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Good morning, happy Monday and happy June! Here’s what you’ll find in this week’s edition:

  • As Americans celebrate Pride Month, we asked members and leaders of the LGBTQ community about the barriers they continue to face and how allies can best support them.
  • My colleague Joe Gardyasz recently caught up with Laura Howe, who succeeded Marta Codina as Wells Fargo’s Midwest Central regional banking director.
  • Business Record Editor Emily Barske and I spent the latter half of last week in Sioux City on another leg of our Fearless road trip. We had a great time meeting with many women business owners and leaders throughout the metro area – stay tuned for future coverage from our conversations.
  • Business Publications Corp. President and CEO Suzanna de Baca recently published a column about what business leaders can do to support mental health in the workplace.

Have a great week!

– Emily Kestel, Fearless editor

We asked: How can allies best support the LGBTQ community?
Photo credit: Getty Images.
To help kick off Pride Month, we asked leaders in the LGBTQ community throughout the state about the barriers they continue to face and how to best support them.

We talked with:
  • Max Mowitz, program director, One Iowa.
  • Jewell Amos, interim president, Iowa City Pride.
  • Karen Mackey, executive director, Sioux City Human Rights Commission.

What’s the biggest barrier facing the LGBTQ community right now?

Mowitz: Over the last few years, we have seen increased attacks on our most vulnerable community members. Nationwide, states have been rolling back protections for trans and nonbinary individuals, especially youth. Iowa is not immune from the untenable transphobia, which is rampant.

Amos: I think widespread acceptance. You just never know when you walk into a store or get a job if the company cares about LGBTQ rights, unless you do a bunch of research – and that gets old, fast!

What are some successes that the LGBTQ community has experienced in the last year or so?

Mowitz: It is clear that there is more broad acceptance of the LGBTQ community, and more people know and care about an LGBTQ person in their life, which is valuable. Additionally, within the LGBTQ community there is more understanding of trans and nonbinary issues, which is essential for solidarity within the community.

Amos: I think the biggest win was getting a Democrat as president. I had spent four years, on and off, worrying if my rights as the non-bio mom of my daughter would be respected in the eyes of the law.

How can allies support the LGBTQ community?

Mowitz: This Pride season, dig deeper. In addition to listening to stories and experiences of LGBTQ people, challenge your biases against LGBTQ community members including trans and nonbinary individuals, LGBTQ people of color and LGBTQ disabled people.

Amos: Make it obvious that you support LGBTQ community members.

Mackey: Community members should investigate what local LGBTQ nonprofits are doing. There are LGBTQ organizations doing great work all across Iowa that could use their support; they do that work 365 days a year, not just one day in June.

What would you like to see from the business community in terms of support?

Mowitz: We need more than rainbow capitalism. We need to see businesses engaged at the Capitol as we fight anti-LGBTQ attacks. We need businesses to fight for LGBTQ people all year long, not just in June.

Amos: I'd like to see businesses go over their policies and procedures yearly to make sure they stay updated with employee rights and benefits as they relate to LGBTQ individuals.

Mackey: I would love to see the business community support local LGBTQ nonprofits. For example, there are two LGBTQ nonprofits in Sioux City (Siouxland Pride Alliance and Haus of Qui). Both have shoestring budgets and it is very rare for businesses to donate to either organization.

Meet Laura Howe, Midwest Central regional banking director, Wells Fargo
Wells Fargo Midwest Central regional banking director Laura Howe. Photo by Duane Tinkey.
In February, Laura Howe was promoted to regional banking director for Wells Fargo’s Midwest Central region, succeeding Marta Codina, whom Howe has worked with for the past 14 years. In her new position, Howe oversees 99 bank branches across five states, including Iowa, western Illinois, Kansas, Missouri and Nebraska. Collectively, those branches manage $11.7 billion in deposits, with approximately 750 employees.

