Group of Future Leaders in Iowa Looks to Increase Diversity

Jun 1, 2017

The Des Moines chapter of a national organization aimed at recruiting and training young leaders is intensifying efforts to diversify the group. It will begin with stronger outreach efforts into underrepresented parts of the community.

Nationally, the New Leaders Council has set a goal of attracting a group that is 60 percent non-white and 55 percent female. To achieve this locally, the director of the Des Moines NLC, Nathan Erickson, says a diversity chair has been appointed and an advisory council established. Erickson says the key is building personal relationships with a more diverse crowd.

“You know, going to community festivals, parades, farmers’ markets in neighborhoods where we may not live, or may not often frequent,” he says.

Erickson says the organization is attempting to deepen the pool from which candidates are drawn.

“It just requires the group and individuals be intentional about the networks we’re building," he says. "Really challenging ourselves to build personal relationships with all parts of Des Moines.”

Each year, as many as 20 NLC Fellows are selected to undergo five months of training to become young, progressive leaders in the state. Erickson says recruitment efforts have already started for the 2018 class of NLC Fellows. Sixty percent of the 2017 class in Des Moines was female. But it was short on minorities.