Marquette NROTC Alumni & Friends Assn

Richard “Dick” Leinenkugel

Dick Leinenkugel acceptance video

Dick Leinenkugel is the Marquette NROTC Alumni & Friends Association Alumnus of the Year for 2019.

Dick has been a consistent, prominent supporter of the Marquette NROTC program and the Marquette NROTC Alumni & Friends Association over many years.  His service and leadership as a Marine, in Wisconsin local and state government, in the business community, on military veteran employment issues and for veterans & community non-profit organizations are unique and noteworthy.  In recognition of his contributions, he was honored by Marquette University as the Distinguished Alumnus of the Year Award by the university’s College of Business Administration in April 2019. 


Dick graduated as class salutatorian from Chippewa Falls High School in 1976, where he was highly active in Student Council, debate and forensics. As a senior in high school, he competed for and was awarded full tuition scholarships for both the Army and Navy ROTC programs.  He accepted the NROTC – Marine Corps Option offer to Marquette University.  While a Marine Option in the MU NROTC Unit over the years 1976-1980, he participated in the Semper Fidelis Society, IDR Drill Company and Tactics Team.  He served on the Battalion staff in Fall and as a Company Commander in the Spring semester of his senior year.  In addition, he was recognized for his outstanding academic achievements, receiving awards “For Overall Scholarship” as a 2/C Midshipman (Junior) at the Spring Awards Ceremony on 3 May 1979 and “For Academic Excellence in the First Class Year” and “For Overall Academic Excellence as a Senior” as a 1/C Midshipman on 26 April 1980.

Military Service

Upon graduation with a B.S. in Business Administration with a specialty in Marketing from Marquette University, and commissioning on 17 May 1980, Dick served four years as an officer in the United States Marine Corps. After completing the six-month-long The Basic School (TBS) in Quantico, Virginia where he received Marine infantry warfare strategy and tactics training, he completed a twelve-week stint at Ground Supply Officers School at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina.  He was then stationed at Kaneohe Marine Corps Air Station from 1981-1984, deploying twice in less than 18 months to the Western Pacific with the 31st Marine Amphibious Unit (MAU) as part of Marine Amphibious Unit Service Support Group 37 (MSSG-37).  His deployment included service in the Philippines, Australia, Malaysia, Singapore, Hong Kong and Korea.  Dick also trained and conducted amphibious operations in the Western Pacific and Indian Ocean, including Oman and Somalia on the horn of Africa.  Beginning in February 1981, Dick was appointed as the Assistant Supply Officer for the Brigade Service Support Group, First Marine Brigade. That September, he was assigned as the Supply Officer for MSSG-37.  Following deployed service with the MSSG, he returned to Hawaii and served as the OIC of the Maintenance Float at Kaneohe until his honorable discharge from active duty in May 1984 as a Captain.

Civilian Business Achievement

Entering civilian life, Dick took a position with the “startup” sports marketing company Kemper Sports Management, based in Northbrook, Illinois, becoming the Tournament Director for the LPGA Women’s Kemper Open golf tournament based in Hawaii.

In 1987, he joined the family business for 21 years, in consecutive positions as District Sales Manager, Chain Account Manager and VP – Sales and Marketing for the Jacob Leinenkugel Brewing Company based in Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin.  Leinenkugel’s operated mostly in three states in 1987: Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Illinois.  Within Dick’s first year as Leinenkugel’s Chicago market sales rep, sales doubled.  A year later, Leinenkugel’s joined forces with Miller Brewing Company, but in a unique arrangement that allowed Dick and his brother Jake to brew, sell and operate Leinenkugel’s as a smaller, more nimble, more entrepreneurial company – while opening them to the broader markets served by Miller.  In 1991 the separate sales units were integrated, and Dick went to work for Miller selling the entire portfolio of Miller and Leinenkugel brands.

In 1994, brother Jake persuaded him to return to the Leinenkugel side of the business to head up the national expansion of Leinenkugel’s Red and other specialty beers.  As the brewery’s chief marketing and sales officer for nearly eleven years from 1997 to 2008, Dick helped the brand grow from 80,000 to 500,000 barrels. As a result, Leinenkugel’s added a second shift to the original Chippewa Falls brewery, expanded its facilities, and tripled employment at the Tenth Street Brewery in Milwaukee.  He oversaw the creation of Chippewa Valley’s largest tourist attraction, the Leinie Lodge, as a part of the expanded customer experience.  He led the marketing team that propelled Leinenkugel’s growth in the specialty beers market segment with new offerings such as Honey Weiss and Berry Weiss, and in 2007, Leinenkugel's Summer Shandy – whose immediate success created a demand that outstripped production after its release and continues to be a leading product.

