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Distinguished alumnus has shared business acumen across the church

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NORTH NEWTON, KAN. – Howard Brenneman, Bethel College’s Distinguished Achievement Award winner for 2009, devoted much of his successful business career to serving the Mennonite church.

Brenneman, a native of Edmonton, Alberta, graduated summa cum laude from Bethel College in 1963 with a B.A. in finance and business administration. He also has an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters from another Bethel College, this one in Mishawaka, Ind.

Now retired in Lenexa, Brenneman served as president and chief executive officer of Mennonite Mutual Aid (MMA) in Goshen, Ind., from 1991-2005.

Even before graduating from Bethel, Brenneman went to work for Hesston Corporation in Hesston, a farm machinery manufacturing company (now called AGCO), where he worked his way up from a position in accounting and finance to becoming president and chief operations officer, 1975-82, and then president and CEO from 1982-86.

After he left Hesston Corp. and before going to MMA, Brenneman started and served as president of American Medicorp, establishing drug and alcohol treatment centers in Wichita, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Phoenix and Amarillo, Texas. He also did business and financial consulting for clients in farm industrial equipment, health care, recreational vehicles and insurance.

Brenneman currently serves on the board of directors of Dutchman Hospitality Group, Inc. Among his numerous other board assignments have been the board of directors for both Hesston College, for which he was chair, and Bethel College, 1976-83; the board of directors of First Federal Savings Bank of Newton, 1974-92, including chairing the Executive Committee; the board of directors of Kansas Gas & Electric, 1985-92; the board of directors of Oaklawn Psychiatric Center, Elkhart, Ind., and Goshen Health Systems, both 1996-2005; and the board of the Sarona Risk Capital Fund for Mennonite Economic Development Associates (MEDA).

Brenneman is married to Sharon (King) Brenneman and they have three sons – Gregory, Rodney and Bradley – and seven grandchildren ranging in age from 21 to five years.

The Distinguished Achievement Award acknowledges character and citizenship, achievement in a chosen profession or vocation, and work of benefit to humanity.

Brenneman and other alumni award winners will be honored at the annual Alumni Banquet Saturday, May 23, at 6 p.m. in Memorial Hall. All alumni and friends of Bethel are invited. Those making banquet reservations will receive a discount if they do so with full payment by Friday, May 8. After that, all regular-price registrations must be received with payment by Wednesday, May 13.

Cost of the banquet is $17 per person if paying early, $19 regular price. To make a reservation, visit or phone Thresher Bookstore in Schultz Student Center, Mon.-Fri. 8 a.m.-5 p.m., 316-284-5205. Payment or credit card information is required when the reservation is made. (No refunds can be given after May 15, since the Alumni Office will have been charged for reserved meals by that date.) Attenders receive a personalized nametag at the door that serves as their banquet ticket.

Bethel College is a four-year liberal arts college affiliated with Mennonite Church USA. Founded in 1887, it is the oldest Mennonite college in North America. Bethel is known for its academic excellence and was the only Kansas private college to be ranked in Forbes.com’s listing of “America’s Best Colleges” for 2008 and one of only two Kansas colleges listed in Colleges of Distinction 2008-09. For more information, see the Bethel Web site at www.bethelks.edu.

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