Northwestern to hold leadership conference June 25–26

Northwestern Leadership Series banner Northwestern College’s fourth annual Northwestern Leadership Series, a professional development conference, will be held on the college’s campus June 25 and 26. Attendees will have the opportunity to learn strategies for authentic, servant-hearted leadership that can be applied in the classroom, at church, in the community and at home.

Aileen SullivanThis year’s conference will feature keynote speakers Aaron Kampman, former NFL player and founder and CEO of Align, and Joe Urcavich, an adviser with Align whose experience includes his role as chaplain for the Green Bay Packers and work with U.S. Army chaplains and officers. Aileen Sullivan, the 2018 Iowa Teacher of the Year and chemistry teacher at Ames High School, is the keynoter for the teacher leadership track.

Break-out sessions will feature area professionals and recognized leaders like Natalie Eisenberg, CEO of Click Rain; Greg Christy, president of Northwestern College; John Elzinga, facilitation design manager for Pizza Ranch; Christina Cota, human resources director for Interstates; and John Swart, a 1990 Northwestern College graduate who is CEO of Exemplar Genetics. Session presenters will offer insight on several topics, including lessons for new leaders, emotional intelligence and taking ownership without personal gain.

A teacher leadership track will again be offered at this year’s conference, with the optional opportunity for educators to earn a graduate or license renewal credit. Education-specific sessions will be led by professionals like Dr. Poornima D’Souza, school-home liaison and parent educator for the Sioux Falls School District; Jon Pickinpaugh, middle school science teacher and Nebraska’s 2017–18 Milken Educator Award winner; and Dr. Sara Waring-Tiedeman, director of Northwestern’s Master of Education program.

“The teacher leadership track will inform participants about pathways and opportunities for teachers to exercise leadership, elevate teacher voice to inform and develop policy and practice, and expand existing efforts to direct systemic improvements to benefit student learning,” says Waring-Tiedeman.

 A new church leadership track will include sessions on a variety of topics including authentic leadership, creating a healthy staff culture, leading biblical worship and empowering next-generation leaders. Sessions will be led by recognized church leaders like Kevin Negaard, a 1985 Northwestern alumnus who is executive director at Sunnybrook Community Church in Sioux City; Linsay Vladimirov, a 1998 Northwestern graduate who coordinates worship ministries at West Oaks Fellowship in Houston; Jill Ver Steeg, a 1996 Northwestern alumna who serves as director of transformational engagement for the Reformed Church in America; and Scott Hoezee, director of the Center for Excellence in Preaching at Calvin Theological Seminary.

“This event is an incredible opportunity for Christian leaders from all professions to discuss and explore leadership together,” says Dr. Sandi Altena, director of Northwestern’s Franken Leadership Center. “We know that this conference offers valuable resources that lead to strong leadership development.”

Registration for the Northwestern Leadership Series is $99 and is due June 19. Companies and organizations that register four members of their team can register a fifth team member for free. Educators will need to pay an additional $95 for a license renewal credit or $150 for a graduate credit. More information and the registration form can be found at

The conference is hosted by the Northwestern College Graduate School and Adult Learning and the college’s Franken Leadership Center in partnership with Pizza Ranch.