Leadership at Noon

Since 2002, the D.B. Reinhart Institute for Ethics in Leadership has collaborated with the Dahl School of Business to host a series of "brown bag" presentations featuring regional business leaders. The purpose of the series is to bring students and community members together for regular discussions about the values and virtues that inform successful business practices.  

The presentations are free and open to the public. No registration is required. 


Upcoming Events

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Jeanne M. Meyer, Executive Director, Big Brothers Big Sisters of the 7 Rivers Region
Wednesday, February 15th, 2023
Noon1 p.m. (Presentation starts at 12:20 p.m.), Fine Arts Center, FSPA Lobby (Campus Map)

Note: The presentation starts at 12:20, but attendees are invited to come at noon for a complementary cup of soup and bread for FREE at noon. Parking is available in any Viterbo lot and a parking pass isn’t required. No registration needed either. Jeanne Meyer will share her personal leadership story and provide a couple of inspiration nuggets.

Bio: Jeanne M. Meyer was hired as the Executive Director of Big Brothers Big Sisters of 7 Rivers Region in July of this year. She brings more than 26 years of executive leadership experience in small and large, non-profit organizations to Big Brothers Big Sisters.  

Jeanne is a powerful advocate for pushing boundaries and exceeding expectations and over the course of her profession, Jeanne has earned a reputation as a visionary leader with confidence and approaches even the most difficult and complex challenges with unfailing perseverance and commitment to success. Her great passion is finding ways to make our communities a safer, healthier place to live and thrive. As a true advocate of public and community service, she has served on several boards and committees focused on the improvement of at-risk children, individuals and family’s lives and the betterment of the communities in which she serves.  

Past Events

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Nick Johnson, Pre-Owned Director for the Luther Landers Automotive Group
Wednesday, October 5th, 2022
Noon1 p.m., Fine Arts Center, FSPA Lobby (Campus Map)

Nick Johnson’s leadership story is one of persistence to succeeded. As the Pre-Owned Director for the Luther Landers Automotive Group, Johnson is drawn by the mission to identify new ways to create more business; and, strengthen team members. His servant leadership approach guides him when setting the strategic direction for profitability, forecasting, predictive metrics, among many other areas. Under his leadership, Luther Landers Automotive Group has grown to a team of 60 employees that support more than 4,500 employees in 40+ locations which stretches from Fargo, ND to Little Rock, AR.

Johnson’s incredible mind for business was first recognized as a Viterbo University student. A simple assignment of working in the athletics concession stand morphed into reimaging profit margins through the development of an inventory tracking system. As a tour guide, Johnson maximized his capacity by developing a beneficial tour guide handbook.

Johnson’s passion of identifying talent in nontraditional ways opens doors for students and new leaders to learn from his successes. His gift of building relationships makes Johnson very approachable; and, those he serves recognize him as an ally and friend. 

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Jaclyn Cardin, Vice President of Integrated Marketing
Organic Valley
Wednesday, March 23rd, 2022
Noon1 p.m., Fine Arts Center, FSPA Lobby (Campus Map)

Jaclyn Cardin is vice president of Integrated Marketing at Organic Valley. Drawn by its mission to save small organic family farms and offer ethically made food to families everywhere, Cardin sets the strategic direction for Organic Valley’s integrated marketing across the consumer journey. In her role she oversees advertising, PR, digital marketing, consumer communications, creative, events, and marketing operations. She believes in the power of teamwork and finds joy in helping others grow and evolve to reach their full potential.

Cardin joined Organic Valley in early 2018 as director of Interactive Marketing. Prior to that, she held the position of senior director of digital at a hair care company, where she led strategic direction for the company’s direct-to-consumer channel. She holds a bachelor’s degree in communication from the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse and is on the Milk Processor Education Program (MilkPEP) and Organic Meat Company (OMC) boards. A dog mom and all-around animal lover, Cardin and her wife founded Wuffy handmade dog treats. A native of Wisconsin, Cardin lives in La Crosse.


Vendi Leadership at Noon
Wednesday, February 23rd, 2022
Noon1 p.m., Fine Arts Center, FSPA Lobby (Campus Map)
Kathy Van Kirk- Creative Principal

Kathy is the founding principal of Vendi, the largest advertising agency in Western Wisconsin. She and her teams have won numerous national brand, creative, marketing, digital, web, video and advertising awards. Kathy has led the development of Vendi's brand strategy process and enjoys nothing more than uncovering, crafting and sharing an organization's authentic brand story. She has learned from the best, trained in creative strategy by industry Hall of Famers. In 2014, Kathy was named the YWCA Outstanding Woman representing Business/Professions for the Coulee Region. She earned her BFA in advertising design from UW-Eau Claire.

