Each year, the Corridor Business Journal shines a spotlight on young professionals who have made a meaningful impact on the region early in their careers.
This year, we are proud to introduce you to the 19th class of Forty Under 40 honorees. In this post, you’ll find the six nonprofit professionals being honored.
Chief Development Officer | Foundation 2 Crisis Services
Family: Husband, Jacob; son, Calvin
Residence: Cedar Rapids, Iowa
Hometown: Mount Vernon, Iowa
Education: Bachelor’s degree in Youth and Human Services Master’s degree in Philanthropy and Nonprofit Development
What do you consider your “big break” in your career, so far?
Plugging into Cedar Rapids civic organizations, young professional groups and volunteer opportunities was the biggest breakthrough in my career. Kristin Roberts took me under her wing when I reported to her. Immediately, she encouraged me to get involved with Junior League of Cedar Rapids, brought me as a guest to a Cedar Rapids Downtown Rotary meeting (where I’m currently a member), and regularly had one-on-one conversations with me about fundraising, leadership, and the value of networking.
What’s the biggest issue facing the Corridor, and why? We lose too many young people to other cities. If you’re plugged into the right organizations and businesses, it’s easy to see how many great things there are to do in the area and feel a part of the community. We need to continue to get young professionals involved in networking groups, nonprofit organizations to support social connectedness and retain high-potential leaders in the Corridor.
What do you want to accomplish by the time you are 50? I tell my son Calvin every night that all we want for him is to be happy and healthy. That’s what I want to accomplish as I age. I have a tattoo on my arm that says, “life is now.” My daily reminder to travel, play and enjoy each day to its fullest. So, (for the most part) I try to be good to my body and have as much fun as I can. Professionally, I hope to reciprocate the kind of mentorship I’ve received over the years. I have an awesome network of passionate, kind, and strong women who have been steadfast champions for me!
Operations Officer | Big Brothers Big Sisters of Cedar Rapids and East Central Iowa
Residence: Marion, Iowa
Hometown: Swisher, Iowa
Education: University of Northern Iowa – Master of Social Work
Who do you consider your local mentors? Linda Henecke, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Cedar Rapids and East Central Iowa, former CEO; Catherine VanDraska, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Cedar Rapids and East Central Iowa, program director.
Best advice you ever received? Just breathe and take one step at a time.
What do you consider your “big break” in your career, so far? Moving to program director and now operations officer. I never thought I would be given the chance to show what I could do, but here I am!
What’s the biggest issue facing the Corridor, and why? We don’t have enough services to assist the families in need. Those agencies that are helping typically have long wait lists. This is due to limited funding. We need more services and more funding to help children identify and reach their potential.
What would most people be surprised to learn about you? I am actually very organized even though it may not always appear that way (my office in particular).
If you had $1 million to give, what causes would you support? I would support mentoring. Whether that be traditional mentoring or assisting in other ways. Every child has the potential to change the world. I truly feel we should be investing in the children in our community.
What are your passions outside of the workplace? Reading and biking are my top two activities. I also enjoy tailgating, watching my kids’ sports and sleeping.
What do you want to accomplish by the time you are 50? My biggest accomplishment would be to raise my children to be well rounded and accepting of all individuals. In my career I hope to still be helping youth in our community.
Project Director and Site Coordinator | Freedom Schools of Tanager Place
Residence: Cedar Rapids, Iowa
Hometown: Cedar Rapids, Iowa
Education: Bachelor of Arts in Sociology
What was your first job? Busboy and dishwasher at Steaks by Thomas
Best advice you ever received? Leaders don’t need followers. Leaders only need to “see” the potential and inspire others around them. Selflessness, when wielded humbly, is a superpower for the benefit of others. Be faithful in prayer, because we all need help.
What would most people be surprised to learn about you? I love to write and create. I’m a big, bald man who loves to work out, but if I had a choice, I’d write books and screenplays.
If you had $1 million to give, what causes would you support? Jesus’ Freedom Ministries and Bridgehaven.
What do you want to accomplish by the time you are 50? If I could walk the red carpet for my stories, that’d be a great testimony to tell the youth I work with – I’m nothing special, but there’s something special in all of us. I’d love to see my children get through high school, learning and gaining knowledge in the areas that help them discover their God-given purpose. I’d love to see any impact made on the public schools, to reshape the way children learn how they see the world and how they fit into it.
What’s something people should know about your generation in the workplace? I feel we are a bit more patient and hungry to make a difference in the world around us. My generation were children when cell phones and social media weren’t accessible yet (they were still being invented). We didn’t have smart phones until high school and early college. Our parents were hard-workers and maintained their same jobs for decades, which taught us perseverance as we stepped into the workforce.
