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American Family Leadership Class

Karl Jesche, Riley Kock and other leadership students prepare for their final project. – Wartburg College Facebook Page

A new leadership class was offered to Wartburg students this May term. The class focused on decision making, enterprise risk management, and corporate social responsibility. The twelve students in the class, taught by Dr. Folkers and Dr. Waldstein, travelled to Madison, Wisconsin for the first and third weeks of May Term. While in Wisconsin, the class spent time at the American Family Insurance national headquarters. This partnership came about due to Wartburg’s close ties with officials at American Family Insurance.

“American Family Insurance is led by Wartburg alum Jack Salzwedel. He serves as their President, CEO, and Chairman of the Board,” said Dr. Folkers, one of the professors teaching the class. “He and alum Jim Buchheim, who is VP of Communications at American Family wanted to provide an opportunity for Wartburg students from a variety of majors and career aspirations to get behind the scenes of a Fortune 500 company.”

The students were on-site at the headquarters during their Results Week, the preparation that leads up to their quarterly board meetings. The second week had the students attending the company’s quarterly board meetings.  During the third week, students had the opportunity to participate in job shadowing in several different departments of American Family Insurance.

“Coming into the course, I had no idea how great it would be. I was nervous to meet the executives we would be working with throughout the term, but once I met them I was super excited,” said Riley Kock, one of the students in the class. “They were all great people and our class experienced many things most people will never have the opportunity to experience.”

This week, the class will present recommendations Jack Salzwedel, Jim Buchheim, their professors, and several members of the Focus on the Future task forces about how Wartburg could apply insights gained from American Family Insurance to the Focus on the Future strategic planning currently taking place at the college.

Riley Kock said, “The culture and leadership style of American Family Insurance is one of the most positive I’ve ever seen. The lessons I learned from this experience are some I will never forget.”

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