In 2010, after serving as State of Wisconsin Commerce Secretary, Dick joined the Tenth and Blake Beer and Cider Company (MillerCoors’ craft and import division) as Manager – Business Development.  He significantly expanded the capability and credibility of this large multi-national brewery to deliver innovative “micro-brew” products in a market with growing demand for high quality craft brews.  Dick was the driving force behind creation of the popular “Big Eddy” series, aimed at the palate of craft beer drinkers. These are made in relatively modest-size 45-80 barrel batches at Leinenkugel's Tenth Street Brewery (which has an overall capacity of 25,000 barrels a year), just north of downtown Milwaukee in the Haymarket neighborhood, overlooking I-43.

On 1 October 2014, Dick Leinenkugel was appointed President and “Chief Beer Merchant” for the Jacob Leinenkugel Brewing Company.  In 2017 he oversaw the $50 million expansion of Leinenkugel's 10th Street Brewery, bringing 65 new jobs to Milwaukee and expanding production capacity by 900% to 250,000 barrels a year.  Over the past 4 years, he has ably led the continued growth and success of the brewery that has borne his great-great-grandfather’s name for over 150 years – the nation's 7th oldest operating brewery that now sells its products in all 50 states.

Government Service

From 2008-2010, Dick - a political conservative - agreed to serve the State of Wisconsin as Commerce Secretary in the administration of Democrat Governor Jim Doyle.  As the state's chief liaison to state, national and international businesses, he led a department with about 400 employees.  He took on this particularly challenging role during the peak of what has been dubbed “the Great Recession”, arguably our nation's most severe economic downturn in a generation - since the Great Depression.  Wisconsin lost thousands of jobs and unemployment more than doubled from around 4 percent to 8.7 percent because of fallout from the national financial crisis.  Despite the odds, he scored a number of “wins” for the state.  Numerous highlights of his tenure include: expansion of Oshkosh Corporation, growth in biotechnology and nanotechnology, initiatives to make the Milwaukee area a global leader in water technology, tax credit consolidation, increased angel investment tax credits, and dairy and meat processing tax credits.  A specific significant achievement credited to his business acumen and credibility with the business community was the retention of outboard engine maker Mercury Marine Inc., when in 2009 they announced plans to move their world headquarters out of state after 70 years in Fond du Lac, WI.  This company, with a significant economic impact not only in Fond du Lac, but the Fox Valley and throughout the state, has since added about 1,700 jobs in Fond du Lac, and continues to hire in a variety of fields, greatly expanded the Fond du Lac operations – and subsequently decided to close the plant in Stillwater, Oklahoma where they had contemplated moving.

After a run for the Republican nomination seeking election to the U.S. Senate in 2010, Dick served as the interim Executive Director for the Vilas County Economic Development Corporation for 7 months, helping the Vilas County Economic Development Corporation find a full-time executive director and develop their strategic and operational plans.  Sustaining his commitment, he served as a Board Member of the Vilas County Economic Development Corporation for over 5 years until December 2015.

Marquette University Contributions / Recognition

  • ·  Director of the College of Business Administration Alumni Association, reunion committee member and a host for CIRCLES events.  The MU CIRCLES initiative connects professionals based on industry and business interests, to learn from industry leaders and academic experts as well as to foster mentoring and career opportunities.
  • ·  Marquette University’s College of Business Administration selected him for their 2019 Distinguished Alumnus of the Year Award.  He received this award at the Marquette University Alumni National Awards weekend in April 2019.

Support to MU NROTC / A&FA

  • ·  Annually sponsors / hosts MU NROTC Senior Mess Night at Miller Brewery in Milwaukee.
  • ·  Annually donates refreshments for Alumni Reunion / MU NROTC Open House buffet sponsored by A&FA.
  • ·  Early “public challenge” promoter and donor to A&FA fundraiser for MU NROTC Unit 75th Anniversary commemoration which raised over $1,500 to provide the new sign above the unit entrance.
  • ·  A&FA Member and financial donor to the Seapower Leadership Association.

