PDI Blog

Presidential Post - September 1, 2013


Brent Willett
PDI President

PDI is the new 40!  2013 marks PDI's 40th year of delivering advocacy, professional development, education and the emphatic furtherance of the economic development profession in Iowa. I am honored to serve as association president during this milestone year and do so knowing it is only as the result of four decades of consistently effective, bold and innovative leadership by PDI board leaders before me. Today PDI stands as a visible, effective and sought-after voice for economic development in Iowa. That's thanks to the leaders of years ago who first bound together just as our profession was taking shape in the 1970's and immediately began to aggressively grow membership and programming to address the needs of a growing industry. This led to enough organizational growth and vision to provide for the provision of contract services for executive staff and legislative lobbying, which has led to more growth and more statewide influence. It is from this platform that the latest generation of PDI leaders strides from as it makes investments in technology to create new capabilities, builds coalitions to augment the association's political potency and establishes new programmatic partnerships to improve member experience. 

Every one of us, from the first-year member in 2013 to those who have been with the association from its beginnings, has a slew of those inside the industry to thank and continue to rely upon for professional growth, and the PDI member experience opens up an incredible network of those folks to us. Early in my career thanks to PDI I was able to hook up and grow relationships which have been critical to me personally and professionally with real pros to look up to like Dan Culhane [Ames], Dennis Hinkel [Burlington, retired], LaDene Bowen [IDM], Joel Akason [formerly Marshalltown; now dead to us in Minneapolis], Jeff Rossate [IEDA/Cedar Rapids/consultant], Michael Gould [IEDA], Bruce Nuzum [IADG] and Jason White [Warren County]. And as my time in the profession and as a PDI member grows, I continue to see at every member opportunity more industry colleagues to admire, learn from and hopefully give something back to.

It's an incredible thing when a small, voluntary association of individuals transforms itself by only the will of its member leaders into a statewide force for something as fundamental to every Iowan as job and wealth creation in our communities. That's what the folks who came before us at PDI managed to do. While leaders of some industry associations are facing enormous relevance and budgetary challenges in the face of a rapidly changing member and economic dynamics, we face a different challenge- to meet the exceptionally high standards set before us by a generation of great PDI leaders and ensure that 40 more years of growth and positive change occurs. Thank goodness my term ends in a few months.

See you at conference, 

Brent Willett
President, Professional Developers of Iowa


Written by Brent Willett
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