Alumni Inducted into Bradley Centurion Society

October 4, 2021

On Oct. 1, the Bradley family came together in the Dingeldine Music Center for the annual Founder’s Day Convocation. This event is designed to celebrate and honor Lydia Moss Bradley, the remarkable founder of our university. At this event, we also inducted two alumni into Bradley's Centurion Society.

Both of this year's inductees have demonstrated remarkable achievement in their fields and have a proven heart for service to others. Lydia’s intention in founding her school was for it to be a place where young women and men could learn to lead “industrious lives.” Our newest Centurions are proof Bradley students are still living out Lydia’s vision in the world today.

Governor Laura Kelly (pictured left)

Laura Kelly is the 48th governor of Kansas, and she is the first graduate of Bradley University to serve as an American governor.

Born into a military family in New York City, Laura graduated from high school near Washington, DC. Flying into Peoria for the first time, she looked out of the window of her Ozarks Airlines flight at all the cornfields and thought, “What have I done?” That young woman couldn’t have known it was only the beginning of a rewarding life and career in the Midwest, or that she would eventually swap the cornfields of Illinois for Kansas sunflowers.

Laura joined Pi Beta Phi and started out as a math major but switched to psychology. A knowledge of numbers and people’s motivations would turn out to be terrific preparation for her future.

After earning her Bradley degree in 1971, she received her master’s in therapeutic recreation from Indiana University. In the 1980s, she and her husband and their two daughters settled in Kansas, where she worked for many years at the Kansas Recreation and Parks Association, including serving as executive director.

Inspired by the poor representation from her state senator, she ran for public office in 2004. Laura squeaked out a victory — winning by less than 100 votes! — over the incumbent to represent Kansas’ 18th district in the state senate. During her tenure, she established the Early Childhood Development Block Grants program, which has benefitted at-risk and underserved kids and their families all over the state by making available better opportunities for development, education, and counseling services. She was re-elected three times and served in several important capacities, including as Minority Whip.

In her first term as state senator, Laura was one of eight Democrats in a chamber that included 32 Republicans. She knew she had to develop relationships across the aisle or nothing would be accomplished. In fact, it became her reputation: a moderate Democrat who worked with Republican colleagues to create bipartisan solutions, and who got legislation through. By 2017, it was time for the next step. She ran for governor of Kansas.

She was so highly regarded that 28 current or former Republican government officials endorsed her, including a former governor, a former U.S. senator, and leaders in the state senate and house. Kansas was suffering several institutional crises because of the failures of the “Kansas Experiment” implemented by her predecessor, so Laura had a big job ahead of her.

After her election in 2018, she wisely kept playing to her strengths. Her partnerships with others in power created a budget reserve and expanded healthcare access for all Kansans. Her first act as governor was an executive order that reinstated certain protections for LGBT state workers who faced employment discrimination.

As governor, she now faces super majorities in both state houses and far fewer moderates. What do you do? As she says herself, “You find any sliver of common ground and you build on it.”

Gov. Kelly’s career is proof we never have to stop reinventing ourselves. We never have to stop trying to make a difference or trying to make things better for other people, even if we’ll never meet them.

Dave Bozeman (pictured right)

Dave Bozeman is a proven leader with impressive credentials, but first, you should know that Dave believes in family above all else.

Dave is ninth in a line of 10 siblings, and he and his wife – his soul mate -- Dawn Bozeman have 5 children of their own. Dave and Dawn have been married for 28 years and together for 30, and it all started right here on this campus. One of their children also graduated with a business degree from Bradley, three are graduates of other universities, and they have a 13-year-old at home.

Dave grew up on the south side of Chicago and came to Bradley having never even visited the campus. He was at first a reluctant leader but began to accept the role as he became active with his fraternity (Alpha Phi Alpha) and as he and other black students spoke out about racism on campus.

After earning his degree in manufacturing engineering technology and mechanical design from Bradley in 1991, Dave went on to earn his master’s in engineering management from the Milwaukee School of Engineering.

His executive career started at Harley Davidson, where he translated ideas into the practical realities of manufacturing and worked with designers to implement real-world strategies that took concepts to the streets.

Dave then returned to Peoria where he oversaw global mining operations at Caterpillar and eventually served in the Executive Office where he was instrumental in driving operational excellence throughout the organization.

In 2017, he joined Amazon, where he serves as vice president of Amazon Transportation Services. It’s Dave’s job to design and oversee the systems that get your package to you as quickly as possible and to innovate new ways to make customers happy. His inspiration, he says, comes from an obligation to safety for all Amazon employees, innovation for customers, and impact to communities!

Dave believes in learning from the experiences of those around him as well as the Global community. Having traveled the world, Dave has grown to respect and learn from failure. He believes failure is an opportunity to learn, to innovate, and to grow. Dave’s view on leadership is simple, “Have a humble spirit, an empathetic soul, and be authentic!”

Dave’s peers have also recognized his contributions. Among his many honors are the Global Competitiveness Award and Black Engineer of the Year award at the STEM Global Competitiveness Conference, being named one of the 100 Most Powerful Executives in Corporate America by Black Enterprise magazine, receiving the Leader of the Year award from the Illinois Diversity Council (the year after Colin Powell received his), and receiving the African American Hall of Fame Achievement award. He’s a member of the National Black MBA Association and the National Black Society of Engineers as well as a member of the Executive Leadership Council.

Outside of work, Dave and Dawn Bozeman give back and drive change in the communities where they live. Dave has generously served on a number of boards and councils including the Society of Manufacturing Engineers Education Foundation, Weyerhaeuser corporation, the African American Hall of Fame, and the Peoria Riverfront Museum. He is currently on the boards of the Conservation Fund and the Brookings Institute. Dave has also given back to Bradley through service on the Manufacturing and Industrial Engineering Advisory Board and the University Board of Trustees. In 2007, Dave was named a Bradley Outstanding Young Graduate.