Alumni of the Year recipient Peg Stessman
Tuesday, April 28, 2015

On Thursday, May 7, the Tippie College of Business at the University of Iowa will present two alumni awards to recognize accomplished alumni at Tippie’s Recognition Reception held in the Feller Club Room of Carver-Hawkeye Arena. 

Peg Stessman, BSN 1984, MBA 2012, will receive the 2015 Alum of the Year Award, while the Young Alum of the Award will be presented to Chuck Mersch, BBA 2007, MBA 2008. Tippie’s Recognition Reception will not only honor these two alumni who continue to be engaged in the life of the college, but will include outstanding teaching and staff awards as well as tributes to retiring faculty members.

“Our programs and our students succeed because we have outstanding alumni mentoring our students, serving on advisory boards and councils, and providing internships and job opportunities."

Criteria for the Alum of the Year Award states that recipients must be an alum of Iowa’s business programs; must have achieved a distinguished level of professional/career success; and must be actively engaged in the life of the college (examples include serving on an advisory board, speaking to students, mentoring or hiring students, providing financial resources, or providing experiential learning opportunities for Tippie students). The Young Alum of the Year meets much of the same criteria with an additional stipulation that they be under the age of 40 and have achieved a level of early career success.

“We developed this award to recognize not only career accomplishment but an alumnus’ active engagement with the college and our programs,” explains Tippie Dean Sarah Fisher Gardial. “Our programs and our students succeed because we have outstanding alumni mentoring our students, serving on advisory boards and councils, and providing internships and job opportunities. Their involvement is critical in our success and deserves this recognition.”

Stessman is CEO and chairwoman of the board of StrategicHealthSolutions, LLC (Strategic) in Omaha, Nebraska, a company she founded with the intent of supporting state and federal governments in preventing fraud, waste, and abuse in the Medicare and Medicaid programs. Strategic currently employs nearly 250 people in Omaha and in its second office in Columbia, Maryland. The company was recently recognized for its rapid growth, winning the Inc. 500 and Washington Technology Fast 50 award for the second consecutive year.

Beginning in the profession as a nurse, Stessman transitioned into senior management within the healthcare industry early in her career, specializing in Medicare and Medicaid administration. During her 30 years of experience, Stessman has achieved many levels of success as a business leader and continues to maintain an active license as a registered nurse in the state of Nebraska.

Stessman currently serves the University of Iowa as a member of the National I-Club Athletic Board and the Tippie College of Business Advisory Board. In addition, Stessman and Strategic engage with students by providing hands-on projects for students in the Tippie Full-Time MBA Business Solutions Center, which provides critical experiential learning opportunities. Outside of the university, Stessman is a board member of the Nebraska chapter of Entrepreneurs’ Organization and Access Bank. She also is a current Cabinet Club member for The Salvation Army in Omaha.

“Peg is a devoted and engaged Iowa alumna,” says Dawn Kluber, assistant dean of Tippie's Executive MBA Program who nominated Stessman for the award. “Whether giving back to her alma mater, raising money in her community, or working with her employees, Peg is a true role model as an alum.”

Chuck Mersch is a senior finance manager with Transamerica in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. After graduating from Tippie with both his undergraduate degree in management information systems and an MBA in finance and strategy, Mersch joined and completed Transamerica's Leadership Development Program and subsequently moved to The Hague, Netherlands, on a two year ex-pat assignment as a risk manager for Transamerica/Aegon. Since returning to Cedar Rapids, Chuck helped form Transamerica’s shared service organization and currently leads Transamerica’s Financial Planning & Analysis group.

While at Tippie, he was involved in the Business and Technology Association and the Graduate Consulting and Technology Association. Mersch also assisted in developing connections between Tippie international students and Transamerica employees from China that allows for networking opportunities. Currently, Mersch is a member of the Tippie Young Alumni Board and often returns to campus to speak to Tippie students, support student recruitment, and participate in panel discussions. Outside of the university, Mersch has given back to his community through his previous volunteer experience with Junior Achievement and Habitat for Humanity and taught at Mt. Mercy University in Cedar Rapids.

 “Chuck Mersch represents the most finest of qualities associated with Tippie graduates,” explains nominator Lon Moeller, UI associate provost for undergraduate education. “Chuck’s commitment to both giving back to Tippie and supporting the success of Tippie undergraduate students stems from his own experience as both a Tippie undergraduate student and Tippie MBA student.”

The Tippie College of Business has more than 47,000 living alumni around the world. Past recipients of the award include Des Moines insurance executive Dana Ramundt (Alum of the Year 2014) and State Department employee Tom Niblock (Young Alum of the Year 2014).