Mihai Lehene

Founding Angel 
Board of Directors 
Founder, Romanian United Foundation
Founder  Volunteer (full)  Teacher 
Mihai is the Owner of MDL Investments, a real-estate and VC family-office with a focus on emerging technologies, including fintech, biotech and crypto. In 2020 Mihai resigned his business roles to run RUF, and in 2022 he was elected as President of FORA.
 

Founder, Romanian United Foundation

Mihai Lehene's core motivation stems from a profound sense of community and a desire to nurture and support the Romanian diaspora globally.

His drive to connect, empower, and advance the interests of Romanians worldwide underpins all his activities. This purpose is deeply personal, influenced by his own journey from Romania to the United States and the challenges and opportunities he encountered along the way. Lehene's commitment to giving back to his community reflects a belief in the power of unity, collaboration, and shared success. He envisions a world where the Romanian diaspora is not only connected and supportive of one another but also significantly contributes to global and local communities alike.

Methods and Approaches

Lehene translates his "why" into action through strategic leadership, philanthropy, and community building. With a background in Mathematics and Computer Science, and a successful career in finance, he leverages his skills and resources to achieve his vision. As the founder and president of the Romanian United Fund (RUF) and the first official president of the Federation of Romanian-American Organizations (FORA), Lehene orchestrates efforts to finance and support projects that advance the welfare of Romanians worldwide. His approach during the COVID-19 pandemic showcased his ability to mobilize resources and coordinate collective actions to address immediate community needs effectively. By retiring from his business functions in 2021, Lehene further demonstrated his commitment to focusing on philanthropy and community building, using his expertise to make a lasting impact.

Achievements and Contributions

As a result of his motivations and methods, Mihai Lehene's contributions are significant and multifaceted. He has been instrumental in:

Establishing and leading organizations that serve the Romanian diaspora, such as RUF and FORA. Successfully running one of the most successful high-frequency trading desks in Fixed Income and Eurodollars futures globally, which not only highlighted his professional capabilities but also provided him with the means to support his philanthropic endeavors. Mobilizing the Romanian American diaspora during the COVID-19 pandemic, showcasing effective leadership in times of crisis. Focusing his efforts on philanthropy and community building post-retirement, emphasizing his commitment to supporting and uniting the Romanian community globally.


More about Mihai Lehene

Proven Track Record: Lehene has a successful career in finance, demonstrating his ability to manage resources effectively and make strategic decisions.

Commitment to Community: His work with the Romanian United Fund (RUF) and the Federation of Romanian-American Organizations (FORA) showcases his dedication to supporting and uniting the Romanian diaspora.

Transparency: Lehene emphasizes open communication about the charity's activities, goals, and financials, fostering trust among donors.

Personal Investment: He has invested his own resources into the charity, showing his commitment and belief in the cause.

Philanthropic Focus: Lehene demonstrates a genuine interest in making a positive impact by retiring from his business functions to focus on philanthropy.

Leadership in Crisis: His mobilization of the Romanian American diaspora during the COVID-19 pandemic illustrates his capability to lead effectively in challenging times.

Expertise: His background in mathematics, computer science, and finance provides the skills to efficiently manage a charity.

Results-Oriented: Lehene focuses on achieving tangible outcomes that benefit the community, ensuring donations have a real impact.

Community Building: His efforts to unite the Romanian diaspora indicate a broader vision for a supportive and collaborative community.

Ethical Practices: The charity's operations under Lehene's management are guided by ethical standards, ensuring fairness and respect in all actions.

Accountability: He holds himself and the charity accountable to donors, with mechanisms in place to review and report on activities and outcomes.

Cultural Sensitivity: Understanding the unique needs and perspectives of the Romanian diaspora, Lehene ensures that projects are culturally appropriate and impactful.

Strategic Partnerships: By forging alliances with other organizations and experts, Lehene amplifies the charity's reach and effectiveness.

Innovative Solutions: His approach includes innovative strategies to address community needs, making the best use of available resources.

Recognition: Lehene's work and the charity's achievements have been recognized, adding to their credibility.

Passion: His genuine passion for the cause is evident in his actions and serves as a motivating factor for others.

Collaborative Approach: Lehene values collaboration, both within the organization and with external partners, to maximize impact.

Personal Integrity: His reputation for integrity and honesty in both his professional and philanthropic endeavors encourages trust.

Long-term Vision: Lehene's commitment is not just to immediate needs but to the long-term development and success of the Romanian diaspora.

Empowerment Focus: The charity under Lehene's leadership focuses on empowering individuals and communities, ensuring that donations contribute to sustainable improvement.

Brief Bio


Originally from Romania, Mihai Lehene has demonstrated a strong affinity for Mathematics and Computer Science since his youth, receiving accolades in both regional and national Olympiads. He completed his International Business degree at the Academy of Economic Studies of Bucharest in 2001. Subsequently, he relocated to the United States and earned his Master's degree in Computer Science from the University of Illinois at Chicago in 2024, graduating first in his class.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dyrUV8cUGlk

Mihai is the Founder and President of the Romanian United Foundation (RUF). Between 2010 and 2022, he ran one of the most successful high-frequency trading desks in Fixed Income and Eurodollars futures in the world at Allston Trading.

