Welcome to the PWN Board, Mindy Kayser Vice President of Community Engagement, Mercy Medical Center Foundation

Mindy Kayser recently joined PWN in 2021 and we made such a great impression 🙂 she decided to commit to joining the board. We are so excited to have her!

Mindy has more than 20 years of nonprofit administration, marketing, communications and fundraising experience.

Her prior work history includes leadership roles with Operation Threshold (Waterloo), The Salvation Army (Cedar Rapids) and most recently before Mercy, Goodwill of the Heartland as Vice President of Marketing (Eastern Iowa). She started with the Mercy Foundation in October of 2020. Her role with Mercy focuses on creating greater awareness of the Foundation, including donor communication and promotion of hospital needs and giving opportunities. She also works with donors on making planned gifts.

Mindy holds an undergraduate degree in journalism and mass communications from Drake University and a master’s degree in public policy from the University of Northern Iowa.

Mindy lives in Cedar Rapids with her family. Her favorite pastime is supporting her three boys in their interests and activities. She also enjoys volunteering for the causes she cares about.

Fun Fact: She has three rescue pugs – one for each of her boys.

Please introduce yourself at our next PWN Meeting on January 27th.


Find ‘The Want’! A Letter from our President, Jamie Meyers

Hello PWN Ladies!

THANK YOU for joining us on this ride that we will call 2022.  My name is Jamie Meyers, and I am THRILLED to be your President for the year.  We are starting off this new year by hopefully sharing some stories, some funny tidbits, and some of our hearts with all of you to grow together as one amazing group of badass women of PWN!  So … cheers to the revival of our blog! 

I want to start things off by saying most days I start typing something and I lose track of the first reason I started typing something, I start retyping a different topic, and then eventually remember the reason and come right back to that initial something … so enjoy the brain dump!  

There is something about starting a new year that feels like magic.  We know it is exciting … we get another chance to make the MOST out of the next 365 days.  We set goals, we set resolutions, we set goals and resolutions in our heads for our kids and spouses, then February 1st hits.  We find ourselves in the hamster wheel of our life and once again lose sight of the new promises, new resolutions, new goals we just set one short month ago.  What if there was a way, we could just choose to stay OFF the hamster wheel?????  OR at the very least … choose when we need to get off of the hamster wheel for just a brief moment to eat a carrot (or a taco in my case) and just breathe. 

My friends … we totally can do this!!!!!  I typed into google “What does it mean to have intentions?” and believe it or not, I hear the google-nator knows all. It answered me back with “to plan or want to (do something): to intend to (do something)”.  What about that???  It’s the WANT that maybe is the first step.  As yourself one question … What is 1 thing you WANT to change about your day?  You want to have more work-life balance, you want more time to read, you want to exercise, you want to go on vacation.  Ok … I feel your wants!  NOW … figure out the “next right thing to do” in order to put that want into motion.  Only YOU can define this next right thing.  Once you accomplish that … then get to the “next right thing” … and so on.  Go get after it, my friends!  Get off the hamster wheel with your want, keep your promise to yourself, grab your taco or carrot, and breathe.

I’ll leave you with this … we have a YEAR to accomplish our goals for this YEAR, so don’t go try to achieve all your life-long goals and aspirations by March … you’ll be tired … I’ll be tired … we’ll all be tired ?.  We are a powerhouse group of women who need to be there to help each other, build each other up, and push through this journey together.  

Keep rocking your January and 2022!


2021-2022 PWN Scholarship Foundation Recipients

It is our pleasure to announce this year’s PWN Scholarship Foundation Award Recipients for the 2021-2022 school year. As it is every year, it was no easy task to determine this year’s winners and we are honored to have these brave women share their stories with us.

Dawn Atkins, Cedar Rapids, IA
While reading Dawn’s story, you learn about her journey as a single mother who against all obstacles has persevered and is finishing her bachelor’s degree. She has had quite the journey up until now and although the story has been put on pause a few times, finishing school has always been on the top of her mind. After graduation, Dawn plans to seek a position where she can make an impact in a domestic shelter to help people heal. Dawn is a true champion, and we celebrate her tenacity and determination!

