Category: ImpactCR 2013

Are you ready to get UGLY??

Thanksgiving is right around the corner, so you know what that means!  It’s time to get UGLY.  That’s right!  Our Members and Mixers committee has been preparing all year for this night.  OK… maybe not all year, but I sure have!  Our annual Ugly Holiday Sweater Party is two short weeks away and you know you want to be there!

The Winners of the Night!

The Winners of the Night!

Last year’s Ugly Holiday Sweater party was pretty epic and there’s no doubt that this year’s event will be filled with even more shenanigans.   Is Christmas time your favorite and you don’t care who knows it?  Find your best ugliest holiday sweater and strut your stuff on the runway for a chance to win some really awesome prizes.  Don’t forget your reindeer antlers, jingle bells and Santa boxers!  Now that your head is spinning with AWESOME ideas, get that outfit together and make plans to join us!

Gather your friends and family (dressed in their ugliest, of course) and head down to Dublin City Pub from 7 – 10 p.m. on December 7th, right after the Fire and Ice Parade.  Contest begins at 8 p.m. sharp, so don’t be late!  (Contest entry is just $5.)


Young Professional Profile | Jennifer Germaine


On November 6, we announced our Incoming Chair for 2014 at our Make Your Mark Siren Wednesday – Jennifer Germaine. HUGE Congratulations to Jennifer on her new role with ImpactCR and being awarded the Make Your Mark Award!

You recently moved from Omaha, what brought you to Cedar Rapids?

I am originally from Vinton, Iowa. I never thought I would move back to Cedar Rapids, but after living in Omaha for several years, I was ready to come back home. I came back to be closer to family, good friends, and my family’s cabin on the Mississippi River. I’m an avid boater and missed the water dearly! I also love my job – I’m an attorney with Day Rettig Peiffer, P.C. practicing in the areas of benefit plans (healthcare and retirement), corporate and estate planning.

How did you come to be involved with ImpactCR?

Originally, I joined ImpactCR for the networking. I was looking to meet other young professionals in the area. A couple of months later, I was introduced to Beth Malicki and the idea of the Next Gen. Summit. A few months later we held the first Summit. It seems like such a whirlwind looking back but I was hooked from that point on! I joined the ImpactCR board of advisors the next January.

The Next Gen. Summit has become a premier event for young professionals in the Creative Corridor. What role have you played in creating this event the past two years?

I guess you can say I was one of the founders of the idea. I went to the Omaha Young Professionals Summit multiple years while living in Omaha and wanted to have something similar in Eastern Iowa. I remember initially meeting with Beth Malicki about the summit and her indicating it would be a small exclusive event for approximately 100 people. I told her I envisioned it being much bigger. We ended up engaging EPIC from Iowa City to join us in planning the Summit too. We had over 300 people attend the first half-day Summit. I was also the Co-Chair for the all-day Next Gen. Summit that occurred October 1, 2013. We, once again, had approximately 300 attendees. We are already planning for the 2014 Summit. Attendees should expect an even bigger and better day from last year!

Congratulations on your recent nomination as incoming chair for ImpactCR! Do you have any specific goals for the Board of Advisors over the next two years?

I have so many goals! One goal I have is a very simplistic goal, but one that is very dear to my heart and to the core of ImpactCR – to get more young professionals and next geners to engage in our events and the Corridor. I want to make sure each and every person that attends an ImpactCR event feels welcome, inspired, and excited to be working/living in the Corridor. Also, ImpactCR is much more than just a networking group. ImpactCR provides leadership, professional and personal development, service opportunities and cultural engagement in the community. Enhancing those features within the organization by continuing current programing and/or reinventing what is currently offered is another goal I have. Oh, and let’s not forget the Next Gen. Summit! That is guaranteed to become even bigger and better for 2014!!!! Get ready!!

What advice do you have for young professionals?

Force yourself outside of your comfort zone. The feeling of accomplishment you get after you achieve a goal/task that you initially thought was impossible is worth every bit of torture you went through by putting yourself out there. Reaching further than you think possible is one of the greatest ways to develop yourself.

I also truly believe in the art of networking. I take time to learn about people from all walks of life and am genuinely interested in everyone’s life story. I have been repeatedly surprised at which contacts have taken me places in my professional career, as well as personally, that I never expected.

What is your favorite thing to do or place to go in the Creative Corridor?

I love so many things about the Creative Corridor! NewBo Market, the Newbo area in general, and the restaurants and entertainment venues in downtown Cedar Rapids are some of my favorite places. I love heading out on the trails at Indian Creek during the summer and the downtown Farmers Market. I also adore the new Federal Courthouse and feel so lucky to be an attorney that gets to practice in such a beautiful building (spoken like a true attorney!!)!

