College Students Find Connection and Inspiration: Congratulations to the Leadership Iowa University Class of 2020!

September 11, 2020 | Breaking the manufacturing ceiling McKenzie Kielman, Marketing & Engagement Coordinator, ABI Foundation,

Leadership Iowa University is a program of the Iowa Association of Business and Industry (ABI) Foundation that develops young leaders as the foundation for Iowa’s future economic growth and encourages their ongoing involvement in local communities and the state to create a better future for all Iowans.

Leadership Iowa University, which transitioned to be virtual this year, took place August 10-13. If you recall, that Monday—the first day of our program—is when Iowa experienced a derecho.

Of the 17 college students who joined us this year for the program, nearly all needed to take shelter. Many were without electricity, internet or cell phone service. For some, this stretched beyond the four-day program.

Participants continued to communicate and adapt despite the difficulties. They were continuously given the option to do what they needed elsewhere. After only three hours ‘as intended’ of the program, the collective consensus was to “continue on”—a present and persistent sentiment for these college students.

In the spring, they dealt with the sudden shift in living and learning as dorms were cleared and classes went online. As they approached the summer, confirmed internships were cancelled, limited or went virtual along with many other plans, programs and opportunities.

However, adversity is not limited to the last six months. Our students and interns come from various locations, interests and experiences. There are many roles each may have beyond a college student or recent graduate such as a partner, sibling, parent, volunteer, entrepreneur, serviceperson and more. In these, they have overcome many challenges.

It is what they all share that is the reason we convene: their desire to persistently pursue their purpose and make a difference as young professionals and emerging leaders.

Those selected for Leadership Iowa University are recommended by Iowa colleges and universities, leaders and organizations and recognized for their commitment to their communities. Throughout the program, we provide the statewide perspective of how each can achieve their personal and professional goals. We’re confident the week met this mark of success still.

We ask you to join us in congratulating our state’s next decision-makers for their superior navigation of this time and continued interest in Iowa’s best. If you are interested in sending a message of encouragement or reaching out personally to any of the students, contact

Leadership Iowa University Class of 2020

Camila Almeida
Iowa State University ‘21
Major: Business Analytics Minor: Technology Consulting

Tristan Berg
Iowa State University ‘21
Major: Psychology

Jeremiah Chandler
Simpson College ‘20
Majors: Business Management & Economics: Finance
Minor: Entrepreneurship

Abbe Chase
Des Moines Area Community College ‘22
Major: Pre-Engineering

Abi Fear
Iowa State University ‘21
Major: Masters in Accounting

Don Michael Gill Jr
Des Moines Area Community College ‘21
Major: Pre-Medicine

Carly Hermosillo
Des Moines Area Community College ‘20
Major: Liberal Arts

Jack Jermano
Central College ‘21
Major: Economics
Minors: Psychology, Math, German

Tannor Kinder
Iowa State University ‘20
Major: Mechanical Engineering

Michael Nguyen
Grand View University ‘20
Major: Management Information Systems Minor: Management

Nic Reid
University of Iowa ‘21
Majors: Computer Science & Engineering

Holly Rigel
University of Northern Iowa ‘22
Major: Psychology Minor: Mental Health

Cami Schaefer
University of Missouri ‘22
Major: Business: Marketing Minor: Economics

Sami Schupanitz
University of Northern Iowa ‘20
Majors: Marketing Advertising & Digital Media
Minor: Entrepreneurship

Nathan Ver Meer
Dordt University ‘22
Major: Mechanical Engineering Minor: Kuyper Honors Program

Claire Ward
Iowa State University ‘22
Majors: Marketing & Supply Chain Management

Taylor Woody
Iowa State University ‘21
Major: Marketing
Minor: Digital Marketing Certificate