Talisa Dixon, Alec Wightman, and Peggy Ruhlin to Headline Otterbein University’s Commencement Ceremonies 

Posted Apr 18, 2022

Otterbein Graduates to Receive Words of Wisdom from Board Member of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, One of America’s Most Distinguished Women in Wealth Management, and Superintendent of the Largest School District in Ohio.

Otterbein University has selected Alec Wightman, retired executive partner of BakerHostetler and board member of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and Peggy Ruhlin, former CEO of Budros, Ruhlin & Roe, to speak at its undergraduate commencement ceremonies. Talisa Dixon, superintendent and CEO of Columbus City Schools, has been selected to address Otterbein’s graduate students. 

Otterbein will host two undergraduate commencement ceremonies and one graduate commencement ceremony on May 1, 2022.  

Alec Wightman is a senior partner with the national law firm of BakerHostetler, where he served as executive partner, a member of the firm’s policy committee, and for over 20 years, as lawyer-in-charge of the firm’s relationship with a Fortune 20 client. 

Alec Wightman
Alec Wightman

 In addition to a busy career as a corporate lawyer and law firm manager, Wightman never lost his passion for music. In his recent book, Music in My Life: Notes From a Longtime Fan, he chronicles 60 years of rock and roll fandom, 27 years of promoting national act singer-songwriter shows in central Ohio, and a deep involvement with the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, where he chaired the board from 2013 to 2016 and is currently co-chair of a major capital campaign. 

A graduate of Duke University and The Ohio State University Moritz College of Law, Wightman is a long-time member and past chair of both the James Cancer Hospital Foundation Board of Trustees and the Moritz College of Law National Council, and a member of The Ohio State University Foundation Board of Trustees. 

Wightman served as a trustee of Otterbein University from 2010 to 2018 and was vice-chair of the board and chair of the advancement committee. He was named a trustee emeritus in 2019. 

He and his wife, Kathy, live in the German Village area of Columbus and have two children and three grandchildren. 

Peggy Ruhlin is the chair of the board of directors of Budros, Ruhlin & Roe. She was formerly its chief executive officer from 2000 to 2019 and led in many capacities since joining the firm in 1987.  

Peggy Ruhlin
Peggy Ruhlin

Ruhlin has been recognized as one of America’s most distinguished women in wealth management. She was the recipient of the 2017 Alexandra Armstrong Award for lifetime achievement, named one of the “20 Most Influential Women to Watch in 2016” by Investment News, one of the “Top 25 Women RIAs” in 2016 by WealthManagement.com, and one of the Financial Times “Top 100 Women Advisers” in 2014. Smart Business News selected her as one of the inaugural “Columbus Smart 50 CEOs” in 2014. Under Ruhlin’s leadership, Budros, Ruhlin & Roe won the 2011 Schwab Impact Awards Best in Business Award. 

Ruhlin served a four-year term on the board of directors of the Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards, Inc. from 2015 through 2018, and finished a three-year term on the advisory board of Schwab Advisor Services at the end of 2016. She is a trustee emerita of Otterbein University, having previously served as a trustee (2001-2014), vice-chair of the board of trustees, and chair of the investment committee. For eight years, she was a trustee of the Washington, D.C.-based Foundation for Financial Planning 

Ruhlin is a retired Certified Public Accountant with a Personal Financial Specialist accreditation, and a Certified Financial Planner certificant. She earned a bachelor’s degree in business administration from Otterbein and, in 2009, received its Alumni Association’s Special Achievement Award. In 2006, she was initiated into the Carroll High School (Dayton, OH) Distinguished Alumni Hall of Fame. That same year, she was inducted into the Ohio Foundation of Independent Colleges Hall of Excellence in recognition of her career and lifetime achievements.

Ruhlin was consistently named one of the “Best Financial Advisers” in the U.S. by Worth magazine and appeared on the cover of Barron’s featuring America’s top financial planners. She was the Financial Planning magazine readers’ choice as one of the “Movers and Shakers” who have contributed the most to the profession and are effectively shaping its future. 

Ruhlin now enjoys executive coaching for owners of wealth management firms looking to grow their businesses. 

Dr. Talisa Dixon is the superintendent and chief executive officer of Columbus City Schools. She began her tenure in March 2019 after five years leading the Cleveland Heights-University Heights City School District in northeast Ohio. 

Dr Talisa Dixon
Dr. Talisa Dixon

Dixon previously spent nine years as an administrator in Columbus City Schools from 2001-10. She served six years combined as the principal at Brookhaven High School and at Columbus Alternative High School.  

She began her career in public education first as a social studies teacher and then as an assistant principal in Akron Public Schools. She was the deputy superintendent for the Saginaw Public School District in Michigan before accepting the superintendent post in Cleveland Heights-University Heights in 2014. Since taking the reins of Ohio’s largest school district in 2019, Dixon has been a voice of leadership in Columbus, connecting with local civic, business, and non-profit partners on behalf of the 50,000 CCS students. She has served on the boards of United Way since 2019 and I Know I Can since April 2021. 

In 2019, Dixon was named superintendent-in-residence at The Ohio State University College of Education and Human Ecology. The fellowship program brings Ohio superintendents from urban, rural, and suburban school districts to share knowledge with the college and develop active research agendas and shared learning that benefits school communities. 

Dixon has been recognized both locally and nationally for her leadership in public education. She was named the 2017-2018 National Administrator of the Year by the American Heart Association. She was also among 25 women leaders from the non-profit community who were selected to participate in the 2018 American Association of School Administrators (AASA) National Women’s Leadership Consortium. She is a member of the 10th class of the Education Policy Fellowship Program (EPFP), and out of 700 graduates, was selected as a recipient of the Educator Inspired to Lead Award. Dixon was honored as the 2018 Educator of the Year by the city of University Heights, and has been honored by Dress for Success Cleveland with the organization’s Walking in Success honors in 2015. 

Dixon has also been recognized nationally for her work in promoting educational equity. In 2016, the U.S. Department of Education honored her and the Cleveland Heights-University Heights School District for fully reflecting America’s diversity at the highest levels of K-12 schools by equally including students of all backgrounds in Advanced Placement and International Baccalaureate courses.  

During her time in Northeast Ohio, Dixon served on the Cleveland Metro American Heart Association Board of Directors, the Governing Board and Executive Committee for MSAN (Minority Student Achievement Network), and the Board of Directors for the Positive Education Program (PEP) of Cleveland.  

A native of Oxford, Mississippi, Dixon received her bachelor of arts degree in sociology from Mississippi Valley State University. She earned three masters of arts degrees (in sociology, educational administration, and secondary education) and a doctor of education degree in educational administration from the University of Akron. She is a proud member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority.