On Monday, August 3, I spoke before the Ames Community School Board, urging the directors to consider naming Ames High School’s new pool after the late Coach Dan Flannery. During this meeting, I was pleased to learn Ames Superintendent Jenny Risner supports naming the pool in Coach Flannery's honor. She shared in her statement her intentions to submit a formal recommendation to the Board at a future meeting. I'm grateful for Board President Alisa Frandsen's invitation to speak on this important action. You can read my speech in full below. We're not done yet, but we're making progress in memorializing Dan's legacy.
My name is Maddie Bro and I'm a former Ames High School swimmer from 2008-2012 and team captain of the 2011 State Championship Team coached by Dan Flannery. I want to share the following letter I submitted to the Board to remember Dan. Thank you to the Board for allowing me time to speak today. A special thank you to the Ames Tribune for publishing my guest column on the topic as well. And it goes...
“Swim with a Purpose. Dive with a Purpose. Win with a Purpose.”
This mantra was coined by the late Dan Flannery, head coach of Ames High School Swimming & Diving for two decades. This motto inspired hundreds, if not thousands, of his young athletes, including myself, to set and achieve lofty goals and carry ourselves with confidence both in the pool and classroom.
This brings us to the purpose of this letter. Today, I write to show my full support for naming Ames High School’s new pool after the late Coach Dan Flannery. I urge the Ames Community School Board to consider this important action to honor the life of Coach Flannery, a man who was a beacon of positivity and integrity in the Ames community and tireless advocate for this pool’s construction.
Coach Flannery was the most motivational coach I worked with in my 13-year competitive swimming career, inclusive of four years as a Division I NCAA swimmer at the University of Iowa. He emphasized the importance of mental preparation in addition to physical conditioning. His holistic coaching translated to countless victories, making Coach Flannery one of the most successful coaches in Iowa high school history. In the last decade, he guided the Ames High Girls Swimming & Diving teams to 8 of 10 state championships and was undefeated in all dual meets. I was a member of Ames High’s first two state championship teams in 2010 and 2011, serving as team captain in 2011. Coach Flannery effectively prepared his athletes for collegiate swimming as well, sending many, including myself, to Division I, II, and III programs, helping us secure scholarships to cover the high cost of college education.
A team is greater than the sum of its parts. However, without Coach Flannery’s leadership, I whole-heartedly believe the Ames High Girls Swimming & Diving dynasty would not have come to fruition.
Coach Flannery passed away in July 2020. The tragedy here is that he will never be able to coach in the pool he fought so hard to build. He will never again be able to inspire young minds to “Aim High” in everything they do. Naming the new pool after Coach Dan Flannery is the perfect way to memorialize his legacy in the Ames community. So, in the words of Coach Flannery, let’s name this pool with a purpose. Let’s name it after Dan.
I thank the Board for its consideration of this important action.
Ames High School, Class of 2012
Hall of Fame Inductee, Iowa High School Swimming
Team Captain, 2011 State Championship Team, Ames High Girls’ Swimming
Team Member, 2010 State Championship Team, Ames High Girls’ Swimming
4-time High School All-American, Girls’ Swimming
10-time Iowa High School State Champion, Girls’ Swimming
3-time Iowa High School State Record Holder, Girls’ Swimming
During times of crisis, we’re reminded of the importance of connectedness. Sticking together can create a common sense of purpose and confidence in one’s ability to face uncertainties that lie ahead.
Embracing connectedness can benefit organizations, too. Nonprofits often face helping the most vulnerable communities during crises, working hard to ensure no one falls through the cracks.
When providing or advocating for public goods, streamlining efforts during a crisis can simplify the implementation of services in the short-term. It can also become a moment of revisioning, or a checkpoint that clarifies strategic priorities to strengthen future work in the long-term.
However, the transition from *many* to *one* can be difficult. Existing duplicities in public services provided to a community can cause tension between organizations with similar missions.
Consider an example I experienced first hand, one involving two organizations that we’ll call Center A and Center B.
Historically, both viewed one another strictly as competitors, taking clients from one another, rather than potential partners fighting for the same clients and mission.
This tension was well known externally among the local political and social justice scene. I was aware of this uncomfortable dynamic, too, prior to accepting a role at Center A, but in light of my connection to leadership at Center B and having been a client of both organizations, I sought to end this hostility.
In 2018, Centers A and B faced a law that would jeopardize a key service and the licensing of staff who perform it. Amid talks with state-level legal partners to file a lawsuit, a Center A board member reached out to me saying legal counsel for Center B expressed interest in filing, too. I contacted the executive director at Center B to schedule a meeting with her, the Center A CEO, and myself. We all agreed joining forces as co-plaintiffs was the right thing to do.
