The Distinguished Alumna Award recognizes Park University alumni who have distinguished themselves through career, service or community achievements.

   Jeannette Prenger, '09
      Distinguished Alumna, 2013

She started her technology and human resources consulting company in 1995 with just one client and one employee. Today, Jeanette Hernandez Prenger, ’09, oversees 33 employees and more than 200 consultants in two locations as the founder, president and chief executive officer of Kansas City, Mo.-based ECCO Select, one of the top 500 Hispanic businesses in the country.

Prior to launching out on her own,
Prenger headed up various Internet technology teams working for TWA, the Federal Reserve Bank, DST Systems and Sprint. Yet despite her expertise and proven success starting her own company, Prenger believed it was important to complete the college degree she had started years ago.

A friendly sibling rivalry was also a motivating factor to return to school. “I was the oldest of six siblings and was the only one without a college degree,” Prenger said. Yet the demands of running a business, maintaining volunteer commitments and attending to the needs of her growing family made finishing her degree seem impossible, until
she discovered Park University.

“The flexibility of Park’s online program made it possible for me to achieve my goal by fitting courses into my personal schedule,” she said. Returning to the virtual classroom with her experience in the business world offered Prenger more than a completed degree. “My work experience, combined with all that I learned in class from Park’s outstanding f
aculty, made all that I learned more relevant and immediately valuable.” In 2009, Prenger completed a Bachelor of Science degree in management information systems.

From her own circumstances, Prenger understands well the challenges that adult students face. “I know firsthand how hard it can be to find the time and energy to persevere in getting a degree,” Prenger said. That’s why she particularly values seeing a college degree on a perspective candidate’s résumé for her human resource clients. “It validates more than what someone has learned. A college degree shows fortitude, a solid work ethic and an eagerness to learn. It demonstrates that a perspective employee will bring these values to the workplace.”

Prenger makes it a priority to give back in ways that advocate for education, business and the arts. That's why she is pleased to serve on the Park University Board of Trustees since 2011. “I’m very proud to be a part of Park’s past and its exciting future,” Prenger said. “I live near the beautiful Parkville Campus and love that the University brings an international presence to the metropolitan area — and around the world — while welcoming a diverse, global community of students that I enjoy meeting right here in my own neighborhood.”

For her many achievements in business and generosity in the community, Prenger has received numerous awards. Prenger’s most recent award, bestowed in February 2013 by Enterprising Women Magazine, named her as a 2013 Enterprising Woman of the Year. Other awards include the Small Business Administration Region VII Minority Small Business Champion of the Year in 2010, CEO of the Year from the Latinos in Information and Science Technology Association in 2009 and the Excellence in Technology Mentor Award from Dialog on Diversity in 2006.

Prenger is a passionate leader who has driven positive economic and social change in and outside of Kansas City. Prenger was appointed by Gov. Jay Nixon to serve as a commissioner on the Missouri Workforce Investment Board. Prenger was also appointed by Kansas City, Mo., Mayor Sylvester “Sly” James to serve on his Early Education Commission.

Prenger gives tireless energy and leadership to numerous nonprofit organizations that reflect her diverse interests and concerns, including Junior Achievement of Middle America, Boy Scouts of America Heartland Council, United Way of Greater Kansas City, Truman Medical Centers Charitable Foundation, Starlight Theatre, Friends of the Zoo, Kansas City Convention and Visitors Association and the Greater Kansas City Chamber of Commerce. Prenger also serves on the board of the New York-based Orphaned Starfish Foundation, which provides technology to orphanages in Spanish-speaking countries and Ethiopia.