Administrative Officer | Four Oaks Family and Children’s Services
Family: Husband, Ben; son, Jordan; five dogs
Residence: Cedar Rapids, Iowa
Hometown: Dunkerton, Iowa
Education: Masters of Business Administration
What do you consider your “big break” in your career, so far? I do not believe there is a specific moment or event that I would define as a “big break” in my career, but rather an accumulation of intentional efforts and the support of the people around me. Four Oaks offered the flexibility and focus on professional development that has steered my success and to which I feel the utmost gratitude.
Who do you consider your local mentors? Mark Hudson, attorney and senior vice president at Shuttleworth & Ingersoll; Karen Bruess, human resources at Four Oaks and my former supervisor.
What’s the biggest issue facing the Corridor, and why? Many organizations are still in a challenging position with the workforce shortage. Although not unique to the Corridor, it has a direct impact on individuals and businesses. I appreciate the efforts of our community on focusing on attracting new residents and showcasing what the Corridor has to offer.
What would most people be surprised to learn about you? My family currently has five dogs! We have also fostered 14 dogs in total. Volunteering and fostering for animal rescues is one of the most rewarding experiences. We are grateful to be able to make a difference in our foster dogs’ lives prior to their adoptions.
What are your passions outside of the workplace? My time spent outside of the workplace is focused on my family. We are new parents and have enjoyed watching our son develop and learn about the world around him. We are excited to share with him why it’s important to invest in your community and help the most vulnerable populations.
If you had $1 million to give, what causes would you support? Child welfare organizations and animal shelters.
Executive Director | The Englert Theatre
Residence: Iowa City, Iowa
Hometown: Fort Madison, Iowa
Education: University of Iowa – Bachelor of Arts
Tippie College of Business – Master of Business Administration
What was your first job? Teller at Fort Madison Bank & Trust Co.
What do you consider your “big break” in your career, so far? In my experience, success doesn’t come from a “big break” per se but from countless opportunities where you make the right choice. I think I’ve found success in building solid relationships, always trying to learn, and taking the time to make a plan.
What’s the biggest issue facing the Corridor, and why? We have a lot of work to do to ensure that the Corridor has a strong voice in our state government. Our values often feel at odds with the state, and our local organizations that are doing great work feel the negative repercussions.
What would most people be surprised to learn about you? I was once in a hot air balloon crash. There were no injuries, thank goodness.
What are your passions outside of the workplace? I love reading a good book, traveling, and sometimes doing both simultaneously.
Who do you consider your local mentors? Andre Perry, my previous boss and colleague. He’s executive director of the Office of Performing Arts at Iowa, University of Iowa; Dave Gould, colleague and Honors Programs Professor at the University of Iowa; and Nancy Bird, colleague and president of Greater Iowa City, Inc.
Best advice you ever received? Authentic leadership is giving power to others.
What do you want to accomplish by the time you are 50? At every age, I think to myself, “I thought I’d have it all figured out by now.” I’m not sure we ever really have it all figured out, but I’d like to be close.
Curator | The History Center
Residence: Cedar Rapids, Iowa
Hometown: Spring, Texas
Education: Master of Science in Museum and Field Studies
Best advice you ever received? “Sell your cleverness and buy bewilderment.” – Rumi
What do you consider your “big break” in your career, so far? My “big break” came with the chance to relocate to Linn County, where I could wholeheartedly immerse myself in the culture and history of this remarkable community. Jason Wright and The History Center’s board offered me the platform to tell stories of the remarkable arts, culture, innovation, resilience, entrepreneurial drive and compassionate nature exhibited by the residents of this region.
What would most people be surprised to learn about you? I used to live in a 200-square-foot tiny house on wheels and have an urban homestead in Colorado, where I worked as a paleontologist.
What’s the biggest issue facing the Corridor, and why? I think the biggest issue facing the Corridor is access to social services and mental health support. Vulnerable populations, including low-income individuals, those struggling with homelessness, and families in crisis were disproportionately affected by the combined impacts of the pandemic and the derecho.
If you had $1 million to give, what causes would you support? Youth mental health services, immigrant and refugee services, LGBTQIA+ care and services.
What’s something people should know about your generation in the workplace? We can actually get it done more quickly and cheaper with a focus on kindness and compassion most of the time.
What do you want to accomplish by the time you are 50? Having a butter sculpture at the Iowa State Fair. Okay, more seriously? What I truly desire is to find genuine motivation in the actions of each day, propelling me to embrace the challenges of the next. My hope is that the stories I tell through my work, both within the museum and throughout the community, continually ignites my curiosity to understand and support those who surround me.
The class of 2023 will be honored Oct. 19 at a ceremony sponsored by the University of Iowa’s Tippie College of Business and Cedar Ridge Distillery at the DoubleTree by Hilton in downtown Cedar Rapids.