The power of women's mentorship, update on midwifery licensure bill
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FEBRUARY 6, 2023
Good morning and hello, February! Personally, it’s my least favorite month (see this video for a good summary of why).

BUT, in the spirit of the upcoming Valentine’s Day holiday, I’m pleased to share a heartwarming and empowering
guest column about the power of women’s mentorship.

We’ve also got the latest news from the Statehouse and part two of Foster Group’s guest column series about financial health.

Let’s have a great week, shall we?

– Emily Kestel, Fearless editor

When women mentor women, leaders emerge
Rachelle Keck (left) and Krista Tedrow (right) at the 2021 Inspiring Women of Iowa awards. Submitted photo
On a muggy evening in 2015, I sat at the Ottumwa Applebee's across from one of the most intriguing women I had met in my short career.

“What brought you to Ottumwa?” I asked.

She broke a tortilla chip in half and chewed thoughtfully for a moment before answering. “A couple of years ago I felt called to go into higher education. So I closed my law practice and made the leap. … My ultimate goal is to be a college president at a Christian university.”

I was 25 and in awe. I had never heard someone speak with such clarity and conviction. Since then, Rachelle Keck has been inaugurated as the president of not one, but two Christian universities – Briar Cliff and Grand View – and has also commenced and completed her Ph.D. I have come to know her as a mentor and friend.

I don't believe I would be where I am today as a female founder, leader and mother without the support of many mentors along the way. The deck has been stacked against women in the workplace for generations. Change is coming, slowly, but it can accelerate much more quickly when women who break through those barriers reach back and become mentors to other women.

Life’s proverbial deck was stacked against me as my biological parents struggled with addiction, leading to multiple prison sentences and subsequent incarcerations.

I entered foster care when I was 7 and have been affected by all 10 adverse childhood experiences. When I shared a bit about my background, Rachelle and I found we are both first-generation college students with challenging socioeconomic backgrounds.

I had been saying I didn’t want children because I thought it would interfere with my career. However, that night I learned Dr. Keck was a mother of two and she had navigated professional life and parenting. She had started her own business and had a passion for advocating for children in the foster system and women who had experienced violence.

I began to think perhaps these were possibilities for me, too. She encouraged me to explore pursuing a bachelor’s degree – and I did.

Since 2015, I began to fear less and be more. Rachelle and other mentors have supported me as I have graduated with a bachelor’s and master’s degree in organizational leadership, founded companies and served on local and state boards.

The positive impact that mentorship has had on my life is evident.

Women’s mentorship is powerful and necessary

Organizations and the people within them thrive when women are in leadership roles. From thriving financials to higher employee satisfaction and improved culture, everyone benefits when women are in leadership roles. The same can be said of mentorship. Employees who are mentored are promoted five times more than those not connected to a mentor. While there are myriad reasons women’s mentorship is beneficial, I’ve highlighted three.

Women are viewed as leaders, yet are not equally represented in senior leadership. The latest Women in the Workplace study from McKinsey & Co. shows that men in senior leadership outnumber women two to one — but employees are equally likely to say that women and men leaders have supported their career development. Women are viewed as leaders regardless of formal title or position and taking on mentorship roles. However, systemic inequities, biases and intersecting identities contribute to lack of representation in senior leadership roles.
Women aren’t advancing and being promoted at the same rate as men. Women are promoted slower than men across all industries. The trend starts early in the career trajectory life cycle – with fewer women receiving stretch assignments or being promoted into manager roles. This means fewer women with access to interview for and accept executive leadership roles.
Women face competing expectations and extreme perceptions. When negotiating, communicating with authority and expertise, likability is lower for women than for their male counterparts. Oftentimes women leaders are seen as too soft or too nice, too tough or too bossy … never just right – a Goldilocks effect of sorts. Acting assertively contributes to women experiencing negative outcomes like hindered hireability and promotional opportunities.

What makes women’s mentorship unique and impactful for both mentors and mentees?

In general, women must balance personal and professional responsibilities to a greater extent than men and consequently deal with higher levels of isolation, imposter syndrome and unconscious biases. Woman-to-woman mentoring relationships address the challenges women face in their personal and professional roles through meaningful and intentional interaction. Mentors and mentees benefit from mentorship; the best relationships become bilateral where each learns from the other.

How mentors benefit their mentees:
● Providing mentees with more visibility and exposure, increasing access to build social capital for women, particularly in male-dominated settings.
● Serving as confidants, sounding boards, personal advisers, and a safe space to reflect on personal core values while improving critical thinking and giving emotional support.
● Transferring knowledge, teaching skills and sharing their experiences to provide different perspectives and viewpoints relevant to a mentee’s situation.

