Alumni Awards Recipients

Meet the 2022-2023 winners. 

Alumni Awards

Distinguished Alumni Award: Diane K. Caldbeck, ED'72

Drake University’s mission is to provide an exceptional learning environment that prepares students for meaningful personal lives, professional accomplishments, and responsible global citizenship. For more than 31 years, Diane Caldbeck worked passionately and tirelessly in pursuit of that mission. Caldbeck calls her relationship with Drake a love story and couldn’t have imagined all that would come from leaving her hometown of St. Louis, Missouri to take a chance on a school in Des Moines. From joining the Delta Gamma sorority and serving as rush chair to being elected to the Miss Drake Court in 1971, Caldbeck made the most of her time at Drake while earning a bachelor's degree in secondary education. After meeting her husband, Bill, Caldbeck moved back to St. Louis and began teaching history at her former high school.

The Caldbecks eventually returned to Des Moines, where Caldbeck dove into community volunteer work. The Junior League, Des Moines Ballet, and the local Greek Orthodox church were some of the organizations that benefited from her time and efforts. The real catalyst that paved the way for her future profession in development was her position as co-chair of Hanawalt Elementary School’s 75th anniversary. Hanawalt celebrated the successful campaign with the slogan “75 and Alive,” and a career was born for Caldbeck. She was approached about an open position in Drake’s alumni office. She started at Drake as the assistant director of alumni and parent programs in 1989—the beginning of a 31-year dedicated and passionate career with the University.

Over that time, she served in several capacities, including associate director of development and director and executive director of alumni and parent programs. In 2002 she was appointed director of Campaign Drake, where she assisted in bringing the $190 million capital campaign to its successful conclusion. Other roles included associate vice president for Institutional Advancement, campaign director for the distinctlyDrake $216 million capital campaign, a member of the committees for President David Maxwell’s inauguration, and for Drake’s 125th anniversary.

Caldbeck has been recognized with a number of awards, including the Drake True Blue Award, CASE Distinguished Service Award, and Madelyn M. Levitt Employee Excellence Award. Caldbeck and her husband, Bill, have three children, daughters Kelly and Megan and son Peter, who all went on to attend Drake themselves and have children who also have attended Drake. Caldbeck’s passion for and countless contributions to Drake have transformed the University and paved the way for a brighter future for the students who will follow in her footsteps.

Distinguished Alumni Award is the top honor bestowed upon alumni of Drake, recognizes outstanding achievement by an individual in a career or profession and exemplary service to the community and University.

Alumni Achievement Award: Marianne K. Coppock, JO'01

Since graduating from Drake University in 2001, Marianne Coppock has established herself as a marketing, promotions, and sales leader in the Des Moines Metro. With more than 25 years of experience, she has led many multidisciplinary, cross-functional teams across a wide range of industries and has honed her skills in sales, budget management, strategic planning, training, and employee engagement. Coppock is a certified StrengthsFinder coach and advocate, training professionals on how to make the most of their individual abilities. After leadership and executive roles in two Des Moines agencies, Coppock joined the Stelter Company as the chief executive officer, where she is leading a team serving over 1,300 nonprofits across the country in integrated marketing strategies.

Other experience includes leading the grand opening, marketing, and event planning efforts for Iowa’s largest retail property and many years hosting radio shows like “70’s Saturday Night” on STAR 102.5. An advocate for empowering women, Coppock served as the local event manager for Smart Talk Connected Conversations for many years, hosting thousands of Central Iowa women at events with celebrity speakers like Helen Hunt, Billie Jean King, and others.

Coppock is a graduate of the Greater Des Moines Leadership Institute and was honored by the Business Record as one of Des Moines’ Forty Under 40 in 2006. Coppock is also an active volunteer in her community. Wanting to support other young professionals in broadcasting, Coppock volunteered for several years for the West Des Moines Community School District at the Valley High School Radio Station where she got her start. She currently serves on the board of directors for Easterseals Iowa, a nonprofit organization that provides exceptional services to ensure that all people with disabilities or special needs and their families have equal opportunities to live, learn, work, and play in their communities.

