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.