Meet Grand View's first female president, check in with CREW Iowa
 ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌
View as webpage, click here.
Good morning and happy Monday! Here’s what you’ll find in this week’s edition of Fearless:

  • We introduce you to Rachelle Keck, who is Grand View University’s first female president. (We’re only running an excerpt here – but you can find the full profile on our website).
  • We share responses to the question "What does success mean to you?" that we asked you earlier this year in our annual Fearless survey.
  • We talk with members of CREW Iowa about the future of the organization and Iowa women in commercial real estate.
  • Business Record Editor Emily Barske curated this week’s break from the news section. In it, she encourages you to write down three things that stressed you out and three things you achieved at the end of each day for two weeks. Doing this, she says, will force you to recognize that success looks different each day.

All that and more below! Have a great week.

– Emily Kestel, Fearless editor

Meet Rachelle Keck, President of Grand View University
Rachelle Keck is the president of Grand View University. Photo courtesy of Grand View University.
Since July, Rachelle Keck has been getting acquainted with Grand View University, its students, and its faculty and staff, all gearing up for the fall semester that starts Aug. 29. It marks the beginning of her first year as the university’s 14th president, the first woman to hold the role.

Grand View is the second institution where Keck has held her dream job title of college president, following four years as president of Briar Cliff University in Sioux City.

But her vision to work and lead in higher education wasn’t realized until about 15 years ago.

Keck first built a career as a lawyer. People she knew told her she would be good at it because of her arguing skills — growing up as one of nine children, she reframes that sentiment as an ability to self-advocate.

She worked for four years as a county attorney and in private practice, then, for 16 years, ran her own law firm focused on real estate as well as an abstract and title company.

Her connection to higher education remained through involvement with her alma mater, Wartburg College, serving on its alumni board and then its board of regents.

During the search for the college’s next president in 2008 she started to notice her own characteristics in some of the applicants.

"We had a couple of really strong candidates that had [Juris Doctor degrees], which is what I had at the time, and it got me thinking, No. 1, ‘I think I would be good at this job and I think I would really like this job,’" she said.

She first sought the advice of people in the field to understand what working in higher education looks like. Those conversations solidified her determination and she set a course to achieve this new dream.

After learning the ropes of fundraising through philanthropy roles at the University of Iowa and Indian Hills Community College, she moved into the chief of staff role at Briar Cliff, which led to the dream becoming reality in 2018.

Keck shared more with the Business Record about Grand View, her new role and what she’s learned throughout her journey into higher education.

This Q&A has been condensed and edited for clarity.

What drew you to Grand View?
When my dream to be a college president was born 15 years ago, I knew at that time that I wanted to be the president of a college that had a Lutheran faith base. That's my faith base and how I grew up, so Grand View absolutely fit the bill. This is my 15th city in Iowa that I've lived in, and I loved all of them. But I love the fact that Des Moines is the capital city and that we are right in the heart of it, whether it's the government aspect of Des Moines, the entertainment and arts aspect, the business and industry aspect, and just the robust educational system here as well. I think we are just in such a good spot that we really don't have a lot of limits. I love Grand View’s mission of educating students from all backgrounds, whether that's socioeconomic or cultural or racial or spiritual. It's really just about transforming lives and providing that access to education that you maybe wouldn't be able to provide at a more [exclusive] school.

How do you view your role as the first woman president at Grand View?
I absolutely understand the gravity and the importance of me being the first female president here at Grand View, not necessarily having anything to do with the past, but more having to do with the future. I want to circle back to how do we best set our students up for success? When students can see themselves in a role, whether it's because someone of their gender or someone of their orientation, or someone of their background is in a position that they aspire to be in, it's much easier to visualize yourself also in that position. That's something that I want to continue to do is just to continue to break down those barriers and continue to provide opportunities across all constituencies of our employees and our students and, honestly, help them to fulfill their dreams, regardless of whether it's been done before.

Do you have advice for women leaders, whether they are the first in their organization or one of a few?
If you call up someone that has a role that you aspire to have, even if it's 15 minutes, 20 minutes, and being prepared and asking the right questions to get them talking — you can learn so much. I did that when I was exploring the higher ed space and asking, "Do I want to be a college president?" Just keep learning and just keep asking questions. I also tell people you learn zero when your mouth is open. If you are speaking, you're not learning, so be cognizant of that. I'm pretty intentional with my leadership team. If I'm talking, I'm not learning anything. I want to hear from you. Being a good question asker is a really important skill to develop and it requires you to step outside of your egocentric space of listening to respond, rather than listening to hear.

We asked: How do you define success? What does success look like for you?
Illustration by Getty Images.
The ideas of how people perceive success and ambition have always piqued my interest. For a while, I equated success with making a lot of money, achieving big things and having an outsized impact on the world.

But as I got older and joined the workforce, I recognized that the definitions of success vary widely, just as the word happiness evokes different meanings.

Earlier this year, I asked the questions "How do you define success?" and "What does success look like for you?" in our annual Fearless survey.

I sat on the responses for several months, waiting for the right time to share them. Now, with national conversations about "quiet quitting" – where you do the bare minimum of what’s asked of you at work – and larger reckonings with ambitions, I figured now is a good time as ever to dig them back out of the proverbial closet and see how they compare.

