Foundation honors emerging leaders, launches Forever LincolnWay fund

The LincolnWay Community Foundation’s annual award celebration on November 1 was all about looking to the future. In honoring eight local leaders and building excitement around the Forever LincolnWay Fund, the Foundation offered a vision of how rural Clinton County is building strong communities for today, tomorrow and forever.

With the public launch of the Forever LincolnWay fund, Foundation leaders shared how this resource will help support the organization’s work for generations to come. The fund is being built in partnership with local leaders and an anonymous donor, who has pledged $75,000 toward the $500,000 goal through the Community Foundation of Greater Dubuque’s Smalltown Dreams Initiative. 

“As of today, our soft campaign has raised over $365,000 in gifts and pledges from individuals, organizations, local town councils, our board members, Randy's Neighborhood Market ‘round-up" program’ and the Community Foundation of Greater Dubuque's Great Give Day,” said board member Sue Haack. 

The LincolnWay Community Foundation’s limited operating expenses are funded by donations and earnings from a small fund held at the Community Foundation of Greater Dubuque. Executive director Pat Henricksen is a volunteer, and the board expects to hire a paid director after she retires early next year. When the fundraising goal is reached, earnings will pay the new director and the fund will continue to grow, supporting the Foundation’s efforts to strengthen local nonprofits.

To learn more or make a gift to the Forever LincolnWay fund, visit

Leaders Under 40

Since 2012, the Foundation has honored leaders under 40 at its annual celebration, and this year, it recognized the achievements of seven local individuals. To date, the Foundation has recognized 40 young leaders, celebrating the accomplishments of those who are making a difference personally, professionally, and civically. Of the fourteen nominees this year, the seven who were selected were given $250 to award to a nonprofit of their choice. 

Kyle Burke has been a member of the Charlotte volunteer fire department since 2006, while raising a young family and starting a business of his own, Burke’s Body Shop. Kyle designated the Charlotte Fire Department as the recipient of his $250 award. 

“Not only is Kyle a great chief but a great example for the youth in our community. Kyle is always willing and ready to lend a helping hand. For this reason, I feel he is a great recipient of this award,” said his nominator. 

Bridget Miller is the vice president of the Referral Center board and co-chair of the capital campaign to raise $1 million for its new building. She has a full-time sales position with Farm Bureau and is active with the American Legion, Noon Lions, CEW, PEO, Junior Women and RAGBRAI. She also serves on the DeWitt Chamber and Development Company board. She designated her $250 award to the Referral Center. 

“Bridget is an experienced professional with planning and organizational skills that balance work, team support and ad hoc responsibilities in a timely and professional manner,” said her nominator. “She has a great passion and energy to serve those in need and to do it with great humility. I feel very strongly that she is very worthy of this award, as she is a blessing to this community and to all those around her.”

Jessica Beck is the marketing director at DeWitt Bank & Trust Co. and an active volunteer in leadership roles with DeWitt Junior Women, DeWitt Chamber and Development Company and DeWitt RAGBRAI. She is also a graduate of the Clinton Area Chamber of Commerce Leadership Institute. 

“Jessica is continuously putting forth the effort to make sure that the DeWitt community is shown in the best way possible,” says her nominator. Jessica awarded her $250 prize to Dolly Parton Imagination Library of Clinton County.

Jim Devine is the owner of four local businesses that employ 75 individuals: DeWitt Travel Mart, Subway, Another Round and Dairy Queen. He supports many local causes and organizations, while quietly performing random acts of kindness like providing dinners to families who have lost loved ones; ice cream treats to kids and coaches; thank you lunches for teachers, police and area businesses; and free movies and treats at the opera house.

“Jim is always a pleasure,” his nominator said. “Whenever I approach him for assistance with the Central Education Foundation, he says yes before I can finish asking and explaining what we need. Jim is always enthusiastic about his assistance and makes you feel like you are doing him a favor by allowing him to help.” Jim designated $250 to the DeWitt Fire Department. 

Connor Murphy is the owner of Murphy's Pub in DeWitt. Connor is on the DeWitt Chamber & Development Company’s Board of Directors, is a member of the Autumn Fest Committee, is active in planning the Skeffington Race and Community Event, and served on the RAGBRAI Executive Committee. He encourages others to get involved with efforts to encourage people to frequent local establishments and is no stranger when it comes to lending a hand for local fundraising. Every year, Murphy's Pub hosts events that benefit local nonprofits, such as the DeWitt Referral Center and DeWitt Fire Department. 

“Connor is just getting started when it comes to what he wants to do to improve our community. He will continue to grow his business and professional status while representing DeWitt in a positive light,” said his nominator. “Connor helps influence his community to be more vibrant, fun, caring and overall makes our community a better place to live.” Connor donated his award to the LincolnWay Community Foundation.

Heather and Mat Ohnemus are the first couple to be chosen for the Leaders Under 40 program. Heather’s passion for helping others is reflected in her role as a Family Nurse Practitioner at the Genesis Practice in De Witt. Matthew’s passion for helping students and teachers can be seen in his role as an athletics coach, teacher and now instructional coach in the Central DeWitt Community Schools.

Both are members of the First Congregational United Church of Christ serving in leadership roles in faith formation, youth ministry and acting church liturgists. Matt and Heather served on the Frances Banta Waggoner Library Expansion Steering Committee that raised $5.7 million to expand and renovate the 30-year-old library building. Both are involved with youth coaching.

Together, they are a powerful force but individually make time to pursue their own volunteer interests. Heather serves on the Board of Directors for the DeWitt Hospital Foundation. Matt directs his energies to the Central DeWitt Hall of Fame Committee, the Sabertooth Wrestling Club, and helps with the U.S. flag placement in front lawns. 

“Heather is a quiet leader who cares deeply for her patients and those in our community. Heather continues to give back to the community in which she grew up. She is a thoughtful leader who listens to others when making decisions and leads by example in all that she does,” said her nominator.

“Matt works very hard for kids and truly cares about everyone in which he encounters. He volunteers to do many things and ‘no’ is not in his vocabulary when it comes to school duties,” said Matt’s nominator. “He has become a great leader in our school as he has been an instructional coach that pushes teachers to new levels. He is truly a person I go to often for his expertise and leadership among our staff.”

The Ohnemuses designated their award for the Wellspire Project.

Spotlight Award 

Lance Goettsch, of Calamus, received the Spotlight Award recognizes and individual for their exceptional contributions and efforts in foundation work and in the community. Lance was recently elected mayor of Calamus and is active with Hometown Pride committee, the CALCO board, RAGBRAI, Farm Bureau, and DCDC. Lance is part of the asset committee for the Foundation, sharing his knowledge and passion for the benefit of all.