IOWA CITY — From helping his elderly grandmother with daily tasks as a child to running his own health care business and serving as an Iowa City Council member, Bruce Teague believes he always was meant for a life of service.
Teague recently joined the council after winning a special election in October, which he sees as simply a new way to serve his community.
Campaigning as an openly gay black man, he was part of a wave of candidates from traditionally underrepresented communities winning elections to positions in local government up through Congress, he said.
“I’m a part of that statistic and I’m very proud to be a part of that statistic,” Teague said. “For me personally, I don’t know that it was my race or my sexuality that got me in that seat or to win that race. I really do believe that holism of who I am as a person is what the people of Iowa City wanted.”
Teague was born in Chicago but moved to Iowa City before attending West High School, Kirkwood Community College and the University of Iowa. Since then, Teague’s career has gravitated mostly around health care.
He started by working in senior living facilities and hospices before founding Caring Hands and More, which helps clients with home health care, professional cleaning and other tasks. The company has grown to almost 90 employees, Teague said.
“I’ve always served other people,” Teague said. “My aunt passed away, while I was in high school she had cancer. Even though all I did was lay by her bed at night and bring her water and stuff like that, I always had a caring heart.
“As I grew up, health care just became my natural way of serving other people.”
Rodney Anderson, program director at Caring Hands and More, described Teague’s leadership ability as “willing to dig deeper” and offer his employees choices and a listening ear when faced with a difficult situation.
“The nice thing about Bruce is he lets you fly and he gives you options,” Anderson said. “He is truly one that wants to hear the voices among him which makes it a very easy place to work.”
When it comes to role models who have inspired Teague in his work, he said it’s mostly been his clients and their families at Caring Hands and More. It was President Barack Obama who polticially made a lasting impact on Teague.
“My sister sent my a picture of Dr. (Martin Luther) King (Jr.) and President Obama side by side and that was so very inspirational,” Teague said. “I went to President Obama’s second inauguration and that feeling that I had, I think that gives anyone hope no matter what your race or ethnicity is or your background.”
Despite that hope, Teague said he doesn’t see enough representation of people such as himself in business and political in leadership positions around the community.
“It’s disheartening to me when I look around the room and I see very few to no people that look like me in the many circles that I’m involved in,” Teague said. “I often ask myself why. … I don’t know the answer to that. What I do know is that the abilities are out there … .”
To help solve the issue, he’ll do what he can to elevate people to leadership roles such as mentoring people of color, with the hope of helping them achieve their aspirations.
As for Teague’s political career, he said he enjoys the work on council.
“I think I am just walking in the moment and open to any potential future opportunities,” Teague said. “I don’t know what the future holds for me except I’m really enjoying the process.”
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• Title: Iowa City Council member, owner of Caring Hands and More
• Age: 42
• Birthplace: Chicago
• Role models: President Barack Obama, health care clients
• One piece of advice: Be humble, listen more than speak and remember that effort is worth it if it makes life better for just one person.