The Honorable Robert D. Ray
Robert D. Ray passed away on July 8, 2018. Click here to watch the memorial service.
Bearence Management Group
Jim Aipperspach is a senior advisor at Bearence Management Group, a West Des Moines risk management company serving customers primarily in Iowa and Minnesota. He was previously for five and one half years the director of operations at Great Ape Trust, a scientific research facility in Des Moines dedicated to the study of ape intelligence, language and culture. Aipperspach coordinates and supervises all non-scientific responsibilities at Great Ape Trust including accounting, administration, communications, fund-raising, grounds and maintenance, human resources and public safety. Prior to joining Great Ape Trust, Aipperspach served as president of the Iowa Association of Business and Industry (ABI) for nearly ten years.
Before his position at ABI, he was president of the United Way of Central Iowa from 1993-95. For 18 years, Aipperspach, a native of Bismark, ND, worked in the telecommunications industry with Northwestern Bell Telephone Company and U.S. West, serving for seven years as vice president and CEO for U.S. West operations in Iowa. As a community leader, Aipperspach is a past-president of the West Des Moines Community School Board, where he served for nine years, former president of the Greater Des Moines Committee and former secretary-treasurer of the Iowa Business Council. He has served on the board of directors for Mercy Hospital, Bankers Trust and the Iowa Telephone Association. Aipperspach currently also serves on the board of the Iowa College Foundation, and the Boy Scouts of America Mid-Iowa Council.
Senior Vice President, Chief Marketing & Communications Officer
Emily Abbas is the Senior Vice President and Chief Marketing and Communications Officer at Bankers Trust. Des Moines native and advocate Emily Abbas joined Bankers Trust in 2014 as the Bank’s first Chief of Staff. About six months later, she also agreed to serve as Chief Marketing Officer, leading all marketing and communications efforts for the Bank. Emily currently serves as President of Drake University’s National Alumni Board, Chair of the Greater Des Moines Partnership’s Communications Board, on the Governor’s STEM Advisory Council, and on the board of directors at the Des Moines Community Playhouse.
Don Adams, Ph. D.
On July 1, 1969, Donald Adams was appointed vice president for student life at Drake University. In 1985, the title vice president for enrollment management was added, and in January 1995, Dr. Adams assumed the position of executive assistant to the president, Secretary to the University and Legislative liaison. Prior to coming to Drake University, Dr. Adams served ten years at Michigan State University where he was a member of the vice president for student affairs staff as director of residence hall programs. Dr. Adams did his undergraduate work at the University of Northern Iowa and received his masters and doctoral degrees from Michigan State University. He has served as regional vice president and president of the National Association of Student Personnel Administrators. Dr. Adams has also received the outstanding alumnus award from the University of Northern Iowa, the Fred Turner Award for outstanding service to NASPA and was selected for the Scott Goonight Award from NASAP as the outstanding student affairs administrator in the United States. In addition, he has served as a consultant-evaluator for the North Central Association since 1976. He has also been a consultant for colleges and universities and continues as an active member of the National Association of Student Personnel Administrators.
Iowa Girls’ High School Athletic Union
Lisa Brinkmeyer is an Assistant Director at the Iowa Girls’ High School Athletic Union (IGHSAU), where she has worked since 2004. She is the Sport Administrator for girls’ high school volleyball, soccer and golf in Iowa. She is also an integral part of the State Tournament series coordination for the various IGHSAU sports.
Lisa speaks to schools, teams and groups about the importance of high school athletics and the perseverance of the Iowa Girl. Through her communication, emphasis is placed on the character-building and ethics that are obtained through participation in sports. Her professional motivation comes from the heart, as Lisa is able to draw from her personal high school experience in athletics to continue to keep the IGHSAU and the Iowa Girl in the forefront of high school athletics nationally.
Outside of work Lisa enjoys staying active, cheering on the Drake Bulldogs and traveling with her husband and two school-age children.
Senior Vice President - Wealth Management
UBS Financial Services, Inc.
Jared grew up in Clive, Iowa and attended Valley High School. Later, he went on to attend the University of Iowa under Coach Kirk Ferentz in his first class. Jared graduated in 2003, while at University of Iowa he was an Academic All American and All conference player, a four year letterman, a 5-year member of leadership committee, game captain and Coaches Appreciation Award winner in 2002 and 2003, part of Iowa’s Big Ten Championship in 2002, an East West Shrine Game Participant in 2003, on the Academic All District team, and the Forest Evashevski Scholastic Achievement Award winner. He was part of the Alamo Bowl team in 2001, the Orange Bowl team in 2003, and the Outback Bowl team in 2004. After college, Jared was drafted in the 7th Round of the 2004 NFL draft by the Tennessee Titans. He was credited with 4 seasons in NFL under the Titans, Redskins and Raiders.
