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A Closer Look: Randy Yontz


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What is your No. 1 goal for the Leadership Institute?

We want to make sure that the institute becomes an excellent leadership program that will help the community lead people to get involved in the community. With the growth of Waukee, there ought to be eight or so people running for the city council or for the school board, and we are not getting that right now, so we need people to get involved and understand what the city is all about. And the growth has been phenomenal; Waukee is the fastest-growing city in the state. There are great things happening in the community, so we just want to make sure that we are doing some things to encourage people to get active.

How did you land the executive director position at the Waukee Leadership Institute?

I took it over simply because the former executive director all of a sudden ended up moving to Michigan because of some job situations, and so I ended up landing that position. I’ve always been involved in volunteer work and very active in church work, so I’ve always been active in other things than work.

You were a member of the Leadership Institute. How was that experience?

Well, we have lived in Waukee for some time and I have always been active in community affairs, so consequently when the Waukee Institute began, the mayor was the one that actually encouraged me to take the class because he liked to see me involved. I guess what I took away from it was having a much better understanding of where Waukee was, how much it has grown, and then looking at the projections of what is going to happen.

You’re also the state advocate for the American Heart Association. How does your experience there transfer into your work for the Leadership Institute?

Well, both are all about working with people. People say to me, “How do you stand to work up at the Capitol?” and I just say, “They are real people.” It’s a people business. Do I always agree with them? Maybe not, but that doesn’t mean that on another issue that is coming up that they won’t support me. You don’t make enemies, you befriend all of them regardless of what party it is, and that’s probably the most difficult thing, because if you’re involved with one party and they are another, whether it’s the majority or minority party, you still have to maintain relationships, and I do my best to make sure that they don’t know what party I support.

What was your first job ever and how old were you?

Well I grew up in a farm community in Indiana, so baling hay and hoeing beans and all that kind of stuff was the thing to do to get a job, so that is what I did. It was big money back in that time, but at that time we could get paid even when we were in elementary school. But my first full-time career was actually when I moved to Des Moines and worked for Meredith Corp. for Better Homes and Gardens; that’s why I ended up in Iowa. I was there 27 years and I became the associate art director for Better Homes and Gardens books and then pre-press production manager. But after 27 years, I was downsized and caught up in that ordeal. Then I went into printing sales and I basically kind of got downsized there, too. Then somebody asked me once, “What do you really want to do?” and I really thought about that. If there was really something that I wanted to do, I wanted to work for a service organization, and (the American Heart Association) is probably the best job I ever had. I mean it was great working at Meredith, but this was a very rewarding position because you’re saving lives and teaching people that heart disease and stroke is something you can control.

What are some of your hobbies?

I like to ride bike and play golf. I’m a fair-weather golfer. And family, I enjoy family. I also do a lot of reading. I’m not reading a book right now because about the only reading I’m doing is anything to do with the Legislature and keeping up with that, but I’m usually a nonfiction reader.

What’s your greatest accomplishment?

It’s really for the Heart Association: getting the tobacco tax passed and getting the smoke-free bill passed.

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