SPRINGFIELD, Mo. – Three Evangel University alumni will participate in the annual President’s Leadership Forum on the first day of the EU’s Homecoming 2017 Celebration, Thursday, Oct. 5, at 2 p.m.
The graduates will discuss the paths taken for each of their lives of service. The event is free and open to the public.
“We are honored to have three outstanding alumni join us this year for the President’s Leadership Forum,” said Dr. Carol A. Taylor, EU president and moderator of the forum.
“Each has significant leadership influence in a key area of public service — the political arena, public education, and a non-profit that serves at-risk youth and refugees. Their journeys and insights on leadership are sure to be inspiring,” she said.
The President’s Leadership Forum will take place in the recital hall of the Barnett Fine Arts Center, located just north of the Robert H. Spence Chapel, facing Glenstone Ave.
• Senator Doug Broxson (’71) has built a life that includes service to his family, his community, his state, and his alma mater. Doug served three terms in the Florida House of Representatives before being elected to the Florida State Senate in 2016.
The Broxson family roots run deep in his district — his ancestors settled in the Santa Rosa County area in the early 1800s, and Doug’s father, mother, and brother all served as Sheriff there. As an elected representative, he has championed job creation, economic growth, life and religious liberty. He has also worked to ensure fair treatment for his constituents following the BP oil spill.
At Evangel, Doug served as senior class president. While there, he met Mary (Bernhardt ’74); they married in 1972 and settled in Gulf Breeze, Fla., where he built a career in insurance, real estate, and investments. Doug and Mary have four children, Julie, Jason, Judd, and Jill, all Evangel alumni, and eight grandchildren.
Doug will be honored on Saturday at Evangel’s Homecoming luncheon as the 2017 Distinguished Alumnus.
• Julie (Graham ’85) Higgins is a Springfield native equally well known for her entrepreneurial talent and her heart for service. Over the years she has built businesses as varied as cookies (Julie’s Chewies) to construction (Euro World Design). Early in her career, she worked for John Q. Hammons in sales and marketing.
Julie has been honored as one of Springfield’s 20 Most Influential Women; served as Master of Ceremony for President Bush’s 2004 visit to Springfield; and when ABC’s Extreme Home Makeover had their largest build, in Joplin, they recruited Julie as the coordinator of 20,000 plus volunteers.
Throughout her years of business, she has always made time to life-coach women, teens and children. Her current passion is I Pour Life, which gives hope and promise to the poor and to refugees. Locally, they coach socially isolated youth classified as foster, homeless, juveniles and at-risk. In Ethiopia, she serves the people considered outcasts because of their diagnosis of Leprosy and HIV/AIDS.
Julie resides in Ozark, Missouri, with her husband Paul; they have two grown children.
• Dr. Kirt Hartzler (’85) serves as superintendent of Union Public Schools, near Tulsa, Oklahoma. The school district currently has 16,000 students, with approximately 52 languages and every possible social demographic represented. He brings to the position a rich institutional knowledge and a strong commitment to the pursuit of excellence.
Kirt was a Missouri All-State basketball player while attending Willard High School. At Evangel University, he was an All-District performer for three years and became EU’s all-time scoring and steal leader in 1985. He has been inducted into the Hall-of-Fame at both Willard and Evangel.
A self-professed lifelong learner, Hartzler earned his bachelor’s from Evangel, his master’s from Northeastern State University, and his doctorate in educational administration from Oklahoma State University. He is a passionate champion for all students and is firmly committed to ensuring that Union Public Schools provides high-quality teaching and learning, greater advocacy, and personalization for all students. He believes strongly in investing in programs and opportunities to meet the district’s goal of 100 percent graduation, college and career ready.
Dr. Hartzler and his wife, Susan (Woods ’85), have three children.