Kay Neumann-Thomas Leaves Behind Legacy of Kindness, Positivity

September 14, 2018 | The times keep a-changing

Kay Neumann-Thomas is unabashedly a keeper of quotes. But one quote from her mother has stuck with her all these years. It has served as a direction on life: “Always act with kindness.”

In many ways, Neumann-Thomas has lived up to that sentiment.

Neumann-Thomas’ 20-year career with the Iowa Association of Business and Industry is coming to an end this month, but her kindness and heartfelt work ethic will stick around for many years to come. Neumann-Thomas has served as the ABI Foundation’s vice president of programs, overseeing the Foundation and its programs geared toward developing Iowa’s business and civic leaders, college students and high school students.

Before Neumann-Thomas started at ABI in 1998, she had a 25-year career in television, working at stations in the Des Moines area. Her daughter, a high schooler at the time, finished the Business Horizons program, the ABI Foundation’s weeklong personal and professional development program for Iowa high school students, and was buzzing.

“I was totally impressed with the program and staff,” Neumann-Thomas said. “When my daughter completed the program, she said it was the best week of her summer, which is a pretty high compliment.”

A few months later, Neumann-Thomas heard from a friend about an opening as the director of that very same Business Horizons program. She was looking for a change in careers, and the spot felt like a perfect fit.

“I wanted something that would be meaningful and have a positive impact on individuals, our community and our state,” Neumann-Thomas said. Neumann-Thomas has been at ABI ever since, gradually adding more programs to her list of responsibilities. And she’s seen success. Under her guidance, Leadership Iowa has seen a record number of applicants, Business Horizons has started additional career-focused tracks, and the Leadership Iowa University program for college students recently celebrated its 10th year of success.

As she transitions out of her role, Neumann-Thomas is hesitant to say she’s retiring but is excited to have more time to spend with her family.

“The R-word [retirement] scares me a little bit because I don’t feel quite ready to retire,” she said with a laugh. “I’ll spend more time with my family, and I still want to remain involved with ABI and the ABI Foundation.”