He enjoys traveling, all things outdoors, and an active lifestyle.
Marta Codina is a 39-year veteran of the financial services industry who started her career as a teller during high school in Houston, Texas. Marta moved to Iowa in 1992 to join US Bank and worked there for 10 years as a regional manager leading the Retail Banking Division. She joined Wells Fargo in 2001 and during her tenure has served as a regional development manager, overseeing leadership strategies and learning and development for Iowa, and as an area manager for Wells Fargo Home Mortgage, overseeing the mortgage production sales force for Iowa.
Marta currently serves as region bank president for Wells Fargo Bank. In her role she oversees western Iowa retail banking in a territory that includes Des Moines, Ames, Atlantic, Waterloo/Cedar Falls, Clarion, Denison, Eagle Grove, Emmetsburg, Fort Dodge, Jefferson, Mason City, Perry and Sioux City.
A graduate of the University of Houston, she was a founding member of the Wells Fargo Central Iowa Diversity and Inclusion Council and is an executive sponsor of that group, which coordinates Wells Fargo’s local efforts around diversity and inclusion. Marta currently serves on the National Advisory Council of The Robert D. and Billie Ray Center (formerly known as Character Counts in Iowa) and as vice chair on the executive committee of the United Way of Central Iowa. She is a very active volunteer in the Central Iowa community with a variety of non-profits.
Marta and her husband, Jim Bruno, are residents of Waukee, Iowa, and have a son, Nicholas, and daughter, Maddie. Marta is a native of Cuba and came to the United States as a refugee in the early 1960s with her parents. Her passion is around “making a difference” primarily in the areas of early childhood development and diversity and inclusion.
Mary Tiffany Cownie
Chief of Staff
Mercy Health Network
Mary Cownie is a Des Moines native and a graduate of Theodore Roosevelt High School and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Upon graduating from UNC-Chapel Hill, she moved to Washington, D.C., where she worked for Gordon C. James Public Relations.
In 2004, she joined the Bush-Cheney campaign, worked on the presidential inauguration team, and served in the White House’s Office of Presidential Advance for two years where she traveled domestically and internationally to plan and organize logistics for presidential visits.
She returned to Des Moines in 2007 and became Communications Director for the Republican Party of Iowa and later joined the Community Relations Department at Prairie Meadows Racetrack & Casino. In January 2010, she started her own company, Goldfinch Strategies, with a focus on community, media and public relations; special event and project management; and creative concept and strategy execution.
In 2011, Governor Terry E. Branstad appointed Mary as Director of the Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs, where she oversees the administrative functions and programs of the department and the Iowa Arts Council, State Historical Society of Iowa and the Produce Iowa office.
In September of 2017, Mary was named Chief of Staff of Mercy Health Network, a newly expanded partnership between two of the nation’s largest Catholic health care systems – Catholic Health Initiatives and Trinity Health. This partnership consists of more than 40 hospitals and 230 clinics, and as Chief of Staff, Mary advances the strategic needs of the MHN while fulfilling the needs of the communities it serves, ensuring the organizationis positioned for growth and capable of delivering high-quality health care across Iowa.
A graduate of the Greater Des Moines Leadership Institute and member of the Business Record’s 40 Under 40, Cownie serves on the National Advisory Council for The Robert D. and Billie Ray Center at Drake University.
Mary lives with her husband, Peter, and three sons, John Henry (6), Ralph (3) and Joseph (7 months), in West Des Moines. Peter is Executive Director of the Iowa State Blue Ribbon Foundation and serves in the Iowa House of Representatives.
Nyemaster Goode, P.C.
Michael Dayton is the chairman of the Business, Finance, and Real Estate Department at Nyemaster Goode, P.C. and a member of the Iowa State Bar Association’s Business Law Section Council. During his career, Michael has led and assisted on hundreds of merger and acquisition transactions from public to public mergers to the sales of small privately-held companies. Michael also routinely assists clients with general contracting matters, including contract management processes and data and cybersecurity matters relating thereto; corporate formation and governance issues; commercial lending and secured transactions; regulatory matters; local counsel opinions; and other commercial transactions.