Kate Weis- Director of Account Management

Kate oversees account management at Vendi, leading a cross-functional team of expert marketers and program managers. As a marketing and media strategist, she’s adept at organizing communications programs, brand strategy projects and media campaigns while providing the day-to-day support that makes client partnerships productive. Kate’s special expertise includes digital and social media marketing and she is particularly skilled in the areas of healthcare and higher education. Kate has a BS in marketing from UW-La Crosse.

Sam Przywojski- Director of Business Development

Sam Przywojski leads business development and finance at Vendi. Sam is always up for a challenge, especially when it involves helping businesses and organizations grow. His economics background, enthusiastic approach and personal touch helps open doors to new possibilities.

Sam spent eight years racking up airline miles as a key accounts executive with a leading international packaging company. Inspired by the culture, he joined Vendi to extend the agency’s reach and help new partners reach their potential with a combination of focused strategy and inspired creativity. Sam has his BS in economics from UW-La Crosse.

Shaundel Spivey, Director
Black Leaders Acquiring Collective Knowledge
Tuesday, Oct. 12, 2021
noon1 p.m., Fine Arts Center, FSPA Lobby (Campus Map)

Shaundel Spivey serves as the first director of Black Leaders Acquiring Collective Knowledge. He recently served as the director of Upward Bound at the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse. He is a community organizer and very passionate about social justice, equity, and community. Spivey is someone who serves in many capacities in the community and is always willing to share his knowledge and experience to help the community and others. He serves on the School District of La Crosse school board and serves as a Racial Justice training consultant in the community. Spivey also serves on the Governor's Equity and Inclusion Council. He is from Milwaukee and is a two-time alum of UW-L (2012 and 2015), as well as a Western Technical College alum (2014). Spivey is currently in the Counselor Education and Supervision doctoral program at Viterbo.   

In 2015, Spivey co-founded the organization Black Leaders Acquiring Collective Knowledge. The purpose was to build space and opportunities for black people, especially black youth, to feel empowered and knowledgeable about their power and significance in the community.

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Jed Olson, Executive Director
ORA Trails
Wednesday, Sept. 15, 2021
noon1 p.m., Fine Arts Center, FSPA Lobby (Campus Map)


Jed Olson has always been driven by two forcesdoing good and having fun. These passions have been the guiding stars that brought he and his wife, Kelly, all over the world chasing adventure and serving communities along the way. Having worked in a broad range of recreational and educational settings, Olson brought a diverse set of experiences and skills to the Driftless region when they settled here 15 years ago. He spent the better part of a decade as an at-home parent, volunteering in his free time in ecological, recreational, and justice-minded pursuits. More recently, he has owned and operated an outdoor education and recreation project management business and is now the executive director of the Outdoor Recreation Alliance (ORA) Trails. This role sits soundly at the intersection of Olson’s passions and skills, allowing him the opportunity to improve and highlight this beautiful place he calls home.


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Jamie Schloegel, Executive Director
La Crosse Community Foundation
Wednesday, Feb. 24, 2021
noon1 p.m. Facebook Live Event

Jamie Schloegel has served as the La Crosse Community Foundation's executive director since June 2018. She joined the Foundation in 2016 as its program director. Prior to that, Schloegel spent 10 years at the Family & Children’s Center in various positions, most recently the as the development director. Her career experience combined with her undergraduate degree in social work (from Viterbo) and graduate level education in fundraising and nonprofit management provide a specialized knowledge base in best practice philanthropy, as well as an intimate understanding of the greater La Crosse area and its needs. Her work has been attributed to millions of dollars in philanthropic gifts for charitable organizations in the La Crosse area. She is a La Crosse area native, and resides in Holmen with her husband, Joe, and their two kids, Brennan and Violet. 


Jen Barney, Pastry Chef and Owner
Meringue Bakery
Tuesday, Jan. 26, 2021
noon1 p.m. Facebook Live Event

Jen Barney’s reputation for creating desserts that look as exquisite as they taste is now known nationwide. The Wisconsin-based pastry chef and owner of Meringue Bakery catapulted to fame and proved her fierce culinary skills by winning two Food Network Baking Championship titles. Her creations showcased skill, passion, and talent that have people calling her the Doyenne of Desserts.

A classically trained baker and pastry chef and graduate of the acclaimed Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts, Barney began her career 10 years ago as a wedding cake decorator. Her career has taken her from the Twin Cities area to New Mexico and back home to Wisconsin. Along the way, she has prepared desserts and pastries for large banquets and restaurants, designed specialty dessert lines, and created decadent confections and cakes for a variety of occasions.

