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DECEMBER 5, 2022
Good morning and happy Monday!

As we round out year two of Fearless, we’re beginning to plan the future of the initiative and newsletter. We’d really appreciate it if you took a moment to share your thoughts with us about what you enjoy or what you’d like to see more or less of. You have the option to do so anonymously, but if you choose to leave your name, you’ll be entered into a drawing for a chance to win free lunch with the Fearless team!

Thanks, and have a great week!

– Emily Kestel, Fearless editor

We want your feedback!
Two years ago, the Business Record launched Fearless with a mission to help empower Iowa women to succeed in work and life. From the start, we knew we didn’t want to keep our coverage on gender issues separate from the other business stories that our staff covers, so we periodically publish Fearless content in the Business Record’s weekly print edition. We’ve also hosted more than a dozen in-person and virtual events for our readers to connect with each other.  

That being said, Fearless’ flagship product is our free e-newsletter that arrives in subscribers’ inboxes every Monday morning. You can see a full archive of the newsletters we’ve sent out on our website.

You likely spend a lot of time opening and answering emails, so we want to make sure we’re doing everything we can to make the Fearless newsletter valuable to you and worth your time.

Please take a moment to answer the survey questions so we can learn how to best serve you.

You have the option to remain confidential, but those who include their name will be entered into a drawing for a chance to win a free lunch with the team behind Fearless, including Emily Kestel, Emily Barske, Suzanna de Baca and Connie Wimer.

Thanks in advance for your honest feedback!

– Emily Kestel, Fearless editor, and Emily Barske, Business Record editor
Nonprofit group eyes converting WDM hotel into apartments for women taking part in jail diversion program
A nonprofit has an agreement to purchase West Des Moines hotel property that would be converted into supportive housing for women taking part in a jail diversion program, the organization’s executive director told the Business Record.

The Beacon, a nonprofit group that provides housing for women in crisis, is expanding its programming to include offering a jail diversion program for women arrested for nonviolent offenses, including those involving drugs, said Melissa Vine, the Des Moines-based organization’s executive director.

Many of the Beacon’s current clients are women who have been released from prison, Vine said.

"I started asking the question, ‘Why are we putting these women in prison in the first place?’" she said. "Why aren’t we providing them support instead of punishment, and what would that look like?"

Vine said she began considering a jail diversion program for women who have been arrested for nonviolent crimes and who don’t have lengthy criminal histories.

If the proposed jail diversion program moves forward, housing is needed for the women, she said.

The Beacon, previously known as Beacon of Life, is partnering with Anawim Housing on developing the property into transitional housing, Vine said.

The Beacon has an option to purchase property at 1258 Eighth St. in West Des Moines, which includes a 71-room hotel currently occupied by a Days Inn.

The 38,973-square-foot building, constructed in 1974, would be transformed into 35 studio and one-bedroom apartments, according to information provided to a subcommittee of the West Des Moines City Council.

The property, which includes about 5 acres and is valued at $1.5 million, is a good place to locate the proposed program, Vine told the subcommittee during a meeting earlier this month.

"The neighborhood is safe, it’s on a bus line, there’s medical facilities nearby, and there’s places to work," Vine said during the meeting.

Russ Frazier, president of Anawim Housing, told the subcommittee that it would cost less than $6 million to purchase the property and renovate the hotel into apartments.

"You couldn’t build it for that," Frazier said. "The hotel is underutilized and their occupancy is very low."

Clyde Evans, West Des Moines’ community and economic development director, said city staff members are supportive of the Beacon’s proposed plans for the property.

"It would be beneficial to the community and it would keep the property from falling into disrepair," Evans said during an interview.

Vine said the property would be staffed 24 hours a day and on-site security would be provided. In addition, residents would have access to all of the Beacon’s support services, including a variety of counseling options focused on mental health and drug and alcohol addictions. Financial literacy and career development classes would also be provided, she said.

Providing the jail diversion program "reduces that burden on the foster care system, the health care system and the justice system," Vine said. In addition, it costs the Beacon $26 a day per person to provide its clients with housing and support services; prison costs $106 a day person, she said.

The city of West Des Moines has indicated it would provide up to $700,000 for the project; Prairie Meadows is providing $175,000, Vine said. The group is seeking other contributions, and in 2023 will launch a fundraising campaign, she said.

"We’d like to have the money we need raised by the end of 2023," she said.

In the headlines
Jennifer Banta has been named as the new president and CEO of the United Way of Johnson & Washington Counties. Most recently, she was the vice president of the Iowa City Area Business Partnership.

Iowa City West High School student Shanza Sami was recognized by a young scientist competition where hundreds of students apply for a chance to turn their idea into reality through four months of mentoring with a 3M scientist. Sami’s prototype of a car pollution-reducing invention earned her third place.

The U.S. Senate has approved bipartisan legislation that would enshrine protections for same-sex and interracial marriages, codifying many of the rights that would disappear if the U.S. Supreme Court were to overturn those landmark decisions the way it overturned the nationwide right to an abortion this summer. Iowa Sen. Joni Ernst joined 11 other Republicans in voting for the bill. Sen. Chuck Grassley voted against the bill.

JPMorgan Chase is now giving 16 weeks of leave to either parent for the birth or the adoption of a child, regardless of who is the primary caregiver. The bank also increased the number of sick days, bereavement leave and days for caring for a sick family member.

For the first time in U.S. history, the top ranks of House leadership for one party won’t include any white men. House Democrats voted last week on their new leaders, which include Hakeem Jeffries, Katherine Clark and Pete Aguilar. On the Republican side, white men still dominate House leadership, with Elise Stefanik being the only woman in a top spot. Democrats will assume the minority of the House next month.

Two Grundy Center businesses owned by a mother-daughter duo have been named the winners of the America’s Small Business Development Center Iowa’s Small Business of the Month Award. The Landmark Bistro and 319 Decor & Design are the winners of the statewide award for November.

Worth checking out
The pandemic exposed the inequality of American motherhood (The Atlantic). What the results of the midterms mean for women’s representation, by the numbers (The 19th). What it really takes to breastfeed a baby (New York Times). Two female leaders had a historic meeting. They got asked about their age (Washington Post).
Your fearless moments
Storytelling is a powerful tool to help break down stigmas, build community and encourage empathy. We believe everyone has a story to share, so we encouraged readers to submit their own moments of being fearless. Their responses have been lightly edited for clarity.

We’ll be sharing their stories periodically throughout the year. You’re welcome to submit your own story at this link.

– Emily Kestel, Fearless editor

Jacki Carr, executive administrative assistant, Community State Bank
There have been a few, but I think thus far my most impactful moment of being fearless was when I decided to pursue my master’s degree through an online program, while working full time and being a single mother to an 18-month-old.

I knew the job I was in wasn’t what I wanted to do forever and that furthering my education would open doors for me and my daughter’s future. So I took the leap and enrolled in Ashford University’s Master’s in Organizational Management program online and ended up graduating with a 4.0 GPA, and was offered a position in leadership four short months later.

The power of finding joy in another person’s good fortune
Women know that we can be our own worst enemies. As easy as it is for us to build one another up, it’s not uncommon for women to adopt a zero-sum game mindset when navigating a patriarchal society.

The German term "freudenfreude" describes the bliss we feel when someone else succeeds, even if it doesn’t directly involve us. Its sister term, "schadenfreude," which is more commonly known, is when we feel pleasure in witnessing someone’s misfortune.

In a New York Times article published last month, researchers made the case that finding joy in someone else’s success can help make relationships more intimate and enjoyable. They also found that sharing in someone else’s joy can foster resilience and improve life satisfaction.

Choosing to make an effort to practice freudenfreude over schadenfreude isn’t always easy, but the article details a few steps that are worth trying out.

And if you don’t have time to read the piece, here’s a summary of the tips:
  • Ask questions when someone shares their experiences.
  • Remember that when one person succeeds, we all do.
  • Proactively invite others to share their victories or moments of joy.
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