The Franken Leadership Center: Engaging ideas, connecting the classroom to the community, and responding to our call to serve God, humanity and creation.


The Franken Leadership Center can be a resource to you for the following:
  •  Carlson Program: Helping great students find great employers to get great summer internships!
  • Academic service-learning: Working with faculty to incorporate meaningful academic service-learning opportunities into courses and collecting institutional data regarding annual academic service-learning opportunities for students
  • Adventure education: Developing opportunities such as first-year experiences for new students
  • "Flourish - Make Work Matter" Pilot Program 2018-2019: Enhancing the student employee experience


We are committed to fostering excellent experiential learning opportunities for students that deepen their knowledge base, help them connect the classroom to God's world, enrich their lives, and prepare them for service in God's kingdom.

We are excited to partner with you as we work to enhance student engagement and promote academic success.


A Servant Heart

The Franken Leadership Center is named in memory of the late Jim Franken. Jim was president and CEO of Interstates Companies and Harbor Group in Sioux Center, Iowa, as well as a Northwestern College board member. At the time of his death in 2001 at the age of 48, Franken had overseen the companies’ growth from 110 to 400 employees in his six years at the helm. He also established the Interstates Foundation to provide ongoing support for nonprofit organizations.
Franken served as president of Northwestern’s Alumni Association and as a Board of Trustees member from 1989 to 1991. He was reappointed to the board in 1995, joining the executive committee in 1998 and serving as chair of the finance committee from 1999 until his death. In 2005 he was posthumously honored with the Distinguished Service to Northwestern Award.

Following his death, his family, friends and colleagues contributed more than $500,000 to establish the James L. Franken Servant Leadership Program at NWC. The money was used to provide for programs, projects and positions that apply faith to servant leadership through entrepreneurial initiatives, academic innovations and experiential learning.

An initiative in 2014 brought new life to the program with the hiring of a full-time director. The Franken Leadership Center was reorganized and the offices were moved into the Ramaker Center. Although the initial program has changed, the vision remains the same: to provide experiential learning opportunities for students to grow their leadership skills and discover who they are called to be in God’s world.


Sandi Altena, director of the Franken Leadership Center

      As director of the Franken Leadership Center, Sandi Altena manages the Carlson Program, works with faculty to
incorporate meaningful academic service-learning opportunities into courses; develops leadership initiatives; and administers adventure education opportunities such as first-year experiences for new students.

Sandi has a Ed.D. in adult and higher education and an M.A. in leadership from the University of South Dakota. She earned her B.A. at Dordt College.


Sandi loves working with students and connecting people. She has a passion for student learning and student success through experiential education. You can contact her by email or phone or by visiting her office.

The Franken Leadership Center



Office location:
129 in the Ramaker Center