Two BVU Alumni Join Board of Trustees

(story by Tim Gallagher)

Buena Vista University has announced the additions of Ravi Kumar ’10 and Heath Bartness ’02 to the Board of Trustees.

Kumar (pictured above), a native of Janakpur, Nepal, has worked with the World Bank for the past decade, meeting his goals of serving an institution that is mission driven while helping some of the most marginalized communities in the world.

“I was the first one in my family to go to college and I know from experience how BVU can be an extraordinary catalyst for change in people’s lives and their careers,” Kumar says. “I am honored to serve my alma mater as a member of the Board of Trustees and help BVU continue to excel at preparing its students to thrive in a world that’s evolving at an unprecedented pace.”

Kumar credits BVU programs, professors, and staff members in the roles they played while directing him toward a career steeped in service. As a social entrepreneur, Kumar has founded and led two non-profits, including Code for Nepal, with his wife, Mia Mitchell. In these ventures, he has helped make data accessible, increased digital and data literacy among thousands of youths, and rebuilt dozens of schools in Nepal.

“BVU helped me become more confident, exposed me to the power of a tight-knit community and equipped me with tools to navigate the larger world,” he says. “BVU taught me that if we dedicate ourselves to use our knowledge for the benefit of others, we can benefit a lot personally, too.”

Heath Bartness (pictured below), a native of Lake Mills, serves as Founder & CEO of St. Croix Hospice. Bartness helps lead nearly 1,500 employees in serving more than 3,500 patients per day in 60 locations across 10 states in the Midwest.

“Everything I’ve done seems to have a connection to the past and to a relationship built at BVU,” says Bartness, a political science and public administration double major at BVU. “I connected with President Brian Lenzmeier and learned about his shared vision for the future. I rallied around the sentiment as I want to offer what I can to benefit a place that means so much to me.”

Following his graduation, he worked for the Iowa Department of Public Health and earned a master’s degree in healthcare administration from the Des Moines University of Osteopathic Medicine. Following stints as Secretary for the Senate Business and Labor Committee in the Iowa Legislature, Bartness served as an Administrator for Care Initiatives and then Arbor Springs, serving facilities in Ottumwa and West Des Moines, respectively. In 2008, he founded St. Croix Hospice.

“The internships I earned at the Iowa Department of Public Health helped me start in this career, and they came about because of a BVU classmate who told me about the opportunity,” Bartness says. “Tim McDaniel (Assistant Professor of Mathematics & Quantitative Business), who taught me statistics and served as my advisor, showed me an educational lane I hadn’t even considered. So many others had the same kind of impact on me. I can’t express how humbled and honored I am to be a part of the Board of Trustees at my alma mater.”

Bartness and his wife, Dainna, are the parents of four children, and they reside near St. Paul, Minn.