Meghan Smith is the RefugeeRISE AmeriCorps Program Director at EMBARC. She has a Bachelor's in Business Administration and Economics from Wartburg College.
Interesting Facts: My first two "jobs" after graduating from college were first to be a camp counselor in rural Iowa and then to serve as an AmeriCorps member in New York City. Very different experiences, and going straight from one to the other was a bit of a culture shock.
Love/Hate: I love finding connections, whether it's an actor from an old favorite turning up somewhere unexpected, meeting someone with whom I have an unexpected mutual friend, or something deeper. I can be impatient, so I hate waiting - I always have a book or my phone handy to distract me when I can't avoid a wait.
Passions:I'm grateful for the opportunities I've had in my life, so I'm passionate about others having opportunities to thrive and removing the barriers to success that too many people face. Also tea - I always have some nearby.
Food: I don't really like cake, so for special occasions my mom always makes mint chocolate brownies going back to my elementary school birthdays. My favorite time of year is whenever I have a pan or two of these in the fridge to satisfy my sweet tooth.
Steph Ferguson is the Digital Coordinator for HCI Care Services and Visiting Nurse Services of Iowa. She attended Iowa State University where she studied Culinary Science and Journalism & Mass Communications.
I was once a food writer and recipe developer for Cuisine at Home magazine, hence the culinary science degree. And I attended a culinary school in Spain! I'm a native of Des Moines and have recently returned to my hometown after a two-year stint in Omaha. I rescued my border collie, Beans, from the Nebraska Humane Society in 2015 and we have been inseparable ever since.
Mary-Kate Lange is the Volunteer Support & Wish Assignment Coordinator at Make-A-Wish Iowa. She has a B.S. in Journalism and Mass Communications with a Public Relations emphasis and a minor in Child, Adult and Family Services from Iowa State University
What else you should know:
Tiffani Brendeland is an Account Executive at (C)3 Marketing. She graduated from Iowa State University with a B.A. in Advertising.
Interesting facts: She likes to hunt (2nd shot gun season on deer) and fish (mainly walleye); she's a wanna be runner (5K, 10K and Halfs) and; a closet nerd- give her all the books!
What she loves and hates: Tiffani loves her husband Case, children Elsie and Elijah and Jesus. She enjoys sweatpants, Starbucks Skinny Mocha with soy milk and reading while drinking wine. If she's comfy, caffeinated and surrounded by family, she is happy!
Life is too short and too important to waste on hate. There are things/people I dislike, but that is life.What she's passionate about:
"I am passionate about helping people. I just want to live life knowing that I tried and did the best I could for those around me, so I help."
She will try anything once and hasn't met a food she doesn't like. Favorite foods include lobster and chocolate cake.
What else you should know:
It took her five years of courting Andrea Love to hire her. She knew she wanted to work for (c)3 Marketing because she liked their mission. "I have never worked with a group more passionate, caring, smart or silly as the ladies I work with now and I wouldn't trade it for anything. Not a lot of people can say they have that, I am lucky enough to be one of them!"
Kristen Corey is a Program Planner at the Iowa Department of Human Rights' Office on the Status of Women. She has degrees in M.S., Sociology and Sustainable Agriculture; B.S., Sociology and Environmental Studies (minors: Agronomy and Psychology).
Least favorite food:
Kristin is the current chair of YNPN Des Moines and works as the Community Development Director, Youth Emergency Services & Shelter (YESS). Kristin has her Bachelor's in Social Work.
Interesting facts about Kristin:
She is one of of four sisters, including a fraternal twin ; she is a proud Wartburg College graduate and she doesn't use a smart phone!
What she loves/hates:
Love: Sports, nature, coffee, live music, a well-cooked ear of Iowa sweet corn
Hate: Confrontation, tornadoes (generator of nightmares since June 18, 1994), Creed (no explanation needed)
Improving children's welfare in the state; Iowa State athletics; Casey's Pizza
What is your least favorite and favorite food?
Least: cottage cheese; Favorite: Homemade apple pie
Random insight about Kristin:
She mentally recited the entire movie Hocus Pocus while detasseling a field of corn that took over an hour to go down one row.
Guest post by Amy Alesch.
