If you know an alum that should be recognized for their achievements, we want to know about them!
Please nominate a Simpson alum for their achievements so we can recognize and award them in October during Homecoming.
2020-2021 Alumni Award Honorees
Recipients of this award have attained notable, widely recognized success or made a lasting contribution through their professional, philanthropic, or volunteer endeavors. Career field itself is not sufficient to qualify a member of the Simpson College Alumni Association for the award. Accomplishments within the career field must be exceptional. Recipients must also be contributing members of their communities and active members of the Simpson College Alumni Association.
Joel Nelson ’86
Joel chose to attend Simpson College because it offered a 3-2 program that provided the opportunity to transfer to the University of Iowa and earn a Masters in Health Administration after three years at Simpson. Once at Simpson, Joel chose to stay and graduate from Simpson with his Bachelor of Arts degree in health administration after two successful May terms and summer internships at Iowa Methodist Hospital. While at Simpson, Joel was a member of Phi Beta Lambda business club and the college judicial board and participated in intramurals and numerous social activities.
Joel has had a long and distinguished career serving seniors with LCS, the 2nd largest Senior living company in the United States serving over 40,000 seniors. Joel had numerous roles starting as a trainee, administrator, and then VP, SVP, EVP, President & COO. In 2018, Joel was named President & CEO.
One of Joel’s biggest accomplishments was starting the LCS Real Estate Company in 2010 which is now one of the top 10 owners of senior living communities in the United States. He sits on multiple state and national boards and currently serves as the Co-chair of the National Public Policy committee for Argentum. He is an executive board member of the American Senior Housing Association board and serves on the National Investment Center Advisory board.
Additionally, Joel serves on the United Way Central Iowa board of directors, is a trustee of ChildServe, where he was past president of the board of directors, and he serves as vice president on the LCS Foundation board of directors. Joel served on the Central Iowa Alzheimer’s board of directors and was one of the founding members of the Simpson College advisory board for the health services leadership program. Joel and his wife Lisa ’87 are proud to have helped sponsor the startup of this program, and today the LCS Foundation continues to provide annual scholarships for Simpson students pursuing a degree in health services leadership.
Trent Murphy ’90
Trent earned his Bachelor of Arts in environmental science and biology from Simpson College in 1990. He later earned his Master of Education from Drake University. While at Simpson, Trent was involved in cheerleading, intramurals, Beta Beta Beta science honor society, and is a member of Kappa Theta Psi Fraternity.
Trent taught science in Phoenix, Arizona, and at Valley High School prior to taking over his family business, CJM Financial, Inc. in 2000. In 2014, Trent became the sole owner of the business that he and his family had grown through the years.
Trent has consistently shown inspiring leadership, making sure to demonstrate his appreciation for his employees through events, profit sharing, and bonuses. He has also shown his ability to navigate challenges. In 2008, Trent’s entrepreneurial visions and goals allowed the business to sustain itself through the economic downturn. His money-saving and game-changing innovations included strategic partnerships that aided in the business growth of CJM Financial’s clients. This leadership has earned Trent and his employees the DMACC 2018 Small Business of the Year Award and the 2019 Better Business Bureau Award of Ethics. It was announced this August that CJM Financial would be acquired by FirstLine Funding Group based out of Madison, South Dakota after numerous national and international interests sought to merge with CJM Financial.
Trent has also shown his dedication to his community. He served on the Ankeny Community Schools Board of Directors from 2001-2011, was a mentor for numerous Ankeny Middle and High School students, mentored through the Greater Des Moines Partnership Junior Leadership program, has been a member of Ankeny Rotary since 2003, and has served on the Iowa Heart Association Board of Directors. He currently serves on the Ankeny Economic Development Board and is an active member of the Ankeny Chamber of Commerce, sponsoring numerous events and educational opportunities for the Chamber, serving on the policy and public affairs committees, and participating in the Greater Des Moines Partnership D.C. team for small business legislation. He is also a current member of the Ankeny Angel Investors.
At Simpson, Trent has been a member of the Simpson College Alumni Association Board of Directors, is a Lifetime Member of The Presidents’ Society with his wife, Renee ’92, and is a staunch supporter of EMERGE@Simpson. Both Trent and Renee also served on the campaign committee for the Imagine the Impact Comprehensive Campaign and have established endowed student scholarships.
Trent’s philanthropy reaches widely, and his compassion for the people around him is evident. As his nominator stated, “Trent will never fully achieve his goals in life as he is always changing, adjusting, and adding to them daily. He is a lifelong learner and will continue to impact others around him.”
Elizabeth Raymond Nigut ’91
While at Simpson College, Beth held various officer roles with Delta Delta Delta sorority, was a member of the College Activities Board, participated as a football and basketball cheerleader, and was in both Alpha Lambda Delta and Omicron Delta Kappa honor societies. In addition, she was a student ambassador and member of the Pre-law Club. She earned her Bachelor of Arts degree in political science in 1991. Beth was inducted into Simpson College’s honor society, Epsilon Sigma as a post-grad in 2006.
Following graduation from Simpson, Beth earned her Juris Doctor from Drake University Law School. She worked as general counsel for the Des Moines Independent Community School District from 2007 until 2010, when she became vice president of human resources at EMC Insurance Companies in Des Moines. In 2014 she was promoted to senior vice president and chief human resources officer, and in 2020 she became EMC’s highest-ranking woman assuming the role of executive vice president and chief people officer.
While at EMC, Beth has been responsible for managing a budget of over $250 million and has spearheaded the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion initiative and led the creation of the business case for how DEI drives the achievement of business objectives. She also helped EMC adapt, transform, and grow as she laid the foundation for, and brought in, the Prosci ADKAR Change Management model to overcome resistance to change and ultimately influencing successful company evolution. In addition, she opened the door to digital transformation by migrating from legacy-based systems to cloud-based systems and apps, the first of such program at EMC. Beth was recognized for her work at EMC by the Des Moines Business Record, being named 2020 HR Professional of the Year.
Beth has served her community as a Board Member of Iowa State Bank, and Please Pass the Love, an organization that advances mental health support resources for youth. She is also an executive committee member and chair of the Talent Development Committee for The Greater Des Moines Partnership.
Beth is a member of the Simpson College Board of Trustees, having started her term in 2021. She and her husband, Rush, a fellow 1991 Simpson graduate, have been members of The Presidents’ Society for over 15 years and have made a gift to Simpson every year since graduation.
Beth credits Simpson with contributing to her success. “Having a broad-based liberal arts education fostered curiosity and brought awareness to topics and classes that I would not otherwise have taken. I have an appreciation for diverse views and perspectives that were sparked at Simpson. I was fortunate to have had professors who cared and who challenged me. Simpson provided an environment where I was able to grow, and I always felt supported, and it was as though they were rooting for me to succeed. Simpson College gave me confidence that I could make a positive impact.”