Alumni Service Award: David N. Kragseth (C81, GC86)
Years before stepping foot on campus as a student, David Kragseth made a most memorable first visit to Northwestern University. In 1973 he accompanied his father, Norman Kragseth, to Evanston, where he received an Alumni Service award at this very event.
“I feel that in a real sense,” he says, “I’ve come full circle.”
That’s just how life as a Northwestern alumnus has gone for David. Another example: As a student, he used to work in the coat room at the president’s luncheon before each football game, and then watch his girlfriend, Leigh Engelhardt (J82, GJ83), perform in the marching band at halftime. During his recent tenure as president of the Northwestern Alumni Association, he attended those same luncheons as an invited guest — this time with Leigh, now his wife, and their children at his side.
In fact, one of David’s first volunteer roles in the Northwestern alumni community — president of the NU Club of the Twin Cities — was the same post once held by his father. David proudly notes that it was the influence of Norman, who was a standout Wildcats football player, that led him to attend Northwestern and see early on the importance of involvement in the alumni community.
For the past 20 years, however, David has forged his own path to support his alma mater. He went on to serve as president of the NU Club of Greater New York and later as regional director, secretary, vice president, and president of the NAA. He also recently completed his term as an alumni trustee, serving on the Student Affairs Committee and the Alumni Relations and Development Committee, including chairing the ad hoc committee on career development.
David was elected to the presidency of the NAA in 2000 and served from 2002 – 04. Under his leadership, the NAA made great strides to engage the University’s undergraduate student body.
“I brought a new focus on students, which continues to this day,” he explains. “As part of my strategic plan for the NAA, I wanted to involve students by inviting them to participate on the NAA board and by offering more career development, mentoring, and social activities in order to bring students and alumni together.”
Not surprisingly, David enthusiastically recalls his own experience as a Northwestern student, particularly those involving his fraternity and events such as Dance Marathon. He majored in performance studies in the School of Communications and appeared in stage shows alongside a number of classmates who went on to successful entertainment careers.
David ultimately pursued a career in law, serving a federal judicial clerkship and practicing private and corporate law in Minneapolis, New York, and New Jersey. He currently works in the underwriting services division at Munich Reinsurance America, Inc. in Princeton, New Jersey.
Residents of Skillman, New Jersey, David Kragseth and Leigh Engelhardt have three children, including daughter Sheridan, who—as you may have guessed—was named