Michael is passionate about leadership, teaching, coaching, and serving his community, especially in the areas of child education and welfare. In addition to serving on the National Advisory Council for The Ray Center, Michael currently serves on the board of directors or in an advisory capacity for Children & Families of Iowa, the PinkySwear Foundation and the Des Moines AM Rotary Club. Michael has been an adjunct lecturer for the University of Iowa Tippie College of Business, and will be an adjunct lecturer in Spring 2019 at the Drake University School of Law.
Mike C. Gartner
Gartner Family Foundation
Mike C. Gartner is the newest stockholder and director of Raccoon Baseball Inc. Mike is a native of Des Moines and a graduate of Dowling High School and attended Simpson College. He worked for several years at Orchard Place, a home for troubled youth, and this season has joined the staff of the Iowa Cubs. Mike is also president of the Gartner Family Foundation, which supports education, cultural and youth organizations in the Des Moines area.
Mike C. Gartner, who by coincidence has almost the same name as the team’s majority owner (they have different middle names), is married to the former Michelle Sutton. They live in Des Moines
Executive VP, Co-Chief Operating Officer, Chief Retail Officer
Jeremy started his career as a part-time clerk at the Coralville Hy-Vee store in 1995 and continued at Coralville while attending college. In 1998 he transferred to Indianola where he served in a number of different positions which included second assistant manager along with manager of general merchandise and perishables. Jeremy was promoted to assistant store director in 2000 and two years later he became a store director at Eldora. He was then chosen to lead the team at Sioux City #3 in 2004. In 2007, Jeremy was selected from a strong list of candidates to become the store director at Winona. He was promoted to assistant vice president, operations of the northeast region in September 2012. In 2014, Jeremy became vice president, general merchandise/HBC, then vice president, retail business development. In 2016, he was named senior vice president, chief merchandising officer. Later that year, he became executive vice president, strategy, chief merchandising officer. Jeremy was named executive vice president, strategy and innovation, chief marketing officer in 2017. In early 2018, he was promoted to executive vice president, co-chief operating officer, chief marketing officer and in March 2018 was named executive vice president, co-chief operating officer, chief retail officer.
Jeremy graduated from Aplington-Parkersburg Community High School and later graduated with a degree in finance from the University of Iowa. He is married to Christine and they have two daughters: Carly and Lauren. Spending time with his family is the number one priority for Jeremy. He also enjoys playing golf, biking and hunting
Chief Executive Officer, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Iowa
Renee Hardman; Principal Owner of Hardman Consulting, is an experienced professional with over 25 years of Executive level HR experience. Hardman Consulting provides services in the area of employee development, diversity training/audits, workplace investigations, executive coaching, and leadership development. Ms. Hardman is currently a Certified Trainer, Coach & Speaker with the John Maxwell Team.
Renee Hardman previously served as Senior Vice President of Human Resources at Des Moines’ largest privately held financial institution in the state of Iowa. As SVP of Human Resources and a member of the Executive Committee, Renee was responsible for strategic direction in the areas of employee engagement, diversity, compensation and benefits, talent acquisition, employee relations, and employee development for locations in Iowa, Arizona, South Dakota and Nebraska. Ms. Hardman was previously with the Iowa Department of Personnel.
Ms. Hardman attended Drake University where she earned a BA with a major in Psychology and later obtained a Master in Business Administration (MBA). She has earned both the SPHR and the newly advanced SHRM-SCP HR certifications. She is a member of the Society for Human Resource Management (both nationally and locally).
Ms. Hardman’s community involvement includes Trustee for Des Moines University, Advisory Board member for The Robert D. and Billie Ray Center, Greater Des Moines Partnership’s Diversity Committee (past member), Board Member of the Latino Leadership Initiative, Des Moines Chapter of The Links, 5th Judicial Nomination Commission -- Governor Appointee, and member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. She is past President of the Chrysalis Foundation and longtime volunteer and past Board Member for Big Brothers/Big Sisters of Greater Des Moines.
Ms. Hardman is the recipient of many awards and honors. In 2014, she was inducted into the Iowa Women’s Hall of Fame. Other awards include the Distinguished Greater Des Moines Leadership Institute’s Alumni Volunteer Award, DMU’s Diversity Champion Award, Connie Wimer Spirit Award, President Obama’s Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Drum Major of Service Award, Des Moines University Glanton Scholarship Honoree, Women of Influence Award, Best Minority Business Leader Award, and YWCA’s Women of Achievement Award.
She has chaired the Governor’s Diversity Committee and was an active member of Drake University’s Diversity and the Downtown Partnership’s Diversity Committee. Renee’s passion is around leadership development, diversity & inclusion and inspiring individuals to reach their fullest potential.
