By DUANE NOLLEN
Professionals from around Iowa came to Oskaloosa Thursday to learn about economic development from Leadership Iowa.
Leadership Iowa serves as an annual issues awareness program to develop, educate and motivate leaders of Iowa. Individuals are selected based on their professional standing and skills, community involvement and commitment to the issues impacting Iowa. Each Leadership Iowa class represents a diverse mix of individuals representing business, education, government, non-profit and community-based organizations.
Forty members of the 2012-2013 Leadership Iowa class gathered at the Iowa Building for opening ceremonies.
“We’re in our 31st class,” Iowa Association of Business and Industry Foundation Vice President for Programs Kay Neumann-Thomas said. “It started in 1982 as a way to grow and build leadership in Iowa’s communities.”
Rob Taylor, of Interpower Corp., leads the Leadership Iowa Board of Governors and is a 2004-2005 alumnus of Leadership Iowa. He said each year’s class has eight monthly sessions where class members visit a different Iowa community to learn about a new topic, he said.
Taylor said a committee composed of Linda Crookham-Hanson, Beth Danowsky and Shelly Herr helped plan the two-day session in Oskaloosa.
While in Oskaloosa, Leadership Iowa class members toured places such as Tassel Ridge Winery, the Mahaska Communications Group and the Musco Technology Center at William Penn University and watched a lighting demonstration by Musco Lighting. They participated in sessions such as “Economic Development 101” and “Iowa Companies And Their Global Impact”, and heard a speech by Musco Lighting President Joe Crookham about “Sustainable Communities.”
Crookham-Hansen said Oskaloosa session planners started work in June. She said there are about a dozen Leadership Iowa alumni in Oskaloosa and the city had hosted a session about four or five years ago.
Mayor Dave Krutzfeldt and State Sen. Tom Rielly — both Leadership Iowa alumni — welcomed the class to Oskaloosa to start Thursday’s session.
Krutzfeldt said Leadership Iowa helps foster an “attitude to solve problems” and “an openness to ideas you embrace.”
The mayor said Oskaloosa stresses people working together to communicate and cooperate together.
As an example, Krutzfeldt talked about the collaborative effort to build the Oskaloosa Elementary School. It was the first such effort in the state, and after the school was built, officials from other communities asked how that was accomplished, he said.
Rielly told the class “don’t waste this opportunity.”
Class members should take their experiences here in Oskaloosa and apply them in their communities. He also encouraged them to get involved in their communities by serving on a board, commission or other government body.
“It’s going to take a little effort,” he said. However, that will put class members on the path to the best learning experience, he added.
Candida Crasto works at Cargill in Eddyville and is a member of the Leadership Iowa Class of 2012-2013. She applied to be in Leadership Iowa after talking to Taylor.
“It gives me a broader insight into Iowa,” Crasto said.
Crasto grew up in Ohio and has lived in Iowa for 1 1/2 years. While living in Iowa, Crasto is a member of the Oskaloosa Rotary Club, is an instructor at the Mahaska County YMCA and is an assistant track coach at Oskaloosa High School.
“I helped start the Mahaska Young Professionals Group,” she added.
“I am proud to call this home,” Crasto said. “I love this community.”
Crasto said she has thought about serving in a public office or serving the community in the future.