Thursday, April 12, 2007

Hanging with the (ex) Gov

As vice president of the Iowa Newspaper Foundation, I spent my day today driving between Dubuque and Des Moines and attending our quarterly board meeting.

Except for the several occasions when I hit icy patches on US 20 while driving a mile a minute, it was an uneventful drive.

A highlight of the day was chatting with my "neighbor" at the board table. Based on the random placement of name cards by staffers, I wound up sitting beside Terry Branstad, who joined our board in 2006.

In the books as the longest-serving governor of Iowa (1983-99), Branstad is president of Des Moines University. Our board last year sought to expand its membership to include leaders not currently employed in the newspaper industry, and we were thrilled when Branstad accepted our invitation.

I enjoyed chatting with him during lunch and breaks in the meeting "action." Neither of us mentioned the fact that the Telegraph Herald Editorial Board endorsed him only three of his four campaigns for governor. When I asked about his family, I learned that his daughter-in-law Adrianne is a staff member for a Dubuque County legislator, Rep. Steve Lukan, R-New Vienna. Small political world.

It's no secret that some well-known people agree to associate with certain boards, but only as "honorary" members who rarely attend any meetings or do any work. Not Branstad. He shows up for meetings, he reads the material, he asks questions and he offers suggestions. Today, he accepted appointment to an ad hoc committee.

His experience in state government, his knowledge of every acre of Iowa and now his leadership in higher education make him a great asset to our foundation.

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