Today, Barney is best known for her elegant wedding cakes and unique, custom flavors—from classical and subtle to novel and bold. Each wedding cake she creates is one of a kind and made especially for the one-of-a-kind couple and, when possible, made with seasonal and locally sourced ingredients. Specialties include edible flowers and hand-painted and sculpted cakes. Barney and her talented staff also offer seasonal items and party favors along with pastries and personalized desserts for corporate events.

When not at the bakery, Barney enjoys spending time with her daughter Millie, son Wyatt, and husband Brian.


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Jonah Larson
Author and Creator | Jonah's Hands, LLC
Tuesday, Oct. 27, 2020
noon1 p.m.  Facebook Live Event

A recording of Leadership at Noon with Jonah Larson is available for viewing on the Viterbo University Reinhart Institute for Ethics Facebook page until Nov. 27, 2020.

Jonah Larson is a 12-year old crochet prodigy from La Crosse. His infectious enthusiasm and commitment to giving back have earned him a worldwide following. His story has been featured in hundreds of articles including in the New York Times, The Times of London, Forbes, Oprah Magazine, People and USA Today. He has appeared on the Today Show, Little Big Shots with Melissa McCarthy, The Kelly Clarkson Show and Pickler & Ben to name a few. Larson most recently landed a position as a regular correspondent on The Drew Barrymore Show beginning Sept. 14, 2020.

At age 11, Larson authored his first book, Hello, Crochet Friends!: Making Art, Being Mindful, Giving Back: Do What Makes You Happy. His second book, Giving Back Crochet—Jonah Larson was released June 2020. Larson is most proud of his philanthropic work and has funded his first Jonah’s Hands Library in Ethiopia in the rural village where he was born. He also built those same children a science lab. He is raising money to fill the science lab with the equipment it needs. Larson speaks nationally about doing what makes you happy and the importance of inclusivity. He has won hundreds of awards for his crochet pieces and designs; often selling these items to raise money for his philanthropic work in his community. Larson started his own business, Jonah's Hands, LLC, at age 11. On his website, he features tutorials teaching others to learn crochet. His most famous phrase is, “Crochet brings the world together one stitch at a time.”

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Bob Kirchoff, Chief Executive Officer, CROPP Cooperative
CROPP Cooperative | Organic Valley | Organic Prairie
Tuesday, Sept. 15, 2020
noon1 p.m. Facebook Live Event

Bob Kirchoff​ was appointed CEO by the CROPP board of directors in 2019. Although he signed on as chief business officer in 2016, he is no stranger to the cooperative. In fact, he has been involved with CROPP since 1993 because of his long tenure at the St. Paul-based Schroeder Company, which was the first processor to take CROPP's organic milk.

In his role, Kirchoff helps guide strategic planning and associated implementation, develops entrepreneurial partnerships to create new revenue streams, integrates resource allocation efforts with planning and outcome assessment, and supports the development of creative business solutions to the challenges CROPP faces. ​​He looks forward to his next phase of CROPP leadership. 


Stacy Shapiro, Courageous Communication: For Now. For Always.
President, Shapiro Strategies
Tuesday, June 23, 2020
noon1 p.m.
Virtual Zoom Meeting - registration required

Stacy Shapiro is president of Shapiro Strategies (a consulting and training firm) and has over 25 years of leadership experience. She received a communications degree from the University of Wisconsin and has held various leadership roles nationwide. In her current work, she passionately encourages businesses, colleges and universities (and departments thereof), nonprofits, and organizations to focus on quality leadership, positive communications, and the pursuit of excellenceall while setting a values- and mission-driven course for the future. Shapiro is committed to community service and feels honored to be a part of the D.B. Reinhart Institute for Ethics in Leadership Advisory Council.


Stephanie Helmers
Stephanie Helmers, Owner and Director, Zen and Pow Studio 
Tuesday, Jan. 28, 2020
noon–1 p.m.
Fine Arts Center FSPA Lobby (Campus Map)

Stephanie Helmers is a dedicated yogi, avid fitness lover, soul-inspired entrepreneur, a lifelong learner and a teacher through and through. When she opened her business, Zen and Pow Studio, in 2013 at the age of 20, she solely taught cardio kickboxing and yoga. Hence, the name Zen and Pow. Since then, Helmers continues to grow and learn in her teachings of fitness, yoga, and business to offer her members a total mind, body and soul experience. More than just a fitness or yoga studio, her vision for Zen and Pow is to offer constant support and encouragement for our good vibes tribe of members and instructors at the studio. Along with teaching classes at the studio, she has developed a strong love for business and entrepreneurship as she works on branding, marketing, building up her team, and ultimately taking her business to the next level. A true lover of fitness and business, Helmers is dedicated to her mission of helping others and goes above and beyond every day to offer positive, uplifting energy to her tribe.