Sixty people answered, with most responses falling within five themes. Below are select responses, some of which fall under multiple categories. Responses have been lightly edited for clarity.

Having an impact
  • Success is being able to make a positive impact and helping others create a life where they can do the same.
  • If I can leave this world by making an impact on just one human being, then I have succeeded.
  • Success is being comfortable, proud, and engaged in the community and world around me.

Feeling happy and healthy
  • Finding peace and happiness.
  • My definition of success has changed since the pandemic. I now define success as being healthy and mentally happy.
  • Success = joy. When I'm feeling fulfilled and joyful, I know I'm successful. And that doesn't always look the same. Sometimes my career is the primary priority. Sometimes spending extra family time together is what fills my cup most. And sometimes it's the selfish endeavors that give me the edge I need to find joy. Life changes, I adapt, but joy is my success.
  • When you are truly satisfied with who you authentically are. Success is not dependent on others’ perceptions of you.
  • Happiness. Not everyone wants the same thing.
  • Freedom. The freedom to make my choices without major constraint, the freedom to live the life I want rather than the one I'm forced to settle for, the freedom to use my time in the ways of benefit to myself and those around me and not merely to widget factories. Money is merely a means to that end. I do not define my success by the amount of toys I have and the self-imposed "status" others perceive that I have. Success is when I'm happy, balanced, excited and interested in life and don't feel like I'm living it for anyone else and against my will.

Achieving work-life balance
  • A good work-life balance where I feel I am fulfilled.
  • Raising successful, independent children and having a good marriage.
  • My family and faith are the underlying meaning of success. If I am successful and a CEO but have no faith or family, I have nothing. Success to me is making a difference and contributing positively to my company, community and ultimately my family.
  • At this point, work-life balance and enough agency in my work to advance the mission of the nonprofit where I choose to work. I am fortunate that work is a choice at this stage in my life, not a requirement. I attribute this to living below our means for several years, hard work, strong performance, and some dang good luck. I understand that not everyone is willing or able to do this.
  • Success to me is not exactly my work legacy, it is what I leave with my family, what I am remembered for: "a caring mother, a wonderful friend," etc.
  • Doing work I enjoy for pay I can thrive on, with time and trust to be away as well.
  • Success means that I have what I need and that I enjoy the way I spend my time, both at work and in my personal time.
  • Loving my job and having enough time with my family.

Accomplishing set goals
  • Making money, achieving promotions, accomplishing goals, projects that make a difference. All of those combined make success.
  • Success happens when you give yourself into a project that may make you nervous or uncomfortable and you see the project through, whether it has the outcome you wanted or not. It's pushing through and finding a will to survive and be your own biggest cheerleader.
  • It is the ability to grow in your environment, while also growing as an individual. To feel and see the achievements and growth that you have made. To become emotionally and financially stable and be able to continue to grow and achieve your goals.
  • Doing what you want, doing it well and being recognized for it.

Being financially comfortable
  • Treat others with kindness, feel worthwhile and respected. Achieve a socioeconomic level that provides dignity and comfort without gluttony and irresponsible excess. Follow the golden rule with joy.
  • Professional success is doing a job I enjoy, working for a company I believe in and for people who treat me with respect. It is also a job that pays a justified rate for time given and value added regardless of gender. Financial success in my life means living a modest life with comforts and conveniences that allow my day-to-day to be predominantly stress-free and ability to pay all my bills and still have money to spare.
  • Being able to meet one's needs. Being financially secure. Being able to adequately juggle family, community, and work life. Being able to participate in things one wants to participate in. Having an adequate support network and close relationships with at least a few other people.
  • Happiness in the workplace and pay reflective of years for services and work performed.
In the headlines
  • When NASA launches its next crew aboard a SpaceX Dragon this fall, the mission commander, astronaut Nicole Aunapu Mann, will become the first Native American woman to travel to space. Mann is an enrolled member of the Wailacki of the Round Valley Indian Tribes.
  • Women are posting videos of themselves dancing on social media to show support for Finland Prime Minister Sanna Marin, who was berated earlier this month after videos of her partying with friends surfaced. Critics said her decision to party during an economic crisis was unprofessional and irresponsible, and demanded that she take a drug test. The women posting the videos of solidarity are calling the situation unfair and sexist, and said she’s being criticized simply because she’s a young woman.
  • President Joe Biden announced he will cancel up to $10,000 in federal student loan debt and an additional $10,000 for Pell Grant recipients, which is said to have an impact on more than 43 million Americans, especially women. Women hold two-thirds of student debt in the U.S., according to the American Association of University Women, with an average balance of $31,276.
  • Many employers are shrinking the number of paid weeks of maternity and paternity leave they will offer as a way to confront inflation, as they anticipate a recession or try to reestablish pre-pandemic norms. New data shows that the share of employers offering paid maternity leave beyond what is required by law dropped to 35% this year, down from 53% in 2020. The share of employers giving paid paternity time off fell to 27% in 2022, from 44% in 2020.
  • Walmart, the nation’s largest employer, is expanding its abortion coverage for employees after staying largely mum on the issue following the Supreme Court ruling that scrapped a nationwide right to abortion. The company said its health care plans will now cover abortion for employees "when there is a health risk to the mother, rape or incest, ectopic pregnancy, miscarriage or lack of fetal viability."
  • In honor of the 100th anniversary of Bessie Coleman, the first Black woman to earn a pilot's license, American Airlines operated a flight out of Dallas with an all-Black, all-female crew, including the pilots, flight attendants, cargo team members and aviation maintenance technicians. Black women currently represent less than 1% of positions within the commercial airline industry.
  • Researchers from the Tippie College of Business have been awarded a $288,779 grant from the National Science Foundation to better understand why male researchers publish more papers on average and generate more citations than their female colleagues. According to the lead researcher of the study, Rong Su, female scientists have increased since the 1960s but men still publish 35% more papers and receive 34% more citations than women in the 2000s.
Worth checking out
The misconception of ambition with Serena Williams (Archetypes podcast). For years, Black trans women have been told their life expectancy is 35 years. That’s false (The 19th). Five women serve on the Iowa State Fair Board, the most ever. Now, they hope to inspire more (Des Moines Register). What comes after ambition? (Elle). What the death of a rural day care says about America’s child care crisis (Time). Why women should coach boys’ sports (Washington Post Opinion). State-funded expansion of crisis pregnancy services may be a year away (Iowa Capital Dispatch).
CREW Iowa celebrates 10-year anniversary, making future plans
Over a decade ago, a group of women lamented the need for a support system for women involved in the commercial real estate sector.

