Alumni Merit Award: David A. Savner (WCAS65, L68)
David Savner is a man of diverse interests. He is a partner at a prestigious law firm with an impressive background in the defense industry, a staunch supporter of children’s literacy, and an avid reader of Kurt Vonnegut and John Cheever.
Savner credits Northwestern for helping him develop such broad horizons — and he has reaped the benefits throughout his career.
“The diversity of people that I met at Northwestern — both during my undergrad years and at the Law School — gave me an appreciation for how one needs to engage with a wide variety of people to be successful in today’s global business climate,” explains Savner.
From 1998 until this year, Savner was the top legal executive at the global defense contractor General Dynamics. During his tenure, he played a key role in the company’s restructuring and growth. He served as senior vice president, general counsel, and secretary as General Dynamics transformed from a $4 billion enterprise to a $31 billion industry leader. Savner played a key role in the company’s purchase of naval shipyards in San Diego and Maine and expansion of its European land systems group.
“I was able to witness and contribute to a remarkable transformation of the government contracting industry and the world as we shifted from a Cold War posture to the security challenges our country faces today,” Savner explains.
This year Savner returned to the Chicago firm Jenner & Block, where he practiced and represented General Dynamics as outside counsel before joining the company. He currently works with clients on transactional, governance, compliance, and securities matters.
Savner is also a dedicated volunteer for the children’s literacy non profit Everybody Wins. He calls his roles as a reading mentor and director of the organization among the most rewarding experiences of his life.
During his time at Northwestern, Savner clearly made the most of his educational opportunities. As an undergraduate, he graduated cum laude with a degree in 19th-century European history before graduating magna cum laude from the School of Law. He was also active in the Phi Epsilon Pi fraternity and was a staff member of the Northwestern University Law Review.
“I think without those experiences, I would have been less prepared for the challenges and opportunities I faced in my career,” he says.
David Savner and his wife, Libby, live in Chicago. They have two adult children.