Volunteer Leaders: Karla Thompson

Board Member, Dyersville Area Community Foundation

  • Board member since: 2005
  • Career: Executive Director, Dyersville Area Chamber of Commerce


Tell us about yourself! 

I started at the Chamber the day after college finals 24 years ago promoting tourism and the area to tourists, potential residents and businesses. I love meeting new people and working on projects. My husband, Corey, and children, Macy (high school senior) and Madison (high school freshman) will confirm this. In my free time, I love being with family and friends soaking up that Iowa heat!


Why did you start serving the Foundation board?   

When I started, I knew a little bit about the Foundation but didn’t realize everything they did until I got on the board! I already worked with the nonprofits in our community, businesses and locals in the area so it seemed like a perfect fit.  


What inspires you to keep serving? 

I love helping people and there are so many people with good hearts that are willing to help out ­– you just have to find their interest and connect the dots.

I like looking at the big picture of where we want to go and how do we get there. Taking the steps to accomplish a project or establishing a fund and then being able to look back on the years and see the progress is what keeps me going!  


What’s the most memorable grant awarded or impact made by the Foundation during your tenure?  

There are two projects that remind me of the community’s generosity. In 2010, the Foundation made a $250 grant to the Layette Group. It doesn’t sound like a lot of money, but their appreciation just warms my heart! These ladies volunteer their time to make quilts that are sent to hospitals or anyone who needs them. They wrote a grant for flooring for the church basement where they gathered to sew. The floor was the last thing they needed to spruce up their “club house.” Mary Jo Budan gave a heartfelt thank you speech at the grant reception as she described their husbands putting up shelving on the walls for the quilting supplies and finished quilts. The new flooring made it easier to clean and more inviting! I knew this grant was more than just flooring to them ­– it was a place they looked forward to going to see each other’s smiling faces.

The other memorable impact was a 2018 endowment payment from a local couple who loved bike riding. They purchased four bicycles for tourists – or locals – to ride for free! These are housed at the Dyersville Comfort Inn where people can check them out. I hear to this day of tourists who ride all over town, Heritage Trail and even up to the July 3rd fireworks as parking is a premium.