116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
For the past six years, LaNisha Cassell has served the community through her leadership at the African American Museum of Iowa, the only organization in the state solely focused on the experiences of African American Iowans.
Cassell joined the staff of the museum as deputy director in 2016, coming from roles in the not-for-profit fundraising sector. A year later, she took over leadership as executive director and has been guiding the organization since, re-imaging the museum’s exhibits, navigating through the pandemic and now planning for the future of the organization.
Her role keeps her busy on a lot of fronts, doing everything from responding to emails and having regular team conversations about the next exhibit, program or project to keeping up on meetings with community leaders, museum board members and museum members.
Cassell, a native of Washington, D.C., also is tasked with connecting with potential partners and donors. She oversees operations, develops fundraising initiatives and works on expand the museum’s presence by cultivating partnerships, increasing visibility and advancing the museum’s programming.
“I’m passionate about the mission of the museum because educating people with authentic history provides a connection from the past to the present that inherently impacts the future,” she said.
Her community-focused work doesn’t stop with the museum.
Cassell also serves — and has served — on several volunteer boards. She currently is on the board of directors for the Cedar Rapids Metro YMCA, the Cedar Rapids Community School District Foundation, the Cedar Rapids Metro Economic Alliance’s Innovation Council, the Iowa Cultural Coalition and the Iowa Women’s Foundation marketing committee.
“I love giving back using my skills and talents,” she said. “I lend my organizational skills, as well as my passion connecting people and resources, when possible.”
She’s also managed to add a meaningful element to a favorite hobby — cake baking and decorating.
“I really love making wedding cakes. But I also volunteer with a nonprofit organization called Cakes From the Heart, made up of individuals who donate decorated cakes for youth and seniors engaged with local human service organizations.”
Business 380 spotlights HER magazine's Women of Achievement, published by The Gazette. The awards were sponsored by Farmers State Bank.