In 2013 he founded MDL Investments, a family office focusing on emerging technologies such as fintech, biotech, and crypto. In 2021, he stepped down from his business roles to dedicate himself to managing RUF and was elected President of FORA in 2022.

Mihai is notably involved in philanthropy, primarily supporting the Romanian United Foundation (RUF) as a key benefactor. He has generously contributed to RUF and offers a dollar-for-dollar match for donations up to a specified limit, aiding RUF in functioning as an organization that fully passes through its funds.

In November 2023, Mihai was honored with the 2024 Chicago Titan 100  Award, distinguishing him as one of Chicago's most influential business leaders. This award recognizes excellence in leadership, vision, and passion. Additionally, in recognition of his contributions to the Romanian community, he received the 10 Romani de 10 Award in 2022 and the Top 100 Romanians Around The World Award in 2021.

 


A Life of Insight, Leadership, and Philanthropy
 


Quick Overview

  • Born: Cluj-Napoca, Transylvania, Romania
  • Current Roles: Founder and Owner, MDL Investments; Founder & President, RUF; Vice President, FORA
  • Former Roles: Partner and Board Member, Allston Trading
  • Education: Master's in Computer Science, University of Illinois at Chicago; International Business, Academy of Economic Studies of Bucharest
  • Awards: Chicago "Titan 100" CEO; Top 100 Romanians award; "10 Romani de 10" award
  • Focus Areas: Community Building, Education, Philanthropy, High-Frequency Trading, Venture Capital, Private Equity
  • Vision: Fostering unity and collaboration amongst the Romanian diaspora for collective growth and preservation of heritage in the century of technology and globalization. 

 

Early Life & Education


Born in Cluj-Napoca and raised in Zalău, Transylvania/Romania, Mihai Lehene discovered his love for Mathematics and Computer Science at a young age, earning multiple awards in regional and national Olympiads (1991, 1992, 1995, 1996, 1997).

Mihai earned his degree in International Business from the Academy of Economic Studies of Bucharest in 2001. Subsequently, he relocated to the United States and joined the University of Illinois at Chicago as a Research Assistant. He earned his Master's in Computer Science from the University of Illinois at Chicago in 2024, graduating first in his class.


Professional Journey


Mihai embarked on his professional journey in 2004 as a Software Analyst at Bank of America, specializing in the Credit Default Swaps division. In 2007, he transitioned to Allston Trading, a high-frequency trading firm in Chicago, where he swiftly climbed the ranks to become a Partner and Board Member by 2012. During his tenure at Allston, Mihai spearheaded a successful team of traders and quants, marking Allston as a global player in the financial futures markets. 

In 2014, Mihai founded MDL Investments, his family office focusing on venture capital, private equity, real estate, and cryptocurrencies. MDL holds a diverse portfolio encompassing fintech, health tech, agrotech, biotechnology, and medical devices, among other high-growth fields.

Community & Non-Profit Involvement


Mihai retired from his business functions in 2021 to focus on fostering community building and nurturing the success of the Romanian diaspora. He is the Founder and President of Romanian United Foundation (RUF). In 2022, he became the first official President of the Federation of Romanian-American Organizations (FORA).

Mihai’s profound engagement in non-profit initiatives is reflected through his founding contributions to various organizations, including the Romanian Community Foundation of Chicago, and the Round Table Society (RTS), where he emphasized promoting Romanian culture and provided vital community services. He was also the initiator and supporter of the “Zilele Zalaului la Chicago” annual festival and has been instrumental in establishing ROCO Chicago, the first community-supported Community Center of Chicago.

As a philanthropist, Mihai has been the main sponsor of RUF, making substantial donations and pledges to ensure the organization’s transparent and effective functioning. His unwavering support for Romanian communities and organizations earned him recognition and awards like the Top 100 Romanians award and the "10 Romani de 10" award.

Vision and Advocacy


Mihai envisions a future where the Romanian diaspora achieves collective greatness through unity and trust. He emphasizes the importance of a collaborative, well-thought-out development plan to uphold the Romanian heritage and facilitate the diaspora's progress in the realms of technology and globalization. Mihai ardently believes in the potential of Romanians and advocates for their representation and collaboration across the globe.

Educator and Mentor


Mihai, a former Olympiad participant with multiple national awards, leverages his extensive knowledge to teach and mentor young minds in Mathematics, Computer Science, and Financial Education. He has been teaching weekly, for the better part of the year, sincer 2013, at small private schools, local public libraries in Chicago, and lately online and at ROCO Chicago.

In 2019, he created the Romanian United Foundation Excellence Center, a platform providing resources and curriculum to teachers across the United States and Canada. Today, Mihai is inspired to see the growth in the hundreds of children that he's taught over the years, and he continues to find joy and inspiration in teaching, emphasizing the value of learning and the joy it brings.

Business Experience


  • Founder and President of MDL Investments, a private family office with a wide range of investments, including venture capital, private equity, real estate, and cryptocurrencies
  • Partner at Allston Trading, for a long time one of the most successful high-frequency trading firms in Chicago

Board Experience


NonProfit Experience


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