As the community marketing manager for the City of Newton, Danielle Rogers is a multi-tasker. Thursday afternoon, she returned from a Newton Chamber of Commerce networking lunch, immediately made a phone call while finishing ongoing work on the city’s “Get to Know Newton” campaign.
Last summer, Rogers split her attention in “1,000 different directions” as a leader on Newton’s RAGBRAI committee, organizing volunteers and readying the city for the 15,000 bike riders who would more than double the size of the town for a night.
Sprinkled through her office, the “Aloha Mahalo” flavor is still there. Two flower leis are draped on the doorknob and a tiny flamingo hangs from the white board — mementos from her proudest achievement in Newton ... so far.
“(RAGBRAI) got so many people involved, and not necessarily people I’ve worked with in the past,” Rogers said. “I’ve always known Newton has this pride in its community, and people step up when they need to step up, but seeing it at that size and that scale was really humbling to be a part of.”
Now, her hard work is being recognized. On Tuesday, Rogers was named a finalist for the 2018 YP of the Year Ashley Oakland Community Service Award. It spotlights a young professional “who exemplifies the volunteerism and spirit of the late (Young Professionals Connection) board member Ashley Oakland in giving of her time, talents and other resources to community organizations,” according to a press release from the city.
The 2019 YP of the Year awards, co-sponsored by the Greater Des Moines Partnership and The Des Moines Register, celebrate “game changers, company makers and industry shakers” who’ve spent the last year shaping the Greater Des Moines community for the better through their business, civic and community leadership.
Fifteen finalists are recognized in five categories and one winner per category is announced at the 2018 YP of the Year Awards on Feb. 28, at the Hilton Des Moines Downtown.
Rogers came to Newton six years ago, after graduating from Drake University and a four-year stint doing public relations and managing the ticket office for the Des Moines Buccaneers hockey club.
Her first job in Newton was at the Vernon Company as a strategic communications specialist, leading the marketing and communication for Vernon’s sales force before joining the city two years ago. Rogers is originally from Worthington, Minn., but “fell for” central Iowa. The summer following her freshman year at Drake would be the last time she’d return to Worthington to live full-time.
“Those stickers that say ‘Iowa Captive,’ that’s definitely me,” Rogers said.
She began her volunteerism in Newton quickly after her move. Rogers knew networking was one way to advance and find her niche in town. She attended a Young Professionals of Jasper County meeting where she met then-Newton Planning and Zoning Director Erin Chambers who was recruiting for the city’s Planning and Zoning Commission.
“As someone who’s not from Newton and didn’t grow up here, when I first moved here, it was kind of hard to make those connections because everyone has long-standing relationships and knows people,” Rogers said. “For me, even though I’m in marketing and promotions, I’m kind of an introvert. So I made that conscious decision that I need to be involved if I’m ever going to meet anyone.”
Rogers signed up. It was her first foray into city government and began a cascading effect of volunteerism for Rogers.
Fast forward to 2019, Rogers is involved with the Young Professionals of Jasper County; is on the board of directors for the United Way of Jasper County; is affiliated with Jasper County Crime Stoppers; is part of the nonprofit Friends of Newton Parks; is on the Drake Central Iowa Regional Alumni Board; she volunteers as a judge for FIRST LEGO League; is a former Newton Main Street Board member; and was on the Preserve the Pride Bonding Committee which helped sell the newly constructed Berg Middle School to the public.
As she continues to promote the city, Rogers’ ongoing project in 2019 will share the stories of the police officers, public works employees and other rank-and-file officials to celebrate what they do and show the public a day in their life. Rogers says it’s about showing the faces of the people behind the policy.
“It’s trying to build those relationships. It’s the behind-the-scenes stuff,” Rogers said. “I don’t want to say we take it for granted, but things happen and we don’t know who’s doing it or why they’re doing it. To share that story, that’s my passion — sharing people’s stories with things happening in our community.”
To cast a vote for Rogers, or any person or organization nominated for the 2018 YP of the Year, and to see Rogers’ video, visit http://bit.ly/2siGiUA.
Votes will be weighted with the judges to determine the overall winners.
Contact Mike Mendenhall at 641-792-3121 ext. 6530 or firstname.lastname@example.org