2018 Outstanding Alumni


John J. Burke ‘82, Chief Financial Officer, KOA

John Burke has more than 30 years’ 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 Company. Following 13 years with Montana Power, he transitioned to telecommunications with TouchAmerica as vice-president and controller and then to KOA in 2004.

Burke currently 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 their individual operations.

Burke’s connection to the University of Montana runs deep, as his parents, alumni Jack and Nancy, met on a blind date in the late 1940s at the annual Griz-Cat game, then held in Butte. Burke graduated from the College of Business with a degree in accounting and passed the CPA Exam 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.

Mark Burnham ‘84, Shareholder and Director, Hawthorn Senior Living and Hawthorn Construction Group

Mark Burnham began his career in 1985 as a credit trainee 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. At the present, Hawthorn 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.

A 1984 University of Montana finance alum, 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 having served 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 and traveling with Cheryl and spending time with their three grown children.