Central College News

Featured: Trust in their Talents

May 21, 2013
Bernadette Allen '78

Bernadette Allen ’78

Five Central College alumni have been chosen to join the board of trustees to help oversee the activities of the college. Bernadette Allen ’78, Jeff Oliver ’79, Steve Sikkink ’83, Kathy Sikkema ’84 and Clay Thompson ’90 will be contributing to the board based on their professional and personal merits.

“The five new members of our board of trustees bring a deep well of diverse experience,” said Mark Putnam, president. “The depth of their collective experience and the breadth of talent they possess is needed and met with excitement by our current board. They have enormous global experience and perspectives. Their science and technology expertise is very important as we think about our academic initiatives for the future. They also bring unique talents in government relations and have legal and financial expertise and strong academic experience and backgrounds.”

Kathy Sikkema '84

Kathy Sikkema ’84

The board of trustees plays many roles, including creating and directing policy, strategic planning, fundraising and engaging with alumni, faculty, staff and students. The entire board meets twice per academic year on Central’s campus.

Allen, the 2013 commencement speaker and retired U.S. Ambassador to the Republic of Niger, served in the Foreign Service for 31 years. She majored in French and linguistics at Central before obtaining her master’s degree at George Washington University in human resources management in 1989. She is honored by the new position and is eagerly anticipating working with the college in her new capacity.

“I’m excited about giving back to Central College after having been on the receiving end of Central’s gifts some 35 years ago,” Allen said. “I look forward to working with such a talented, giving group of board members, as well as engaging with the outstanding faculty and amazing students.”

Steve Sikkink ’83

Steve Sikkink ’83

A clinical psychologist with emphases in health and community psychology and professor of psychology and global health at Duke University in North Carolina, Sikkema was a psychology major at Central. She earned her master’s degree at Illinois State University and Ph.D. at Virginia Tech.

“I am looking forward to contributing to the Central College community from the ‘big picture’ perspective,” she said, “to thinking about the development and continued success of our unique institution, of which I am proud to be an alum!”

President and co-founder of Alliance Technologies in Des Moines, Sikkink brings a wealth of experience to the board. At Central, he was a business management/systems major. He is a current member of the National Advisory Council, the Cornerstone Society and the Central Club White.

Clay Thompson ’90

Clay Thompson ’90

“Central College and the Pella community played a critical role in my development over the years,” he said. “I’m so grateful to the college and all of the connections that impacted my life in such a positive way.”

Thompson is the global director of government affairs for Caterpillar in Maryland. He majored in English at Central and went on to earn his M.B.A. at the University of Chicago and his J.D. at the University of Iowa. Thompson is a former member of the National Advisory Council and the Schipper Steering Committee.

Jeff Oliver ’79

Jeff Oliver ’79

Oliver is a pathologist at Pathology Associates, Ltd. in Phoenix, Ariz. He majored in pre-health science and later earned his M.D. at the University of Iowa. He latercompleted a subspecialty fellowship in Hematopathology as an American Cancer Society Fellow at the University of Utah. Oliver is a former Central Club member.

“My college years were terrific,” said Oliver. “Central not only provided me with the skills and opportunities to succeed in my career choice, it also kindled many lifelong friendships that I have only grown to appreciate more and more as the years have passed.  I look forward to working with the board to preserve and expand that very special residential, liberal arts experience that I so greatly enjoyed.”

The alumni will begin their terms on the board of trustees July 1.

“As a group, they are diverse, impactful individuals with a whole range of experiences and representative of different parts of the country—precisely what a board needs to exemplify,” Putnam said. “We are pleased to have Bernadette, Clay, Jeff, Kathy and Steve join the board.”