HER MAGAZINE

Women of Achievement: Kathy Lamb raised funds, did strategic planning

An education through volunteerism

#x201c;The relationships I developed through my volunteer roles led to every position I've held since then,#x201d; Kathy
“The relationships I developed through my volunteer roles led to every position I’ve held since then,” Kathy Lamb says. (The Gazette)

Through decades of volunteer work, a career in the not-for-profit world and into retirement, Kathy Lamb has served as a guidepost to other women in the community.

“Being a strong woman, a role model and a mentor has been the most gratifying part of my life,” Lamb said.

Lamb, who does not have a four-year degree, said she received her higher education through volunteerism.

Beginning in the late 1960s, the mother of three daughters volunteered for multiple not-for-profit organizations, including the Jaycees Auxiliary, St. Luke’s Hospital and the Junior League.

“I had a 20-year volunteer career,” she said. “The relationships I developed through my volunteer roles led to every position I’ve held since then.”

Lamb’s first paid job was serving as the finance director for a congressional campaign. That job led to paid positions at United Way and Four Oaks. In 1992, Lamb joined the Cedar Rapids Central YMCA as development director and assumed additional responsibility as branch executive a few years later.

Lamb’s work at the Y, which included fundraising and strategic planning among other duties, helped to reinvigorate the organization’s finances.

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Her efforts ultimately resulted in construction of the new Helen G. Nassif Center to replace the old building in August 2001.

“For that to finally come to fruition after decades of planning, it was a huge thing with a lot of excitement and emotion,” Lamb recalled.

“We had a trail of people walking from the old building to the new building carrying water to put in the new pool.”

As she worked to move the Central YMCA organization forward, Lamb also elevated the careers and lives of the people who worked there.

“My leadership style is very participatory,” Lamb said. “I wouldn’t ask anyone to do anything I wouldn’t do myself.

“I was able to mentor and provide opportunities for the women and men who worked for me to grow in their professions within the Y and at other places.”

Many women hired and promoted by Lamb at the YMCA have gone on to their own achievements in the community after Lamb was the first to let them demonstrate their abilities.

One of those former employees is Lu Wherry, whom Lamb promoted from a part-time job in the YMCA pool to aquatics director.

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In her letter nominating Lamb for a HER Award, Wherry said, “I can’t help but think her true legacy is the foundations she gave to the many women she touched along the way, those of us that she believed in, those of us she guided and directed and those of us that will try to be the mentor she was to us.”

Lamb retired from the YMCA in 2008 and took a part-time role with Big Brothers Big Sisters. There for nine years, she continued to serve as a strong role model and mentor.

Now, approaching age 75, she said she stays busy volunteering for Central Furniture Rescue, an organization that helps people transition from homelessness.

“I’ve been blessed in my volunteer and professional careers to be part of important things in the community, but you don’t do those things by yourself,” Lamb said.

“My influence on making women’s lives better, that’s meaningful.”

Business 380 spotlights HER magazine’s Women of Achievement, published by The Gazette. The awards were sponsored by Farmers State Bank.

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