Thank you so much Jennifer! We all appreciate the hard work you have put into the Next Gen. Summit over the last two years. I can’t wait to see what 2014 brings!

Make Your Mark Awards 2013


As you know, last Wednesday we held our annual Make Your Mark event at CSPS to celebrate you, our members and to recognize a few who are pretty outstanding in our eyes. Congratulations to the following members for all you do for our organization and for your local community:

Leadership Award | Rebecca Sullens

The Leadership Award is presented to a member who encourages others to connect to the community through ImpactCR programs and events. Rebecca consistently reaches out to all of our members and makes everyone feel welcome. She understands the importance of diversity in our community and makes a point to help every person find their place here. Rebecca’s upbeat attitude and constant dedication to Cedar Rapids makes her the perfect cheerleader for ImpactCR.

Service Award | Casey Ealy

As a Member of the Leadership and Service Committee, Casey has done some amazing things for our community: from leading an effort to obtain funding for a potential playground project at NewBo, to coordinating and participating in multiple Habitat for Humanity events, to always raising his hand to say, “whatever you need.” Casey works quietly and humbly to do what he thinks is needed to make the corridor a better place to work and live. He exemplifies the spirit of service in our community. (Read Casey’s YP Profile here.)

Make Your Mark Award | Jennifer Germaine

Our first ever Make Your Mark award winner is Jennifer Germaine. Jennifer has helped lead ImpactCR to a new level of engaging and educating the area’s now and next gen. population. As a two year co-chair of the Next Gen Summit steering committee, she has gone above and beyond in her commitment to making the event an empowering experience for all attendees. Jennifer is also a member of the ImpactCR board of advisors and serves as a constant advocate for the organization and for the corridor.

WOW! These three individuals are pretty amazing, don’t you think!? Well you can be too! Join a committee or nominate yourself or someone you think is pretty awesome to be on the ImpactCR board of advisors. (Nomination forms are due November 15th.) How will you Make Your Mark in 2014?

Make Your Mark


This has been quite a year for ImpactCR! From the Casino Vote Forum in March, to the many Siren Wednesdays and BLTs to last month’s Next Gen Summit. While the year isn’t quite over, what better way to round out a successful year of networking, service and professional development than with an extra special Siren Wednesday to celebrate you, our members and those who have helped us develop programming and supported our events over the last year?!

How is this event different from our regular Siren Wednesdays? At 6 p.m., we will have a short program that will look back at our accomplishments over the last 10 months and share insights into exciting new programing and changes coming in 2014. We will also acknowledge our outstanding members with a two awards to be presented at the ceremony. Help us congratulate the members who have gone above and beyond to demonstrate volunteerism by participating in our events, committees, etc. and exemplary leadership skills to support and help develop ImpactCR events, by awarding them with our Service and Leadership Awards.

Please join us Wednesday, November 6th at CSPS from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. for free appetizers, cash bar and cake! (No party is ever complete without cake!) Please RSVP and register here, to let us know you will be joining our celebration.

A HUGE thank you goes out to our three sponsors: Mediacom, as our presenting sponsor and our two supporting sponsors, Hatch Development Group and RuffaloCody!

Big on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram? Please use the hashtag #makeyourmark while posting about ImpactCR!

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BigWig Lunch Talk Preview | Stefanie Munsterman-Robinson


Have you ever been to one of our BigWig Lunch Talks? Today is very exciting because we will have Stefanie Munsterman-Robinson from the Cedar Rapids Civil Rights Commission in the house! We thought it might be nice to have a little preview with Stefanie before her talk over the lunch hour.

First of all, what brought you to Cedar Rapids from Kansas City in 2000?


My parents and younger brother moved to Cedar Rapids due to my father’s job transfer. My daughter Ali and I came up to visit and we loved it! I began searching for a job in Iowa immediately and we moved up two months later.

What is your favorite thing to do or place to go in the Creative Corridor?

My daughters and I are big fans of theater, music, and dance. We enjoy the performances at Theater Cedar Rapids, The Old Creamery Theatre, the Paramount, CSPS, and Coralville Center for the Performing Arts.

What is your job title and what are your daily responsibilities?

I am a Civil Rights Investigator and Mediator. I investigate allegations of discrimination in our community as well as attempt to resolve disputes through mediation. I also provide presentations to a variety of audiences (children and teenagers, landlords, college students, employers, social service agencies architects, etc.) on numerous topics including civil rights, Americans with Disabilities Act, poverty, homelessness, employment law, and fair housing.

How did you get to where you are today in your career?

Tenacity, taking initiative, building relationships, and being passionate about my work.

Is there an aspect of Civil Rights that you are especially passionate about? Why or what experiences have driven this?

