2021 Alumni Achievement Award: Jennifer Bixby ‘97

2021 Alumni Achievement Award: Jennifer Bixby ‘97

Monday, September 13, 2021

Jennifer BixbyJennifer Bixby ‘97 has great memories of her days at Midland University.

She recalls Dr. Mick Shadbolt's "real life" accounting stories and dry sense of humor, the Pitch card games on softball team bus rides, and the late-night gab sessions in the dorm hallways. 

Most importantly, however, are the relationships she made as a student. "I made a lot of lasting friendships during my four years," she said. "One could argue the most important was when I met my husband, JJ, during my sophomore year." 

The couple married in 1997 and have four children. Twins Joey and Angela are 20 while Jackson is 19. Jaelyn, who was adopted from China, is 12.

In addition to the relationships, Midland also served as a springboard to a successful professional career for Bixby. She is being recognized with the 2021 Midland Alumni Achievement Award during Homecoming weekend on September 17-19.

Bixby, a Ralston native, is the president of the conglomerate known as DPA Holdings, Inc. Under this umbrella, Don Peterson & Associates Real Estate, Dodge County Title & Escrow, and DPA Insurance Services all operate.  "I'm ultimately responsible for the operations, financials, and cash flow planning of all of our companies, but I have fantastic partners and employees that make this task much easier than it sounds," she said. 

Each day presents unique challenges. 

"Some mornings, I may be helping to work through a unique title issue or even a tech problem at DCT & E, and by the afternoon, I'm training a new agent at Don Peterson & Associates," Bixby said. "In the evening, I'm watering the newly planted trees at our subdivision. The next day will look totally different. That's one of the things I really enjoy about my position." 

Growing up, Bixby was interested in a career in architecture.

"Unfortunately, even as recently as 30 years ago, the architecture field was dominated by men, and I was advised to go in a different direction early in high school," she said. "When I started college at Midland, I was a dual major with Math and Business with hopes of going into actuarial science. I soon learned that I enjoyed numbers much better when they had dollar signs in front of them, and in my sophomore year, I focused only on Business and Accounting." 

After earning her degree in Business with a concentration in Accounting, Bixby worked for Seim Johnson in Omaha. Once she obtained her CPA certificate, she returned to Fremont in 2000 to work for Methodist Fremont Health (formerly known as Fremont Area Medical Center). 

With a growing family, including two children with high medical needs, Bixby thought a career in real estate would provide more flexibility in 2006. "At that time in my life, my family needed me a lot, and I thought real estate could be a great part-time gig," she said. "Little did I know how much that decision would change my life. My real estate career has allowed me to fulfill that passion for design, architecture, and creativity while also utilizing my skills in business." 

Bixby said there are challenges in her profession, but she enjoys helping clients. "My top priority as a realtor is to absorb the stresses and bumps that are inevitable in a real estate transaction so that my clients do not have to," she said. "Learning how to manage that stress and those sleepless nights is always a challenge. As a broker/owner of Don Peterson & Associates, I am always thinking of the agents and employees I work with and how I can better serve them as well." 

Bixby also served two terms (2008 to 2016) on the Fremont City Council, representing Ward 4, and currently serves on the boards at Fremont Area Community Foundation and Fremont Methodist Health.

"I am very proud of the roles these organizations have played in helping our community through the (COVID-19) pandemic in the last year," she said. 

Bixby also stays active with Midland. Don Peterson & Associates and JJ's business, Bixby Financial Services, regularly have interns from the university. Both have hired Midland graduates in a full-time capacity after they started either as a shadowing project or internship. 

The couple has also funded a scholarship for students at Midland pursuing special education. Joey and Angela were born premature at 29 weeks of gestation and weighed only 2 pounds each. "While they both have experienced unique challenges due to premature birth, Joey has required more specialty care and classroom instruction throughout the years and will continue with high needs into adulthood," Bixby said. "If it weren't for the awesome educators along our path, JJ, Joey, and I would have been lost. We hope to continue to find ways to reduce any barriers for students pursuing special education." 

In receiving the Alumni Achievement Award, Bixby is grateful for all of her family's support. 

"As the first person to graduate from a four-year college in my entire family, it is also an acknowledgment of the sacrifices my parents made to make sure all three of their daughters were well educated and ready for the real world," she said. "I know I wouldn't have been able to achieve the level of success I have without the support of my parents, husband, and children."