On September 19, Community Foundation President & CEO Les Garner was inducted into the Junior Achievement Business Hall of Fame. This honor recognizes Les’ impact on our local nonprofit sector, his integrity as a community leader, and his commitment to advancing the quality of life and opportunities in the Corridor.
Les has led the Community Foundation since 2010. In that time, assets have grown from $91 million to $173 million. Les has also been instrumental in bringing multiple organizations and donors together to create the MICRO loan program and to expand Kids on Course University. From 1994 to 2010, Les served as president of Cornell College in Mount Vernon, Iowa, where he led a $105 million campaign to enhance the college’s endowment and upgrade its facilities.
“Junior Achievement is very much about entrepreneurship, and I consider myself a social entrepreneur,” Les said at the induction ceremony. “My colleague Rollie Tillman at University of North Carolina Chapel Hill once defined an entrepreneur as someone who is hungry for that which is new, and a social entrepreneur is one who is hungry for new ways to enhance our public life and community wellbeing.”
Throughout his life, Les has been committed to community service in a variety of ways. At Cornell, Les instituted a new student orientation volunteer service and led a group each year with his wife, Katrina. He also created a service learning and community service program which led to Cornell’s Office of Civic Engagement. Les has served as president of the Cedar Rapids Chamber of Commerce and the Cedar Rapids Symphony, and has served on a variety of boards at the local, regional, national, and even international levels.