Ames EDC

Leadership Ames: harnessing the potential of local difference-makers

September 28, 2016

As one of the Ames Chamber of Commerce’s longest-standing programs, I truly believe Leadership Ames is among the most valuable things we do as Ames’ business organization. With this fall marking the beginning of its 30th year, I wanted to take the opportunity to showcase the leadership program which has encouraged, trained, and enriched the backgrounds of hundreds of Story County professionals.

Leadership Ames serves many purposes. At its core, the program is designed to expose participants to the vibrant and dynamic community of Ames and showcase all that it has to offer. The program was created by the Ames Chamber of Commerce to develop informed, involved and concerned local leaders. Leadership Ames gives both experienced and developing leaders a broader view of civic leadership responsibilities and opportunities through direct contact with a wide spectrum of institutions and people who shape our community.

The class sizes vary year-to-year but are typically from 16 to 22 participants who are members of the Ames Chamber of Commerce, have an interest in leadership roles and community service and who reside in the Story County area. A committee reviews the written applications and essay questions looking to select a class with a variety of ages; stages of careers and equal representation of business, professional, non-profit and local residents.

The nine-month program includes a series of tours, presentations and group exercises centered around one topic for each session. Topics include non-profits, leadership development, healthcare, agriculture, Iowa State University, community schools, state and county government, community development and quality of life. In addition to participating in each session, the class is expected to organize a community service project that betters a segment of the community or Ames as a whole.

One of the most recent class projects that you have probably noticed around Ames is the colorful statues of CY. Leadership Ames Class XXVII founded CyclONE City, a “tour” of life-sized Cy statues throughout the community, as a fundraiser to support local Ames charities and create a scholarship to Iowa State University for an Ames resident. Class XXIX completed several different service projects that benefited causes such as The Ames Main Street Lighting Project, Boys and Girls Club of Story County, The Octagon Center for the Arts and our shared-use trail system here in Ames.

It’s our hope that after graduation from the program, Leadership Ames participants and alumni will be inspired to immerse themselves in causes they are passionate about and feel prepared to take on more prominent leadership roles within Story County.

This can and does take many forms. For some, it may be the call to action to run for elective office. For others it may ignite the desire to seek an appointment to one of the numerous opportunities there are to serve on a board or commission with the city of Ames. For others, it may provide the foundation to volunteer at their church or service club. It might even help a person assert themselves more in their place of work. Whatever path our alumni choose, we know that Leadership Ames is often credited with being the catalyst for someone to become more actively involved in something they care about.

Like anything, this program is only as good as the people that participate and those that support it. Fortunately, this program is well-regarded and the applicant pool is always full, which is a strong testament to the people and businesses that have supported it with their applications or their financial resources over the years since inception. Special thanks to our 2017 Leadership Ames corporate sponsor Mary Greeley Medical Center.

If you would like more information on this program or to be notified when applications for Class 31 open, feel free to email Jan Williams at

In celebration of our 30th year, I extend an invitation to any alumni or supporters of the program to attend our “Leaders and Legacy” event on Nov. 17 at Prairie Moon Winery. The event will offer an opportunity to catch up, network and recognize the importance of this valuable program. More details are available at

In closing, Leadership Ames is a program that requires commitment from both the participant and their employer. It requires follow through. I extend thanks on behalf of the Ames Chamber of Commerce and our board of directors to future, current and past participants and their employers for your collective commitment and follow through to the Ames community. We are certainly lucky to have difference-makers like you.

« Back

© 2024 Ames Economic Development Commission. All Rights Reserved.