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Roald Gundersen, Co-president, Founder and Owner at WholeTrees Structures     
Tuesday, Nov. 19, 2019
noon–1 p.m.
Fine Arts Center FSPA Lobby (Campus Map)


Architect and La Crosse native Roald Gundersen will share some of his career efforts at social and environmental activist projects and businesses from Biosphere 2 in Arizona, cold climate greenhouses, Cameron Park Farmers Market, Festival Foods in Madison, and most recently the Riverside Park band shell, and a proposed tree dome for Madison. He co-founded WholeTrees in 2007 to help develop a prosperous relationship with forests and win Benefit Corporation status as one of the first businesses to do so in Wisconsin. WholeTrees, headquartered in Madison, helped to build the Myrick Hixon EcoPark Center and is working to rebuild the band shell at Riverside Park, both in La Crosse.


Shelly Mayer
Shelly Mayer, Executive Director, Professional Dairy Producers of Wisconsin
Wednesday, Oct. 9, 2019
noon–1 p.m.
Fine Arts Center FSPA Lobby (Campus Map)

Shelly Mayer is the executive director of the Professional Dairy Producers of Wisconsin (PDPW), the largest dairy producer-led, educational-based organization in the country. The organization has led the national effort to define dairy animal well-being and maintain customers’ confidence that the industry embraces the moral obligation to take good care of their animals and produce safe and abundant dairy and meat products. Her work has helped dairy farm families across the country work proactively on issues ranging from improving business profitability, community relations, environmental management, leadership development, food safety and animal health to labor issues, industry relations, mentoring the younger generation, and family business transition.

Mayer grew up on a dairy farm in southwestern Wisconsin. She graduated from the University of Wisconsin with a Bachelor of Science degree in agricultural journalism and dairy science. 


Lee Rasch
Lee Rasch, Executive Director, LeaderEthics-Wisconsin
Tuesday, April 16, 2019
noon–1 p.m. 
Reinhart Center Board Room 107

Lee Rasch founded LeaderEthics-Wisconsin in March 2018, a nonprofit/nonpartisan organization committed to promoting ethical leadership among elected officials. He serves as the executive director of the organization.

Prior to this experience, he served as president of Western Technical College from 1989-2017. Throughout his career, he has actively promoted leadership development, continuous improvement, economic development and sustainability at the national, statewide, and local levels. He has written articles and given numerous presentations on these topics. Rasch was chair of the Legislative Committee for the Wisconsin Technical College System for more than 15 years. He was a democratic candidate for the U.S. Congress in 1994 and 1996.

Rasch has a doctorate in Higher Education Administration from Illinois State University. He is married to Susan Fox. They have two children and three grandchildren. In his spare time, Rasch sings in a barbershop quartet and sings and plays bass guitar in a rock band, The Executives.


Kent Handel
Kent Handel, President and CEO, Trust Point
Tuesday, March 5, 2019
noon–1 p.m. 
Reinhart Center Board Room 107


Kent Handel has served as President and CEO of Trust Point Inc. since August 2001. Trust Point provides trust and investment management services across the country between their headquarters in La Crosse and their Eau Claire and Minneapolis branches. Handel leads by example, encouraging community involvement and philanthropy, which have long been ingrained in the corporate culture at Trust Point. 

He is a graduate of Morningside College in Sioux City, Iowa, with a bachelor’s degree in business administration. Handel has more than 37 years of experience in the financial industry, including consumer lending, broker/dealer management, fixed income and equity portfolio management, and trust administration. Prior to joining Trust Point, he worked for Security National Bank, as senior vice president in charge of the organization’s trust and investment functions.

He has held numerous board positions including chair of the Riverfront Board, treasurer for Riverland Girl Scouts and the La Crosse County Historical Society board, and president of the La Crosse Club. He served as president on the Viterbo University board of trustees from 2012–18 and remains an active member of the Viterbo board.


Jack Peplinski
Jack Peplinski, President and CEO, Altra Federal Credit Union
Tuesday, Jan. 22, 2019
noon–1 p.m.
Reinhart Center Board Room 107


Jack Peplinski is president and CEO of Altra Federal Credit Union. Altra is a Financial Cooperative serving over 103,000 members in all 50 states and over 40 foreign countries. Peplinski received a B.A. in accounting from Winona State University and an MBA from University of Wisconsin–La Crosse. He joined Altra in 1990 as vice president for Market Development and Planning. Since then he has held various operational roles before becoming president and CEO in 2011. 