Business & Community Partnerships Manager, DART
Matthew Harris was appointed Administrator of the Iowa Arts Council, a division of the Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs, in March 2011. Through his role at the Iowa Arts Council, Harris is charged with leading the state arts agency’s staff, grant-making initiatives and programming while helping steward the agency’s mission of enriching the quality of life in Iowa through support of the arts.
A Cedar Falls, Iowa native, Harris earned a degree in Public Relations from the University of Northern Iowa and worked for the Gallagher-Bluedorn Performing Arts Center before serving as development coordinator for Des Moines Performing Arts for more than six years.
Harris is a 2013 Des Moines Business Record ‘Forty Under 40’ honoree, a graduate of the Greater Des Moines Leadership Institute and serves on the boards of directors of Arts Midwest, The Ray Center, the Les Hale Endowment Fund and is a past board member of Cedar Falls Community Main Street, Inc. Harris is also an active volunteer for the University of Northern Iowa and the Panther Scholarship Club. He resides in Des Moines.
The PICTOR Group
A new era in Drake University Athletics began May 30, 2006, when Hatfield Clubb was named the school’s 16th athletics director. Hatfield Clubb is the first woman in the state of Iowa and only the third in the Missouri Valley Conference history to serve as an NCAA Division I athletics director. Since her arrival to Des Moines, she has immersed herself in the community. In addition to The Ray Center, she serves on the board of directors for the United Way, Iowa Sports Foundation, Des Moines Convention and Visitors Bureau, and the Community Foundation. Additionally, she is a member of the Downtown Rotary and NEXUS Executive Women’s Alliance.
Hatfield Clubb grew up in Bethesda, Md., and her husband, Jeffrey Clubb, is a native of Sigourney, Iowa. They are the parents of two children – a son, Tristan, and a daughter, Skyelar. Hatfield Clubb earned a bachelor’s degree in business administration and a master’s degree in education from the University of Texas-El Paso. Upon graduation, she was assistant aquatics coach at Washington and Lee University and later moved to Arizona State University where she served in various roles over 16 years before becoming athletics director at Drake University.
R. Michael Knapp
Iowa Realty Company, Inc.
R. Michael Knapp serves as chairman, president and chief executive officer of Iowa Realty Co. Inc. His title represents the culmination of a successful 28-year career in real estate services and development in which he received numerous promotions and recognitions from his peers. Mr. Knapp earned a Bachelor’s of Science degree in marketing from the University of Iowa in 1972. Upon graduation, he entered the real estate profession as a sales agent with Iowa Realty. In 1977, he was promoted to manager of the company’s largest sales office. In 1984, he was named general sales manager of the residential division of Iowa Realty; and in 1991, he was promoted senior vice president. Mr. Knapp was tapped as president and CEO in 1992. During his tenure as president of Iowa Realty, Mr. Knapp has negotiated several brokerage acquisitions that served to expand and diversify Iowa Realty’s presence across the state. In 1994, he led the acquisition of Carol Jones, Realtors of Springfield, Missouri, the No. 1 real estate brokerage in Southwest Missouri. A year later, in 1995, Mr. Knapp negotiated the purchase of First Realty/Better Homes & Gardens in Des Moines, which had long been Iowa Realty’s chief rival. The transaction gave Iowa Realty an unprecedented market share among brokerage firms based in larger metropolitan areas.
Mr. Knapp’s brokering talents took on a pivotal role in 1998 when AmerUs Group, the former owner of Iowa Realty and its affiliates, determined it would exit the real estate business. Mr. Knapp led the effort to identify a buyer that would best serve the needs of the company, its agents, employees, and the community. He brought buyer and seller together in a transaction valued at more than $80 million. Today, as part of HomeServices.com, Inc., an affiliate of MidAmerican Energy Holdings Company, Mr. Knapp serves on the real estate holding company’s board of directors. In this role he works in tandem with the company’s other real estate executives to implement best practice solutions and expand and diversify the company’s geographic scope and product offerings. Within the real estate industry, Mr. Knapp has been recognized a superior brokerage operator. He received the honor of “Realtor of the Year” in 1990 from the Des Moines Board of Realtors.
Kathryn M. Kunert
Vice President, Economic Connections and Integration
Kathryn Kunert is a native of Mason City, Iowa and graduated from UNI with a bachelor’s in public administration. In 1996 she joined MidAmerican Energy Company and currently is the vice president for economic connections and integration.
