Grinnell College Alumni Council welcomes in five new members

Aug. 08, 2020 — Five Grinnell volunteers with abundant volunteer experience and expertise in the disciplines of teaching, utilities, government, and psychiatry have joined the Grinnell College Alumni Council.

The new Alumni Council members for 2020-21 are:

  • Becky Reetz Neal ’65
  • Ed Atkins ’66
  • Tom Triplett ’69
  • Scott Shepherd ’82
  • Ben Vaughn Jr. ’15

Each will serve an initial two-year term through Reunion 2022, and they are eligible to serve through 2026. Council members can be elected to up to three consecutive terms.

The Alumni Council strives to assure that its membership is both diverse and representative of the greater alumni community in terms of geography and year of graduation, says Chris Meyer ’70, Alumni Council president. Each year, the group selected is chosen to respond to those goals.

“I am truly delighted with the five candidates selected this year,” Meyer says. “They will bring a wide range of experience and perspective to Alumni Council. Both the Council and the College will benefit from their contributions.”

The Alumni Council strives to unite Grinnell graduates and former students. The 26-member group promotes a spirit of camaraderie among alumni and supports the College leadership, faculty, staff, and students in the advancement of the College. Council meetings are held in the fall and spring.

Here’s a detailed look at the new members:

Becky Reetz Neal ’65

Becky Reetz Neal '65
 Becky Reetz Neal ’65

Neal lives in Center Harbor, New Hampshire, and is a mostly retired psychiatrist after working in the mental health field for nearly 50 years. She continues to teach part time and serves in various capacities in her church, PEO (a women’s organization), and with state medical and psychiatric societies. A psychology major at Grinnell, Neal worked as a master’s level social worker before returning to medical school. She completed a residency in psychiatry and spent the remainder of her career dividing her time between teaching in an academic medical center and doing clinical work in a public sector hospital.

An advocate for health care legislation and social justice, Neal says joining the Alumni Council offers an opportunity to give back and engage in teamwork and meaningful activity.

“I look forward to working, learning, and creating with a diverse group of talented individuals,” she says. “Grinnell not only gave me a great education, it offered a vision of future possibilities and introduced me to the world beyond my home in rural Iowa.”

Neal is serving on the Council’s Alumni Student Connections Committee.

Ed Atkins ’66

Edmund E Atkins '66
  Ed Atkins’66

Atkins lives in Washington D.C. Since retiring from the State Department Senior Foreign Service in 2009, he’s been active in his neighborhood, serving on the board of the Shepherd Park Citizens Association, where he spearheaded efforts to deal with planning and development issues. Atkins has volunteered for his alma mater in several capacities including mentoring students and serving on the 1966 Reunion Class Committee and the Black Reunion Planning Committee.

Atkins says attending Grinnell was a seminal experience, which formed him into an adult more than he realized at the time.

“My Grinnell education helped me manage a varied work life ranging from an urban planner in California to serving as a diplomat in South America, Africa, and Europe,” he says. “I wish to give back to the College not only financially, but also with my time and effort. I enjoy mentoring students, especially those who are first generation.”

Atkins is serving on the Council’s Diversity and Inclusion Committee.

Tom Triplett ’69

Tom Triplett '69
  Tom Triplett ’69

Triplett resides in Bayport, Minnesota. He is mostly retired though continues to teach nonprofit law and finance at University of St Thomas and does pro bono law work with area nonprofits.

Triplett’s law career began at a corporate law firm in Minneapolis. It wasn’t his cup of tea, so he shifted to public service. He worked for Minnesota’s state government for 22 years with his last position being Commissioner of Finance. He later served as CEO of five nonprofit organizations.

Triplett helped plan his class’ 50th reunion celebration in 2019 and raised money to establish The Class of 1969 Martin Luther King Jr. Endowed Scholarship at the College. He says his Grinnell College experience, especially in the social justice realm, was tremendously important to him.

“It gave me a sense of the degree to which public service and the legal profession could change things for the better,” he says.

Triplett is serving on the Council’s Awards, Membership, and Election Committee.

Scott Shepherd ’82

Scott Shepherd '82
  Scott Shepherd ’82

Shepherd lives in Tulsa, Oklahoma, and worked 35 years for a gas utility before retiring in 2017. A New Jersey native, Shepherd majored in religious studies at Grinnell. Since retiring, he has spent a good deal of time volunteering. He and his wife, Laura Shepherd ’82, annually collect and transport more than 100 care packages for students as part of the Everyday Class Notes care package distribution every February.

Scott and Laura’s daughter, Hannah, is a 2012 Grinnell graduate.

“I want to offer my perspective to the council mix as an involved alum and parent of a recent graduate,” Scott says. “I have deep commitment to the College for what it offered me and what continues to offer to today’s students. As much as we like to think the school has changed dramatically, in so many ways, it has not.”

Shepherd is serving on the Council’s Alumni Engagement and Communications Committee.

Ben Vaughn Jr. ’15

Benjamin Vaughn, Jr. '15
  Ben Vaughn Jr. ’15

Vaughn lives in Takoma Park, Maryland, and teaches second grade in a Washington D.C. public school. After graduating from Grinnell, he joined Teach for American D.C. Region and has remained a teacher at his placement school. Vaughn also is a certified indoor cycle instructor and fitness professional. He enjoys running cardio classes on Instagram.

Vaughn has always lent an ear to those people who felt unheard or those who had a hard time connecting. A Posse Scholar (part of D.C. Posse 7), Vaughn participated in KDIC, Swimming/Diving and Track; Theater and Dance; and the Queer Athletes and Allies during his time in Grinnell.

“I had a great time on campus but felt the students' voice was often limited in power,” Vaughn says. “I joined the Alumni Council in the hopes of bringing light to celebrations and trials facing current students and recent alumni to create a more cohesive bridge between campus and community.”

Vaughn is serving on the Awards, Membership, and Election Committee.

Other Council news

The Council also re-elected the following members to their second terms: Debby Feir ’68, Debbie Gottschalk ’90, Andrea Jackson ’95, and Jocelyn Wyatt ’99. Council members elected to a third term were Howie Schein ’66, Chris Meyer ’70, Claudia Beckwith ’77, Ann Poor Cary ’81, Kelly Clements Hopfer ’96, David Jarvis ’04, and Lester Alemán ’07.

Alemán also was elected Alumni Council president-elect for this year. He will serve as president in 2021-22.

Students serving on the Council as ex-officio members this year are, Lana Katai ’21, Student Government Association president; and Paul Cover ’21 and Mitch Sevier ’21, co-presidents of the Student Alumni Council.

—by Jeremy Shapiro

For your information:

Visit the Alumni Council web pages for a full list of members, committees, meeting minutes, and information about serving on the Council.

To read more alumni news, check out our news archive.