Issue: Vision Section: Advisory Board
Executive Director Iowa Business Council
The Person I became the third executive director of the Iowa Business Council (IBC) in September 2005. I was professionally educated and socially tutored at the University of Iowa (business degree, 1981) and Vermont Law School (Juris Doctor, 1991). I served as a law clerk for the Honorable Donald P. Lay, Chief Judge of the U.S. Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals in St. Paul, Minnesota. A move to Chicago ensued where I worked as an associate attorney at two law firms, practicing primarily in commercial civil litigation. I then returned to Iowa in 1995 as the legislative liaison and a policy planner for the Iowa Department of Economic Development. Subsequent positions included serving as Vice President of Government Relations at the Iowa Association of Business & Industry and as President of the Iowa Taxpayers Association. Immediately preceding my arrival at the IBC, I spent four years as a member of the Iowa Utilities Board, appointed by then-Governor Tom Vilsack. I’m a native of Iowa City, Iowa. My beautiful wife and mid-state New York native, Kay, and I live in Des Moines with our two terrific auburn-haired kids!
The Iowa Business Council (IBC) is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization whose members are the top executives of the largest businesses in the state, the three Regent university presidents, and Iowa’s largest banking association. Founded in 1985, the IBC’s purpose is to focus the personal commitment of its members in active leadership roles on major initiatives that offer opportunity to enhance Iowa’s economic vitality and improve the lives of its citizens. Council members identify economic issues, evaluate options, and assist in implementing solutions through collaborative public/private partnerships. Collectively, these companies and institutions employ over a quarter million Iowans and have committed billions of dollars in capital investment to the state. On an annual basis, several hundred million dollars in financial contributions and thousands of volunteer hours are directed to numerous charitable causes around Iowa. IBC members also lead in technology innovation and grants procured for research and development. The Business Council focuses its efforts primarily in areas related to advanced technology, continuous process improvement, economic and workforce development, education excellence, health care and wellness, and operations continuity and security.
Toughest Part of My Job
Remaining civil and respectful to those who, during political discourse, ignorantly engage the disoriented popular fashion of universally vilifying everything that capitalism and free enterprise is about.
Biggest Career Breaks
When the late Serge Garrison took a flier and hired me in 1983 as a bill drafter for the Iowa Legislature; when the late Don Lay mercifully took me on as one of his law clerks in 1991; and, when David Lyons brought me back to Iowa to serve as the Department of Economic Development legislative liaison in 1995.
Nile Clarke Kinnick, Jr.—college football’s Heisman Trophy winner in 1939. University of Iowa Phi Beta Kappa, cum laude Senior Class President, ranked third in his U of I law school class 1940. Grandson of an Iowa Governor, Kinnick’s Heisman Trophy acceptance speech is considered one of the most eloquent ever given (the Marion Sentinel endorsed a presidential run for Kinnick in 1956, the first year in which he would be eligible). 1939’s Walter Camp Award winner, Maxwell Award winner, Associated Press Male Athlete of the Year (finishing ahead of Joe DiMaggio, Byron Nelson, and Joe Louis), consensus All American, and Big Ten MVP. Kinnick was a U.S. Naval aviator who reported for duty in 1941 three days before the attack on Pearl Harbor. He perished in 1943 when his F4F Wildcat developed a serious oil leak that prevented him landing on the USS Lexington lest he endanger the crew. Though he executed a perfect emergency water landing in the Caribbean Sea in view of the flight deck, the plane sank with Kinnick on board before rescue boats arrived eight minutes later. Shortly after his induction Kinnick wrote, "There is no reason in the world why we shouldn't fight for the preservation of a chance to live freely, no reason why we shouldn't suffer to uphold that which we want to endure. Every man whom I've admired in history has willingly and courageously served in his country's armed forces in times of danger. It is not only a duty but an honor to follow their example the best I know how. May God give me the courage and ability to so conduct myself in every situation that my country, my family, and my friends will be proud of me."
Something About Me Not Everyone Knows
My great-grandfather, Fred C. Gilchrist, served seven terms in Congress representing northwest Iowa (1931-45). I caddied for baseball great Billy Martin once. And I was on a tour of the White House when the attacks started on September 11, 2001.
Recent Good Books Read
Team of Rivals, by Doris Kearns Goodwin – a fascinating examination of how President Abraham Lincoln became a master politician, primarily by holding his allies close and his enemies closer.
Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid, by Bill Bryson – a delightful, humorous, insightful recounting of childhood innocence and optimism growing up in a Midwestern town during the 1950s, wistfully revisiting the broader social and cultural mores of days gone by.
Best Books Currently Reading
Undaunted Courage, by Stephen Ambrose – a remarkably detailed account of the epic journey made by the Lewis & Clark Expedition in President Thomas Jefferson’s desire to find a water route from the U.S. interior to the Pacific Ocean.
An American Life: The Autobiography, by Ronald Reagan – the candid, insightful, sometimes witty accounting of a private and public life that led to an historic presidency.
Personal Interests & Hobbies
Family, bogey golf, the Iowa Hawkeyes and Chicago Cubs, collecting old sports cards, presidential biographies, and good music – as long as it’s ‘70s era or jazz.
Selling soda in the stands at Iowa Hawkeye football and basketball games during the late 1960s (pre-child labor laws).
Favorite Vacation Spots The Cascade Mountains in Oregon, anywhere in Scotland, and Wrigley Field.
If I Had a Different Job
Golf course architect – creating layouts with no rough, hazards, or out-of-bounds on the right.
If I Could Wave a Wand and Change Something
Require civility, propriety, and respect in all public discourse and private interaction. Make personal responsibility, accountability, discipline, civic pride, virtue, and professional integrity the bedrock foundation for all U.S. citizens. If you can’t handle that, out you go.