Meredith Galloro, Newhall, IA
Meredith is studying Human Resources Management and attends Mount Mercy University. She is employed by Second Story Promotions as a Sales Support Manager. Meredith shared in her essay, “A scholarship would be incredibly impactful to me at this time in my life. I run a single-parent household and although I am very practical with finances, I do not want my pursuit of a degree to disrupt my child’s life. Meredith’s goal continues to be to “learn as much as I can, diversify my skills/talents to be an ideal employee, grow in my career (both in development and salary), and impact those around me positively.” We are proud to help this rockstar pursue her goals. Congrats Meredith!

Rosemary Hibbs, Spencer IA
Rosemary is studying Healthcare Leadership at Mt. Mercy University plus working full-time as the Director of Nursing while transitioning to an Administrator at Longhouse-Northshire Care Centers.
In her essay, she shared, “I will be working full-time as an Administrator while taking continuous classes to obtain my bachelor’s degree. I have been working hard to manage my time to keep up with work, school, and family life. Having to keep my physical and emotional well-being in check has been challenging at times. This scholarship will help me decrease some of the burdens of paying for my classes and help with day-to-day expenses.” We feel fortunate to help Rosemary and appreciate her sharing her story with us.

Stephanie Kronlage, Washington, IA
Stephanie is studying Healthcare Leadership at Mt. Mercy University. Stephanie shares, “Returning to college in my late 30’s was something I never thought would happen, let alone, to going to college to get a bachelor’s degree. My road to pursuing a bachelor’s degree has been a long one, but one that I am blessed to be taking.” Stephanie’s career trajectory exploded when she was given an exciting opportunity to become the Assistant Executive Director at Lutheran Living Senior Campus in 2019. She shares, “Upon accepting the position, it was determined that I would indeed need to work towards and receive my bachelor’s degree to sit for the exam of the Iowa Board of Nursing Home Administrators. The accelerated program at MMU worked best with my busy schedule. The program allows me to continue to maintain my busy work schedule, attend my kid’s sporting events, and spend occasional downtime with my husband, all while providing education that will set me up for success for the rest of my career. Congrats Stephanie, we wish you all the best!!

Staci Vigil, Cedar Rapids, IA
Staci is studying finance at Mount Mercy University and is a Finance Analyst at the DoubleTree by Hilton in Cedar Rapids. Through furlough beginning in March 2020 from DoubleTree, she worried that she would not return to her position and after many signs, decided to reach out to Mt. Mercy; although it was not easy with fear and failure looming in her mind, she overcame the negative thoughts and risked a lot to return to school to earn her bachelor’s degree while returning to work. Staci shares, “The journey and adventure are only beginning for my family and I can’t wait to graduate in 2023 and have that final reminder that this is all worth it!” Congrats Staci, we are excited to see what your future holds!!

PWN February 2021 Virtual General Meeting: Change Blows: Leading through the mess with Courtney Smock

Join us this Thursday, February 25th as we hear from Courtney Smock, Founding Partner of SlingShot25.
When the winds of change blow hard enough, the most trivial of things can become deadly projectiles. That’s because every person touched by the change will react based on their personal thoughts and feelings – even when those thoughts and feelings seem hopelessly irrational.

This session teaches us that helping people move through change is not an exercise in logic and reasoning. Rather, the key is to consider feelings “data” and use that data to care for people (Yes, we said care) and be the leader they need most during the messiest of times.

When the winds of change blow, some people build walls and others build windmills.” – Chinese proverb.


New Year, New Board

We are thrilled to introduce the PWN Board for 2021; but first, we would like to extend our gratitude to the board members who have given of their time and themselves and have successfully completed their terms with us.

Jillianne Moore and Kara Patton have been on the board since 2015 (two years past the original three-year commitment mind you, so bonus points for the extra support). Over the past five years, we have seen a lot of change with our small but mighty group and we appreciate that they are a part of the PWN story.

Sarah Specht will continue to be on the board one final year, as the outgoing Board President. We appreciate her leadership and dedication as she took on this role during a pandemic, with kiddos at home going to school, as well as helping us pivot to online meetings, all the while, studying for her Certified Financial Planner exam and starting her own new side hustle with Modere. It is proof that her commitment to our mission of “Women Helping Women” runs deep.

Now to introduce the 2021 Executive Board:
President: Ashley Leverty
Vice President: Jamie Meyers
Treasurer: Sarah Murphy
Secretary: Cyanna Boggess
Past President 2020: Sarah Specht

Board Members:
Jessie Fergesen 
Courtney Misener
Lenchen Raeside
Ashlee Vander Hoek

Jessie and Ashlee are new to the PWN Board this year, so here is a little more about them. 

