A $1 million gift from Roger Orf, JD’79, MBA’77, and his wife, Lisa T. Heffernan, MBA’80, will provide scholarships for financially disadvantaged students who have demonstrated outstanding academic accomplishments.
Orf is senior partner at Apollo Global Management, running the firm’s expansive real estate business throughout Europe. Based in London, where he has been since 1991, he’s been named as one of the 30 most influential people in European private equity real estate, winning awards that include “Entrepreneur of the Year,” and “European Industry Figure of the Year.”
He came to Apollo when it acquired his previous employer, Citigroup Property Investors, where he had been president and CEO, managing more than $6.5 billion of investments around the world. Before joining Citigroup, he was head of operations at Lone Star Management Europe, and before that he was the managing director of Pelham Partners, an investment company that he cofounded.
He also founded a data storage company, e-shelter, in 1999. He and his partners sold it earlier this year for €1.1 billion to the Japanese company NTT.
He began his career as an associate at Kirkland & Ellis but soon found that law practice wasn’t an ideal fit for his entrepreneurial nature. He joined Goldman Sachs in New York, becoming a vice president and managing large transactions that included the sale of the Sears Tower. Goldman assigned him to London in 1991 to lead its European real estate department activities.
“My law school education helps me every day, whether it’s being able to quickly analyze situations and respond effectively, communicating clearly with a wide range of stakeholders, or in more technical matters such as considering the structural alternatives or tax consequences of a deal,” he says. “A lot of my success results directly from my law school training.”
The designation for financially disadvantaged students of the Roger Orf and Lisa T. Heffernan Scholarship reflects Orf’s background and his civic commitments. “I came up the hard way,” he says, “as the son of hardworking parents who never had the opportunity to go to college. I relied on financial aid to go to Georgetown and then to the Law School. By the time I finished law school I was in hock to the tune of $36,000 dollars—an amount I thought I’d never be able to repay. Lisa and I want to do our part to help assure that everyone who is qualified to study at the Law School is able to do so.” They have made an equivalent gift to the Booth School to fund similarly oriented scholarships there. He has served twice on the Law School’s Visiting Committee and is currently serving on the Council of the Booth School.
His civic commitments have also led him to become European chairman of the Urban Land Institute. He’s beginning his third year in that role. Internationally, ULI is the largest not-for-profit real-estate-related organization in the world, with more than 35,000 members. “ULI is not about making money, it’s about building better buildings and helping to create better communities,” he says. “It’s an important mission and I’m honored to have been chosen to help lead it.”
“The nicest thing for me about being in real estate is that the product is something you can point to; you build something,” he observes. “If you build it right, it has an enduring positive impact. Lisa and I are looking at this scholarship fund in much the same way—we hope that each recipient will be someone who will take the great education they receive and build a fulfilling life of enduring value. It’s a very good feeling for us to be able to make a difference in this way.”