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McClelland announces departure from ICON


Maggie McClelland, the director of ICON Water Trails since July 2021, has announced that she will leave the organization to pursue her own consulting business.

McClelland’s last day with ICON will be this Friday, Nov. 11.

She has been working on the project since she joined the Great Outdoors Foundation in January 2020 as project manager for what was then called Central Iowa Water Trails. She was elevated to director of ICON when it was rebranded in July 2021. At the same time, an 80-day fundraising campaign, 80 Days of ICON, was launched to help fund the project, which links more than 80 sites along 150 miles of waterways in Central Iowa.

McClelland said with a bid coming in under budget for the Scott Avenue portion of the project, the time seemed right for her to step aside.

“I’m going to be pursuing a personal passion project,” she said. “I started my own consulting business a couple of years ago and have been doing it on the side, and it seems like a good opportunity for me to pursue it full time and see it grow. And it seemed to be the right time for ICON, too.”

McClelland said it’s a good opportunity not only for her own business to grow, but also for ICON “to get new perspective and new expertise as we move into this next phase. It seems like a natural fit to make this transition.”

ICON is a $125 million initiative that is funded through a combination of public and private dollars, including a $25 million BUILD Grant awarded to the Des Moines Area Metropolitan Planning Organization by the Federal Highway Administration.

The MPO board opened a bid that came in under budget last week for the first phase of the Scott Avenue site improvements, which are intended to create a safer, more user-friendly area for kayaking and fishing. It will also cover the access site at Harriet Street.

Work covered by the BUILD Grant will be bid in three parts. If a contract is awarded, work on the first phase of the Scott Avenue site could begin next year. The MPO board is scheduled to consider awarding the contract at its meeting this afternoon. Look for updates at www.businessrecord.com.

Before she joined the Great Outdoors Foundation and later ICON, McClelland, who has a background in economic development and tourism, worked at the convention and visitor’s bureau in Iowa City, and worked in program and project management for the ITA Group.

She described the past couple of years as a “wild ride,” having joined Great Outdoors Foundation just before the pandemic shut things down, and then watching ICON grow from concept to reality.

“Seeing all the progress and momentum that we’ve had over the past couple of years, it’s been amazing,” McClelland said.

Hannah Inman, CEO of Great Outdoors Foundation, which has overseen the project, will step in as interim director of ICON until a new director is named.

McClelland, a West Des Moines native, said she plans to stay in the Des Moines area.

She’s been grateful to work on a project that will “transform” Central Iowa, she said.

“To be able to work on a project like this in my own backyard has been an honor,” McClelland said. “It’s unheard of to have such a strong public-private partnership working on a project this large … and I can’t wait to see what this thing has in store for the future.”

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