Kathryn is very involved in the community and has served as Past President and member of both Rotary DMAM and the Professional Developers of Iowa. She serves as a board member for the Iowa City Area Development Group and the Greater Cedar Valley Alliance. Kathryn is a graduate of the Greater Des Moines Leadership Institute, a Forty Under 40 class member of 2002 and member of the Des Moines Symphony’s viewing committee.
Kathryn lives in the Des Moines Area with her husband, Randy.
Chairman and Owner
Boyer Valley Company
Walter is Chairman and owner of Boyer Valley Company-a company of the Lauridsen Group, Inc. (LGI). LG l's foundation began in 1916 as the Lauridsen Creamery, selling butter, eggs and poultry to the local community. LGI headquarters is in Ankeny, Iowa, and not far from the old creamery in Dedham, Iowa. The company is now worldwide with more than fifty manufacturing and sales locations in twenty countries and sales in more than sixty countries. Each company under the LGI umbrella is truly independent. They have the ability and the charge to be entrepreneurial, to seek out new markets, to develop new products and applications, and-above all -to discover new ways to add value through fractionation and novel application. What's more, because some LGI companies have offices and presence around the world, all LGI companies benefit from their exposure to new markets, new products, new applications and new thinking. Walter has assisted with numerous domestic and foreign manufacturing start-ups and expansions, and served as Vice President, Entrepreneurial initiatives for LGl's Essentia Protein Solutions Company before assuming the role of CEO at B.V.C. Walter holds a B.A. in Applied Economics and Management from Cornell University. He is actively engaged in The Other Side Academy initiative. Walter is married to Kelly and has one infant son, Nix.
CEO, Executive Director
Iowa Sports Foundation
Chuck Long is the Executive Director and Chief Executive Officer for the Iowa Sports Foundation. Mr. Long will lead the organization in its efforts to provide quality sports, wellness, nutrition and fitness programs for Iowans of every age and ability. Long is a seasoned executive who has provided leadership in the sports field for more than 30 years, with extensive experience leading multidimensional programs.
Long was a consensus All-American quarterback for the University of Iowa Hawkeyes (1981-1985), Big Ten player of the year, recipient of the Maxwell Award (college player of the year) and the Davey O'Brien Award (nation's best quarterback), Heisman Trophy runner-up and first round NFL draft pick in 1986. Long played eight seasons with the Detroit Lions and Los Angeles Rams before joining the 1995 University of Iowa coaching staff under the direction of Hayden Fry. Long’s sixteen-year coaching career included positions with the country’s other top college football programs including the University of Oklahoma 2000 national champions, San Diego State University, and the University of Kansas
Greg lives in the small town of Traer, Iowa. Greg is recently retired form East-Central Iowa REC after more than 20 years of service. Prior to working with the REC Greg developed 160 acres of prime ground.
Greg is a father of two-a daughter and a son. He is the proud grandfather of four-Wesley, Rachel, Madeline, and Zachary. Greg believes that while children make up about 27% of the US population but are 100% of our future which way they go depend on us.
Greg looks forward to spending his retirement golfing, traveling, hunting and fishing. He enjoys gardening and just being outdoors.
Sabra K. Rosener
Vice President, GRO, Government and External Affairs
Sabra Rosener is a graduate of the Drake University Law School and currently serves as Vice President, Government and External Affairs for UnityPoint Health in West Des Moines, Iowa. She has been with UnityPoint Health (UPH) since 2003 where she started as an attorney.
Sabra has led UnityPoint’s efforts at the federal and state government levels in representing the health system’s interests to the executive, legislative and administrative branches of government. Most recently, Sabra has also taken on the role of working with the UPH regions to further develop community benefit programs.
Prior to her appointment with UnityPoint Health, Sabra held positions at Wellmark Blue Cross Blue Shield, Ruan Transportation and the Iowa Court of Appeals. She also has served as an adjunct professor at Drake University Law School.
Sabra received her Bachelors of Arts degree from the University of Northern Iowa in Cedar Falls, Iowa and her J.D., with honors, from Drake University Law School. She currently serves on the Iowa Business Council and the National Advisory Council for The Robert D. and Billie Ray Center. Sabra and her husband, Scot, live in Des Moines and are raising four children, Mia, Max, Gus and Valerie.
Covenant Construction Services
Alan is co-owner and president Covenant Construction Services, a commercial general contracting company specializing in government contracting. Also CCS Homes a custom home builder with a motto of; “Your Home Your Way” Their care for their process takes them to the top of the energy star rating system.
