Vision 2020 hires new executive director

Published 10:23 am Thursday, November 19, 2015

Vision 2020 has a new director.

Gregory Siems, 25, started as Vision 2020’s director on Monday, and he’s already started work to coordinate the efforts of the volunteer committees as projects move closer to completion. Siems will serve as the initial point of communication between Vision 2020 and the community.

“It’s been awesome,” he said. “It’s really challenging and its exciting.”

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Siems is a native of North Liberty, Iowa, and is a graduate of Luther College.

Gregory Siems

Gregory Siems

He earned a master’s degree in political science from the University of Notre Dame in August 2015.

Siems and his wife, Mandie, moved to Austin this spring. Mandie, an Austin native, works in public relations and development at The Hormel Institute. Siems said he and Mandie were looking to get involved in the community, and he described his new role as the perfect opportunity.

“The stars aligned for us, so we’re very happy with how things worked out,” he said.

Siems brings a strong background of nonprofit and volunteer experience to Vision 2020. In the summer of 2012, Siems interned at the Minnesota Housing Partnership, a St. Paul-based nonprofit dedicated to housing and community issues, and Siems is also interested in politics and community issues.

Vision 2020 is a grassroots movement that formed in Austin in 2011. It features hundreds of volunteers engaged with a variety of community organizations including government, business, nonprofit and education to improve the quality of life by 2020 and beyond.

In his first week, Siems has been meeting with committee chairs to get caught up on projects. He says there’s a lot going on recently: Austin Aspires released its goals for education, the Rec Center Committee should see a seasonal dome installed soon at the Wescott Field Complex, the Waterways Committee is working with the Cedar River Watershed District on things like the Accelerated Results Plan, and much more.

“There’s lots of stuff happening, and I’m really impressed with all the committees to be honest,” Siems said. “Everybody’s working really hard.”

Siems replaces Laura Helle, who took a job at Riverland Community College in September after serving as Vision 2020’s director of vision creation since 2012. Quin Brunner served as interim coordinator.

Siems praised Helle for her work at the start of Vision 2020.

“Laura had done such a great job with getting things done,” he said.

Andrew Kepper, co-chairman of the Vision 2020 steering committee, said the committee is looking forward to moving ahead with Siems.

“We are excited to have Greg on board as our new Vision 2020 director and look forward to working with him to advance our remaining community development projects toward completion,” Kepper said in a press release.

Though a subtle change, Vision 2020 has changed Siems title to director, rather than director of vision creation. Siems noted the vision is already created and the focus is now on executing it and guiding the projects to fruition.

“I am thrilled to be joining an organization that has already accomplished so many great things for Austin, and is poised to do even bigger things in the coming years,” Siems said in a press release. “I look forward to seeing what we can all accomplish together.”

Anyone interested in contributing input or volunteering on Vision 2020 projects can contact Siems at 507-437-3448 or Vision 2020’s main office is in the Town Center building at 329 N. Main St., Suite 102, with the Austin Area Chamber of Commerce.