Lakeland University Blog

Lakeland names alumni award winners for Homecoming

Lakeland names alumni award winners for Homecoming


Lakeland names alumni award winners for Homecoming

Lakeland University will honor three individuals and induct the newest members into the Emeritus Club as part of this fall’s Homecoming festivities on October 4-5.

A brunch reception and program will start at 9:45 a.m. on Saturday, October 5. Cost is $20/person and registration is required via the Lakeland Homecoming webpage, which will be available soon. Members of the 1974 class are complimentary and class members can contact Sydney Pingitore, director of alumni and community relations, at 920-565-1023 ext. 2159 or

Membership into the esteemed Emeritus Club is limited to alumni with a Mission House or Lakeland College graduation date of at least half-a-century ago. Each year, the newest members of this respected club are inducted during Homecoming and recognized for their longstanding relationship with their alma mater. All Emeritus Club members and members of the class of 1974 are welcome this year.

Lakeland will also present three individual awards:

Professional Achievement Award: Mike Kertscher ’17

With years of invaluable experience in driving racing cars, instructing drivers and managing race programs and events at Road America, Mike Kertscher brings an unparalleled depth of knowledge to his role as Road America’s president and general manager.

His profound understanding of the intricacies involved in operating, including expertise in various aspects of the industry and his aptitude for strategic planning, resource management and optimizing the overall racing experience for participants and spectators alike, has contributed significantly to the success and prominence of Road America.

Under Kertscher’s leadership, Road America has thrived as a premier motorsports destination, attracting renowned drivers and enthusiastic fans from around the world. His commitment to upholding industry standards and best practices ensures that Road America remains at the forefront of the racing community.

In 2023, the Sheboygan County Economic Development Corporation (SCEDC) recognized Road America with the Economic Driver of the Year award. This prestigious award recognizes Road America’s remarkable contributions to Sheboygan County’s economy and its ongoing commitment to continuous improvement. Last year, Road America contributed a staggering $254 million to the county, with a remarkable economic impact of $403 million benefiting the state of Wisconsin.

Kertscher also serves as the vice president for The Road Race Industry Council (RRIC), an association dedicated to enhancing road racing safety, promoting events and preserving venues.

Winners of this award must be an alumnus of Mission House/Lakeland that have achieved national, state or regional recognition for outstanding achievement in their profession

Outstanding Recent Alumni Award: Alayne Krause MSLOD ’19

Alayne Krause is the county administrator for Sheboygan County, where she has worked for the past 11 years. During that time, she has had the unique opportunity to work in five different departments giving her a comprehensive understanding of the organization.

Krause serves on the board of directors for the Sheboygan County Economic Development Corporation, Sheboygan County Chamber of Commerce and Habitat for Humanity Lakeside. She was recognized as a Top 10 Young Professional of the Year by the Sheboygan County Chamber of Commerce in 2023.

She earned her bachelor’s degree from UW-Oshkosh and master’s degree from Lakeland. In addition, she completed the Wisconsin Counties Association Local Government Leadership Academy and the National Counties Association High Performance Leadership Academy.

Winners of this award must a graduate of Lakeland University within the last 10 years, had outstanding achievements in their profession and remained connected to Lakeland and assisted with university-related activities.

Richard C. Preuhs Award: Deb Buffington ’03

A Lakeland employee since 1997, Buffington took on a key leadership role at a critical time for the university.

In 2022, Lakeland’s CFO and controller left to pursue other job opportunities, and Buffington agreed to take the interim controller role. She was promoted to director of application services and controller in July of 2022, then was promoted to vice president of finance and operations & CFO the following year. She retired in April of 2024.

She was named the winner of Lakeland’s Big Fish Award for the 2021-22 school year for her work in the finance area.

Buffington’s service at Lakeland included a wide range of key roles. She started at Lakeland as assistant financial counselor and held a variety of jobs over the years including manager of database administration software, associate director of IT administrative systems and director of administrative application services.

Prior to coming to Lakeland, Buffington worked for The Sheboygan Clinic, Kohl’s Department Store, Lutheran Social Services and Hayssen Manufacturing Co.

Winners of the Preuhs Award must be an alumnus of the institution and have been an employee of the institution after. Winners have shown extraordinary commitment to the mission of the university and noteworthy achievements in fostering student success, campus community or stewardship of campus resources.

A complete list of prior winners and all categories is available by clicking here.

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