The 2023 ISU Alumni Association Board of Directors Slate

Cyclones Everywhere

ISUAA Board Slate

(From left to right) Ryan Downing, Rachel Geilenfeld, Mark A. Kaestner, Courtney Lynn Knupp, Margaret (Meg) Schon

The ISU Alumni Association Board of Directors recommends the following candidates for membership on the board. Each of these individuals has agreed to serve a four-year term. As a member of the ISU Alumni Association, you are invited to go online ( by April 28 and cast your vote for the slate of new ISUAA board nominees or write in the name(s) of others you would like to see serve on the ISUAA board. To request a printed copy of the ballot, please call (877) ISU-ALUM and request that one be sent to you by mail. Each member may complete only one ballot. Final results will be announced at the association’s annual meeting on May 19. Thanks in advance for your participation.

’03 aerospace engineering 
ISU Alumni Association Annual Member
Des Moines, Iowa

Ryan Downing is a vice president and chief information officer of enterprise business solutions at Principal Financial Group in Des Moines, Iowa. Downing has managed new business objectives and built international teams to ensure long-term growth for Principal in India, the Philippines, and South America. Downing supports Habitat for Humanity, American Parkinson Disease Association, and other organizations through giving of his time and funds. Most recently, Downing has turned his efforts to supporting the impact of Capital City Pride, a group focused on the LGBTQ+ community in the Des Moines area. “I would bring the ability to form strong partnerships with colleagues, a healthy level of curiosity to challenge the status quo to help the organization continue to learn and grow, and a bias toward execution to ensure we stay focused on those most important initiatives that can move the organization forward to best serve its constituents,” Downing says. 

’07 political science 
ISU Alumni Association Annual Member
Ankeny, Iowa

Rachel Geilenfeld is a policy advisor at Chevron Renewable Energy (REG) in Ames, Iowa. In addi-tion to her degree from Iowa State, Geilenfeld holds an MBA and  JD from the University of Iowa. As part of her former role with Sukup Manufacturing Co., Geilenfeld built Safe T Homes for refugee children in Uganda. At REG, Geilenfeld helped integrate the REG and CVX corporate affairs teams and pass legislation in three Midwest states to grow the market for biofuels, resulting in nearly $200  million in revenue. Geilenfeld serves on the Living History Farms Board of Directors and Ames ChildServe Advisory Board. “My hope is that my perspectives will both identify with and represent a unique segment of ISU alumni, but also be relatable to the large majority of alumni - with the understanding that we all acknowledge that Iowa State holds a special and formative place in our lives,” Geilenfeld says. 

’90 hotel, restaurant, and institution management
ISU Alumni Association Annual Member
Arvada, Colorado

Mark Kaestner is vice president of talent management, learning and development analytics, and organizational transformation for Ball Corporation in Denver, Colorado. Kaestner has over 17 years of experience working for Fortune 500 companies such as Coca-Cola Company and Hilton Worldwide. Kaestner has developed global strategies and operationalizing strategies. Kaestner is an advocate for employee engagement and diversity and inclusion at his workplace. He is active in community service, having served on the Georgia Partnership for Excellence in Education, United Way, and Boys and Girls Club. Kaestner brings expertise in diversity and inclusion, international experience, and insight into innovation and management. “I feel that my global experience can contribute to the ISUAA Board of Directors,” Kaestner says. “Providing insights into human resources, corporate management, innovation, transformation, and diversity and inclusion will enhance the knowledge and expertise of the board of directors.”

’07 agricultural business
ISU Alumni Association Life Member
Indianapolis, Indiana

Courtney Lynn Knupp is the vice president of international market development for the National Pork Board. Knupp previously served as a director of nutrition meal at the U.S. Soybean Export Council. Drawing on her experience at the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Knupp is familiar with policy and process and has experience working with over 30 international markets. Knupp is involved in service in Indiana, especially in the agricultural community where she has served as a member or leadership figure for several councils. Knupp stays active with Iowa State through the CALS career fair and as a speaker for classes. Knupp says she would bring precision and advocacy to the board and has strong detail and project management skills that would benefit the board. “I’ve learned a lot about how to successfully develop and implement policies to produce a strong value proposition for the established audiences,” Knupp says.  

’98 child and family services 
ISU Alumni Association Life Member
Ankeny, Iowa

Margaret (Meg) Schon is a substitute teacher for the Ankeny School District and an active advocate for Iowa State. Schon brings a wealth of knowledge to the board, including international experience from a year abroad in Singapore where she developed diverse international perspectives. Schon has been a volunteer at numerous schools and commu-nity service organizations. Schon is a volunteer for the American Cancer Society Relay for Life, has planned and executed walks for the Iowa SIDS Foundation, and is an active member of her church. Schon is a sustaining donor of the ISU Alumni Association, a board associate for the governance committee, and annually attends the Cardinal and Gold Gala. “I would want to work with ISUAA communications to reach non-traditional alumni,” Schon says. “In addition, my international experience allows me to represent ex-patriates and have a greater understanding of the international student/alumni experiences while in the United States.”