We Lead chooses director

Wednesday, May 17, 2017
The new director for West Liberty Economic Area Development (We Lead) will be Sandee Buysse-Baker, Marketing and Sales Manager of Liberty Communications.

She will be taking over the position vacated last November, 2016, by former Director Shannon McNaul. We Lead is located in the RLCC building in downtown West Liberty.

“I have served on the WeLead Board for the past couple of years and became President of the Board in January. Serving on the WeLead Board has given me an amazing view of the potential,” said Buysse-Baker.

We Lead was formed in 2006 to promote business development and expansion, and to promote community development and quality of life improvements in the West Liberty area.

Accordingly, Liberty Communications, local telecom, and WeLead have signed an agreement that allows Buysse-Baker to fill the director position while continuing to oversee the sales and marketing operations of Liberty Communications.

Liberty Communications will, in effect, be leasing Sandee to the We Lead organization, where she will continue past efforts to promote economic and community development.

"I see this leased employee arrangement as a creative solution bringing benefits to all parties involved," said Jerry Melick, President and GM of Liberty Communications.

Partnerships in economic development have a history of success. In the past, We Lead has used a shared model for the Executive Director position with Iowa State University.

"Since 2006, We Lead had been leasing an employee from ISU Extension to be their Executive Director, so that legal framework was a familiar one with a successful past,” says Melick.

“We are pleased to retain Sandee's leadership and experience in charting the future of Liberty Communications’ sales and marketing efforts, while at the same time allowing We Lead to benefit from her local experience and excitement to improve the quality of life in the West Liberty area,” added Melick.

Some percentage of Sandee’s time will be focused on WeLead projects and initiatives and some portion of time focused overseeing sales and marketing strategies and tactics for Liberty Communications.

Liberty Communications is a family-owned Independent telecommunications company serving the communities of West Branch and West Liberty, Iowa, with Internet, IPTV, phone and automation and monitoring services since 1908.

Currently the local telecom is in the process of hiring a Marketing Project Manager for day-to-day marketing operations. This person will report to Buysse-Baker.

“I’ve had the good fortune to work with Sandee since 2004,” says President Melick. “I know she's excited for these new challenges and opportunities in her career, and am confident that We Lead is getting a capable, positive and energetic new Executive Director." 

The decision was made by the We Lead Executive Board, under the leadership of Dr. Dana Nelson of Active Health and current Board Vice President of We Lead.

"We Lead is looking forward to the partnership with Liberty Communications to further economic development in West Liberty,” she said. “Liberty Communications has always been a great leader in the growth of West Liberty, so it became apparent a working relationship with the local company makes sense” she said.

“As a We Lead board member and, most recently, President, Sandee Buysse-Baker has demonstrated great leadership and passion for the community of West Liberty,” she added.

With a director put int place, We Lead will be able to put it’s full focus back into community development.

Most recently, it has partnered with the Downtown Task Force in an effort to revitalize the downtown area. Part of the partnership includes helping apply for a CDBG grant.

A Community Development Block Grant could net downtown development efforts around $800,000 if successful.

Of course, We Lead will stick to its overarching mission under its new director.

“I see tremendous growth opportunities and I feel strongly that I can add value as the Executive Director of We Lead,” says Buysse-Baker.

“The goals for We Lead are to promote and sustain quality of life in West Liberty, to promote business development and expansion, and to promote growth,” she says. “I understand that growth spurs economic prosperity for the entire business community, including Liberty Communications; the quality of life improvements - benefit all.”
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