Founding member Kowzan steps off North Lee board after 16 years of service
FORT MADISON – Joe Kowzan, a long-time board member and co-founder of the North Lee Community Foundation is stepping down from this organization’s board of directors. “I applaud the leadership efforts of our board throughout the years but after 16 years it is time for someone else to take over” said Kowzan.
Founded in 2004 by then Fort Madison Mayor Kowzan and Steve Koellner, this group has been focused on providing an opportunity for local citizens to establish their own legacy through permanent charitable endowments. “I especially want to thank all of our fund holders who trusted in our board, this organization, and all that we stood for”, said Kowzan. “I believe we have accomplished what we set out to do and I am so proud of this group. These endowments are permanent, benefitting our local charities forever”, he added.
When established in 2004, this organization was known as the Fort Madison Community Foundation. In 2005, the board decided to represent a much larger area, and changed its name to The Community Foundation of North lee County. This included all the smaller towns in the area, such as West Point, Wever, Denmark, and Houghton. That same year, North Lee affiliated with The Quad Cities Community Foundation, one of only 11 Foundations in Iowa that meet standards set forth by the National Council of Foundations based in Washington, D.C. An Iowa community foundation has the choice to meet such national standards and stand alone, or must affiliate with a Foundation that has such credentials.
In 2019, the Foundation changed its name to North Lee Community Foundation, disbanded from The Quad Cities, and re-affiliated with the Keokuk Area Community Foundation. “The move to Keokuk gives our organization a more local feel, and should be nothing but beneficial for years to come”, said Kowzan. Recently the Keokuk Area Foundation has accepted both North Lee and the Burlington based Des Moines County Community Foundation as affiliates.
Since its founding, North Lee has endowed $20 Million, represented by 90 named funds. These endowments distribute approximately $950,000 annually to local non-profits and also provide scholarships to students throughout the region.
It is estimated that Lee County, Iowa alone will have a wealth transfer of $872 Million over the next decade. It is North Lee’s goal to capture a fraction of that wealth and endow it. “Our organization offers our citizens a choice to create their own legacy and improve the lives of all of our residents. We represent something very positive.”, said Kowzan.
The current board members are: Steve Koellner, Chuck Holmes, Jan Woodroffe, Dianne Hope, Dick Fehseke, Tim Gobble, Jared Reed, Matt Hayes, Chad Ward, Linda Larkin, Jane Krebill, and Laurie Breen.