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IRDC Announces Leadership, Executive Committee Changes

As a key leader looks to retirement, the Iowa Rural Development Council (IRDC) executive committee has set a succession plan that will build on the momentum created through four Iowa Rural Summits and a growing membership base.

IRDC, a statewide non-profit focused on rural vitality, has been led since 2016 by board chair Sandy Ehrig, director of Renew Rural Iowa for the Iowa Farm Bureau Federation.  Ehrig has announced her plans to retire from both IFBF and IRDC, though she’ll continue to represent both organizations as Co-Chair for the Empower Rural Iowa initiative.  She will become IRDC’s Immediate-Past-Chair., effective January 1, 2021.

Current IRDC executive committee member Mark Reinig, Economic Development Program Manager at Iowa State University’s Center for Industrial Research and Service (CIRAS), was elected incoming chair, effective 1/1/21.  Reinig is a former president of the Professional Developers of Iowa (PDI) and plays a local leadership role in the region around his Elkader home.  He was also re-appointed recently to a second term on the Empower Rural Iowa task force.

Current Vice-Chair Rand Fisher will continue in that role.  Fisher is President & CEO of Iowa Area Development Group, an economic development organization aligned with rural utilities.

Elected to three-year IRDC executive committee terms, effective Jan 1, were active Council members Kim Didier of Des Moines Area Community College, Ashley Thompson of UnityPoint Health and Troy Weary, ITC Midwest.

Didier, a Newton resident, is Executive Director of DMACC Business Resources, the department of the college that provides economic and workforce development support to the DMACC region. She is also currently PDI president.

Thompson is the director of government & external affairs for UnityPoint Health, the nation’s 13th largest nonprofit health system in America and one of the largest health care providers in Iowa.  A rural Story County resident, Thompson serves as the health system’s legislative and policy lead for rural health care issues and was recently elected to the Iowa Rural Health Association board of directors.

Weary, an Ida Grove native, is the Regional Manager for the Local Government and Community Affairs team at ITC Midwest, which operates nearly 6,700 miles of electric transmission lines in Iowa and four neighboring states. Weary, who lives in Ames, has been engaged in community and economic development work for ITC Midwest and previously Alliant Energy for more than 15 years.

The IRDC executive committee has 13 members and one ex officio representing state agencies, education, utilities, agriculture, health care, economic development and private industry.  Members serve three-year terms and report quarterly to IRDC members.

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