Foundation celebrates Steege, launches Allamakee Forever Fund

Betty Steege has a way of bringing out the best in community members to make a difference for the people of Allamakee County.

“When Betty calls, you know you are going to say yes if there is any way possible you can help,” says Linda DeBuhr. 

DeBuhr’s work with the Alice Hermeier Foundation has brought her close to Steege, who for the past decade has served as the coordinator of the Allamakee County Community Foundation. This year, the Community Foundation board and its local partners are excited to celebrate Steege’s 10-year service anniversary and the impact she has helped make in communities countywide. Now, with the launch of the Allamakee Forever Fund, the Foundation seeks to deepen that impact and continue it for generations to come. 

“Betty’s passion for philanthropy is such an inspiration to our board. She exemplifies our vision statement and helps us see the possibilities ahead,” says Erin Iverson, Community Foundation board chair. “I value her hard work and the community relationships she has developed. She continually strives leave a lasting impact on all she is involved with.”

Steege’s roots in the county date back to 1995, when she and her husband, Ron, purchased a farm in Harpers Ferry. They moved to the area permanently in 2009. Steege was familiar with the work of charitable foundations from serving on boards in the Waterloo area –—and she was used to being busy. “Knowing my background, board member Jane Hasek encouraged me to apply for the Community Foundation position,” she recalls. 

Today, Steege is a well-known advocate for strong communities and nonprofit organizations across the county. “Doing this job, you get to know a lot of different people, and I thoroughly enjoy them,” she says. In fact, the relationships she’s developed are what continue to motivate her after a decade of service. 

“Betty’s strength is in her caring nature,” says fundholder and Foundation board member emeritus Rachelle Howe. “She has gone out of her way to visit with individuals, businesses and organizations to develop our programs and build more than 30 endowments in Allamakee County.”

When Howe lost her husband, Steege helped launch an endowment fund to carry on his legacy while addressing mental health challenges in the community. “Betty encouraged and supported me in developing the fund and gathering a great committee,” Howe reflects. “She made the process as simple as possible during a time where I was exhausted from grief.” 

In 2014, the Foundation received a grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture to build the capacity of local nonprofits and help them inspire and equip community members to work together on a wide range of issues. The work took place in Harpers Ferry and resulted in the creation of a splash park, the acquisition of the Oil Springs School, research around housing challenges, and a brochure to support small businesses and jobs. Steege was heavily involved with this effort through her role at the Foundation and as the president of the Harpers Ferry Boosters. 

“People just couldn’t believe it was possible to be part of something like that,” says Steege. “Helping citizens become more aware of what they can do to improve the county through philanthropy is the Foundation’s most important role.” 

“As an organization, we stay on top of community needs and facilitate work to address them,” says Iverson. “Betty has seen the Foundation grow from just a dream to all that it is today, and with her support, we’ve made a difference in every one of the communities we serve.” 

The Foundation has helped build stronger communities in Allamakee County for more than 15 years. These efforts are made possible by local generosity, Steege and a dedicated board, and the support of Allamakee Forever Fund. This fund will help ensure the Foundation can continue assisting donors and supporting community improvements for generations to come.

Steege and her husband are great believers in giving back, and have made their own gift to the Allamakee Forever Fund. “Our total belief in the Allamakee County Community Foundation and board made our decision an easy choice,” says Steege. “The Forever Fund presents an opportunity for each of us to invest in the Foundation and thus the success of our communities. As an endowment, it will continue growing forever, and the flexible dollars it will provide can help address critical and emerging needs.” To learn more, visit