Let's DU Lunch Spring 2014


Drake University and the Greater Des Moines Partnership invite you to join us for the 14th season of Let’s DU Lunch, a professional speaker series that lets you hear first hand from Drake and community leaders who make Des Moines great.

Come to The Des Moines Embassy Club, 666 Grand Ave. (34th Floor of the Ruan Building) for networking and the lunch program. Networking begins at 11:30 a.m. and the lunch buffet opens shortly after, with the featured speaker beginning at noon. The event will conclude no later than 1 p.m. 

Walk-ins are welcome, but reservations are recommended due to limited seating. We cannot guarantee you a seat without a reservation. Registration will close 48 hours before the event date.

Make your reservation for each luncheon at a cost of $17 per event. Or save money by reserving your place now at all three events for only $42. The special young professional rate for attendees age 35 and under is $13 per event or $30 for all three events. If you register and find that you cannot attend, please let us know in advance.  Your payment can be applied to a future event.  We are sorry but no refunds are available. 

Click here to register for all three events!

Wednesday, March 5
Stephanie Jutila | Greater Des Moines Botanical Garden
Register today!

Stephanie Jutila, the Greater Des Moines Botanical Garden's President and CEO, is a passionate horticulturist who has dedicated her career to connecting people to plants. Stephanie comes to Des Moines with tremendous experience starting with a M.S. and B.S. in horticulture from the University of Minnesota. She also has work experience at the American Horticultural Society where she was the Director of Member Programs and Outreach. She did previous stints at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, the University of Minnesota Landscape Arboretum, the Smithsonian Institution, and at the Marjorie McNeely Conservatory of Como Park, St. Paul. She has received numerous accolades for her leadership, including awards from the Garden Club of America and the Chanticleer Foundation in Philadelphia.

Prior to moving to Des Moines, Stephanie worked for the American Horticultural Society, with headquarters in the greater Washington, D.C., area, is the foremost horticultural society serving a national audience through publications, programs, and its 25-acre River Farm public garden. While at the American Horticultural Society, Stephanie headed numerous national initiatives and programs including its renowned annual National Children & Youth Garden Symposium.

Stephanie’s husband Tom Seltz works for LeMair Mulock Condon (LMC) Insurance in West Des Moines. Their six year old son Henry has quickly adapted to calling Des Moines home.

Wednesday, April 2
Young Professionals Panel
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Four young Drake alumni will share their thoughts on young professionals’ impact in the community and the future of Des Moines.
Meg Fisher, BN’09, Owner/Founder, Lincoln and Lexi 
Halley Griess, BN'08, LW'10, Commercial Claims Nationwide Agribusiness and served on Des Moines City Council 
Amy Jennings, GR’10, Executive Director, Greater Des Moines Leadership Institute
Nikki Syverson, JO’03, Event Director, Des Moines Wine Festival Foundation

Halley Griess, BN'08, LW'10
Halley Griess was born and raised in Lincoln, Nebraska. After graduating from high school, he moved to Des Moines to pursue a college education from Drake University where he had the opportunity to be a Resident Assistant for two years and served as the President of Campus Fellowship, one of the largest organizations on Drake’s campus.

During his college summers he organized an inner city youth soccer league called Central City Soccer with several of his friends. The league has since grown to nearly 500 kids each summer, ranging in age from pre-kindergarten through high school. Halley continued his education at Drake University Law School and received a J.D. in May of 2010. During his third year of law school, Halley had the opportunity to serve as the Managing Editor of Drake’s Journal of Agricultural Law.

Halley met his wife, Colleen, while at Drake and they were married in the summer of 2008 and now have two beautiful daughters, Payton and Jordyn, and son, Tatum. The couple are active members in their church and they love working for Nationwide Agribusiness Insurance Company in Des Moines. Halley was elected to the Des Moines City Council and served a 4-year term beginning in 2010, representing the northwest side of the City.

Amy Jennings, GR'10
Amy Jennings is used to people's reaction to her title.  As executive director of the Greater Des Moines Leadership Institute, people invariably say, “So you're the leader of the leaders!”  Amy prefers to think of herself as a “catalyst.”  She works with participants and alumni not only to achieve the organization’s goals, but also to help people learn to see themselves as partners for change.

Leadership and change influence are part of Amy's DNA. She spent 13 years using her degree in Community Health Education from Iowa State University to help companies change their cultures and support employee well-being. In 2010, she received her master’s degree in Adult Learning and Organizational Performance with an emphasis in Leadership from Drake University. Amy was the inaugural recipient of the Young Professionals Connection’s Young Professional of the Year Award, an award which bears her name, and she was a Des Moines Business Record Forty Under 40 honoree. She has served on the boards of the Young Professionals Connection and Young Professionals of Iowa, and she is currently serving on the boards of the YMCA Healthy Living Center, American Red Cross – Central Iowa Chapter, and Center on Sustainable Communities. Amy is an alumnus of Leadership Iowa, as well as the organization she now leads, the Greater Des Moines Leadership Institute.

In her spare time, Amy enjoys finding new uses for old things, spending time outdoors, and she recently rallied her friends to start a documentary club. 

Nikki Syverson, JO’03
Nikki Syverson has served as the Event Director of the Des Moines Wine Festival Foundation since the fall of 2011. In that time she has turned a weekend event into an eight-day festival with year-round educational sessions. During her tenure the organization has experienced increased fundraising and revenue numbers, record attendance and a resurgence in community involvement. Prior to Winefest, Syverson co-owned a local event planning company, Down to Details, while at the same time serving as the Director of Donor Relations and Events for the Des Moines Symphony. In those roles she planned numerous community events including Yankee Doodle Pops, the Symphony’s annual patriotic celebration that attracts nearly 100,000 people to the State Capitol grounds. In 2012 she was named a Juice YP of the Year finalist and part of the Business Record’s 40 Under 40 class. Syverson is a graduate of Drake University and lives in Clive with her husband, Jay and children, Quinn and Charlie.  

Wednesday, May 7
Scott Siepker | Iowa Filmmakers
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Scott Siepker, otherwise known as the delightfully sarcastic Iowa Nice Guy, is a full-time actor, writer, and producer. He’s performed in a number of commercials, films, and plays and most recently starred in a running feature on ESPNU. Siepker also served as adjunct professor at Drake from 2011 to 2012.

Scott is the host of the Emmy nominated Iowa Outdoors on Iowa Public Television. Scott got his acting start on stage at Iowa State University, where he also received his bachelor of science in psychology. Scott has gone on to act in dozens of plays, commercials, and miscellaneous live events. Scott was the star of the Webby Honoree viral video Iowa Nice, which was produced by the film company he is a founding member of, Iowa Filmmakers. With the follow ups Cyclone and Hawkeye Nice, ESPN took note and now Scott can every week on College Football Daily during football season.