Leading Leaders: Iowa’s Leadership Collective

December 4, 2023 | Workforce Boosts, Tort, Regulatory, Tax Reforms Top 2023 Accomplishments Jessi McQuerrey, Director of Programs, ABI Foundation, jmcquerrey@iowaabi.org

It’s no secret that Iowa is forward-thinking. As we come off harvest season, we’re reminded of our pivotal role in agriculture, technology, renewable resources, and sustainable farming. We’re at the forefront in areas and industries from education to human rights and manufacturing to artificial intelligence. Lesser known, our pioneering spirit is also reflected in leadership development.

Leadership Iowa, the ABI Foundation’s statewide issues-awareness program, was just the fourth statewide program of its kind in the country at the time of its inception in 1982. That same year, community leadership programs in Des Moines and Cedar Rapids also began. Today, there are countless programs taking place in Iowa, many with 20+ years of success, serving communities, counties, regions, and industries.

Leadership Iowa had the honor this year to co-host the fourth annual Leadership Exchange in partnership with the Governor’s Empower Rural Iowa Initiative and the Iowa Economic Development Authority (IEDA), and provide one of two Leadership grants to a deserving community implementing a new program. The goal of this annual event is to bolster existing leadership programs and elevate local community leadership. The two days in Nevada, Iowa, convened more than 100 program and community leaders from more than 50 Iowa communities. Attendees shared and explored how we can best serve Iowans through leadership opportunities. 

This inspirational event was a reminder of the essential need for a continuous leadership movement in Iowa. Our statewide, industry, and community programs provide an avenue for individuals to develop essential skills, broaden their understanding of local issues, and create a network of empowered individuals passionate about effecting positive change in the places we call home. By equipping professionals with the tools to lead, collaborate, and innovate, these initiatives motivate them to address pressing concerns, such as economic development, healthcare, and infrastructure, crucial for the growth and sustainability our towns.

The significance of these programs lies in their ability to cultivate a cohort of individuals capable of driving progress. They offer a platform for professionals to delve into the intricacies of local governance and community engagement. Particularly in rural Iowa, where the sense of community is deeply ingrained, these initiatives help in amplifying the voices of individuals and building a shared vision for community betterment. Given Iowa’s diverse landscape, leadership programs truly serve as a linchpin for our state’s success.

If your community or organization is considering a leadership program, please reach out to our team at ABI and we’ll be glad to assist or connect you with some of our great partners who are championing the leadership movement across Iowa. Lead on!