Fast forward a year later: the judge declared the law unconstitutional. This partnership between Centers A and B continues to this day on an array of lawsuits.
This example demonstrates the power of partnership and having strength in numbers. Nonprofits with similar missions can be stronger together and ensure no one falls through the cracks.
“Far too many people are looking for the right person, instead of trying to be the right person.” –Gloria Steinem
Author and feminist activist Gloria Steinem’s quote rings true in a multitude of relationships, from the personal to the professional.
Fresh off my graduation from college and start in the working world, I found myself wanting to engage with the Iowa City community and gain fulfilling volunteer experience. Steinem’s quote guided my search. I asked myself, how can I make a true and meaningful impact in someone’s life?
While updating my LinkedIn profile last summer, I happened upon a post in my news feed calling for local female professionals to apply to become mentors for young women at the University of Iowa’s Tippie College of Business. After digging deeper into the mission of Tippie’s Women in Business (WIB) organization, I was hooked.
The WIB External Mentoring Program matches female undergraduate students at the University of Iowa with local female professionals of similar common career goals and professional interests. Mentors and mentees, also known as “gal pals,” are required to meet at least once a month. My mentee and I treat ourselves to sushi and talk about an array of topics, including:
Advanced degrees and higher education
Leadership styles and conflict management
As a mentor, I aim to inspire my mentee to achieve her goals and foster trusting relationships with her female classmates and other businesswomen. Being a WIB mentor has many benefits such as:
1. Gain a sense of fulfillment
According to a study conducted by researchers at the University of South Florida, women who are mentored by other women feel more supported and satisfied in their careers. Sharing your professional experiences with your mentee can make a world of difference in her transition from college to her professional life. For me, supporting young women as they chase their dreams helps me feel like I’m making an impact in my community. It fills my heart with joy on a daily basis.
2. Empower the next generation of female business leaders
As recently as 2015, Iowa has ranked last among the 50 states in growth and success of female-owned businesses. Iowa has landed last or at the bottom of this ranking since the annual survey’s initial release in 2011. Results of the survey, conducted by American Express, point to the need to encourage young women prior to their entrance into the working world. Preparing young women for the potential hardships they will face in the workplace as female professionals can increase their prosperity in business and other fields they enter.
3. Add volunteer experience to your resume
Spending just a few hours a week assisting a service or nonprofit organization can boost your job prospects. The Corporation for National and Community Service found in its 10-year study of 70,000 unemployed individuals that those who had volunteer experience were 27 percent more likely to find a job than those who did not. Investing in your community is an investment in your professional well-being.
4. Connect with passionate and like-minded individuals
Building a strong community of women who genuinely support one another can help those in the group achieve more. According to “shine theory,” a term coined by writers Aminatou Sow and Ann Friedman in New York Magazine, spending time with successful women makes you more likely to be successful. Establishing a trusting bond among women can help everyone do more and be more.
Helping to ensure that young female leaders are aware of their worth, value, and abilities is an absolute honor and privilege. For me, becoming a mentor helped me realize that I can be the “right person” in a young woman’s life.
What will you do to assist young women in your community?
Maddie Bro is a project manager at Frank N. Magid Associates, an international research-based strategic consulting firm in Marion, Iowa. She graduated with bachelor’s degrees in journalism and gender studies from the University of Iowa in May 2016, earning highest distinction, university, and departmental honors. In addition to being a WIB mentor, Maddie serves on event planning committees for Planned Parenthood of the Heartland and assists with several community projects in the Iowa City/Cedar Rapids corridor.
Storytelling is central to cultivating a culture of community between a nonprofit organization, the population(s) it serves, and the volunteers and donors needed to assist in its mission-driven work.
As a development director, storytelling is one of the most important tools I use to inspire donors and volunteers to support Planned Parenthood of the Heartland.
In fact, this tool is used affiliate-wide at PPHeartland. Mission Moments (MMs) are paragraph-long statements that aim to set an inspirational and mission-driven tone at the start of all internal and external meetings. These MMs cover an array of meaningful interactions with donors, volunteers, and patients.
Whether in a one-on-one donor conversation or event planning committee meeting, I always have a printed MM in my bag ready to go.
MMs can invoke a sense of ownership and influence in donors and volunteers, helping to demonstrate impact of their philanthropic work. This in turn can increase the likelihood of them making a monthly, annual, or even transformational gift.
So how does PPHeartland come up with these MMs? Well, Ann Handley in Everybody Writes describes a process nearly matches ours.
While Handley explains this process from the for-profit perspective, below are key questions that she raises with my insertion of nonprofit language:
Handley lists the following must-have characteristics for stories. Please note some overlap between these points: