In Focus
Business & Leadership


Living Your Passions

a group of people stand on a runway in front of an airplane with a sign that says,

When you learn how Allen Stekl ’19 MSL spends his time, it’s easy to see what he values most—and the efforts he’s made to invest in his passions.


By Leah Grout Garris
a group of people stand on a runway in front of an airplane with a sign that says,

As a retired veteran, Allen Stekl ’19 MSL helped his employer, PepsiCo, launch its veterans’ resources group in Cedar Rapids about eight years ago. To date, that group has raised more than $300,000 to support the company’s veterans, military members, and families. “This money has been raised primarily through our employees, who have jumped in and done amazing things through different fundraisers at the plant,” says Stekl.

Becoming president of the nonprofit Eastern Iowa Honor Flight program in 2017—after joining the board in 2013 and serving as vice president in 2015 and 2016—Stekl helps lead fundraising efforts to send local veterans to Washington, D.C., to visit historical sites and war memorials. He also speaks with local organizations to share the group’s story and mission.

As a former baseball player, he has been instrumental in ramping up Cedar Rapids’ American Legion Baseball league, which has grown from one to six teams in the metro area. He has also served as a college baseball umpire for two decades and helped maintain baseball fields at Jefferson and Marion high schools, where his sons played.

During the day, Stekl spends his time at PepsiCo as a site security leader, a role that encompasses food defense. His main responsibilities involve creating a plan to protect the organization’s plant and the food made there, which feeds millions every year.

In 2014, PepsiCo recognized Stekl for his community involvement and work with Eastern Iowa Honor Flight, presenting him with a well-deserved Global Harvey C. Russell Inclusion Award. Only a few of these awards are handed out each year across all PepsiCo locations worldwide. “Winning that award really helped bring awareness to what you can do you when you have the desire and can convince and motivate others to support your mission,” Stekl says.

Among his long list of accomplishments, Stekl has also found time to head back to school, taking advantage of his GI bill. Inspired by his wife, Joan Stekl ’18 MA, who is pursuing her master’s degree in education, he decided to pursue a master’s degree in strategic leadership.


In 2014, PepsiCo recognized Allen Stekl ’19 MSL for his community involvement and work with Eastern Iowa Honor Flight, presenting him with a well-deserved Global Harvey C. Russell Inclusion Award.


“I said I would take one class to see if I liked it—and I did,” he says. “I go to class and then apply the principles I learned the next day at work. I’m gaining knowledge about research strategies and strategic thinking that will set me up for the next level of my career. It’s also helping me be a better leader and follower—not just at work, but in my nonprofit work as well. Being a good follower is just as important as being a good leader.” ■

Allen Stekl ’19 MSL,

Allen Stekl ’19 MSL,
retired veteran, PepsiCo Site Security Leader, college baseball umpire, and President of Eastern Iowa Honor Flight is pursuing his master’s in strategic leadership at Mount Mercy University.

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