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Matthew Henkes

Vice President

Where are you from?
I’m from Orange County, California, but I came to Midwest by way of Syracuse, New York, and Washington, DC.

Describe your role at the Foundation in a tweet (140 character limit):
Our grants team members wear many hats – I’ve got our placemaking focus area, capacity building, and evaluation/learning in my hat box.

What do you enjoy most about your job?
I spend my day surrounded by people who are trying to make our community a great place.

What is one of the toughest challenges about your work?
Truly transformative work is long-term, but it only happens if we can infuse urgency into our day-to-day. Trying to support important change initiatives with limited resources is a constant challenge.

Where is your favorite place in Council Bluffs or Pottawattamie County and why?
Outdoors the levee trail is a favorite of mine – I enjoy the opportunity to bike along the riverfront. Indoors, and especially during the winter, I enjoy walking down to La Caretta Rosa restaurant in the Haymarket.

Who in the community inspires you?
I encounter people in both Council Bluffs and throughout the rural parts of Pottawattamie County who are passionate about their communities. People give their time, talent, and treasure to help others and make positive change happen. That kind of commitment inspires me.

What would you like people reading this to know about the Foundation?
I would want people to understand how much we rely on community input in our projects. We are a private foundation, but it really is the regular listening sessions, advisory committees, and partners we have that shape how we make our investments. Coming from outside of Pottawattamie County, it was exciting to see the amount of ownership the community has — I hope people continue to take advantage of the opportunities to share their thoughts with us.

A fun fact about you:
Before working at the Iowa West Foundation, I worked for an international development company and managed grants in rural Botswana. The first grant I ever issued was for a Human/Elephant conflict mitigation project.

Finish this sentence. In 10 years, the transformational change I hope to see happen in the region is:
An active and vibrant 1st Avenue. I can’t wait until the trail is built-out and we see some fun public spaces and more pedestrians and activity.

OUR VISION is a community where families choose to live, and businesses choose to locate, because of its quality of life and standard of living.


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