Former Navy SEAL Luke Fenner (MBA16) is using his degree to help wounded warriors
Tuesday, February 27, 2024
Luke Fenner
Luke Fenner. Photo by Noah Willman. 

On a hot September night in Iraq, Luke Fenner and his fellow Navy SEALs were ambushed.

After another member of SEAL Team 10 took machine gun fire, they fell back, gaining cover from behind a large tractor tire and a strike from an AC 130 aircraft above. Some say it was the closest fire cover in the Iraq war, as Fenner and some of his fellow SEALs lay injured only 45 feet from the enemy target. The men on the ground knew it was a risk calling in the air strike, but they needed to get their injured commander a medevac chopper ASAP.

Because that’s what SEALs do. They band together and help, even in the face of death.

For Fenner, the goodwill and selflessness didn’t stop after his 12 years as a SEAL ended.

Thanks to the GI Bill, he immediately started his MBA at Tippie and used knowledge from Joe Sulentic’s Social Entrepreneurship course to once again help a fellow SEAL.

That fateful night in 2007, Lieutenant Jason Redman was Fenner’s assault force commander, and he sustained critical injuries to the arm and the face. When Redman got back stateside, people asked him if he had been in a motorcycle accident.

“The general public is very insulated from what war has done to some people—both the visible and invisible scars,” said Fenner, who joined the Navy after the terrorist attacks of 9/11.

To raise awareness about wounded military personnel, Redman created the advocacy venture/clothing company Wounded Wear.

Luke Fenner
Fenner while on active duty in Afghanistan. 

Meanwhile, Fenner took entrepreneurship classes as MBA electives through the John Pappajohn Entrepreneurial Center at the Tippie College of Business. As part of the curriculum, he learned how to jump between the for-profit and nonprofit worlds, how to set up his own social enterprise (a hipper term for nonprofit), and to understand all the elements needed for success.

Fenner applied that knowledge to host a fundraiser for Wounded Wear at a Lake Forest, Ill., Ferrari dealership and raised nearly half a million dollars for his friend’s cause.

We call that using your MBA for good. 

Fenner is now a division manager for Rosendin, a $4B electrical contracting company in the Washington, D.C. area that also has a charitable foundation. He still goes on an annual vacation with the SEALs he was deployed with.

Luke Fenner with Jay Redman and fellow SEAL
Fenner with fellow SEALs.


DYK? Not everybody makes it through Navy SEAL training. According to Fenner, two groups seem to stand a better chance of making it to the finish line: water polo players and wrestlers. (Fenner wrestled for Webster City High School in north central Iowa.)


This article appeared in the Spring 2024 issue of Tippie Magazine.