How mentees benefit their mentors:
● Giving insight into a world that mentors aren’t normally privy to, resulting in enhanced and holistic systems thinking.
● Increasing ability to focus on one person while listening intently and nonjudgmentally enhances effective communication and other relationships.
● Opportunity to contribute to the development of the next generation of leaders and leaving a legacy.

Krista Tedrow is the executive director of the South Central Iowa Workforce Area Local Workforce Development Board and the president of No Opportunity Wasted LLC. She graduated from Buena Vista University with bachelor’s and master’s degrees in organizational leadership.

Financial health in the prime of your career – it’s time for a checkup
Editor’s note: This is the second of a four-part guest commentary series from Foster Group that aims to provide insight into navigating your financial health, from early career to retirement.

You’ve been working for several years now – you’re earning, saving, paying down debt, investing and giving. What’s next?

Preparing to expand your family
If you are planning to start a family, it’s important to assess your situation and financial plan. It’s no secret that raising children is expensive, and you’ll need more money than you think! One thing you can do to prepare, if eligible, is to start building up a tax-free health savings account for medical expenses such as hospital bills, medical treatments, copays and prescription medicines.

Another family-oriented savings vehicle that you may have access to is a dependent care savings account through your employer. This account works great for day care costs – you may be able to save $5,000 per year from your paycheck into a dependent care account tax-free.

While planning for the future cost of children’s education may seem a long way away if you haven’t had kids yet, it’s never too early to start thinking about the financial realities of public vs. private schools. You’ll want to know about 529 College Savings plans, which have income tax benefits.

As your children are born or adopted, it can be a good time to establish a last will and testament, which names guardians for minor children if something happens to you. Keep it updated as your family grows to ensure that all of your children are named as your heirs.

Ramping up investment opportunities
The prime of your career is a great time to evaluate whether you should be making additional investments outside of your retirement plan. An after-tax brokerage account is a nice option because it doesn’t have the limited investment options that a company retirement plan does. An after-tax brokerage account also allows for contributions and withdrawals at any time without the limits or penalties of retirement plans. Keeping dollars earmarked for near-term expenses in a savings account rather than an after-tax brokerage account may be a wise choice, since market investments will move up and down.

Building savings vs. paying off debt
Building up your savings and paying off debt are both important, so striking a healthy balance between these competing priorities is key. One large factor is the interest rate of your debt. If you have a credit card with a 20% interest rate, it is vital to pay that off before saving or investing. If your debt carries a lower interest rate, such as 3% for your home mortgage, it may not be as critical to rush to pay that off. Along with reviewing the interest rates on your debt, it’s also important to review your financial goals, progress, setbacks and opportunities at least once a year. Consider working with a financial adviser who can help.

Giving back to others
As your household income and wealth continue to grow, consider how you might want to direct some of your income to charitable organizations or causes that are meaningful to you. More than ever, the clients we serve are interested in aligning their charitable giving with their core beliefs and key values, which produces meaningful generosity. Many individuals and families make charitable gifts from their checkbook, but there are also tax-advantaged giving methods to consider, such as using appreciated assets from your after-tax brokerage account or using a Donor Advised Fund. Talk to a financial adviser or charitable giving professional to learn more.

Financial checkups
Doctors recommend regular wellness examinations and yearly physicals to monitor our physical health, and we financial advisers do the same for our clients’ financial health. Regular checkups are especially important as you enter a time where you may be expanding your family, increasing your household income and wealth, and starting to plan for what comes next after the working world. At least once a year, you should look at your income and expenses, talk about your savings, debt repayment, and investments, and review your financial goals and objectives. Remember, prevention is the best medicine!

PLEASE SEE IMPORTANT DISCLOSURE INFORMATION at A copy of our written disclosure Brochure as set forth on Part 2A of Form ADV is available at

In the headlines
When Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Jalen Hurts takes the field at the Super Bowl later this month, his agent, Nicole Lynn, will have been the first Black woman to represent an NFL player in the Super Bowl. Women make up less than a quarter of all NFL agents, and most of them are white.

In other Super Bowl news, Donna Kelce will be the first mom to have two sons facing off against one another in the championship game.

The Cedar Rapids Community School District has appointed Tawana Grover as its new superintendent. Grover served seven years as superintendent in Grand Island, Neb.

Fourteen top U.S. business schools, as ranked by Fortune, last year achieved women’s enrollment of at least 45% in their full-time programs. Those with the highest percentages of women MBA students were George Washington University, Johns Hopkins University and Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, all of which had at least 50%.

Former state Sen. Rita Hart was elected as the next chair of the Iowa Democratic Party. Hart, a former teacher and farmer from Wheatland, lost against Rep. Mariannette Miller-Meeks for Iowa’s 2nd Congressional District seat by six votes. One of Hart’s first tasks will be leading the party through the Democratic National Committee’s decision to drop Iowa’s first-in-the-nation caucuses from the early nominating calendar.

