Mike Armistead '82: Listening, Learning and Giving Back
About a year ago, Mike Armistead ’82, a successful serial entrepreneur, posted a blog to the website for Respond Software, where, at the time, he was CEO and co-founder. The headline read: “In the startup world, listening is key.”
It turns out that listening not only been the key to Armistead’s success in businesses, it also played an important part in his formation at Regis Jesuit, and at Stanford thereafter.
“You don’t necessarily associate listening with high school students, but that’s when the Jesuit values really sank in for me,” he said. “Take the often-quoted creed Men and Women with and for Others. You can’t be for someone or something unless you understand their ambitions, their struggles, how they think and where they would like to go. To do that, you have to listen.”
Armistead now lives in Los Altos, California, and Respond Software has been purchased by FireEye Inc. where Mike continues in an executive role. Across more than a thousand miles, he has heard the call of Inspire & Ignite 2025, Regis Jesuit’s vision for access, innovation and excellence—especially the goal of removing real and perceived barriers to entry and retention for students and families who desire to attend. He has responded wholeheartedly, with a significant financial aid gift in the name of the Armistead Family Endowed Scholarship.
“If someone can’t go because of need, it’s a tragedy,” said Armistead, who worked during high school, including as a janitor, while playing football, basketball and running track. He also dabbled in speech and debate, worked backstage in the theatre program and was elected vice president of student government. He received significant financial aid to attend Stanford, where he majored in engineering and continued to work at various jobs to help pay for school expenses.
The gift from Armistead and his wife Kathy will ensure that a student with financial need can experience what Mike says benefitted him the most: “the hard work and challenges required to excel at many things, along with the cross-group friendships and involvement in activities that cut across traditional stereotypes and cliques.”
He said: “I gained a lot of confidence in those days, primarily by stretching beyond being ‘just an athlete’ or ‘just a good student.’ That’s what I’d like to enable in someone else.”
The Armistead family’s ties to Jesuit education—and to Regis Jesuit—remain strong. Mike’s three sons attended the all-male Bellarmine College Preparatory school in San Jose. His brother, Mark ’80 runs Regis Jesuit’s annual golf tournament, The Rudy Cup, which supports the Rudy Brada Scholarship for Financial Aid. Between Mark and their brother Matthew ’86, they count three more Raider alums: Joanna ’09, Greg ’06 and Colin ’19. Caroline will graduate in 2022.
“I grew up neither wealthy or poor and went to Catholic school. I saw my parents putting money in the collection plate every week; and I learned early on that giving back is incredibly important. Over the years, I’ve been the recipient of someone else’s generosity, and I include my Catholic educators as part of that.”
Armistead knows that his family’s gift to Regis Jesuit will make a real difference. “When I look at the places I can support, I choose the ones that are most deserving and also will be the most appreciative. For me, Regis Jesuit certainly fits that criteria.”
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