Alan formerly served in the United States Army as a command sergeant major and retired in 2001. He entered the Army in October of 1981 and CSM Sprinkle’s assignments included duties as a military policeman, airborne ranger, Army recruiter, and prior to retiring was responsible for the Des Moines Recruiting Battalion covering Iowa, Nebraska, part of South Dakota, Wisconsin and Illinois as well as many other leadership positions before that. CSM Sprinkle holds a Bachelor of Science-Arts Degree from Excelsior College, in Albany, New York. Some of Alan’s hobbies are exercising and instructing at Farrell’s eXtreme Bodyshaping, golf, gardening, and cooking. Alan is married to the former Ms. Laurie Witt of Wisconsin Rapids, Wisconsin. They have two sons, Benjamin and Joshua who are both married and has four grandchildren.
Director of Community Relations
Prairie Meadows Racetrack and Casino
Julie Stewart has been an instrumental part of the Prairie Meadows corporate management team since the organization’s first year of operations in 1989. She successfully led the marketing and advertising programs during the introduction of casino gaming. She was elevated to assistant marketing director in 1996 and was eventually named marketing director. As Prairie Meadows expanded its corporate giving, Julie was chosen in 2006 to direct the newly created Community Relations department. Julie earned a bachelor’s degree in business administration from Stephens College in Columbia, Missouri.
Over the past year, Julie has made significant contributions to the community as co-chair of the ALS Campaign, Variety Club of Iowa, United Way of Central Iowa, Des Moines University’s Glanton Scholarship Dinner, and the Governor’s Boy Scout/Girl Scout Luncheon.
Julie currently serves on the boards of The Ray Center, Variety-The Children’s Charity, Blank Park Zoo Foundation, Better Business Bureau, and United Way Campaign Cabinet. She is also a member of Altoona Elementary PTA, Lutheran Church of the Cross, Altoona Chamber of Commerce, and Polk County Democrats. Julie is a past board member of Greater Des Moines Leadership, Des Moines Arts Festival, Generations Inc., and the Altoona Area Chamber of Commerce. She is an honorary member of 40 Under 40, and she is a graduate of the Greater Des Moines Leadership Institute’s TLP\CLP programs and Leadership Iowa. Julie and her husband Mark have three children.
Energy Brand Manager
Atlantic Coca-Cola Bottling
Jay Tyler graduated from Waukee High School and attended the University of Iowa where he graduated with a bachelor’s in inter-departmental studies with an emphasis in business. Throughout his career, Jay worked part-time for the family owned business, Atlantic Coca-Cola Bottling Company. Jay has held various jobs within the organization including warehouse operations, service support, merchandising and delivery. In September of 2008, Jay moved to Salt Lake City, Utah, to take part of a Management Training Program for Swire Coca-Cola Company. After eighteen months in Utah, Jay has returned to central Iowa where he is employed at Atlantic Coca-Cola Bottling Company.
Jay lives in West Des Moines, and enjoys golf and other outdoor activities.
Wallace was the recipient of the Distinguished Eagle Scout Award from the Boy Scouts of America in 2002, he received the Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters Degree from Allen College in Waterloo, Iowa, the Simonton Community Excellence Award from the Iowa CareGivers Foundation in 1998, American College of Healthcare Executives Regent’s Award in 1997 and several other awards.
Randi Ray Watson
In the fall of 2000, Kathe Breheny made a career move from the advertising and public relations field to work in the electric utility industry. As Vice President of Corporate Communications, Kathe is able to use the skills and relationships that she developed over the 12 years of working in the advertising arena to help the cooperatives make a difference in the lives in the communities they serve. Concern for Community is one of the Cooperative Guiding Principles that Central Iowa Power Cooperative (CIPCO) does business by. Working closely with KCCI-TV 8 meteorologists, CIPCO helped bring the SchoolNet program to the Des Moines television viewing area. Involving the schools in the program has been a home run for the local communities, educators, rural electric cooperatives as well as KCCI-TV. Working with Character Counts In Iowa is just another commitment that Kathe believes strongly in and has helped bring the training to the educators and the youth of Iowa. “Working with the communities on a variety of different programs that we can really see a difference being made has been a highlight of my career,” says Kathe. “I am always taken back when I see the true gratification of community leaders, educators and students in the programs that we support.” Kathe is married to Mark and they have one son Chad. When she is not spending time with her “pride and joy” three grandchildren, traveling is her true relaxation.
Billy is an Iowa high school and college football legend. He played college football at Drake where he broke five Pioneer Football League records including most points and most career field goals. Billy attended high school in Harlan, Iowa where he was a two time All-American and helped lead his team to the Iowa State Championship in 1998. He was originally signed by the Dallas Cowboys as an undrafted free agent in 2002.
