De Pere, Wis.: Daniel Pichler, Karen Stuckey and Judith Koeppl were honored as St. Norbert College held its annual Alumni Awards on Friday, June 18. The three were scheduled to be honored in 2020, but the global pandemic forced the college to move it to 2021.
The awards are given each year to honor alumni accomplishments that exemplify St. Norbert College’s goal to serve others and for living out St. Norbert’s tradition of excellence.
Daniel Pichler (1983) won the Distinguished Achievement Award in Business:
Shortly before Dan Pichler retired as a partner and CPA from the accounting and consulting firm Wipfli in May of 2020, he was interviewed by the diocesan newspaper The Compass. Commenting on his nearly 40 years at Wipfli, his 36 years of marriage and his quarter-century in the same house, Dan explained to the newspaper wryly: “As I tell people, I have a commitment issue.”
Commitment has undeniably been a hallmark of Dan’s life, not just in those respects, but in the way he has served his clients, his Wipfli colleagues, his community and his church.
At Wipfli, Dan applied values drawn from his Catholic faith. Morality, sincerity and ethical practices grounded the company’s — and Dan’s — approach to clients, and his principled leadership set the tone for the 140 associates he led at the company’s Green Bay and Fox Cities offices.
Outside of work, Dan’s commitment to his community and local organizations was similarly exemplary and inspiring. He served as a board member of the Boys & Girls Club of Greater Green Bay for nearly 20 years, and is the only person twice honored by the organization as Board Member of the Year.
Dan has been an active member of the Optimist Club, a past board member of the Green Bay Area Chamber of Commerce and a member of the Legatus organization of Catholic business leaders. He is a regular presence at charitable outings and fundraisers throughout the community.
Commitment is something Dan has also exhibited plentifully and joyfully in his faith, together with his wife, Peg. While Peg immersed herself in service to the Catholic schools their three children attended in Green Bay, Dan coached basketball there for many years, and they both focused their energies on fundraising for the schools and the parish, as well. Dan also has been active in his parish and is a member of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem, which supports Christians in the Holy Land through contributions and prayer.
Reflecting on his life and career at the conclusion of his Compass interview, Dan offered this: “What’s worked for me all these years is to be the person who I am. My faith has always been a part of that, brought down from my parents.” For his lifetime of commitment to his faith and to the betterment of those he has met on his life’s journey, the college is pleased to present Dan Pichler with the Distinguished Achievement Award in Business.
Karen Stuckey (1979) also won the Distinguished Achievement Award in Business:
During a television interview on the St. Norbert campus in 2016, Karen Stuckey, a senior VP at Walmart, was asked what advice she’d give a young woman just beginning her career. Karen’s response: “Don’t be afraid to take a risk. Be more afraid of missing an opportunity because you didn’t take the risk.”
Karen Stuckey’s journey from St. Norbert College to the executive offices of the world’s largest company has exemplified her willingness to seize opportunity — and, at times, embrace risk.
After graduation, Karen — who knew she wanted to be involved in the retail industry — joined The Limited as a co-manager of its store in downtown Chicago. She was younger than most of the people who worked for her, but seizing that as an opportunity for growth and learning, she soon was managing the store alone, and not long thereafter she took a job with a department store that was part of the Hart, Schaffner and Marx company. Success there led to her recruitment by Target, and after that to a stint at Montgomery Ward, and then — driven by a desire to learn more about a different aspect of the industry — she moved to the manufacturing side of the business at Sara Lee Corp., where she rose to president of one of its divisions in just seven years. Gaining invaluable insights in that role, she returned to retail in the first of several roles at Walmart, where she is now senior vice president for private brands, general merchandise, Walmart U.S.
Even as she has been pursuing her own career boldly, Karen has devoted herself to supporting other women in that journey. She gives back to the women leaders inside the Walmart organization as chairperson for the Women’s Officer Caucus. She has served on the board and as chairperson for the Network of Executive Women, a nonprofit organization committed to advancing women leaders. Committed to providing opportunities to other underrepresented groups, as well, Karen also is a member of the Walmart President’s Inclusion Council.
In her community, Karen has led her local Boys & Girls Club through a transformation of growth and high-quality impact. She and her husband, Andy, have also shepherded others through a “transformation of growth”: their four children, who are now successful adults and thriving as principled leaders of impact in their own right.
For all she has accomplished, and for the spirited way in which she has accomplished it, Karen Stuckey is a worthy recipient of the Distinguished Achievement Award in Business.
Judith Koeppl (1963) won the Alma Mater Award:
One of Judy Koeppl’s nominators had that to say about her dear friend, and one need only look at Judy’s lifetime of service to see the truth in it.
Her care and compassion have been extended to others at nearly every stage of their lives. Judy’s first work after leaving St Norbert as one of its first resident woman graduates was with an adoption agency, helping to find supportive homes for children. Next, staying home to raise three children of her own, she became an original member of the Theology for Mothers group, meeting regularly to talk with other young women about Christ’s presence in family life.
Judy was hired as liturgy coordinator for St. Paul’s University Catholic Center in Madison, Wis., where she was a pioneer of women’s leadership in the church. Her work there also included an emphasis on diversity and inclusion, a cause she has championed throughout her career and into her “retirement,” where she interacted with the multicultural club at the local high school to look at racial issues and find common ground.
Seniors have also benefited from Judy’s selfless and untiring service. On staff with the Retired Senior Volunteer Program, Judy developed and coordinated the Driver Escort Program, which inspired older persons to serve as volunteer drivers in rural areas for health care appointments and Meals on Wheels.
Perhaps most indicative of Judy’s compassionate heart is her vocation to those who are grieving. When she was 27, Judy’s parents died within five days of each other. The experience of working through her own grief put Judy on a path to help others in similar situations. She earned a master’s degree in geriatric social work, and was hired by HospiceCare to develop and direct the first hospice bereavement program for both family members and medical staff. In 1991 she opened The Center For Life & Loss Integration, a grief counseling center at the Norbertines’ San Damiano residence on the shores of Lake Monona, Wis. Her practice continued for 27 years before she retired in 2018.
Perhaps her most memorable experience was being called to New York after the 9/11 terrorist attacks, providing bereavement support to victim’s families and first responders as a Red Cross disaster mental health worker. She also was a bereavement consultant to funeral homes throughout south central Wisconsin, developing an aftercare program for grief support, and she served as a crisis intervention counselor for traumatic deaths in the Madison community.
In recent years, Judy has brought her St. Norbert values to Cedar Community, the West Bend, Wis., retirement center where she lives. There she has helped to establish a memorial garden and created a support group to help seniors talk about their grief.
From helping young children find love and security to helping the elderly find peace and comfort after the loss of a loved one, Judy has tirelessly served across all generations and across her entire community. Quiet, loving and determined, as one nominator described her, Judy Koeppl has built an inspiring legacy that makes her a fitting recipient of the Alma Mater Award.
For more information on the alumni awards, go to https://www.snc.edu/alumni/awards/.