Since 2002, the D.B. Reinhart Institute for Ethics in Leadership has collaborated with the Dahl School of Business to host a series of "brown bag" presentations featuring regional business leaders. The purpose of the series is to bring students and community members together for regular discussions about the values and virtues that inform successful business practices.  

The presentations are free and open to the public. No registration is required. Attendees are encouraged to bring their own lunch to the event. A limited number of box lunches are available for purchase.

Fall 2019 Leadership at Noon 

Shelly Mayer

Wednesday, Oct. 9, 2019
Shelly Mayer,
Executive Director, Professional Dairy Producers of Wisconsin
noon–1 p.m.
Fine Arts Center Main Theatre Lobby (Campus Map)

Shelly Mayer is the executive director of the Professional Dairy Producers of Wisconsin (PDPW), the largest dairy producer-led, educational-based organization in the country. The organization has led the national effort to define dairy animal well-being and maintain customers’ confidence that the industry embraces the moral obligation to take good care of their animals and produce safe and abundant dairy and meat products. Her work has helped dairy farm families across the country work proactively on issues ranging from improving business profitability, community relations, environmental management, leadership development, food safety and animal health to labor issues, industry relations, mentoring the younger generation, and family business transition.

Mayer grew up on a dairy farm in southwestern Wisconsin. She graduated from the University of Wisconsin with a Bachelor of Science degree in agricultural journalism and dairy science. 

Roald Professional Portrait.jpg

Tuesday, Nov. 19, 2019
Roald Gundersen,
Co-president, Founder and Owner at WholeTrees Structures     
noon–1 p.m.
Fine Arts Center Main Theatre Lobby (Campus Map)

Architect and La Crosse native Roald Gundersen will share some of his career efforts at social and environmental activist projects and businesses from Biosphere 2 in Arizona, cold climate greenhouses, Cameron Park Farmers Market, Festival Foods in Madison, and most recently the Riverside Park band shell, and a proposed tree dome for Madison. He co-founded WholeTrees in 2007 to help develop a prosperous relationship with forests and win Benefit Corporation status as one of the first businesses to do so in Wisconsin. WholeTrees, headquartered in Madison, helped to build the Myrick Hixon EcoPark Center and is working to rebuild the band shell at Riverside Park, both in La Crosse.

2018-19 Leadership at Noon Archives

Jack Peplinski

Tuesday, Jan. 22, 2019
Jack Peplinski, President and CEO, Altra Federal Credit Union
noon–1 p.m.
Reinhart Center Board Room 107

Jack Peplinski is president and CEO of Altra Federal Credit Union. Altra is a Financial Cooperative serving over 103,000 members in all 50 states and over 40 foreign countries. Peplinski received a B.A. in accounting from Winona State University and an MBA from University of Wisconsin–La Crosse. He joined Altra in 1990 as vice president for Market Development and Planning. Since then he has held various operational roles before becoming president and CEO in 2011. 

Servant Leadership and the Credit Union Cooperative business model complement each other.  Peplinski views his role more as a facilitator in making sure his team is empowered, trained, and motivated to help Altra members live their best life.

Kent Handel
Tuesday, March 5, 2019

Kent Handel, President and CEO, Trust Point
noon–1 p.m. 
Reinhart Center Board Room 107

Kent Handel has served as President and CEO of Trust Point Inc. since August 2001. Trust Point provides trust and investment management services across the country between their headquarters in La Crosse and their Eau Claire and Minneapolis branches. Handel leads by example, encouraging community involvement and philanthropy, which have long been ingrained in the corporate culture at Trust Point. 

He is a graduate of Morningside College in Sioux City, Iowa, with a bachelor’s degree in business administration. Handel has more than 37 years of experience in the financial industry, including consumer lending, broker/dealer management, fixed income and equity portfolio management, and trust administration. Prior to joining Trust Point, he worked for Security National Bank, as senior vice president in charge of the organization’s trust and investment functions.

He has held numerous board positions including chair of the Riverfront Board, treasurer for Riverland Girl Scouts and the La Crosse County Historical Society board, and president of the La Crosse Club. He served as president on the Viterbo University board of trustees from 2012–18 and remains an active member of the Viterbo board.

Lee Rasch
Tuesday, April 16, 2019

Lee Rasch, Executive Director, LeaderEthics-Wisconsin
noon–1 p.m. 
Reinhart Center Board Room 107

Lee Rasch founded LeaderEthics-Wisconsin in March 2018, a nonprofit/nonpartisan organization committed to promoting ethical leadership among elected officials. He serves as the executive director of the organization.

