Commencement Speakers

Graduate Ceremony

Janette Thompson

Jan Thompson is a Morrill Professor in Natural Resource Ecology and Management at Iowa State University. She leads courses that include forest biology, urban forestry, fall forestry camp, field ecology research and teaching, natural resource policy and planning, problem solving and action planning in leadership, and biodiversity conservation in urban regions.

Dr. Thompson directs the Urban Natural Resources, Ecosystems and Landscapes laboratory (yes, that’s UNREAL!) and works with undergraduate and graduate researchers to investigate social, economic, and biophysical dynamics of land use in urban landscapes. Her research engages local stakeholders in examining opportunities for production of locallygrown table food in and near urban areas, approaches to urban stormwater management and its influence on water quality and urban stream integrity, how urban trees and forests can enhance climate resiliency, the distribution of environmental burdens and benefits in cities, and the ecological integrity of forest ecosystems in Iowa’s urban and rural landscapes.

Dr. Thompson is co-author with colleagues as well as undergraduate and graduate students of over 100 published journal articles and book chapters about urban natural resource research, and she has also published a number of articles focused on teaching and learning. She is active in service to her department, college, and university, and for professional organizations at local, state, regional, and national levels. She has received awards for her roles in both teaching and research.

Dr. Thompson earned a Bachelor of Science degree in forestry from Michigan Technological University and an Master of Science degree in agronomy and Doctor of Philosophy degree in forestry from Iowa State University.

Veterinary Medicine Ceremony

Adam Christman

Adam Christman, DVM, MBA, is the chief veterinary officer for dvm360®—an MJH Life Sciences Company™—who oversees content strategy and development and is the brand voice and personality for dvm360®’s multimedia channels. As a charismatic leader, he brings wit, humor, and authenticity to animal health care as the host of dvm360 Live!™ talk show, The Vet Blast Podcast and many media channels.

Christman has also been in small animal private practice and shelter medicine for 18 years prior to transitioning his role into continuing education and media. He currently serves on the New Jersey Veterinary Medical Association. He received his DVM degree from Iowa State University’s College of Veterinary Medicine and his MBA from Aspen University.

Christman is an international thought leader, speaker, and author on practice management, social media, and rehabilitation, and co-authored, Honey, Have You Squeezed the Dachshund? A Pet Owner’s Guide for Owners Who Are Terrified of IVDD—a book on dogs with disabilities. He was recently awarded the 2023 VMX Speaker of the Year on Practice Management, the 2023 Bright Minds Veterinary Influencer of the Year, and the 2023 Iowa State University’s Switzer Alumni Award.

He has been featured in multiple publications as well as on TV, radio, and internet shows throughout the country sharing his expertise and passion on all things veterinary medicine.

As an avid social media influencer for animal health care, with over 2 million followers on social media, Dr. Christman believes in power of laughing and learning together. He loves to engage with fellow pet parents and veterinary professionals across social media. Christman is an advocate of Pride VMC. He is also the proud dog dad to 4 dachshunds and believes no one should be deprived of the beautiful human-animal bond.

Undergraduate Ceremony #1

Kirt Walker

Kirt Walker is Chief Executive Officer of Nationwide, a Fortune 100 mutual insurance and financial services company focused on protecting people, businesses, and futures with extraordinary care. He was elected to this position in 2019 and in this role also serves as a member of the Nationwide Board of Directors and chair of the Nationwide Foundation.

Kirt initially joined the Nationwide family of companies in 1986. Prior to being elected CEO, he served for 10 years as President and Chief Operating Officer of Nationwide Financial. During his first 23 years, he served in various leadership positions within the company’s Property and Casualty business, including President and COO of Nationwide Insurance and President of Allied Insurance, Nationwide’s former independent agency subsidiary.