Jessie Fergesen is the Senior Director of Corporate Sales and Marketing for the Cedar Rapids Kernels and the Waterloo Bucks. Jessie has been a PWN member since 2019 and her commitment to our community is impressive; we are truly fortunate to have her join the PWN Board.

Ashlee Vander Hoek is a Wealth Management Banker with US Bank since March 2020. She has been with US Bank for 7.5 years, where she started as a Retail Banker and moved up to Branch Manager before taking the Wealth Management role. She is brand new to PWN this year; she was introduced to our amazing group by Kara Patton.

We do believe fully that we will convene in real life in 2021, but until then, do not hesitate to contact any of our board members directly and get to know them better.

PWN Featured Member, Melissa Miller

We are excited to announce that we are reintroducing our PWN Featured Member piece to the newsletter.

Our first participant is Melissa Miller, Owner of Office Evolution, a shared workspace for professionals. Melissa joined PWN two years ago; she is a positively genuine influencer within our community.

Let’s learn a little about Melissa!

When asked who is the one PWN presenter that has really spoke to you and why? She states, “I love listening to Courtney Misener. She has so much knowledge to share and does it in a very fun and interactive way to keep everyone engaged.”

How are you coping with quarantine? “Quarantine life has been hard! I miss people. I miss restaurants. I miss my hairstylist!! I’ve been dealing (or not dealing) by trying to be more mindful, slowing down to breathe, doing yoga, ordering take out, doing lots of baking (and drinking), and having virtual social calls…which just isn’t the same but will have to do!”

What’s the first thing you will do when life returns to “normal”? “The first thing will be to get on my hair stylist’s calendar! After that, I can’t wait to sit on a patio with friends and family with some good food and drinks.”

Thanks, Melissa I feel like our hairstylists are all going to get a lot of love as soon as we are allowed to resume our real lives. If you would like to learn more about Melissa, send her a message to connect.

January 2020 General Meeting

Jo Miller, Reimage Your Leadership Brand

Today we kicked off PWN’s 41st year with a bang! We introduced our board members, celebrated our Woman of the Year, Courtney Misener and heard from professional keynote speaker Jo Miller, CEO of Be Leaderly.

Jo recently launched her book, Women of Influence: 9 Steps to Build Your Brand, Establish Your Legacy, and Thrive (published by McGraw-Hill on December 13, 2019) and it is available for purchase on Amazon. She also recently introduced her new website jomiller.com that she would love for you to check out.

Thank you to everyone who took time out of their day to join us. We hope to see you again in February.


Spotlight on the 2019-2020 PWN Scholarship Foundation Award Recipients

2019-2020 PWN Scholarship Foundation Award Recipients

This year we received 19 PWN Scholarship Foundation applications, all detailing stories of inspiration and devotion to education, as well as balancing work and home life. We are fortunate to have so many hardworking women in our community who are pursuing their education goals.

We are pleased to spotlight the 2019-2020 PWN Scholarship Foundation award recipients.

Ashley Leverty recently returned to Iowa State University working towards a bachelor’s degree in Liberal Sciences with an emphasis on Kinesiology and Management. Ashley has served on the PWN Board since January 2018; she is also the Director of Golf for Veterans, an annual fundraising golf event for the National Disabled Veterans TEE Tournament, the weeklong event promotes rehabilitation by instructing veterans with visual impairments and other life-changing disabilities in adaptive golf. 

Her courage to return to school, while working full-time and volunteering does not go unnoticed. She is a valuable member of our team, and we are cheering her on as she continues her college journey. Congratulations Ashley.

Brenda Lansing has returned to school after 30 years to pursue her bachelor’s degree in Healthcare Administration at Mount Mercy University. She has worked in healthcare her entire career and is currently the Patient Services Manager at Unity Point Health. She enjoys mentoring people to help them see their true potential.

Brenda works in a full-time leadership position, which sometimes requires long hours, along with managing and balancing family but she is thriving and has been successful in achieving a 4.0 GPA since her return to school. Way to go Brenda. Thank you for sharing your story with us.

Our next award winner, Katie McGowan, was referred to our scholarship program by one of last year’s dynamic recipients, Erin Young.