Servant Leadership and the Credit Union Cooperative business model complement each other.  Peplinski views his role more as a facilitator in making sure his team is empowered, trained, and motivated to help Altra members live their best life.

Cynthia Hougum
Cynthia Hougum, Ph.D.
VP, Product and Customer Excellence
GE Healthcare Digital
Tuesday, Nov. 13, 2018
noon–1 p.m.
Reinhart Center Board Room 107

Cynthia Hougum just moved into the position of  VP, Product and Customer Excellence, a part of GE Healthcare’s Digital Imaging business.  Hougum has been with the General Electric Corporation for 25 years joining GE’s former Advanced Materials (Plastics) business on the Technical Leadership Program and then moving to GE Healthcare medical equipment and Life Sciences businesses. She has worked on business transformation and turnarounds across three industries and seven divisions, which include but are not limited to Acquisition Integrations from Customer to Ops, Product Management, R&D, along with Business Digitization (IoT) covering from Sales to Supply Chain to Finance. Her expertise in business turnaround situations, mergers and acquisition integrations has resulted in an average of 40% ROI in sales and employee growth of 25%.

Teamwork is core to any successful business and she considers it a privilege to have successfully led large teams across eight countries with three expat assignments which honed her global approach to leadership and business. 

Hougum received a Ph.D. in chemistry from Duke University, Durham, N.C., and a B.S., magna cum laude in chemistry from Viterbo University. She has been highlighted in Working Woman magazine and with a GEHC President’s award for the development of the global Life Sciences India market and engineering organization. She was one of the founding members of the GE Healthcare’s Women in Technology initiative and currently leads the GE Girls STEM camp @ MSOE. Hougum is a member of Duke University’s Graduate School Board of Visitors. She lives in Brookfield, Wis., with her husband Shree and daughter Rachel. 


Kaise Aschliman
Kaise Aschliman, Human Resource Specialist
Acuity Insurance
Tuesday, Oct. 16, 2018
noon–1 p.m.
Reinhart Center Board Room 107

Kaise Aschliman is a human resources specialist at Acuity Insurance in Sheboygan. She started her career in HR in June 2017 after graduating from UW-Green Bay with a Bachelors of Business Administration with a double emphasis in Human Resources and Management. During her time at UW-Green Bay, she was the leader of the SHRM Chapter and involved with Current Young Professionals. She also held several positions related to HR having an internship at a local insurance company as an HR intern and working at Lambeau Field in several positions mostly enjoying her time assisting the HR team with orientation and onboarding. Through her time in college and now as a young professional, Aschliman has always tried to find ways to develop herself as a leader and influence others, which in her eyes will always be a continuing and evolving journey.


Michael Modawell
Michael Modawell, Business Development and Strategic Engagement Officer at U.S. Army Garrison Fort McCoy
Tuesday, Sept. 11, 2018
noon–1 p.m. 
Reinhart Center Board Room 107


Michael Modawell is a native of West Salem, graduating from West Salem High School in 1987. That same year Michael joined the United States Army. While serving on active duty, his assignments have taken him to Bosnia, Croatia, Germany, Hungary, the Czech Republic, and Serbia. He remained on active duty until 1997 then transitioned into the Wisconsin Army National Guard and later the U.S. Army Reserve, eventually retiring with 26 years of military service.

Modawell has 31 years of total service with the U.S. Army both as a soldier and as an Army civilian. His previous assignments included nuclear weapons guard, police officer, sniper, SWAT commander, hostage negotiator, counterintelligence agent, interrogator, physical security inspector, surveillance and counter-surveillance specialist, police captain, instructor, antiterrorism officer, and human resources officer.

Some of his career highlights include serving in Germany during the fall of the Berlin Wall and the collapse of the Soviet Union; Peacekeeping Operations in the former Yugoslavia; and providing antiterrorism and espionage training to over 30,000 Soldiers deploying to Iraq and Afghanistan.

He has worked at Fort McCoy since 1998. He assumed his current duties as Business Development and Strategic Engagement Officer in September 2017. He served previously as the Fort McCoy Command Security Officer (2010-2017), Command Force Protection Officer (2000-2010) and Police Captain (1998-2000). Modawell earned a master’s degree in Business Administration with strong emphasis on ethical leadership and a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration focusing on organizational management from Viterbo University.