Dreaming Bigger: Iowa Alpha Alumnus and Entrepreneur Lauds National Leadership Opportunities

One thing most college freshman share is that they’ve arrived on campus with a big dream.

Back in 1999 at the University of Iowa, Brand Newland (Iowa ’00) was one of them.

“I was going to go into pre-med,” Brother Newland remembers. “Iowa had a renowned hospital on campus, and a highly-ranked program.”

Part of his dream included fraternity life, and during a formal recruitment period, he chose Phi Kappa Psi from among the university’s 20 fraternities. Iowa Alpha, a storied chapter in continuous existence since 1867, had been through rough times in the years before Brother Newland’s arrival. Their chapter house had burned down, morale suffered, and membership dropped.

“There were only 20 guys total in the chapter when I joined,” Newland remembers. “My new member class had 10.”

Brother Newland took early advantage of the leadership-building opportunities, including chapter roles of scholarship chairman and president. He also attended national-level conferences and programs that were formative experiences available to him, thanks to alumni funding through the Phi Kappa Psi Foundation.

“My Phi Psi experience totally defined my collegiate years and put me on the path to where I am today,” Newland says. “If I hadn’t joined, I’m not sure where I’d be professionally. I am forever grateful for the chapter brothers who were there, alumni volunteers, and the programs and scholarships I took advantage of.”

Those opportunities included attending Woodrow Wilson Leadership School (WWLS), President’s Leadership Academy, and the Undergraduate Interfraternity Institute, as well as being elected as an Archon and earning two national scholarships: The Solon E. Summerfield Scholar Award and the Ralph D. Daniel Leadership Award.

“All those things contributed to my success. In fact, of all the things I’ve done to advance my professional career, nothing matches the quality of the leadership training I had through my opportunities in Phi Psi. Period. End of story.”

Brother Newland’s dream of going to medical school eventually changed. He completed a Doctor of Pharmacy degree, followed later by an MBA. He rose in the ranks of a nationally-renowned medication management firm. And last year, he co-founded Goldfinch Health, a startup that enables employers to offer employees customized assistance in navigating the healthcare system when faced with decisions regarding surgical care, recovery options, and medication management.

Looking back on the depth and breadth to which the brotherhood has influenced his life for the better, Brother Newland says, “I can’t emphasize enough how Phi Psi and the opportunities I was afforded sent me on a path to dream bigger.”

Newland’s gratitude to his chapter and the national organization has fueled his generosity to both.

“Attending so many Foundation-supported programs helped me figure out who I was, who I wanted to be as a leader, and how I could take that out into the world. It’s hard to put a price tag on that,” Newland shared. “I also feel compelled to support tomorrow’s leaders, not only my Iowa brothers, but all Phi Psis seeking leadership programming.”

Navigating the business world and now his career as an entrepreneur, Newland sees firsthand the importance of leadership programming outside of a classroom setting.

“Universities do a great job at imparting knowledge. But frankly, they sorely lack what’s needed to create leaders. Phi Psi is perfectly positioned to provide the right type of programs to teach men leadership skills, responsibility, and ways they can serve their campus and community,” says Newland.

Earlier this year, Brother Newland increased his generous commitment, joining 10 other alumni donors to create $19,852 in matching gift opportunities for Phi Psi’s inaugural Day of Giving. On February 18-19, 2019, 303 Phi Psis, family and friends answered the challenge raising a total of $50,931.50 for leadership and health and wellness programming critical to the undergraduate Phi Psi experience.

In his own chapter’s growth and progress over the past two decades, Newland sees the outcomes firsthand.

“When I joined, there were 30 of us. By the time I graduated, there were 80 high caliber men. Today, there are 140, and our chapter has posted the highest GPA of all fraternities nearly every year since 1999.”

“I believe in my core that folks who experienced Greek life present themselves differently in the world. Yes, there are other ways to grow as a person and a leader outside the fraternal context. But few organizations are more well-suited than a fraternity to set you on a path to learn the things you need to know and learn them early.”

Brand A. Newland, Pharm.D., MBA is a healthcare executive and entrepreneur who last year co-founded Goldfinch Health with chapter brother John Greenwood. Several Phi Psi members serve as business advisors.