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University of Nebraska–Lincoln

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April 9, 2019

Nebraska Business Honors Outstanding Business Leaders

Nebraska Business Honors Outstanding Business Leaders
Dean Kathy Farrell welcomes advisory board members and honorees to the 2018 Awards Luncheon in Howard L. Hawks Hall.
Three alumni and one business will receive recognition due to their impact on the Nebraska business community at the 35th Annual Awards Luncheon at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln College of Business. A bank chairman, human capital executive, baseball community leader and a financial services firm with deep roots in Nebraska provide a compelling example of business success to be celebrated for their outstanding accomplishments in the Cornhusker state and beyond.
Dr. Kathy Farrell, James Jr. and Susan Stuart Endowed Dean of the College of Business, said, “Over the past 35 years, the college recognized more than 250 people and organizations who helped create our impressive community. At the luncheon, we will recognize three more outstanding individuals and one dynamic corporation. These leaders set high standards of achievement and philanthropy for our students and entire Nebraska Business community.”
Farrell and Jeff Noordhoek, Nelnet’s chief executive officer and past chairman of the Dean’s Advisory Board, will present the awards on Friday, April 12, in Howard L. Hawks Hall. Honorees include: Bruce Lauritzen, chairman of First National of Nebraska; Julie Gebauer, ’83, global head of human capital and benefits at Willis Towers Watson; Ben Aken, ’99, Kansas City Royals vice president of community relations; and business solutions firm Lutz. 
Young Alumni Award – Ben Aken, ’99, Kansas City Royals
As vice president of community relations for the Kansas City Royals, Ben Aken oversees the community relations department and the team’s charitable foundation, Royals Charities. In 2018, the team granted in-kind support to more than 1,200 nonprofits, and Royals Charities distributed more than $1.5 million in grants to Kansas City-area organizations. In 2012, Aken helped oversee $2.5 million in community projects during the World Series and Major League Baseball All-Star Games in the city, and in 2018, he facilitated a Royals USO Entertainment Tour to Kuwait.   
The Papillion, Nebraska, native graduated cum laude from Nebraska with a bachelor’s degree in business administration. He also interned for more than two years with the Nebraska Athletics marketing office and served as president of the Student Alumni Association.
Business Leadership Award – Julie Gebauer, ’83, Willis Towers Watson
Julie Gebauer serves as the global head of the human capital and benefits-business segment of Willis Towers Watson in Stamford, Connecticut. Willis Towers Watson generates more than $3 billion of revenue and employs 14,000 people globally. Gebauer previously held a number of leadership positions, including global head of the talent and rewards business segment and business leader of the U.S. east division. She joined the company in 1986.
Gebauer is a fellow of the Society of Actuaries and YWCA Academy of Women Achievers inductee. She earned her bachelor’s degree in mathematics from Nebraska, where she earned recognition as a Chancellor’s Scholar and member of Phi Beta Kappa.
Corporate Leadership Award Lutz, Omaha, Nebraska
Lutz provides accounting, wealth management, recruiting, technology services and more that help build financial and organizational success. Founded in 1980, Lutz grew into the largest locally owned firm of its kind in Nebraska with more than 250 employees and offices in Omaha, Lincoln, Hastings and Grand Island. It received honors as one of the Best Places to Work in Omaha®, a Greater Omaha Business Excellence Award by the Omaha Chamber of Commerce and named among the Best Accounting Firms to Work For in 2018 and Regional Leaders in the Midwest by Accounting Today. Ron Nebbia, ’85, consulting shareholder, will accept the Corporate Leadership Award on behalf of Lutz.
Lifetime Achievement Award – Bruce Lauritzen, First National of Nebraska
Bruce Lauritzen works as chairman of First National of Nebraska and Lauritzen Corporation. He believes the spirit of teamwork has remained a key ingredient of First National’s success for more than 160 years.
Lauritzen actively serves and supports a wide range of charitable and civic organizations in Nebraska and beyond. He serves as the Royal Danish Consul for the State of Nebraska and a member of the Chief Executives Organization. He also serves as chairman of Clarkson Regional Health Services and Lauritzen Gardens Board of Trustees as well as a board member for Creighton University, Heritage Services, Nebraska Game and Parks Foundation and Wetlands America Trust. A past director of the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City (Omaha Branch), he served as a member of the Federal Advisory Council to the Federal Reserve Board in Washington, D.C.
He received numerous accolades including the Knight’s Cross of First Class of the Order of Dannebrog for his service to Denmark, the 105th King of Aksarben and the Omaha World-Herald 2015 Midlander of the Year. The Omaha Business Hall of Fame inducted him as a member in 2004 and the Nebraska Business Hall of Fame in 2006.
This year’s luncheon sponsors include: Ameritas, BKD CPAs and Advisors, Bykerk Consulting, Chief Industries, Conagra Brands, Cornerstone Bank, Cornhusker Bank, D/A Davidson, Deloitte, First National Bank, Lincoln Industries, Lozier, Nelnet, Pinnacle Bank, Talent Plus, Union Bank & Trust and Wells Fargo.
To view a full list of past award recipients, visit: