What does it take to cultivate Belonging in rural Iowa?

March 29, 2024

The CultureALL team at the 2023 Rural Iowa Development Summit

The Iowa Rural Development Summit brings together people who care about the vitality of rural Iowa. Small town mayors, city councilors, economic development directors, community foundation leaders, entrepreneurs, and more will be gathering on April 10-12 in Ames to discuss the challenges they face in rural communities and explore solutions together. 

One such challenge is the population decline we’ve seen in the last few decades. Rural Iowa leaders recognize that this decline deeply impacts the vitality of their communities. These leaders are addressing the issue by committing to making their communities welcoming to new Iowans.

According to the United Way of Central Iowa, 40% of Iowa’s population growth since 2010 came from immigrants. Immigrants and refugees are filling jobs in Iowa, contributing billions of dollars to our economy and helping our small towns and schools grow for the first time in decades. People from all over the world are finding new opportunities in rural Iowa and making this space their home. 

CultureALL is committed to cultivating mutual respect between all types of people throughout Iowa to ensure everyone feels welcomed in our state. We will be discussing ways to support rural communities in discovering what is possible when we value cultural diversity at the 2024 Iowa Rural Development Summit.

CultureALL is moderating a panel focused on what will make our rural communities a place people choose to call home on Thursday, April 11, at 11 am. Joining us as panelists are three Iowa leaders who are making a difference in their rural regions by building a more inclusive Iowa. We will discuss how these leaders are creating systems and spaces in their communities that welcome new Iowans and how other communities can, too. 

Dylan Does is Marshalltown’s self-proclaimed “Lead Storyteller." As Tourist Director of the Marshalltown Area Chamber of Commerce, Dylan uses the power of public-private partnerships to create "third places" that give marginalized folks a strong sense of belonging. He recently launched a bilingual tourism program titled “Meet in Marshalltown” and “Nos Vemos en Marshalltown.” 

Lorena Dorado-Robles is the 4-H Recruitment, Retention, and Engagement Specialist at Iowa State University Extension and Outreach. Lorena works specifically with diverse and untapped audiences. She does state level work in the areas of College and Career Readiness, she leads the 4-H Annual Multicultural Retreat, and she impacts volunteer development and management with new audiences through Iowa 4-H programs.

Antonio Mouzon is the Dubuque Multicultural Family Center Director. The Multicultural Family Center empowers all families of Dubuque to reach their potential and build unity through diversity, equity, and inclusion. Mouzon became executive director in July of 2023, and he builds upon a strong tradition of programming and partnerships that have made the center so successful. 

We hope to see you at the summit. To register for the event and experience our panel, visit https://iowardc.org/summit/.

CultureALL believes that sharing the cultural richness of our community with others will elevate our society and the quality of life for all.