It all started when…
On October 24, 2010, in front of over 500 people packed into the sanctuary of First United Methodist Church in downtown Des Moines, AMOS announced the formation of a new workforce development organization; Project IOWA (Iowa Opportunities for Workforce Advancement).
On the stage, that day were the 13 original founding board members of Project IOWA. It was a who’s who of political, religious and business leaders from central Iowa. Included in that group was G. David Hurd, the former President and CEO of Principal Financial Group.
I had first met David a year before through his church, First Unitarian in Des Moines. First Unitarian was an active member of AMOS and their pastor, the Rev. Mark Stringer, was a critical early leader in the formation of Project IOWA.
Mark introduced me to David and within 5 minutes of our meeting I knew that David was a person of immense humility and quiet wisdom. Remarkably it felt to me like he was an untapped resource, available and willing to help. So I asked for it and he gladly gave it every step of the way.
I asked David to make introduction between AMOS and the CEO’s of Des Moines. I knew with David’s prompting, doors would be open, and indeed they were. For the next several weeks we visited the executive offices of Des Moines’ most influential CEO’s and top executives.
From Meredith to Principal to Bankers Trust to American Republic, David took us on a tour of these landmark Des Moines businesses, and at each meeting he would personally give his endorsement of Project IOWA. At the end of nearly every meeting, those CEO’s would make a point of thanking David for his leadership in their city and the huge role he played in re-making the corporate landscape of Des Moines. He would just smile and quietly thank them.
His leadership extended to those early, anxious-filled months of Project IOWA’s development. We had no track record, no office, no full time staff and very little money. However, the fact that people like David were on the board spoke volumes to the outside world. It was one of the critically important reasons why Project IOWA survived. People would look at the names of the Founding Board and say, “Wow. That’s an impressive list of supporters.” David’s name was one they would always mention.
Frequently I would ask David for his counsel when things looked more grim than usual.
“Get the results and the money will follow,” he would say, “Focus on the results.”
I asked him why he was so sure of himself and he said, “I’m not sure, but when you get to be my age, you have to trust that what’s worked before will work again.”
It did work again. Project IOWA did survive and in fact, thrive. The Governor and Legislature did approve the money they promised. Our first class of ten welders did graduate, did get jobs and we did what we said we would do.
We held our first every graduation ceremony for those trainees on September 4, 2012 at Corinthian Baptist Church. They got up one by one, told their stories, accepted their certificates and talked about a bright future in front of AMOS leaders and their friends and family. We all held back tears.
David sat close to the front smiling most of the night.
David's dedication and support of Project IOWA continued after his death through the generosity of his friends and family. "Rather than flowers, Dave would be honored with memorials to Project Iowa, or Youth & Shelter Services, Inc. (YSS)."