Katie has returned to school to pursue a degree in Healthcare Administration at the University of Dubuque. Along with being a single mom of three children, two of whom have special needs, Katie works two jobs and donates plasma to support her family. She wants to complete her education journey so that she may have opportunities for professional growth and development at St. Lukes, where she is employed as a Financial Counselor and Scheduling Specialist. Katie your passion and determination will help you soar in school and in life. Thank you for letting us be a small part of your story.

Melanie Dilly is our next award recipient. Her story is certainly one of inspiration. She found her way back to school and is earning her bachelor’s degree from the University of Northern Iowa; next year, she and her daughter will walk across the commencement stage, graduating at the same time.

She has volunteered internationally to aid victims of hurricanes and even adopted two young girls from the Iowa Foster program. Her education story continues as she looks to pursue her master’s degree in public health following receiving her diploma. Melanie’s love of learning, working hard, and serving others was instilled upon her by her father, who in memory, continues to empower and inspire her.

Introducing Nouran Othman, our next award winner. Nouran completed high school during the Syrian civil war. After she earned her diploma, she worked a variety of jobs and even established a Girl Scout Troup at a Syrian refugee camp.

She wanted to continue her education after high school, but it was simply not possible as she needed to help support her family.

The opportunity presented itself for Nouran to come to the United States and even though she knew she would miss her family terribly; she took the leap and now lives, learns and works here in Iowa.

Nouran attends the University of Northern Iowa and is earning her bachelor’s degree in Accounting, as she has always loved numbers. Between working full-time at Veridian Credit Union and completing her degree, her life is very busy.  Nouran has been inspired and empowered by a variety of determined, hardworking women and plans to motivate other women as she fulfills her dream of earning her college degree. Nouran, your story truly filled our hearts with pride, thank you for sharing your journey this far; we know you will do amazing things in the future.

Tracy Timmons is the final award recipient for the 2019-2020 scholarship year. Tracy attends Mount Mercy University and her major is Human Resources Management. She is employed at Collins Community Credit Union and was inspired to return to school after attending a professional development opportunity with the credit union. She began classes in 2018 as part of their Adult Accelerated Program; she has been on the Deans List and offered membership into the National Honors Society. Tracy is a working mom of two, wife, and student; this scholarship she receives will help alleviate some financial burden of her college expenses. Congrats Tracy on your hard work and determination, we celebrate you!

The 2020-2021 scholarship application will be available to complete soon. Please help us spread the word about this opportunity. Contact Laura Kamienski for further information regarding the Professional Women’s Network Scholarship Foundation or how to make a tax-deductible donation.

Professional Women’s Network of Eastern Iowa has been helping the community for 40 years!

Professional Women’s Network, Inc (PWN) announces its 40th anniversary as a driving force on women helping women in the Cedar Rapids/Iowa City corridor.

PWN was founded by Jean Kruse, Liz Sparks, and Carolyn Stephens in November of 1979 with the intent of growing their professional networks, as many opportunities during this era were focused solely on male networking.

Over the years, PWN has provided opportunities for networking, education, and leadership training to women in our community.

The organization has been a supporter of the PWN Scholarship Foundation, which was established to financially assist non-traditional women students. Through this foundation, scholarships are awarded annually to women who are local, non-traditional students pursuing their college education.

We are pleased to announce the award recipients for the 2019-2020 academic year.

Ashley Leverty, Iowa State University
Brenda Lansing, Mt. Mercy University
Katie McGowan, University of Dubuque
Melanie Dilly, University of Northern Iowa
Nouran Othman, University of Northern Iowa
Tracy Timmons, Mt. Mercy University

We invite you to join us at PWN Presents: A Celebration of Women Helping Women annual breakfast event where the scholarship recipients will be presented with awards.

We will also hear from UnityPoint President and CEO, Michelle Niermann, who will share her personal leadership journey and help attendees identify a clear answer as to why and how they should map their own journey.

This celebration will be emceed by CBS2 news anchor Karen Fuller and held on Thursday, September 26, at the Hotel Kirkwood beginning with a full breakfast buffet at 7:30 am. The event is presented by UnityPoint Health, Hills Bank, and Professional Women’s Network. Individual tickets for the public are $40.00 and corporate table sponsorships are currently available at www.pwnia.org.