Kirt is a proud graduate of Iowa State University where he earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in management. He also holds a Master of Science in management with an emphasis in leadership degree from The American College of Financial Services. Kirt is passionate about the community in which he works and lives. He is a member of the Dean’s Advisory Council at Iowa State University’s Ivy College of Business, chairs the Nationwide Children’s Hospital board, and co-chairs the Columbus Partnership governing board, an organization focused on regional economic development. Kirt is on the American Red Cross Board of Governors and the Board of Directors for Catalyst – a global non-profit dedicated to accelerating progress for women through workplace inclusion. He advocates for the professional development and advancement of industry professionals as a board trustee for The Institutes, a property and casualty risk and insurance knowledge group.

Past honors for his community involvement include being named CEO of the Year by the Des Moines Business Journal, a Most Admired Executive in Central Ohio by Columbus Business First, and an Honored Ally by Stonewall Columbus, Central Ohio’s leading LGBTQ organization. A native of Irvington, Iowa, Kirt was raised on a Century Farm, instilling the values of hard work and community responsibility that he carries forth today. His favorite pastimes include spending time with family, reading, and rooting for the Cyclones.


Undergraduate Ceremony #2

Robin O'Callaghan

Robin O’Callaghan is a Senior Vice President for Kiewit Industrial Group, leading project development for megaprojects across North America.

Robin has been with Kiewit for 23 years, leading teams that negotiated, engineered, and constructed billions of dollars of capital projects across the power and industrial markets. She started in 2001 as a mechanical engineer and has taken on increasing responsibility over time, including performing as estimate manager, principal mechanical engineer, engineering manager, EPC project manager, engineering department manager, and engineering sponsor for Kiewit Power Engineers. In 2016, Robin was promoted into a commercial manager role for Kiewit Power, negotiating large EPC and design-build contracts.

When Kiewit Industrial Group was formed in 2019, Robin was tapped to serve as Director of Project Development, and in 2020, moved into a role as Vice President of Markets and Strategies. In 2023, she was promoted to her current role as Senior Vice President focused on megaprojects.

Robin has held Professional Engineering licenses in Kansas, California, Oklahoma, Alaska, and Mississippi, and has a Bachelor of Science from Iowa State University in mechanical engineering. 



Undergraduate Ceremony #3

Samantha Power

Samantha Power is the 19th Administrator of United States Agency for International Development (USAID), the world’s largest bilateral development agency with a global staff of over 11,000 across more than 100 countries.

As USAID Administrator, Power has led the Agency in prioritizing efforts to address some of the world’s greatest development and humanitarian challenges, including climate change, the global food crisis, emerging threats to global health, and rising threats to democracy and civil society. Power has also focused on advancing a series of reforms aimed at making USAID’s work more inclusive and effective, and at extending the Agency’s impact beyond its foreign assistance programs. Since 2021, USAID has taken a range of steps to significantly expand partnerships with local organizations, mobilize powerful new investments from nontraditional partners in the private sector, and better attract and retain talent that reflects the best of America. Additionally, Power is the first USAID Administrator to serve as a member of the National Security Council.

Prior to joining the Biden-Harris Administration, Power served as the 28th U.S. Permanent Representative to the United Nations from 2013 to 2017 under President Obama. During her tenure at the UN, she rallied countries to combat the Ebola epidemic and ratify the Paris climate agreement, worked to negotiate and implement the ambitious Sustainable Development Goals, and helped catalyze bold international commitments to better support refugees.

From 2009 to 2013, Power served on the National Security Council staff as Special Assistant to the President and Senior Director for Multilateral Affairs and Human Rights, where she advised President Obama on issues such as supporting democratic governance, UN reform, LGBTQIA+ and women’s rights, atrocity prevention, and efforts to combat human trafficking and corruption.

An immigrant from Ireland, Power began her career as a war correspondent in Bosnia, and went on to report from countries including Kosovo, Rwanda, Sudan, and Zimbabwe. She was the founding executive director of the Carr Center for Human Rights Policy at the Harvard Kennedy School, and from 2017 to 2021 was the Anna Lindh Professor of the Practice of Global Leadership and Public Policy at Harvard Kennedy School and the William D. Zabel Professor of Practice in Human Rights at Harvard Law School. Power is an author and editor of multiple books, and the recipient of the 2003 Pulitzer Prize for Nonfiction.

She holds Bachelor of Arts degree from Yale University and a Juris Doctor degree from Harvard Law School.