There continues to be strong gender-based inequalities in our society. I have witnessed and been the target of these inequalities and stereotypes personally as well as professionally. This holds great significance to me as a woman, as a mom of two daughters, a Civil Rights Investigator, and as a Sexual Assault & Domestic Violence Advocate. There should be no room for discrimination in our community.

How can young professionals become more active in supporting Civil Rights in our community?

What is important to you? There are many non-profit agencies in our community that continually seek volunteers and financial resources. Find your niche and commit to it!
Advocate for yourself and for others around you. Be willing to stand up for other people!

You are quite involved in the community, how do you balance your work/home life with school/social/volunteer opportunities?

It comes down to prioritization, adhering to your values, and understanding your strengths. If something does not match then you must say no. Logistically, it is about having a strong plan and very good apps! Hmm… I wonder what apps she uses?

What advice do you have for young professionals?

Do not deviate from your values or beliefs; stay true to yourself. Remember that neither significance nor success comes from your status. Secondly, learn something new every single day – be ever curious!

Thank you so much Stefanie! We can’t wait to hear more from you later today. If you are attending today’s BLT, be sure to bring your own questions for her. See you there!

Editors Note: The registration for today’s BLT is closed. For future BLTs and ImpactCR events, please see our event calendar.

You Know Everybody!

Happy Siren Wednesday!  I know you already know Siren is at The Carl & Mary Koehler History Center, but did you know that there will be complementary appetizers from Biaggi’s, generously provided by University of Iowa Community Credit Union?  Have you been to The History Center yet?  I have not been there since I was in middle or high school, and I am definitely looking forward to attending this event!

The real reason for my post today is to tell you what I learned about networking at Go Blog Social  in Kansas City last weekend.  A blogger conference?  Really?  What can you learn about networking there? OK, so maybe not all of you are saying that, but I know there are people out there who don’t really know what goes on at blog conference.  A ton of networking!  Just sayin’!

One of the speakers at the conference was Marcy Twete, Founder and CEO of Career Girl Network and was definitely one of my favorite speakers of the event.  Networking is something that I have been trying to work on, especially since I am a little shy in those situations and not always a fan of talking about myself to people I haven’t met before.  Don’t get me wrong, I love hearing all about you!

My favorite lesson from Marcy included this quote:

Networking Quote

What need do you have to fill at tonight’s (or any) networking event?  Are you new to the area and want to make friends or business connections?  Are you an employer scoping out the local YP talent?  Are you a social media enthusiast looking to grow your network in person as well?  Do you like to unwind after work with a nice cold adult beverage, and ImpactCR hosts the coolest event the first Wednesday of the month?

No matter what need you have to fill, networking is a great way to create partnerships or relationships and have an opportunity to grow your business, no matter what it may be.

So why is this post titled, You Know Everybody?  Marcy wrote a book of the same title, You Know Everybody! A Career Girl’s Guide to Building a Network that Works.  Wouldn’t you love to walk into White Star, know almost everyone in there, and the person you’re with says, “WOW!  You know everybody!”  That was pretty much Marcy’s “A-ha” moment in penning this book.

I just started Marcy’s book and I can’t wait to report back about what I learned!  If you can’t wait to read it yourself, you can purchase your own copy here, and don’t forget to visit her website for so much more!  Stay tuned!

Young Professional Profile: Casey Ealy


Our last Young Professional Profile featured our fearless leader, Katie Johnson. Even though we think our board members are pretty sweet, there are other YPs active on our committees that are pretty awesome as well! This week, we are featuring one of our Leadership and Service Committee members, Casey Ealy.

What is your job title, and what are your daily responsibilities?

I am the service manager and chief operations officer at SPS, Inc. My responsibilities are to oversee the day to day operations including accounting, service, sales, purchasing and inventory.

How did you get to where you are today with your career?

Oddly enough I was hired here at SPS 12 years ago to answer the phones. Since then I have moved from position to position throughout the company the where I am today. I never turned down a task or opportunity to excel.

What are your top tips for other young professionals?

Take advantage of opportunities as they are presented to you. You never know what might help you grow professionally down the road. GET INVOLVED!!!!!

How many miles away are you from your hometown?

I was born and raised in Cedar Rapids.

What is your role with ImpactCR?

I attend the committee meetings and assist in setting up nonprofit events such as Habitat Build Days. I am also the interface between ImpactCR and the NewBo Market for the playground build project.

Besides being active with ImpactCR, what are some of your favorite things to do in Cedar Rapids?

I enjoy spending as much time with family and friends as possible. The NewBo Market is one of my new favorites.

Thank you so much Casey! I truly believe that getting involved can lead to some pretty awesome opportunities, personally and professionally. The board, as well as the members of ImpactCR, appreciate your time and dedication to the Leadership and Service Committee.

Do you have a young professional that you think is totally awesome and deserves to be featured on our Young Professional Profile? Leave a comment or send your recommendations to