Gregg Dorner (1972) Alto Saxophone
I would like to begin by telling you about my high school involvement in the New Trier West Recording Jazz Ensemble. It was within that program that I learned many life skills, beyond music alone. It served as the foundation, and provided the confidence, that ultimately led to me to a successful career in my family’s business and eventually to my true passion: for profit and non-profit board work that continues to this day.
I served as one of the Team Members in the development of this website and knew that we had a story to tell. During this process, I realized that it was not my only story but the story of a unique program, and my experience with a man and teacher who was determined to let his students learn from each other and shine as individuals. It is from this that the theme of this website, ‘A Story that needs to be told,’ emerged.
I was one of four students to be a performer in the West Jazz Ensemble for all four years of my high school career. It began in the 1968-69 school year when I started high school at the college-like campus in Northfield, Illinois. All but two of the saxophone players that helped Mr. Mills (Roger) build his first Jazz Ensemble at New Trier West had graduated. It was then that he gave me the opportunity to play alto saxophone in the ensemble despite my inexperience. Mr. Mills frequently told me that with effort I could do it and that message stuck with me, encouraging me to put effort into reaching each of my goals.
Jazz Ensemble was a high point of every day for me. The Jazz Ensemble program had a life of its own. Through our many concerts, trips to Mexico, Europe, and of course ultimately winning the award for best alto saxophone performer at the prestigious Montreux Switzerland International Jazz Competition, I absorbed an education I do not believe is afforded to many.
In my senior year, Roger appointed me as a Student Director of the Jazz Ensemble and Lab Jazz Band. In that position, I was able to teach younger jazz students, and mentor them the way Roger was mentoring me. In the beginning, I was nervous learning the communication skills necessary to address an audience using a microphone. I loved the student directing but was intimidated to address an audience. I learned so much from the experience and along the way also learned that doing my part was a privilege. Preparation, persistence, patience, resilience, and most of all, teamwork were important values that Roger instilled in all of us. I also learned from Mr. Mills when to delegate work, thereby empowering others, and that showing appreciation for others’ efforts, was the way to compound that effort and produce a far larger outcome.
I may have been resistant, at times, to the lessons I needed to learn, however Roger, and the members of my classes and bands, made it possible for me to push myself when I might rather have slept, and or spent time with my now wife Barbara, or just spent time with friends.
In high school I wanted to become a professional musician and although I actively chose another path, I did learn that being able to demonstrate professional leadership, in any career, was an essential skill.
You may think you know where your life will take you, but I have found that you can only take your skills and be prepared to take advantage of life’s opportunities when they present themselves.
So, as I begin my professional bibliography, I need to thank all of you, the New Trier West Recording Jazz Ensemble’s, and especially Roger Mills who put the whole program together.
Thank you for preparing me for life’s joys and challenges!
• 2008 – June 2022: Hunter Industries San Marcos, California: Board of Directors
• 2008-2016: Chair of the Audit Committee
• 2016-2020: Chair of the Compensation Committee
• Ad Hoc Member of Succession and Litigation Committees
• 2007- present: Casa de Amma San Juan Capistrano, California Board of Trustees
• 2007-present: Chair of the Program Review Committee
• 2007-2011: Chair of the Performance Review Committee
• 2007-present: Member of the Performance Review Committee
• 2011- 2016: Wayne D. and Joan E. Kuni Foundation Vancouver, Washington, Board of Advisors
• Member of the Supported Housing Committee
• 1999-2008: Riverview School. East Sandwich, Massachusetts: Board of Trustees
• 2008-present: Trustee Emeritus
• 2006-2008: Treasurer
• 2004-2005: Assistant Treasurer
• 2004-2008: Member Executive Committee
• 1999-present: Member Facilities and Finance Committees
• 1992-2001: Heinemann’s Bakeries, Chicago, Illinois: Chairman of the Board of Directors
1972- 2001: Heinemann’s Bakeries, Chicago, Illinois
Annual sales volume of $40 million dollars, with 800 employees
• 1992-2001: Chairman of the Board and Executive Vice President
• 1982-1992: Vice President of Store Operations and Merchandising
• 1977-1982 Supervisor of Store Operations.
• 1972-1977 Material Handling.
Responsibilities included: manufacturing operations and engineering; cost accounting and cost controls; product formulations and product costing; staffing, human resources, and benefits management; labor contract negotiations and conflict resolution; product pricing; visual merchandising; performance measurement; succession and estate planning.
1992: Kellogg Graduate School of Management
Northwestern University, Evanston, Illinois
Masters of Management
1977: Loyola University, Chicago, Illinois
Bachelor of Arts, major in Finance