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Drake's Pi Alpha Alpha chapter inducts new members

May 11, 2016

Drake University’s chapter of Pi Alpha Alpha, a global honor society for Public Affairs and Administration, inducted 40 new members and recognized a few students with special honors during an awards ceremony last month.

Each of the chapter’s new inductees demonstrated exceptional academic performance during their Master of Public Administration studies at Drake University. The chapter also named its new president and honored the recipients of the C. Kenneth Meyer Rising Star Award and Garry L. Frank Legacy Award during this year’s awards ceremony.

Drake University’s Pi Alpha Alpha is one of more than 160 chapters around the world at NASPAA member schools. Drake’s was one of the founding chapters of the society, which celebrates its 40th anniversary this year. The purpose of Pi Alpha Alpha is to encourage and recognize outstanding scholarship and accomplishment in public affairs and administration. PAA membership identifies those with the highest performance levels in educational programs, preparing them for public service careers.

“The standards for induction into the PAA honor society are very high, and this year’s inductees were extremely qualified,” said Allen Zagoren, associate professor of public administration. “The group was diverse in its makeup and in members’ career paths. By their induction, they are the best of the best—a distinction noted not only by their potential and current employers, but also by themselves and the faculty and staff that stand behind them.”

Natalie Koerber, GR’15, AS’10, received the C. Kenneth Meyer Rising Star Award, which recognizes a recent MPA recipient who has made a significant impact in his or her community or profession in the short time since graduating. Koerber, of Cedar Rapids, is community relations representative at AmeriHealth Caritas Iowa, where she works to build meaningful relationships and partnerships with organizations and leaders within the community.

Koerber’s resume—which includes previous experience at the State Public Policy Group and Planned Parenthood of the Heartland—is matched by impressive volunteer work. She has volunteered and served on the boards of organizations including Greater Des Moines Leadership Institute, Planned Parenthood of the Heartland, New Leaders COuncil, Habitat for Humanity, the Iowa Coalition Against Domestic Abust, Animal Rescue League of Iowa, and Big Brothers and Big Sisters of Central Iowa.

Joseph Sample, GR’07, received the Garry L. Frank Legacy Award, which recognizes an established MPA alumnus who over the course of his or her career has exemplified the ideals of innovation, impact, and engagement. Sample has more than 20 years of experience in the health and service industry, including in his current role as executive director of the Heritage Area Agency on Aging in Cedar Rapids. He’s previously served in administrative roles at Iowa Health Systems, Easter Seals of Iowa, the Health Care Access Network, Iowa Board of Medical Examiners, and Iowa Department of Human Services.

Sample is active in his community, having served as an Iowa Statewide Independent Living Council member since 2011 as well as an ethics community member for UnityPoint in Des Moines sine 2007. He is pursuing a Ph.D. in Human Development and Family Studies at Iowa State University, where he teaches a course on end-of-life issues, and has served as an adjunct instructor at Grand View University.

Award recipients were selected by Drake’s Master of Public Administration program faculty based on criteria such as the impact the individual has made at Drake University and the work they have done for the community at large. The legacy award and rising star awards are named after two of Drake’s longest-serving faculty members, both of whom carry the title of Thomas F. Sheehan Distinguished Professor of Public Administration. Meyer has taught at Drake since 1990; Frank joined the faculty in 1993.

Kelsey Thien, GR’15, was recognized for service as president of Drake’s Pi Alpha Alpha chapter during the 2015-2016 year. Thien is secretary for the Iowa House Democratic Caucus staff; previously, she worked in wind administration at MidAmerican Energy Company and has worked for a variety of other companies, including Wells Fargo Home Mortgage, Des Moines Public Schools, and the Iowa State Senate.

Des Moines Fire Department Chief John TeKippe, GR’14, will serve as the PAA chapter’s president for 2016-2017.