back, but rather to … looking forward and hoping to assure the future.”