Coe College - Center for Community Engagement

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Service Spotlight: Tom Wieseler

Tom Wieseler, the Sodexo General Manager at Coe College, has a very active and engaged life off the Coe campus. He has gone to great lengths to make our community, and more specifically the Mt. Vernon, IA community better. Two major ways that he has done this is through a position on the Mt. Vernon School Board and the Mt. Vernon City Council. Learn more about his experiences with both organizations below.
Mt. Vernon School Board
1. What drew you to become involved with this Board? After living a year in Mt.Vernon, my wife and I decided we wanted to stay there and make it our home and the place we wanted to raise and educate our children. We decided we needed to engage in the community. Vicky got involved with our church and I decided to be a parent coach and get involved in the school district. After living in Mt. Vernon [for] 3 years, I was asked to run for school board. I did and I was elected. I ran 9 times total (3 year terms), and served 10 of those 27 years as school board president. Eventually I also served 6 years on the state school board association as well.
2. What was your favorite part about working with the school board? [My]Favorite part was celebrating the District’s successes-either athletically, academically or in fine arts.
3. What impact do you think you’ve had on the people associated with the school board and the district? My impact was in getting a new high school built, an auditorium built, and 3 additions to an elementary. That was impact in facilities.  I also helped to hire 3 superintendents and 8 principals, whose impact on our 1500 students will go on indefinitely.
4. Why be on a public board like this that doesn’t pay? I would state that I was paid-at every graduation ceremony or every first day of school when I’d drive by each school and see the excitement on everyone’s faces, or walking a construction site when no one was around. I eventually enjoyed being that point person. The person making the tough decisions on program, personnel decisions, going to a bond vote or whatever.

Mt. Vernon City Council
1. What drew you to become involved with the city? I missed community service and was seeking a new area to engage in. Got on the ballot in November and have served since the start of this year. I will say, there is nothing more sobering then seeing your name on a ballot in an election booth and knowing at the end of the day if your fellow citizens give you a thumbs up or thumbs down.
2. What is your favorite part, so far, about working with the city of Mt. Vernon in this capacity? Learning about how another entity operates. I enjoy studying annual budgets, dealing with the public, striving to get improvements made in my community.
3. What impact do you think you have had or will have on the people in Mt. Vernon? Impact is that I’m a relationship person. I enjoy doing the background work on an issue. With a highway bypass coming to Mt. Vernon, I want to actively manage how we grow as a community with this major change.
4. How did you get involved with the city? Got involved to impact our housing inventory in the community and quality of life. That involves working with developers to get them to come to our community and being at the table to get a community center built or expand our trail system. I plan to get up to speed by attending meetings of the City’s subgroups-Economic Development, Parks & Rec, Board of Adjustment, Planning & Zoning and so on.

All of us in the Office of Community Engagement would like to congratulate Tom on his service to the School Board and State School Board Association in the past and to his new endeavors with the Mt. Vernon City Council!

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