Before her promotion, Howe was district manager for Wells Fargo’s Des Moines Metro South District. She has worked for Wells Fargo for 18 years, joining the company in 2004 as a phone banker for Wells Fargo Financial while she was a student at Simpson College in Indianola. In her career at Wells Fargo, she worked her way up to credit manager, senior credit manager and assistant manager. She moved to branch banking as a personal banker and assistant manager in 2008 and became a branch manager for multiple Iowa locations beginning in 2010.

In the community, Howe currently serves as a board member for United Way of Central Iowa and Women of Norwalk. Raised on a farm in eastern Iowa, she and her family enjoy visiting her parents on the family farm.

American Banker recently recognized Howe as one of 15 female bank executives nationally on its annual Most Powerful Women in Banking list.

How do you feel about succeeding Marta Codina in this role?
I am just so honored and blessed to get to be the person stepping in and doing that. I wouldn’t be here without her, and I tell her that all the time. She taught me to believe in myself, to go for more, strive for more, to really have work-life harmony and to help me get to where I am. She’s now working in our diversity, equity and inclusion division and doing great things for the whole company. But it’s pretty awesome because I still meet with her weekly. It’s been awesome to get to have her as a mentor and role model.

Now that you’re in this role, what is your approach to being a good leader?
I’ve been blessed with incredible leaders in my career that have guided me, and so I've taken a lot of what they've done and tried to employ that myself. I think of myself as a servant leader, someone who is there for my team. If I'm there for them, if I'm helping to develop them and really taking great care of them, they're going to do the same for our customers. That's how I see myself as a leader. I want to be that supportive person who is really there for our team and customers.

Are there community leadership positions you’re taking on that come with this new role?
I recently joined the board for United Way. I had been part of one of their engagement cabinets for volunteerism. I have a huge passion around volunteerism — I run the volunteer network for Wells Fargo in Central Iowa for our 14,000 team members. So I have so much passion around that and giving back and being part of the community. I work with Women of Norwalk, which is a local nonprofit where I live, and so I spend a lot of time with that. [With Wells Fargo] we just had an event where we called it our "Return to Volunteerism" because we just did our return to work, and we had 300-plus employees out there volunteering, and I got a chance to help with the Habitat Build downtown. We did it in the middle of the street in the rain, but it was a lot of fun. … Marta is staying on a lot of the community [positions] as I’m getting my feet wet, but I think I will be working to take on even more.

Left: Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg. Center: Actress Amber Heard. Right: Amerie Jo Garza, one of the victims in the Robb Elementary School shooting.
In the headlines
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In baby formula shortage, families turn to each other (Cedar Rapids Gazette). Star female athletes are fighting for more financial control – and winning (Wall Street Journal). Opinion: Breastfeeding isn’t ‘free.’ Here’s what it cost me (Washington Post). First, she learned how to fall. Then she became Ballard High School’s first female wrestler (Des Moines Register). What Lia Thomas could mean for women’s elite sports (New York Times).
Fearless road trip: Sioux City
Emily Barske and I had fun meeting women leaders and business owners in Sioux City last week. We spent an evening mingling at Rooted Boutique (fun fact: the owner's name is also Emily!) in downtown Sioux City, then spent the next morning hosting a conversation about women's issues and how to empower women in the community. Stay tuned for future coverage!
On Leadership: Mental health in Iowa in decline – what can leaders do?
Back in March I wrote a column called "Why mental health is a business imperative," in which I suggested mental health matters to leaders and directors guiding organizations because our workforces are our greatest assets and our future. I received a flood of emails and calls from readers, team members and friends who told me the column hit home both professionally and personally.

Some reported that as leaders they are seeing more employees grapple with stress, anxiety or behavioral issues than ever before and are still struggling to know how to respond. Some wrote because they are dealing directly with family members who have serious mental health issues and felt seen and heard by the column. Many shared personal stories.

Since May is Mental Health Awareness Month, I am continuing to talk about this topic – with some good news, some bad news and some suggestions about what you can do to support mental health in your own workplace.

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