Be It Resolved

Resolutions for personal growth and civic improvement in 2019.

Writer: Megan VerHelst

With each new year comes a chance for a new beginning—or, at the very least, a chance to reinvent ourselves into better versions of who we were the year before.

Setting a goal for the new year is a tradition that stems back thousands of years to the early Babylonians, evolving through ancient Rome and Christianity before becoming a secular practice. Today, New Year’s resolutions typically focus on individual goals.

However, in the spirit of community, we asked local leaders not only what their top personal goal is for 2019 but also what they want to help Greater Des Moines accomplish in the coming year. Here’s what they said.

Scott Raecker
Executive Director, Robert D. and Billie Ray Center, Drake University

Personal: Every year I focus on what I can do to become a better husband and father as every age and every stage presents new and exciting opportunities. I also have a goal to let my light shine by smiling more. 

Civic: I want to help Greater Des Moines become the civility capital of the world. It is within our grasp if we are intentional about transforming lives and strengthening communities.


Mike Ralston
President, Iowa Association of Business and Industry

Personal: To honor the late Michael Sadler by continuing his work to respect all people and to connect people with each other.

Civic: At ABI, we want to help the Greater Des Moines community continue its incredible momentum in building our area in to one of the nation’s best places. Supporting the water trails project and other community initiatives and continuing to make the area a place for businesses to succeed are important.


Greg Edwards
President and CEO, Greater Des Moines Convention and Visitors Bureau

Personal: Lose weight, grow 6 inches and book the Super Bowl for 2024.

Civic: To continue building our community infrastructure with new amenities that will attract visitors and help grow our economy.


Nikki Syverson
Director, Capital Crossroads

Personal: I want to be more intentional about finding ways to volunteer with my children to instill a spirit of philanthropy and giving back to our community early on.

Civic: Capital Crossroads is a regional vision plan. Therefore, I want to be more intentional about getting to know all communities in our region by both patronizing new businesses and meeting with council members to better understand each community’s distinct priorities and personalities. I also want to help our community break down the stigma on mental health.


Kent Henning
President, Grand View University

Personal: Over the past year my wellness coach, Dr. Gary Bowman, helped me improve my fitness and health and got me safely back into the gym. In the coming year, I intend to pull 400-plus-pound deadlifts.

Civic: Focusing on neighborhood revitalization, city leaders identified Grand View as a “neighborhood catalyst.” In 2019, I hope to realize that aim by convening leaders to spark new public and private investment in our part of town.


Leisha Barcus
CEO, YMCA of Greater Des Moines

Personal: My children have transitioned into young adults and are now living on both coasts. My personal goal this year is to be gentle on myself as I move through my own transition from caretaker to coach and head cheerleader. I hope to deepen the amazing personal friendships I’ve developed over the years because I’ve realized how much they continue to help fill my bucket.

Civic: In my new role as president and CEO of the YMCA of Greater Des Moines, I want to help ensure our community continues to meet the social and emotional needs of our residents. 

I’ve witnessed and been part of the incredible physical transformation and growth of our community. Now I want to be sure we focus on the personal impact we make in our beautiful spaces.


Gene Meyer
President, Greater Des Moines Partnership

Personal:  To reduce my golf handicap—because it can’t get any higher—and attend the YMCA at least once per week.

Civic: Through my role at the Greater Des Moines Partnership, I hope to help continue pushing forward major projects such as the regional water trails project and ensure we work with our investors to help the region continue to attract and retain talented people to lead further economic development.


Mike Draper
Owner, Raygun

Personal: In 2005, I moved Raygun out of my parents’ basement. Every year since then, my top personal goal has been to not have to move my company back there. 

Civic: I hope to help Des Moines become the capital of the United States in 2019.


Daniel Hoffman-Zinnel
Executive Director, One Iowa

Personal: Improve my motivational talks. I present to thousands of individuals across the state each year, and I want to provide an even more impactful experience.

Civic: Inspire Iowans to continue creating inclusive environments for LGBTQ individuals, especially transgender, non-binary and individuals of color.


Renee Hardman
Chief Executive Officer, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Iowa

Personal: Living a lifestyle intentionally focused on a purposeful and fulfilling balance, by incorporating mindfulness practices and being more present in the moment throughout my personal, professional and spiritual life journey.

Civic: As a West Des Moines city councilwoman and CEO of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Iowa, I want to enhance awareness and visibility around the value and impact of youth mentoring relationships, so that our youth become fully engaged in this community and know that their voices are valued and their fullest potential is unleashed.


Elisabeth Buck
Executive Director, United Way of Central Iowa

Personal: Spend as much time as possible with my granddaughter, who turns 1 in April.

Civic: To increase the percentage of Central Iowans who are financially self-sufficient, so families can live healthier lives and children can succeed in school.


Marvin DeJear
Director, Evelyn K. Davis Center for Working Adults

Personal: To continue to work on my life balance with serving the community. 

Civic: I want to help Greater Des Moines continue to provide opportunities for everyone and work toward a one economy for all.


Sue Woody
Director, Des Moines Public Library

Personal: Too much precious energy is wasted worrying about that which is out of our hands. Have faith and hope for the best, but concentrate your efforts on the here and now.

Civic: I want Des Moines to read. Reading expands our horizons and presents different points of view. Read with a child to establish meaningful connections and impart a lifelong love of literature. Read to learn, share ideas, or just read for pleasure. It all counts.

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