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Introducing the 2023 Class of Outstanding Alumni

September 21, 2023

Northwood University is pleased to announce the 2023 Class of Outstanding Alumni.

“This is an extraordinary group,” stated President Kent MacDonald. “We remain grateful for their commitment to bringing the values we cherish — freedom, respect, empathy, spirituality, honesty, achievement, integrity, and responsibility — into their respective professions and communities.”

This year’s honorees, their graduation year, hometowns, and respective awards include:

Regina Brickl, Prairie du Sac, Wisconsin, (1997) — Alumni Leadership Award: Soon after graduating from Northwood, Brickl co-founded LeadCar Systems, Inc., a family of automotive brands that has grown to seven locations in four states. The company, which she cofounded with her husband and partner, Jason Brickl, is proud to have been founded on three basic principles: entrepreneurship and independence of dealership management; simplifying automotive retail processes through innovation; and being part of the fabric of the local community.

Jeff Cauley, West Bloomfield, Michigan, (1983) — Alumni Leadership Award: Breaking new ground is a common undertaking for Jeff Cauley. After many years running Cauley Chevrolet in suburban Detroit, he took the bold step of launching a Ferrari dealership in 1998. After an extensive expansion in 2015, Cauley Ferrari of Detroit now serves all of Michigan, including having one of only a handful of Authorized Ferrari Body Shops in North America.

Joe Cauley, West Bloomfield, Michigan, (2009) — Alumni Leadership Award: As the son of a prominent alumnus, Joe Cauley had a deeper understanding than most people about what Northwood University has to offer. He made the most of those opportunities, leveraging an active undergraduate education into a successful career. As general manager/co-owner at Cauley Ferrari of Detroit, he is on the front lines of a thriving operation, working with team members, meeting clients, and managing the day-to-day challenges and opportunities that arise.

Brian Harris, Harper Woods, Michigan, (2007) — Alumni Service Award: Exemplary leadership abilities have allowed Brian Harris to rise through the ranks of two essential organizations: the United States Air Force and the Detroit Police Department. Harris retired as a master sergeant with the Air Force Reserves, along the way earning multiple commendations, including the Air Force Meritorious Award and the Enduring Freedom Award. His DPD career has taken him from patrol officer to sergeant to lieutenant to captain to his current role as commander of the 5th Precinct.

Jim O’Polka, Middle River, Maryland, and York, Pennsylvania (1994) — Alumni Achievement Award: Family connections to Northwood are very strong for Jim O’Polka, owner of York Auto Group, a company based in southern Pennsylvania with three locations, including Toyota of York. O’Polka’s son decided to follow his father’s path and attend Northwood Northwood and now owns his own business as well. In addition, the ranks of O’Polka’s relatives who are Northwood alumni include two sisters and their husbands.

Dan Reimer, Midland, Michigan, (1998) — Alumni Achievement Award: A successful career with the RE/MAX of Midland real estate agency reached new heights in 2017 when Dan Reimer became broker/owner. Along the way, he has maintained close ties to Northwood, participating with students during the alumni spotlight event and panel for incoming freshmen, as well as serving on the Auto Show Gala committee for several years.

Ryan Talaga, New Hudson, Michigan, (BBA 2016, MBA 17) — Young Alumni Award: No single label can sum up the eclectic dimensions of Ryan Talaga’s passions. In addition to a successful business career, currently serving as an account manager for NMB Technologies Corp., he is an active and experienced entertainer — an Elvis impersonator, to be specific. And for roughly 10 years, he has served as an election inspector, working at polling sites to ensure the integrity of a democratic process that is crucial to the American way of life.

The 2023 Class of Outstanding Alumni will be honored Oct. 5 in the Hach Student Life Center at Northwood University in Midland. Tickets can be purchased online.

For more information, visit the Outstanding Alumni website at www.northwood.edu/outstanding-alumni.

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