Both chambers of the Iowa Legislature last week advanced bills that would restrict how schools handle “gender identity” issues. A House committee bill would prohibit school districts from providing accommodations intended to affirm a student’s change in gender identity, such as using their preferred name and pronouns, without written parental consent. Senate lawmakers advanced bills that would restrict school instruction related to gender identity and data collection on topics such as students’ sexual orientation and mental health.

A bill introduced in the Iowa House would remove gender identity as a protected class under the Iowa Civil Rights Act. State law has made discrimination based on gender identity illegal since 2007, but if the bill were to pass, transgender Iowans would no longer be protected from discrimination in areas such as housing, hiring, education and public services.

The Chrysalis Foundation announced it has awarded more than $100,000 to 27 local nonprofits as part of its annual grant program. The selected organizations work to address the Chrysalis Foundation’s mission of ensuring safety, security, education, and economic empowerment to girls and women.

The Iowa Women’s Foundation is now accepting applications for its 2024 Core Grant program. The $150,000 program funds organizations across the state that address one of the barriers to women’s economic self-sufficiency that the Iowa Women’s Foundation has identified, which are child care, housing, employment, education and training, mentorship, and transportation.

The top-earning 10% of men in the U.S. labor market logged an average 77 fewer work hours or 1.5 hours each workweek last year than in 2019, according to a new study. Over the same three-year period, the top-earning 10% of women cut back time at work by 29 hours or about half an hour less work each week. The study suggests the high earners were more likely to benefit from flexible working arrangements, and have begun to share more household duties.

A group of 15 fathers in the U.S. House has come together to form the first Congressional Dads Caucus. The caucus, its members say, will advocate for policies and legislation to help support American working families — including the expansion of the Child Tax Credit, as well as increased access to affordable child care, health care and paid family leave. A Moms in the House Caucus was created in 2019.

Worth checking out
The queen of Everest trains while working at Whole Foods (New York Times). As people return to offices, it’s back to miserable for America’s working moms (Time). Women in South Korea are on strike against being ‘baby-making machines’ (New York Times Opinion). 5 women, immense power: Can they keep US from fiscal brink? (Associated Press). The secret tax on women’s time (Time). Women rule the Ivies (Politico Women Rule newsletter). The growing crisis with Black maternal health (Iowa Public Radio Talk of Iowa). Photos: Pioneers of Iowa high school girls wrestling (Cedar Rapids Gazette).
Bill moving through Statehouse would license certified professional midwives
From left: Reps. Monica Kurth, Jane Bloomingdale and Bobby Kaufmann at the subcommittee meeting at the Iowa Capitol on Feb. 1. Photo by Emily Kestel
A bill that would license and regulate certified professional midwives unanimously passed out of an Iowa House subcommittee last week.

House Study Bill 80 was introduced by Rep. Bobby Kaufmann, R-Wilton, who has long advocated for its passing. Kaufmann introduced an identical bill in 2021, where it passed the Iowa House 93-2. It did not make it through the Senate.

Advocates for midwife licensure have pushed for decades to have licensed CPMs in the state. They say doing so would help drive down maternal mortality rates and create more maternal care options for parents who have healthy, low-risk pregnancies in an era where there’s a shortage of birthing units.

Iowa is one of 13 states where CPMs are not licensed or regulated. Unlike certified nurse midwives, who are primarily hospital-based, CPMs specialize in births that occur in homes and stand-alone birthing centers and do not require a nursing credential or graduate degree in midwifery. Instead, CPMs are direct-entry, and complete a multiyear program through the North American Registry of Midwives.

There are about a dozen credentialed CPMs that currently practice in the state, but because they are not licensed, it makes it difficult to order labs, ultrasounds and get medications from pharmacies within their scope of practice.

“Without licensure, we have trouble accessing the things we need to provide the absolute safest care we can for the clients we work with,” said Bethany Gates, who is a CPM who practices out of Vinton.

Opponents of the bill include the Iowa Hospital Association, Iowa Independent Physician Group, Iowa Medical Society and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.

Phil Jeneary, a lobbyist for the Iowa Medical Society, said at the subcommittee meeting the main concerns with the bill are in regard to education standards, patient safety and following standardized practices for transferring care and informed consent.

The bill now heads to the full Ways and Means Committee.

Be fearless with us
At its core, Fearless exists to help empower Iowa women to succeed in work and life. We believe that everyone has a story to share and that we cannot progress as a society unless we know about one another. We share stories through featuring women in our reporting, featuring guest contributions and speakers at our events.

We are always looking for new stories to share and people to feature. Get in touch with us!

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