Carolyn Bogott: Lanke displays enthusiasm for serving community

Published 6:30 am Wednesday, September 2, 2020

What a delight to speak with a young woman so full of enthusiasm for life and so thrilled with having found a community and a job where she can put her passion for helping others to work.   

Molly Lanke

Molly Lanke, as  executive director of United Way for Mower County, feels honored to be a part of a community that strives to be welcoming  to all. Growing up in Pella, Iowa, she was aware it lacked the diversity that she wanted to experience. She chose to go to Iowa State in Ames, Iowa, and liked meeting people from many backgrounds, but she has found Austin has the greater diversity that she desired.

As she reviews her life, Molly says her two interests were service and politics. Each came to her attention sort of incidentally.

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In eighth grade, the social studies teacher asked each student to prepare to persuade him to vote for one of the presidential candidates. Molly took this challenge to heart and researched the platforms and delved deeply into election coverage.

From that time on, she was hooked on politics. Her interest and joy in service started in high school when a chance request came over the P.A. system with the daily announcements. Volunteers were requested for activities at an assisted living home.

Molly was the only student who called the phone number and soon her Wednesday afternoons at Hill Top Home were the highlight of her week, and for the rest of high school, she took friends along to paint nails, play games, and visit with the residents each week.

Molly credits the examples set by her family as providing the inspiration for her career development. She says that her grandpa, father and mother all were hard working “servant leaders,” always lifting up others with their leadership.

Thinking of them every day inspires her.

After graduation from college, having majored in Communications and Political Science with a Certification in Leadership, Molly served as a legislative aide to Curt Hanson, Representative in the Iowa Legislature, for the 2017 session.  Mr. Hanson treated his aide as an apprentice, and Molly learned to draft bills and talk to constituents while other aides only opened mail.

Molly decided to leave politics for a while and looked for a job where her interest in service would be highlighted. She came to United Way in Mower County as the Marketing and Resources Coordinator.  When Diane Baker left the executive director position to work for the YMCA, Molly was chosen as interim director.   Then she went through the process of applying for the permanent position and was delighted to be chosen.

With three others on her team, Molly works to advance the needs in Mower County for education, health, and basic needs. She explains that

United Way serves as a convenor and conduit for bringing together donors and organizations which serve the people of Mower County. We are all familiar with the United Way campaign in the fall.  This year’s campaign will be very different due to the pandemic, but the needs are still there, and in some cases, are even greater. Molly emphasizes that any size donation is very welcome and meaningful to the overall cause.

Committed to serving the needs of Mower County citizens, Molly feels privileged to have her job. She advises that everyone “Count  your blessings and be motivated by them.  I have been so fortunate to have been helped by others and I want to lift others up as I was lifted.”

Molly Lanke is an asset to Austin!

For more information about the Austin Branch of AAUW, contact Sue Grove  or Carolyn Bogott The American Association of University Women, now AAUW, is open to anyone who has completed a two-year degree or beyond.  AAUW welcomes men who support our objectives and there are student memberships available. AAUW has been empowering women since 1881.  We support equity and education for women.  Scholarships are offered, as well as help in litigation in cases dealing with sex discrimination.  We are the most important and highly respected research and lobbying organization dealing with women’s issues such as equal opportunity and job equality.