2018 Alumni of the Year
As they educate and mentor students, touch the lives of patients and work tirelessly in their professions and communities, the Des Moines University Alumni of the Year inspire others to aspire. Alumni of the Year honorees are selected by the DMU Alumni Association Board of Directors and past recipients of this prestigious award.
Recipients of the awards must be a member in good standing of their respective professional state or national organization and the DMU Alumni Association; demonstrate excellent service to DMU, its students and his/her profession; and demonstrate a record of service to his/her community on a local, state and/or national level.
College of Health Sciences: Blake A. Hardy, P.T., D.P.T.’05, OCS
Blake Hardy’s work life started at the hospital in Marshalltown, IA, as a staff therapist and then as director of rehabilitation services. From there he joined Core Physical Therapy in West Des Moines in 2007 as a partner and currently serves as vice president.
Dr. Hardy has been very active with the Iowa Physical Therapy Association (IPTA), serving in various roles since becoming a member in 1993. His involvement culminated in serving as IPTA president from 2009 to 2011. He was honored with the Olive C. Farr Distinguished Service Award in 2012 in recognition of his many years of service. Several important legislative accomplishments occurred during his time on the IPTA board, including term protection for physical therapists and for recognition of physical therapists as providers for concussion care, which was the first such legislation in the country.
Dr. Hardy graduated from St. Cloud State University with a bachelor of arts degree in biomedical sciences. He earned a master of science degree in physical therapy at DMU in 1995 and returned to complete his clinical doctorate in physical therapy in 2005. He received his clinical specialization in orthopedics in 2000 from the American Physical Therapy Association.
Dr. Hardy resides in Adel, IA, with his wife of 23 years, Kerri Hardy, P.T., D.P.T.’05, who is also a physical therapist. They have two children, Jacob, a junior at Drake University, and Rachel, a senior at Adel-Desoto-Minburn High School. As a family they enjoy traveling, spending time with relatives and going to movies.
College of Podiatric Medicine and Surgery: Kelly J. John, D.P.M.’99, M.H.A.’99, FACFAS
Kelly John practiced as a podiatrist with SwedishAmerican Hospital in Rockford, IL, beginning in 2003 and then joined the OrthoIllinois practice, where she has grown a busy surgical practice. She holds board certifications in foot surgery and rearfoot reconstruction from the American Board of Foot and Ankle Surgery and in podiatric medicine from the American Board of Podiatric Medicine. She is licensed in Illinois and Wisconsin and maintains surgical privileges at OSF St. Anthony Medical Center, SwedishAmerican Hospital, Mercy Health, Rockford Ambulatory Surgery Center and OrthoIllinois Surgery Center in Rockford, IL.
In 2013, with sponsorship by OSF St. Anthony Medical Center, Dr. John was instrumental in the development of the first podiatric residency in Rockford and serves as its current director. The three-year program, a podiatric medical and surgical residency with added rearfoot/reconstruction, accepts two residents per year and hosts an additional one to two podiatric medical students each month.
Dr. John’s interest in science and medicine narrowed to the pursuit of a podiatry career after her own personal experience with foot pain and surgery. At 18, while waitressing to earn extra money for school, she developed foot pain and swelling that led to surgery to remove an extra bone in her foot. Following surgery, her arch collapsed and the foot pain continued, leading her to question whether there was a better way to treat the condition.
Dr. John earned her undergraduate degree in natural sciences at the College of Saint Benedict in St. Joseph, MN. She worked for seven years as a histotechnician in the dermatopathology lab at the University of Minnesota and as a certified nursing assistant for Regions (Health Partners) Hospital in St. Paul. She then earned dual degrees of doctor of podiatric medicine and master of health care administration at DMU, where she was a Phi Delta honor society member.
While in Des Moines, Dr. John met and married her husband, Jeff. She accepted a one-year residency program at Broadlawns Medical Center in Des Moines, where she delivered her first child six weeks into residency training, and then completed three years of residency training at Yale New Haven Hospital/VA in Connecticut. She served as chief resident in her third program year. In 2001, while in her second year of residency, Dr. John had the privilege of providing foot care to first responders during recovery efforts after the Sept. 11, 2001, attack in New York City.
College of Osteopathic Medicine: Richard T. Pitts, D.O.’73, Ph.D.
Richard Pitts is vice president for clinically integrated networks and senior medical director in the St. Joseph Heritage Healthcare (SJHH) system for Orange and Los Angeles counties. SJHH merged with Providence Health on Jan. 1, 2018, forming an 11-state, 50-hospital health system composed of 111,000 employees, 38,000 nurses and 20,000 physicians.
Previously, Dr. Pitts was the chief medical officer and interim chief executive officer at Arrowhead Regional Medical Center (ARMC), a 450-bed university-affiliated teaching hospital in Colton, CA. The San Bernardino County, CA, Board of Supervisors presented him with a board resolution for his many contributions to ARMC. He also received special recognition from the California University of Science and Medicine (CUSM) for his pivotal work in building a strong relationship between CUSM and San Bernardino County, which allowed CUSM to plan for its first entering medical school class in 2018.
Dr. Pitts is a past associate clinical professor of emergency medicine and an associate clinical professor of medicine, division of occupational medicine, at the University of California-Irvine; he was an advisor to the dean of the School of Medicine. He held the position of assistant area medical director at Kaiser Permanente Orange County (KPOC) for 12 years, where he specialized administratively in difficult change management projects and building teams. He had direct responsibility for more than $250 million annually as part of his administrative responsibilities at KPOC.
Dr. Pitts is a past member and president of the Orange County Medical Association Board of Directors and of the American Heart Association-Orange County Chapter Board of Directors. He is a six-time gubernatorial appointee to the state licensing board, which he served as president for six years. He also served on the California Industrial Medical Council for 10 years, six as managing co-chair. In 1998, Dr. Pitts accepted a direct congressional appointment as a lieutenant commander in the U.S. Navy Reserve Medical Corps.
Dr. Pitts earned his bachelor of science degree in chemistry at Chapman University, his doctor of osteopathic medicine degree at DMU and a Ph.D. in management and decision sciences at Walden University. He also earned six certificates from Harvard Business School’s HBX program.