The We Lead we know

Jacob Lane · Wednesday, February 1, 2017
“Intelligence is the ability to adapt to change.” -Steven Hawking

We Lead bid farewell to two founding board members during the annual We Lead breakfast meeting Thursday, Jan. 26, in the Regional Learning and Cultural Center (RLCC).

“They have been with us from the very beginning, since 2006,” said Past President Lee Geertz, “They put 10 years of valuable time and knowledge into the organization.”

Cindy Mays, Market President of MidWestOne Bank, and Tara Lindsay, Vice President of Human Resources at West Liberty Foods, retired as of 2016.

Both were instrumental in the development organization, playing roles in front and behind the scenes. They helped pave the way for the construction of the RLCC.

“Cindy and Tara both took me under their wings, helped us make decisions and we’re here today because of that,” Geertz said, a board member since 2009.

“These two folks are very passionate about our community and you see them almost everywhere with everything, thank you,” added Geertz.

Both were honored during the breakfast, during which time Geertz took a moment to step into the past of West Liberty Economic Area Development (We Lead).

Past President Geertz wanted to celebrate the core success of the organization, specifically its four core goals established in 2011: business, workforce, leadership and organizational development.

“I’m happy to say that once the building here was complete, our board recognized we had met every one of these goals,” said Geertz. So what were these successes?

Business Development: We Lead worked with Mangolandia, West Liberty Foods Market, Active Health Chiropractic and Shaking Earth Digital in the past year alone.

Workforce Development: A complete housing assessment alongside classes held by Muscatine Community College in the RLCC building.

Leadership Development: The annual Leadercast event alongside the leadership program with several graduates in West Liberty.

Organizational Development: We Lead now has sustainability, as well as a new permanent headquarters in the RLCC building.

According to We Lead’s numbers in 2016 it interviewed three new business opportunities and assisted with seven business developments and expansions.

President Sandee Buysse-Baker had some words on the future of We Lead coming in 2017.

“There’s a lot of change coming this year as we move into our next decade,” she told the attendees of the breakfast, complementing the We Lead board.

Most notably, We Lead lost director Shannon McNaul and the corresponding funding from Iowa State University that came with the director’s position.

“ISU does want to continue to partner with us in some way because of the success, we’re still in negotiations for what that might look like,” said President Buysse-Baker.

Funding for We Lead comes from the city, county and its members. We Lead will look to continue existing relationships, while attempting to add new sources.

On that note, the organization posted for a new director this last week, which will stay open until Feb. 15. New to We Lead, the position will be completely paid for by We Lead.

With the accomplishment of their four goals and a new director hopefully coming sometime in 2017, the next major step for We Lead will be strategic planning and resetting goals.

“I’m very excited, it’s going to be a fun year,” said President Buysse-Baker. “We just got to keep moving, and there’s a ton of momentum…it’s very exciting to be a part of the We Lead Board.”

The 2017 board includes President Sandee Buysse-Baker, Vice President Dr. Dana Nelson, Past President Lee Geertz, Treasurer Marty Brown as well as members Jeannette Keller, Michelle Elizondo, Jeff Sorenson, Melody Russell, Steve Hanson and Tim Putney.

Whatever is next for We Lead, it now has roots firmly planted in the RLCC building and the organizations recent successes. It’s going to rely on the people involved.

“I look around our community, I look at our businesses, I look at our civic leaders and we have a ton of intelligent, dedicated, loyal people to this community,” said Buysse-Baker.
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