The No Asshole Rule by Robert I. Sutton, phD, is one of those books you read and think to yourself, “I’ve always felt this and finally someone put it into written form with the backing of research.” I feel a sense of relief when this happens…this time I felt vindicated in my decision a couple years ago not to engage with people Sutton defines as assholes. The premise of the book is very neatly summed up in the title. Sutton advocates that organizations not tolerate “assholes”. If an organization must, only one or two must be allowed and those assholes essentially provide an example for other employees as to how not to behave and as an example of how assholes within the organization are punished.
Sutton begins by defining what the characteristics of an asshole are. He gracefully acknowledges that we all have our asshole moments (states). He outlines asshole behavior as a consistent pattern (traits), not a one-time episode. A simple test to assess if someone is acting like an asshole is 1) if an interaction with the alleged asshole leaves the other individual is left feeling humiliated, oppressed or belittled and 2) if the alleged asshole directs her or his malice toward people s/he perceives to have less power, rather than more. Sutton goes on to list the “Dirty Dozen” methods assholes generally use to demean their targets.
Sutton presents convincing evidence of the economic costs to an organization/business that hires and retains an asshole. These costs materialize in the form of high employee turnover, an unwillingness for other organizations or businesses to work with the “asshole”, reputational damage and the propensity for otherwise good employees to act out (stealing, decreased effort) in the presence of an asshole. Sutton goes on to assert that companies would do well to entwine the no asshole rule into hiring and firing policies and organization mission and vision statements. He repeatedly advocates for action behind the words, in these cases…in other words, do not say what you do not enforce.
Sutton ends with counsel on reigning in your own inner asshole (whether it be states or traits) and on how to deal with an asshole if you are in the unenviable position of working with one. The book provided a lovely archway through which we (book club participants) could walk through and commiserate about past experiences, provide feedback on current situations and talk about what we’ve done in the presence of an asshole. For me, personally, as I’ve said, it’s validated what has become a personal and professional mainstay for me. I highly recommend this book…to assholes, non-assholes and occasional assholes. There is definitely much to think about…the way we treat people, the way we like to be treated, what is actually the most effective organizational strategy and what we want and deserve from our professional and personal interactions.
Guest post by Lindsay Pingel, Director of Community Engagement, Iowa Coalition Against Domestic Violence.
Finding the perfect pair of jeans … THE STRUGGLE IS REAL!!! Time, energy, research, trial and error often go in to the process. On top of that, there are so many characteristics to look for – comfort, versatility, dressy vs. casual, dark vs. light denim, slim fit, flare, durable … the list goes on and on. The process can sometimes seem never ending, but when you finally find the pair – the PERFECT pair – the energy, confidence and fulfillment you feel is worth the wait.
This same process can be used to create and define the culture of an organization. No matter what size, type or arena your business aligns with, all institutions have a mission, vision and core principles that define its culture. Trends, traits, time periods and people can alter these characteristics at different times, but at its core, the culture remains the same.
As a job seeker or long-term team member of an organization, it is important to know what kind of workplace culture is best for you before you accept a job or as you continue to grow within an organization. Some things to consider are:
The mission, vision and values of the organization. If you can’t align with the core values of an institution, it probably isn’t the right place for you.
Leadership. Does your director/manager practice what they preach and empower their team to grow and illustrate the core values of the organization?
Flexibility. What does flex time, PTO and/or sick pay look like? Is there flexibility within your position to set your hours as personal priorities, networking invitations and/or professional development opportunities come up?
Autonomy. Micro-managing can stifle an employee’s productivity and create frustrations for staff. Allowing autonomy for individuals can open the door for individual leadership that will directly benefit an organization.
Open communication is encouraged. From the top to the bottom, communication is encouraged. Leadership keeps their staff “in the know,” and encourages open dialogue to brainstorm, find solutions to internal/external concerns, and most importantly, be heard.
Happy people. If staff are happy, enjoy what they do, like their colleagues, and are excited to come to work each day, well, who doesn’t want to work at a place like that?!
Like the perfect pair of jeans, different tactics and traits are taken into consideration when an institution defines its workplace culture. This process takes time, strong leadership, employee buy-in, growing pains … the list goes on and on. But in the end, when an institution defines its culture, new opportunities, personal/professional fulfillment, and countless possibilities for future endeavors will emerge and be worth the work and wait.