A resident and native of West Des Moines, Coppock graduated from Valley High School. She’s the proud mother of two children, Anderson and Madeline. Coppock has served as a mentor to many and continues to be an advocate for Drake in the Greater Des Moines community.

Alumni Achievement Award honors alumni for outstanding achievement in their career or profession.

Alumni Loyalty Award: John V. Miller, BN'82

John Miller instantly fell in love with Drake University when he transferred from Tulane University during his sophomore year. Miller was seeking a smaller, more intimate campus experience and found that and so much more at Drake. Miller earned his bachelor’s degree in accounting and corporate finance. He was also a letterman on the golf team and a member and treasurer of the Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity. He met his wife of 36 years, Jan, at Drake, and together the couple had two children who both went on to attend Drake: Amanda Miller Hattendorf and Blake Miller.

Miller has remained a loyal Bulldog and ambassador for Drake since he graduated in 1982. He has served in several leadership positions at Drake, including the Drake University Parents Board and as the Kansas City Regional Alumni president. Miller served on the Drake National Alumni Board and was president of the Board from 2016 to 2020 and chairman from 2019 to 2022. During his term as chair, he also served on the Drake University Board of Trustees.

Miller is the managing director and chief operating officer of fixed income at Piper Sandler. Prior to joining Piper Sandler, he was vice president of municipal trading at George K. Baum and Company. He is the current vice chairman of the board of directors for the Bond Dealers of America, the largest fixed income only trade and advocacy organization in the United States. Miller was an active leader in the Piper Sandler (formerly Piper Jaffray) financing bond issuance for two renovation projects at Drake: the quads renovation in 2007 and the STEM@DRAKE building project in 2016.

Alumni Loyalty Award honors an alumnus or alumna for his or her commitment and dedicated service to Drake University.

Alumni Loyalty Award: Lisa M. Brinkmeyer Van Deventer, JO'98

Lisa Brinkmeyer’s speech at the Alumni Awards banquet brought smiles, laughter, and a deep sense of Bulldog pride to everyone in the audience. Two months after the banquet, Lisa passed away after a courageous journey with brain cancer. Lisa’s unwavering loyalty, support, and commitment to being True Blue will live on through The Lisa Brinkmeyer Women’s Basketball Endowed Fund.

When Lisa Brinkmeyer came to Drake University in 1993, she already had a prestigious reputation from her high school basketball career. Brinkmeyer is a graduate of Hubbard-Radcliffe High School, where she played in Iowa’s final six-on-six state basketball championship, leading the Rebels to the 1993 state crown. Brinkmeyer was recognized for her outstanding performance in high school by being inducted into the Iowa Girls High School Athletic Union Basketball and Volleyball Hall of Fame.

During her time at Drake, Brinkmeyer built on her already accomplished basketball career. She played on the Drake women's basketball team from 1993 to 1998, earning honorable mention All-Missouri Valley Conference playing honors as a junior and senior. She was instrumental in guiding the Bulldogs to the MVC regular-season title in 1997 and 1998 as well as MVC Tournament championships in 1995, 1997, and 1998. She played on Bulldog teams that competed in the 1995, 1997, and 1998 NCAA Tournaments.

After receiving a bachelor’s degree in journalism and mass communication in 1998, Brinkmeyer served as an assistant women’s basketball coach at Drake from 1998 to 2000, helping the Bulldogs advance to the 2000 NCAA Tournament. She then worked with KJJC Sports Radio in Des Moines before joining the marketing department at the Kum & Go Corporate Office. Brinkmeyer has also served on various boards for Drake, including the Bulldog Scholarship Club Advisory Board. She is currently a member of the Robert D. and Billie Ray National Advisory Council. Brinkmeyer has continued to stay connected with Drake women’s basketball as a color commentator for radio and television broadcasts of Drake women’s basketball games.

Brinkmeyer received the prestigious Double D award for her contributions as a Drake athlete who has excelled off the court. Brinkmeyer and her husband, Ted, have established the Lisa Brinkmeyer Women’s Basketball Endowed Fund. Those funds will directly impact the women’s basketball players and program. Lisa and Ted have a son, Hitch, and a daughter, Libby.