Billy set an NFL record for most field goals made in a game on Monday Night Football. A member of the Baltimore Ravens since 2009, Billy tied an NFL record for most touchbacks in a season and was named to the AFC Pro-Bowl Squad and NFL All-Pro in 2010.
President, Chairman & Chief Operating Officer
Randy Edeker is chairman and CEO of Hy-Vee, Inc., a position he has held since 2009.
A 30-year veteran of Hy-Vee, Edeker began his Hy-Vee career in 1981 as a part-time employee at the Hy-Vee store in Chariton, Iowa. He quickly moved up through the ranks at Hy-Vee, working at stores in Lincoln, Nebraska; Davenport, Iowa; Milan, Illinois; and Kirksville, Missouri before getting his first store director assignment at Columbus, Nebraska in 1993. After just a year at the helm, he was selected by his peers for induction into the Hy-Vee Hall of Fame as “Store Manager of the Year.”
In 1995 Edeker joined Hy-Vee’s corporate staff, serving as a director of operations overseeing stores in the company’s Northwest region. Once again, his peers recognized his accomplishments by voting him into the Hall of Fame as “Department Director of the Year” in 1998. That same year, he was elected to serve a one-year term on Hy-Vee’s board of directors. In 1999, he transferred to Hy-Vee’s Southern Region as director of operations, and later, assistant vice president, operations, overseeing the company’s growing Kansas City market.
Edeker was elected vice president, Marketing for Hy-Vee in 2004. A year later, Hy-Vee staff and store directors presented him with his third Hy-Vee Hall of Fame award, this time as “Officer of the Year.” In 2006 Edeker moved up to senior vice president, retail operations, and in 2008 he became executive vice president and chief operating officer. Stockholders elected him to his current position as president in 2009.
In this role, Edeker oversees retail operations, store design, marketing, advertising, distribution procurement and communications for Hy-Vee, which operates 233 supermarkets and drug stores in eight Midwestern states. He serves on Hy-Vee’s board of directors and executive committee and is active within the industry as well, serving on the Pepsico Retail Advisory Council, Coca-Cola Retailing Research Council and as Co-Chair of the Associate Member Board of the Food Marketing Institute, the industry’s largest trade group.
Randy and his wife, Dawn, have two children and one granddaughter and reside in Urbandale.
Jim recently retired from the position of Executive Director for the Iowa Sports Foundation. During his time with the Iowa Sports Foundation, Hallihan spent a great deal of his time traveling the state of Iowa promoting the Iowa Games and the CHARACTER COUNTS! program. His travels included a 100-stop media tour, as well as speaking engagements at sport clinics, schools, civic organizations, church groups and corporations. For 8 1/2 years, Hallihan hosted a radio show, “Sports for the Right Reasons,” in which sportsmanship and character-building are the focus for youth, parents and coaches. In October 2006 at the National Congress of State Games Symposium, Hallihan was awarded the first ever Executive Director of the Year award. He received this award from his fellow colleagues from state games organizations all around the country. In March 2009, Hallihan was a recipient of the Iowa Girls High School Athletic Union Sportsmanship Award at the Girls’ State Basketball Tournament which was played at Wells Fargo Arena in Des Moines.
A native of Decatur, Ill., Hallihan enjoyed a successful basketball playing career at Miami (Ohio) University, where he was a two-year starter and team captain on the Redskins’ NCAA Tournament team. After a short stint as a head coach at Casey (Ill.) High School and a tour of duty in the Army, Hallihan joined the coaching staff at Virginia Tech. In 1973, Virginia Tech won the N.I.T., and the 1974-75 Virginia Tech coaching staff was named one of the Top Ten College Coaching Staffs of all time by Mike Douchant of the College Sports Xchange. Hallihan joined Johnny Orr’s basketball staff at Iowa State University in August of 1982 after serving as head coach at East Tennessee State from 1979-1982, guiding the Bucs to a 57-53 record. He served as Johnny Orr’s top assistant at ISU for twelve years. During that time, the Cyclones made six NCAA appearances and three N.I.T appearances.
Hallihan holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Miami of Ohio in physical education and administration. In 2009 Jim was presented with the Robert D. Ray Pillar of Character Award to honor his remarkable character and dedication to our organization. He and wife Trish have two daughters, Jennifer and Kelly; one son, Danny; and one granddaughter, Rosie.
By 21 years old, American gymnast Shawn Johnson had accomplished a lifetime of achievements that include Olympic Medals, a New York Times best-selling book, a business, and a career in broadcast.
