BISMARCK, ND—The University of Mary today announced it has named alumna Brenda Nagel as its new director of the Office of Public Affairs. Nagel, the former senior director of Operations at Aetna, fills the position vacated by Dale Lennon who is now the university’s new athletic director. Nagel is a past Missouri Slope Area-wide United Way board member and trustee and current chair of the Bismarck-Mandan Chamber of Commerce. She is a Chamber Leadership Program graduate and also earned both her bachelor’s and master’s degree of science from the University of Mary.

“I am overwhelmed with excitement to have the opportunity to return to my alma mater to not only serve this premier university with pride, but also, through this position, continue to give back to our growing community of Bismarck-Mandan which I so dearly love,” said Nagel, who also serves as chair of the Bismarck-Mandan Chamber of Commerce. “The University of Mary is growing its programs and campus when many universities are shrinking and even closing. It’s taking the lead nationally in higher education by making college more affordable with the groundbreaking Year-Round-Campus initiative. Finally, what is near and dear to me is the fact that University of Mary is graduating students who are real servant leaders in their communities. I am truly blessed to be in this position where I can share my international and operational experience to help the University navigate through these prosperous times.”

After serving the Benedictine Sisters of Annunciation Monastery from 1985 through 1994 as a team leader in the Central Services Department at St. Alexius Medical Center, Nagel’s career followed the leadership path with an impeccable 23-year tenure at Aetna. She started as a front line customer service representative, trainer and manager her first nine years. Nagel spent the next seven years in charge of the Bismarck claim-and-call operation supporting the Mid-America region. There, Nagel successfully posted the lowest turnover rates for staff—corporate wide—that ultimately led to the Bismarck service center being named the top performing Aetna site in Gold Circle Awards four out of five years. From 2010 to most recently in 2017 as senior director of operations, Nagel provided strategic direction and team engagement across six Aetna service centers. In that executive role, she reduced operating costs, raised service levels and was chosen as a Top 100 leader to attend a Developing Leaders Program with mentors from Aetna leadership.

“The University of Mary is honored and grateful to have on board in such a key role, a person so loyal to her profession, so loyal to her employees, and so loyal to this Bismarck-Mandan community,” stated University of Mary President Monsignor James Shea. “Brenda’s experience in leadership, team-building and customer service is second to none and the expertise needed for helping us strategize Mary’s continued growth and visibility at a national level. She’s done great work at the corporate level, while still maintaining her core Benedictine values as a senior executive. It is always heart-warming to be able to hire one of our own.”

Nagel’s civic involvement and leadership reaches far beyond her role as chair of the Bismarck-Mandan Chamber of Commerce. She has served in various capacities with the Missouri Slope Area-wide United Way, including executive board member and chair. Nagel also served on committees for the Good Shepherd Lutheran Church Endowment and Young Professionals Wisdom Team and is a past board member of the Charles Hall Youth Services Foundation.

Jerome Richter, vice president for the Office of Public Affairs, and the person leading the school’s successful and record-breaking $272 Million Vision 2030 Capital Campaign, says Nagel’s professional networking will go a long way towards furthering that cause and driving the university’s mission.

“The opportunity to bring to Mary a person of Brenda’s caliber, character and leadership skills is truly exciting, and I thank the good Lord for this blessing,” added Richter. “Brenda brings to the Office of Public Affairs, a vast skill set with a unique perspective and a can-do spirit full of energy.”

Nagel begins her new position at Mary on Monday, August 21.