Forty Under 40: Joe Benesh
K-12 Focus Market Leader and Project Manager, RDG Planning & Design
Friday, March 07, 2014 7:00 AM
Building frameworks and using his creative side are two things that Joe Benesh is passionate about.
Mentor: Phil Hodgin, principal and corporate CEO at RDG
Benesh uses music as a creative outlet and is in two bands, one that plays electronic music and another that plays rock ‘n’ roll. He both writes music and plays the guitar.
As an architect at RDG Planning & Design, Benesh gets to do both of those things on a regular basis. He also uses both to try to make a difference in the community.
“I like doing things that make an impact, and do well or do good in the community,” Benesh said.
At RDG, Benesh works with area schools to identify future needs - whether that involves growth or consolidation - and works with the teams that work on projects.
In the community, Benesh has been involved with helping resurrect the American Institute of Architects Central Iowa group. Part of his involvement with the Des Moines Downtown Chamber of Commerce has been helping facilitate a strategic planning process.
“It’s all about creating stuff,” Benesh said. “I think that just seeing things come into
focus, come into form, is something I’m really passionate about.”
Benesh graduated from Iowa State University in 1999, and then spent about six years in Chicago and six in Miami before moving back to Iowa in 2011.
His reason for coming back: A native of Newton, Benesh wanted his now-12-year-old daughter, Kylie, to grow up in the same good environment he did. Since coming back, he’s also reconnected with Cari Ver Ploeg, a high school classmate who is now his girlfriend.
He saw that the area, specifically downtown Des Moines, has grown and changed in the time he was gone. Now he is a part of that momentum.
“I started looking around,” Benesh said. “I went to the (Greater Des Moines) Partnership calendar and chamber calendars and I just started populating my calendar, and really started digging in and finding out what’s going on with each one of these chambers. ... From that, it organically evolved.”
Reasons he’s a Forty:
• Benesh has taken leadership positions as 2014 president of the Des Moines Downtown Chamber of Commerce, the West Des Moines Leadership Academy co-chair, and a member of the Capital Crossroads Leveraging Committee and Social Capital Committee.
• He was the 2009 AIA Miami Young Architect of the Year.
• He is an organizing member of the Young Professionals of Iowa Council, a group focused on the coordination of young professional efforts in the region.
• “What sets Joe Benesh apart is his assertiveness,” wrote Ben Hildebrandt, the former executive director of AIA Iowa.
• He participates in several leadership groups at RDG.
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