In 2022, Brinkmeyer learned that she had a rare form of brain cancer. Since her diagnosis, the Drake community has rallied around Brinkmeyer and her family. Multiple fundraisers have been held in Brinkmeyer’s honor including at the 2022 Drake vs. Iowa basketball game where shirts with the saying “Brink’s Bench” were sold and worn by both coaching staffs. Proceeds from the sales of the shirts supported Brinkmeyer and her family’s expenses. Brinkmeyer continues to take on her battle with cancer with the positive spirit and fierce strength she is known for on and off the court.

Alumni Loyalty Award honors an alumnus or alumna for his or her commitment and dedicated service to Drake University.

Community Service Award: Dwana M. Bradley, GR'08,'11,'14

Dwana Bradley embodies what it means to be a service leader. She is actively involved in local community service organizations and serves as a community leader. As a member of the Des Moines School Board, Bradley has taken an extraordinary interest in the well-being of students, often visiting classrooms regularly. When Bradley hears an identified need, she jumps into action and seeks ways to activate the strong local community partnerships she has to help find a solution and promote collaboration. Bradley lives out Drake’s vision of transforming lives and strengthening communities.

Bradley has earned three degrees from Drake: an M.S.T. in elementary teacher education, an Ed.S. in educational leadership, and an M.S.E. in literacy education. She is currently pursuing her Doctor of Education in leadership at Drake. She spent nearly seven years as a reading interventionist with Des Moines Public Schools. She serves as executive director of Des Moines Urban Experience and is the owner of Iowa Urban Media, a community-focused publishing company. Bradley has also been active in the community: serving as a general chairperson for the Iowa Juneteenth Observance, a former teacher in the after-school program at Homes of Oakridge, a former volunteer on the DMPS attendance committee, a former choir director at True Bible Baptist Church, and a graduate of the Greater Des Moines Leadership Institute. She has two children, JaMarcus and Nautika.

Along with serving the Greater Des Moines community, Bradley is also heavily involved at Drake as a senior ambassador for Bright College and chair of Drake’s Community Engagement Advisory Council. Through her work as a senior ambassador for Bright College, Bradley has been instrumental in advocating for higher education opportunities for communities of color. By partnering with Bright College to create scholarships for youth involved in Iowa Juneteenth, serving as a guest lecturer in Bright College’s first-semester seminar, and using her platform to amplify Bright College’s message of accessible education, Bradley has been key in extending Drake’s mission. Her ambassadorship for Bright College builds on Bradley’s record as an outspoken advocate for equity and access to education at every level.

Community Service Award recognizes the significant accomplishments of alumni who have engaged in outstanding and meaningful community service.

Young Alumni Achievement Award: Jessica L. Nesheim, PH'09

Jessica Nesheim had never heard of emergency medicine pharmacy before attending a conference as a fourth-year pharmacy student and stumbling upon a roundtable discussion of the specialty. Her chance encounter sparked what would become the start of an incredible career in emergency medicine. After receiving her degree from Drake University College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences in 2009, she completed a PGY-1 pharmacy residency at MercyOne Des Moines Medical Center. That year, MercyOne West Des Moines Medical Center (then called Mercy Medical Center - West Lakes) opened, and the clinical coordinator began a pilot program for emergency medicine pharmacy services. Nesheim jumped at the opportunity to help, and the pair showcased the value of pharmacy services within the emergency department (ED).

Her advocacy led to the approval of two Emergency Medicine Pharmacist (EMP) positions—a job she eventually held in her first role with MercyOne. Today, Nesheim is the Emergency Medicine Clinical Pharmacy Specialist at MercyOne. No two days are the same for Nesheim, where she works as a member of an interdisciplinary healthcare team responding to patients’ bedside. The ED is a perfect convergence of her professional interests: opioid stewardship, substance use disorders, practice improvement, and advancing her profession. This is clear through her extensive research into the positive impact of emergency medicine pharmacy—particularly surrounding overdoses, withdrawal, sepsis, and more—which has included 30 clinical and quality improvement initiatives and 11 research experiences. Nesheim isn’t satisfied with simply doing her job leading the Emergency Medicine Pharmacy team at MercyOne Des Moines Medical Center. She is also the program director for the PGY-2 Emergency Medicine Pharmacy Residency Program, which she helped implement in 2016.

