The new president of the Iowa Jaycees is the first ever to come from Dubuque. Chris Wand says his job as an architect already had him feeling strong ties to his community. He says the Jaycees, originally called the Junior Chamber of Commerce, have always been strong in the organization’s 63 years in Dubuque. Wand says even as a kid he was dimly aware of their work and when he was asked to join, he jumped at the chance — ten years ago.
Wand insists he didn’t start out as an outgoing person. He says it depends on how much time and effort you want to put into it, and he’s put in a lot of time and taken on leadership roles, even forcing himself to do things he didn’t really feel like doing. He says it’s helped in his career as an architect, as public speaking’s made him better at talking with clients. He’s also met a lot of decision-makers, and taken on other volunteer work with historic preservation and the Main Street redevelopment program.
With such an active history, why has Dubuque never produced a president for the 77-year-old organization? Wand says the reason is: geography. A president of the group, with its 30 chapters and 2,200 members across the state, is on the road a lot visiting with other chapters and helping them with their events, projects and training. He points out that getting to Sioux City or Council Bluffs is “a pretty good haul” from Dubuque.
That’s why he thinks the “east coast and west coast” of the state aren’t too often among communities contributing leaders. It’s a lot of time and travel to commit — Wand says last year he traveled about 30-thousand miles for the Jaycees. They’ll hold a leadership conference in April in Des Moines, primarily to help teach and develop communications skills that help members talk to reporters, city councils, and on the job as well. He also hopes to start a few new chapters in some parts of Iowa that don’t already have one.
Wand would also like to see the Jaycees take on a leadership role in this year’s elections. He wants to see young people get involved, especially in a year when we’ll elect a governor, and perhaps do a statewide -get-out-the-vote campaign. Wand says the young aren’t well represented. Since the Jaycees represent people forty and under, that’s who he hopes to mobilize.