The Graceland University Alumni Board of Directors (ABOD) had its annual meeting March 11 and elected new officers who will serve for the next two years, beginning June 1. Michele Black ’81 was elected President, Joseph “Joe” Booz ’86 was elected as Vice President, and Holly (Phillips) Caskey ’81 was elected as Secretary.
Michele Black has been a member of the ABOD since 2015 and has provided leadership for both the Awards and the Nominations and Elections subcommittees. She has spent the majority of her 33-year professional career working in the information technology sales and engineering field and the last 15 years with Cisco Systems, traveling internationally to provide leadership to global solutions engineering teams, working with Tier 1 customers to define new product requirements, and creating sales acceleration programs for Cisco partners. She holds a Master of Business Administration from Texas State University, San Marcos.
When asked about her passion for Graceland, Michele said, “At this point in my life, I find I’m constantly on the lookout for opportunities where I can be a giver rather than a taker. At the same time, I want to be sure that what I do give makes a tangible difference. Needless to say, serving on the Graceland Alumni Board has provided me with an opportunity to do just that. I am delighted and humbled to be able to contribute my time and talents to an institution that was pivotal in shaping me into who I am today, to help support and promote current Graceland programs and activities, and to help ensure the (Graceland) experience continues to be available for future generations.”
Joe Booz ‘86 joined the ABOD in 2012 and has provided leadership on several alumni engagement efforts, including student recruiting and local alumni chapter (hive) development. He received a BA in business administration from Graceland and went on to study law at Creighton University (JD ‘89), after which he practiced in the Kansas City area for more than 20 years in the banking/finance industry. Since 2012, Joe and his wife, Sherry Hughes-Booz, BSN '88, have made their home in Scottsdale, Arizona, where Joe serves as Executive Director and Assistant General Counsel for JPMorgan Chase Bank.
Joe is excited to step into this new role and to continue working closely with Michele and his colleagues on the board. "More than ever, alums are making a real difference," Joe noted. "It's something special to be a part of this vast and devoted family and to help build Graceland's future."
Holly Caskey ‘81 joined the board in 2016 and has been an active member of the GU4U committee and the Honors and Awards committee. She has spent the last 29 years in operations management in the transportation industry with the last 15 years focusing on transportation safety. Holly worked in operations management at UPS for 15 years in the Minnesota and Kansas Districts and, after marrying Mark, also a UPS manager, she left UPS, moved back to Minnesota and has since worked as the Director of Safety for two large carriers based in the twin cities. Holly most recently served as the Vice President of Driver Training for Dart Transit Company based in Eagan, Minnesota, is an active member of the Minnesota Trucking Association, having served on the Safety Council for the last six years, is actively involved with the Truckload Carriers Association, a national organization based in Washington D.C., and is currently Chair of their Safety and Security Division.
Holly is honored to be a part of the ABOD and is happy to meet the needs of the board by serving in the role of secretary. Being a part of the GU4U committee has been a great opportunity to work with other ABOD members as well as some awesome Graceland students. “It is very exciting to be a part of such an amazing group of people (who) hold Graceland in a special place in their hearts and are passionate about the future of Graceland. I love that this is a working board that will be able to positively impact that future.”
Cal Closson ‘82, who has most recently served as president and vice president prior to his current role, had this to say, “ I feel privileged to have served for three years as Vice President and this past year as President of the Alumni Board. I feel strongly that it is time to give others the opportunity to lead. I very much appreciate the tremendous support from Graceland faculty, staff and administration, and the partnerships that we have begun to build over the past several years. My hope is that our partnerships continue and that the Alumni Board’s efforts are meaningful and sustainable. I plan to jump back into mentoring/internships, recruiting and fundraising efforts on the Alumni Board, so you will still be seeing a lot of me.”