Veteran Issues Leadership / Support

  • ·  National Executive Sponsor (senior leadership team) of the MillerCoors Veterans Employee Resource Group (ERG), promoting the recruitment, hiring, retention, and professional development of employees who are military veterans.  The ERG provides these employees with opportunities to meet and act to address common interests, issues and concerns for veterans, and encourages continued service in the community.
  • ·  Fisher House Wisconsin - Member - Board of Directors since April 2011. 
  • o   Significant role in fundraising to build the first Fisher House in Wisconsin
  • o   First board (nationally) to have raised over half of the total committed dollars for the project prior to beginning construction.
  • o   Opened Fisher House in May 2016 on the grounds of the Milwaukee VA Hospital to support veterans when they are receiving extended treatment, and families of veterans when they are visiting their veteran at the Milwaukee VA Hospital.  Fisher House provides no cost housing and a place of respite for these veterans and their families.
  • ·  Inaugural selection committee member, launching "Miller Unsung Heroes Award" program in 2005 with Stars and Stripes newspaper.  Miller Brewing Company monthly recognized an active serviceperson recipient’s contribution with a full-page story in Stars & Stripes and Timeout Sports Magazine. In addition, each "Miller Unsung Hero of the Month" and "Miller Unsung Hero of the Year" awardee received an award package from Miller expressing the company's gratitude for their contributions, commitment to excellence, and service to our country as a proud member of the U.S. Military.
  • ·  Piloted veteran hiring program in the MillerCoors Milwaukee HQ and brewery and has expanded scope since initiation.  Program educates hiring managers and talent recruiters on why hiring veterans makes for good business.
  • ·  Frequent speaker at veterans hiring conferences such as those hosted by The Veteran Jobs Mission and Wisconsin Veterans Chamber of Commerce.
  • ·  Recognizes veterans and Leinenkugel’s employee veterans through an “Honoring Those Who Serve” display in The Leinie Lodge, in Chippewa Falls.
  • ·  Stars and Stripes Honor Flight:  Conducted beer tasting fundraising event in Sept 2016 for Honor Flight. Served as a “Guardian” for a WWII Navy enlisted man on Honor Flight; part of the team for that flight honoring veterans and physically assisting them at the airport, during the flight, and at the memorials in Washington DC.

Non-Profit Organization Leadership

  • ·  United Way of the Greater Chippewa Valley – Member, Board of Directors; Part of the team aiming to build a stronger Chippewa Valley through ensuring that children enter school ready to succeed, helping individuals and families be more financially stable and promoting healthy lifestyles and behaviors.

Other Business Leadership

  • ·  Marshfield Clinic Health System, Inc. – Member, Board of Directors
  • ·  (past) Saint Archer Brewing Company – Member, Board of Directors

LCDR Natalie Ferbezar, USNR

LCDR Natalie Ferbezar is the Marquette NROTC Alumni & Friends Association’s 2019 recipient of the Young Alumna of the Year award.

After graduating Marquette University in 2009 and being commissioned in the United States Navy, LCDR Ferbezar was assigned to the USS Blue Ridge (LCC 19) in Yokosuka, Japan, where she supervised the processing of $241,000 for the USS Blue Ridge’s travel budget for fiscal year 2011 and facilitated over 300 advancement exams for U.S. Navy Sailors.

From 2010-2011, LCDR Ferbezar served as the USS Blue Ridge’s Repair Division Officer. For nearly two years, she managed 30 personnel in the preventative and corrective maintenance of installed damage control equipment and trained 44 sailors in firefighting techniques. LCDR Ferbezar’s effective leadership resulted in a score of 100% for the USS Blue Ridge’s main space fire drill during the Engineering Light Off Assessment.

In 2011, LCDR Ferbezar was reassigned to Norfolk, Virginia, where she served as the Navigation Officer for USS Gravely (DDG 107). For the next year, she safely and effectively planned and guided 30 bridge watch standers during the execution of two large-scale multinational Fleet exercises, two Submarine Commanders Courses, USS Harry S. Truman Strike Group's Group Sail, and deployment certification.

In 2013, she briefly assumed responsibilities as Administrative and Training Officer/Public Affairs Officer. Prior to exiting active duty, LCDR Ferbezar directly supervised 14 military personnel and orchestrated executive level actions for 250 personnel. Managed 119 ship's directives and 190 administrative requests. Implemented 3 ship integrated training scenarios and 10 compartment inspections enabling USS Gravely to maintain readiness standards during her maiden deployment. Facilitated positive public image and business relations during the planning, coordination, and implementation of 4 ship tours during the UNITAS Atlantic Exercise.

In July 2013, LCDR Ferbezar exited active duty and joined the U.S. Navy Reserve. For nearly two years, she served as the Administration Officer Naval Beach Group Two in Norfolk, Virginia before relocating to Southern California. In January 2016, LCDR Ferbezar assumed responsibilities as Executive Officer for CNSP Det Charlie, COMNAVSURFPAC in San Diego, California. Over the next two years she managed 30 sailors and oversaw the maintenance schedule for 10 US Navy vessels on the West Coast.

From November 2017 – October 2018, LCDR Ferbezar was activated in support of Operation Enduring Freedom as Administrative Officer for the Operations Department, Combined Joint Task Force – Horn of Africa. As Resource Advisor, LCDR Ferbezar managed a budget of 10 million dollars and the modifications she made to the Common Operational Picture staffing contract ensured the Combined Joint Task Force had the most qualified personnel tracking missions throughout the Area of Responsibility.

LCDR Ferbezar’s decorations include: Defense Meritorious Service Medal, Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal with gold star in lieu of second award, Armed Forces Reserve Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Navy “E” Ribbon, Korea Service Medal, Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Service Medal and Global War on Terrorism Service Medal.

Marquette NROTC Alumni & Friends Association (A&FA) is a 501(c)19 Veterans non-profit organization.

Mailing Address:  1532 W Clybourn Street, Milwaukee, WI 53233

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