Johnson’s love of gymnastics started when her parents, hoping to channel the energies of their rambunctious daredevil toddler, enrolled her in classes at the age of three. A few years later, she began practicing with instructor Liang Chow at his training facility in Des Moines. It wasn’t long after Chow began coaching Johnson that he knew she would be a viable Olympics competitor.
Johnson became a member of the U.S. senior team in 2007. She is the 2007 all-around World Champion and 2007 World Champion on floor exercise. As well as being the 2007 U.S. Champion on balance beam and floor exercise, the 2008 U.S. Champion on floor exercise and silver medalist on balance beam, she is a three-time U.S. all-around Champion, winning once as a junior and twice as a senior.
Hundreds of millions of viewers worldwide watched as a 16 year old Johnson won four medals including gold on the balance beam at the 2008 Summer Olympics, which took place in Beijing, China.
At the age of 17, she became the youngest ever contestant, and subsequently in May of 2009 was crowned champion, of ABC’s 8th season of “Dancing with the Stars”. Shawn was so popular with the audience that in 2012 she was invited back for “Dancing with the Stars: All Stars” where she again made it to the finale.
After a two-year hiatus from competitive gymnastics, Shawn returned to training in 2010 in an effort to make the 2012 Olympic Team. Just weeks before Olympic Trials, she was forced to withdraw due to injury and retired from the sport.
In 2014, Johnson launched TheBodyDepartment.com, a site dedicated to offering an outlet where people can talk about body image, wellness, and fitness in a healthy way.
She is involved in a number of philanthropic activities such as working with animal and children’s charities, working with cancer charities, particularly those that affect women and children, and is a strong advocate of health and wellness initiatives. Shawn is also involved in programs that help build good character amongst youth across the country.
Donna is currently the public relations coordinator for McAninch Corporation. She moved to West Des Moines in 1993 after many years in the Iowa Great Lakes Region working as the Marketing Director for, at that time, the newly renovated Arnold Amusement Park. Upon her arrival to the Des Moines area, she was first employed as the Marketing Director for Embassy Suites and soon after became Marketing Director for McAninch Corporation.
Donna has been active in the Des Moines community on many levels and held various board and committee positions. She served on the Greater Des Moines Chamber of Commerce board of directors, the YWCA board of directors, Drake Women’s Basketball Steering Committee and Season Ticket Sales Committee, Glen Oaks Country Club Membership Committee, Glen Oaks Ladies Golf Association Chair, Dowling Catholic High School Band Aid Fundraising Committee and works as a volunteer at St. Francis of Assisi School. Donna is married to Doug McAninch and they have two daughters, Heather and Rosie.
McLellan Marketing Group
Drew McLellan’s a 25+ year marketing agency veteran who lives for creating “a ha” moments for his clients, clients’ customers, peers and audiences across the land. Sadly, for his daughter, he attempts to do the same thing at home.
Drew’s favorite tools for creating these moments are vivid story telling, Italian heritage inspired hand gestures and the occasional tipping of a sacred cow.
Over the years, Drew has lent his expertise to clients like Nabisco, IAMS pet foods, Kraft Foods, Meredith Publishing, John Deere, Iowa Health System, Make-A-Wish, and a wide array of others.
Drew is also one of the world’s top marketing and branding bloggers. He has written the book 99.3 Random Acts of Marketing, co-editing the Age of Conversation series of books and in 1995, he launched his own firm McLellan Marketing Group.
Recently he has appeared in the New York Times, Entrepreneur Magazine, Business Week and Fortune’s Small Business. The Wall Street Journal calls him one of 10 bloggers that every entrepreneur should read.
C.J. Niles has been a board member since its our inception in 1997, after serving as co-chair of the Iowa Sesquicentennial Commission Board of Directors. Niles is currently community relations staff for the American Cancer Society in Carroll, Iowa. Prior to this, Niles was the director of the Iowa Department of Economic Development. She served as executive director of the Carroll Area Development Corporation and Carroll Chamber of Commerce for twelve years. She is also a previous small business owner and educator. Niles received a B.A.E. degree from Wayne State College and an M.S. E. from Northwest Missouri State University. She is a current member of the City Development Board for the State of Iowa.
“It is truly a pleasure to serve on a board that is really making a difference in Iowa. Although we emphasize character education for young people, all ages have benefited from the lessons of the Six Pillars of Character. It gives me a great deal of pride to work with such a professional staff who are very enthusiastic about their jobs and the mission.”
The Honorable Sally Pederson