Prior to this experience, he served as president of Western Technical College from 1989-2017. Throughout his career, he has actively promoted leadership development, continuous improvement, economic development and sustainability at the national, statewide, and local levels. He has written articles and given numerous presentations on these topics. Rasch was chair of the Legislative Committee for the Wisconsin Technical College System for more than 15 years. He was a democratic candidate for the U.S. Congress in 1994 and 1996.

Rasch has a doctorate in Higher Education Administration from Illinois State University. He is married to Susan Fox. They have two children and three grandchildren. In his spare time, Rasch sings in a barbershop quartet and sings and plays bass guitar in a rock band, The Executives.

Michael Modawell

Tuesday, Sept. 11, 2018
Michael Modawell, Business Development and Strategic Engagement Officer at U.S. Army Garrison Fort McCoy
noon–1 p.m. 
Reinhart Center Board Room 107

Michael Modawell is a native of West Salem, graduating from West Salem High School in 1987. That same year Michael joined the United States Army. While serving on active duty, his assignments have taken him to Bosnia, Croatia, Germany, Hungary, the Czech Republic, and Serbia. He remained on active duty until 1997 then transitioned into the Wisconsin Army National Guard and later the U.S. Army Reserve, eventually retiring with 26 years of military service.

Modawell has 31 years of total service with the U.S. Army both as a soldier and as an Army civilian. His previous assignments included nuclear weapons guard, police officer, sniper, SWAT commander, hostage negotiator, counterintelligence agent, interrogator, physical security inspector, surveillance and counter-surveillance specialist, police captain, instructor, antiterrorism officer, and human resources officer.

Some of his career highlights include serving in Germany during the fall of the Berlin Wall and the collapse of the Soviet Union; Peacekeeping Operations in the former Yugoslavia; and providing antiterrorism and espionage training to over 30,000 Soldiers deploying to Iraq and Afghanistan.

He has worked at Fort McCoy since 1998. He assumed his current duties as Business Development and Strategic Engagement Officer in September 2017. He served previously as the Fort McCoy Command Security Officer (2010-2017), Command Force Protection Officer (2000-2010) and Police Captain (1998-2000). Modawell earned a master’s degree in Business Administration with strong emphasis on ethical leadership and a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration focusing on organizational management from Viterbo University.

Kaise Aschliman

Tuesday, Oct. 16, 2018
Kaise Aschliman, Human Resource Specialist
Acuity Insurance
noon–1 p.m.
Reinhart Center Board Room 107

Kaise Aschliman is a human resources specialist at Acuity Insurance in Sheboygan. She started her career in HR in June 2017 after graduating from UW-Green Bay with a Bachelors of Business Administration with a double emphasis in Human Resources and Management. During her time at UW-Green Bay, she was the leader of the SHRM Chapter and involved with Current Young Professionals. She also held several positions related to HR having an internship at a local insurance company as an HR intern and working at Lambeau Field in several positions mostly enjoying her time assisting the HR team with orientation and onboarding. Through her time in college and now as a young professional, Aschliman has always tried to find ways to develop herself as a leader and influence others, which in her eyes will always be a continuing and evolving journey.

Cynthia Hougum
Tuesday, Nov. 13, 2018

Cynthia Hougum, Ph.D.
VP, Product and Customer Excellence
GE Healthcare Digital
noon–1 p.m.
Reinhart Center Board Room 107

Cynthia Hougum just moved into the position of  VP, Product and Customer Excellence, a part of GE Healthcare’s Digital Imaging business.  Hougum has been with the General Electric Corporation for 25 years joining GE’s former Advanced Materials (Plastics) business on the Technical Leadership Program and then moving to GE Healthcare medical equipment and Life Sciences businesses. She has worked on business transformation and turnarounds across three industries and seven divisions, which include but are not limited to Acquisition Integrations from Customer to Ops, Product Management, R&D, along with Business Digitization (IoT) covering from Sales to Supply Chain to Finance. Her expertise in business turnaround situations, mergers and acquisition integrations has resulted in an average of 40% ROI in sales and employee growth of 25%.

Teamwork is core to any successful business and she considers it a privilege to have successfully led large teams across eight countries with three expat assignments which honed her global approach to leadership and business. 

Hougum received a Ph.D. in chemistry from Duke University, Durham, N.C., and a B.S., magna cum laude in chemistry from Viterbo University. She has been highlighted in Working Woman magazine and with a GEHC President’s award for the development of the global Life Sciences India market and engineering organization. She was one of the founding members of the GE Healthcare’s Women in Technology initiative and currently leads the GE Girls STEM camp @ MSOE. Hougum is a member of Duke University’s Graduate School Board of Visitors. She lives in Brookfield, Wis., with her husband Shree and daughter Rachel.