"They were trying to navigate their way through what has predominately been a male industry and felt like they needed the support and education of other women and companies in order to be successful in their careers," said Jennifer Schumann, president of CREW Iowa and associate general counsel at BH Equities. (CREW stands for Commercial Real Estate Women.)

The group’s founding members include Barbara Hokel, a commercial real estate broker; Melissa Wiechman, an investment officer at Principal Financial Group; Susan Pfeil, who operates a consulting business; Deb Conlin Anderson of Newport Beach, Calif.; and Krista Capp, who lives in the Detroit area.

A national CREW organization had been launched in 1989 and the women decided to start an Iowa chapter, Schumann said. In the chapter’s first year, CREW Iowa had 30 members. A decade later, it has 166 members representing nearly 30 companies located in the Greater Des Moines area.

"The idea that this 76th chapter of CREW Network would grow to over 150 members in our short decade is mind-blowing to me," wrote Pfeil in CREW Iowa’s 10th anniversary report. "CREW Iowa has exceeded my … vision in size, quality of programming and truly valuable content."

We recently chatted with Schumann about CREW Iowa, its growth, its importance to women in commercial real estate and what’s planned for the future.

Journal prompt: Recognizing success
Illustration by Getty Images.
If you’re anything like me, it drives you crazy to end the day without checking off every item on your to-do list. (By the way, keeping those to-do lists more realistic may help alleviate that issue.)

"Achiever" is one of my top strengths on the StrengthsFinder assessment and nearly everything I do is driven by a goal. So it can feel as though I’ve failed when the to-do list doesn’t get done or the day didn’t go quite as planned. But the reality is – that’s life.

An exercise that was recommended to me helped shift my perspective. The exercise goes like this: Over the course of two weeks, end each evening by writing down three things that stressed you out that day and three things that you achieved. The point of two weeks is to have a long enough period of time to have a sampling of days that you felt went well and ones that didn’t go so great.

As someone who is a planner, I found it much easier to come up with the stressors: the things that I wasn’t expecting to happen that day, but they did anyway. The achievements were harder for me. My definition of achievement before the exercise was quite momentous. It had to be something significant for me to consider it a success.

But the exercise forces you to think of at least three achievements. And within the two-week time frame, many of us have at least four days that are typically "less productive" by society’s standards (Saturdays and Sundays). It forced me to recognize that success looks different each day.

Sometimes it’s getting out of bed. Sometimes it’s that you made time for exercise. Sometimes it’s making a call to a loved one or giving someone a compliment. Sometimes it’s taking one step in a project – even if before I would only consider finishing the project to the best of my ability an achievement. And sometimes it may be a grand milestone, like competing in a race you’d been training for or getting a promotion.

If you try the exercise out, I’d love to hear what you think! Email me at

Journal instructions:
  • If you don’t have one, get a journal or notebook that you can use for this.
  • Each day for two weeks, end the day by writing down three things that stressed you out and three things that you achieved.
  • If you wish, write down any observations you make during each day.
  • At the end of the two weeks, reflect on whether the exercise helped you see achievement in day-to-day life and anything else you may have learned.

Like this newsletter? Please forward to a friend!
Did someone share this newsletter with you? Sign up here.

Business Publications Corporation Inc.

515.288.3336  |

Contact the group publisher of BPC:
Contact Fearless editor:
Submit press release:
Advertising info:
Membership info:

Copyright © BPC 2022, All rights reserved.
Reproduction or use without permission of editorial or graphic content in any manner is strictly prohibited.

Email Marketing by ActiveCampaign