2013 Forty Under 40 Winner: Keegan Kautzky
Thursday, February 28, 2013 3:29 PM
Age 31 | Director of national education programs,
The World Food Prize Foundation
Keegan Kautzky took some advice from Norman Borlaug about 13 years ago, and he hasn’t had a lot of sleep since.
The run-up to events at the World Food Prize and meeting deadlines for its various education programs means little time for sleep. But Kautzky seems little intimidated. In fact, when he talks about the foundation’s mission of feeding the world’s hungry, he is fresh and full of enthusiasm.
“We always hear from people how we changed their life. That is why we don’t get tired; we don’t get worn down,” Kautzky said.
Kautzky said he was a college student with an interest in political science and international affairs when he met Borlaug. The famed agronomist wanted to know what the young college student planned to do with his life. Kautzky replied that he was interested in philanthropy.
“He said you can’t make a difference in the world until you understand what is happening and understand the realities of what we are facing … until you know the depth, you can’t make a contribution,” Kautzky said. “At the end of it, he concluded that I wasn’t doing enough with my life.”
Borlaug told Kautzky to return to Iowa State University, change his major, and that the next time the two met, Borlaug wanted to know “how we are going to change the world.”
Borlaug also told Kautzky to go to South Africa, and he did, telling his mother and grandmother that he probably wouldn’t be returning to Iowa.
Then he received a phone call from Kenneth Quinn, president of the World Food Prize Foundation. He said that among Borlaug’s wishes for the foundation was to establish programs for high school and college students that would provide insights into poverty and hunger.
Five reasons he’s a 40:
• Led the World Food Prize Foundation’s national expansion.
• Leveraged a $750,000 program budget to attract $3 million in investments and matching funds for educational, research and science, technology, engineering and math training for high school students and teachers.
• Advised the National Council on Agricultural Education and the National FFA Organization in developing the first global strategy for agriculture education in the United States.
• Founder and chairman of Pages of Promise, a student-run charity that collects textbooks and other reading materials in the United States and distributes them in sub-Saharan Africa.
• Member of the Community Food Security Coalition.
Mentor: Kenneth Quinn, president of the World Food Prize Foundation
Fun fact: Kautzky planned to settle in South Africa.
Presenting the 2013 winners:
Desmund Adams, Principal, AdamsDouglas
Lindsay Alderman, Client operations manager, LightEdge Solutions Inc.
Erica Axiotis, Director of development, Mercy Foundation
Kate Banasiak, President and CEO, Diversified Management Services Inc.
Erin Beamis, Senior vice president of logistics and operations, IronWorks
Jonathan Brendemuehl, Marketing events coordinator, Bankers Trust Co.
Curtis Brown, Economic development director, city of Ankeny
Matt Connolly, President, Generation Green Builders Co.
Lawrence Cunningham, Director of business development, Catchfire Media LLC
Angela Dethlefs-Trettin, Director of community investment and initiatives, Community Foundation of Greater Des Moines
Josh Fleming, Digital strategy director, Lessing-Flynn Advertising Co.
Felix Gallagher, Principal, PharmServ Solutions
Lori Gelhaar, Director of career services/
corporate relations, Kaplan University
Tina Gray Carstensen, Marketing coordinator, Shive-Hattery Inc.
Shane Greenleaf, Vice president/commercial banker, First American Bank
Danielle Haindfield, Shareholder attorney, Ahlers & Cooney P.C.
Emily Harris, Patent attorney and shareholder at Davis Brown Law Firm
Matthew Harris, Division administrator, Iowa Arts Council, Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs
Angela Hilbert, Sales and marketing director, Deerfield Retirement Community
Joey Hinke, President, Miller, Fidler & Hinke Insurance Agency Inc.
Hannah Inman, Director of communications, Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation
Keegan Kautzky, Director of national education programs, The World Food Prize Foundationn
John Lozier, Pediatric interventional cardiologist, Pediatric Cardiology P.C.
Dennis McDaniel, Police chief, Windsor Heights
Rachel McLean, Vice president/consultant, Ruan Cos
John Mickelson, Associate managing director, The PrivateBank & Trust Co.
Keith Olson, Commercial associate, NAI Ruhl & Ruhl Commercial Co.
Matt Ostanik, President, Submittal Exchange LLC
Benjamin Page, Director, Des Moines park and recreation
Dustin Peterson, Partner, McGladrey LLP
Nick Renkoski, Director of marketing and communications, Des Moines Metro Opera
Rachel Rowley, Partner, BrownWinick PLC
John Ruan IV, Vice president, financial institutions, Bankers Trust Co.
Jennifer Soma, Business lead, IDI Actuarial and Product Development Group, Principal Financial Group Inc.
Heather Starr, Real estate agent, RE/MAX Innovations
Aimee Staudt, Director of development, Knapp Properties Inc.
Courtney Strutt Todd, Shareholder attorney, Davis Brown Law Firm
Nikki Sylverson, Event Director, Des Moines Wine Festival Foundation
Howard Tempero, Experience design strategist, Spindustry Digital
Tony Timm, Executive director, Central Iowa Shelter & Services