Nesheim’s commitment to her alma mater and to the next generation of pharmacists did not end when she graduated. She has remained an advocate for Drake students’ pharmacy education. Knowing she wanted to give back to her alma mater, Nesheim completed a teaching certificate at Drake and has served as an adjunct assistant professor in the College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences since 2011. Recognizing how transformative those initial hands-on experiences are in a pharmacy student’s life, Nesheim dove in as a preceptor for Drake pharmacy students’ experiential education requirements including Introductory Pharmacy Practice Experiences (IPPE) and Advanced Pharmacy Practice Experiences (APPE).

Nesheim is involved in a number of professional organizations. She has represented Iowa in the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists House of Delegates, and she serves on the ASHP’s Emergency Medicine Section Advisory Group. Nesheim is also an Iowa Pharmacy Association member, serves on the American College of Clinical Pharmacy as chair of the EMED Collaborative Organization for Development of Emergency Medicine Pharmacists (CODE) Committee, and is a member of the Emergency Medicine PRN Committee. Most recently, Nesheim was appointed to the MercyOne Des Moines Emerging Leaders Program and serves on a variety of committees at MercyOne Des Moines Medical Center. She has had an extraordinary career so far and her future is just as bright as she continues to blaze a trail for the next generation of pharmacists through her contributions to Drake and the profession

Young Alumni Achievement Award honors alumni, age 40 or younger, for outstanding achievement in their career or profession.

Young Alumni Loyalty Award: Tom J. Florian, BN'14,GR'16

If you were to look in Tom Florian’s closet, one thing you would certainly find is Drake University blue. Florian has been a devoted champion and ambassador of Drake both during his time at the University and since he graduated with a Bachelor of Science in business administration in 2014. Florian then went on to earn his MBA in 2016. During his time at Drake, Florian was actively involved with Drake Athletics, the Delta Sigma Pi fraternity, and American Marketing Association - Iowa Chapter. For seven seasons, Florian served as the certified hype-man for the Drake Basketball teams in his role as game emcee, where he could be found on the Knapp Center floor rocking his signature blue blazer. He was recognized as Drake Athletics Leader of the Year in 2015 and 2016. He also served as assistant director of ticket sales and donor management with Drake Athletics.

Since his days on the Drake campus, Tom has remained true blue and has gone all-in for his alma mater. Whether serving as the chair of the Central Iowa Regional Alumni Board, speaking to members of the Delta Sigma Pi business fraternity, contributing to the Zimpleman College of Business’s DiveNOW program, participating in Drake’s alumni choir, or cheering on his favorite team courtside as a season ticket holder, Florian can be found singing Drake’s praises and giving back to the institution he loves so much. A member of the University’s President’s Circle, Florian continues to invest in Drake through his finances, his time, and his heart. If there is a Drake event in the Greater Des Moines area, chances are you will find Florian there. And there is also a good chance he played a significant role in planning and executing the event.

Florian is the senior director of Membership & Strategic Marketing with the West Des Moines Chamber of Commerce and has welcomed more than 120 new members to the Chamber since starting there. He was recognized in 2022 as a 40 Under 40 Honoree: Association of Chamber of Commerce Executives (ACCE) and in 2021 as Volunteer of the Year for JDRF Greater Iowa. He is a current participant in Lead DSM’s Greater Des Moines Leadership Institute. In addition to his volunteer work with Drake, Florian serves on the JDRF Greater Iowa Board of Directors and is chair of their Ride to Cure Committee. He has served as the marketing manager for Dream Team Des Moines and is a member of the Historic Valley Junction Foundation Board of Directors. Florian’s continual involvement in supporting Drake since his undergraduate graduation in 2014 epitomizes what it means to be a loyal Drake alumnus.

Young Alumni Loyalty Award honors alumni age 40 or younger for commitment and dedicated service to Drake.

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