Typically, when we think of leaders, we envision people who lead companies, start nonprofits and advocate for community causes. The other day, I realized that leadership comes in many forms, some of which are unassuming and much smaller in scale, but equally important.
One example that comes to mind is my neighbor. In a recent conversation, she shared that despite how hard she works, she still visits a local Polk County food pantry to make ends meet for her family. If it wasn't for the help she receives at the food pantry, she would have to make difficult choices between paying her rent and putting food on the table for her children. It was clear that she felt ashamed to admit she could not do it alone, and excitedly talked about the day she no longer needed assistance and would be able to give back to others.
My neighbor is not alone in her struggle, and to me, these people are leaders. They do what needs to be done so their families can survive, and they continue working through often unbearable hardships and judgments from others. They are grateful for the help they receive, and they pay it forward when they are able. This is what leadership looks like.
I've been honored to serve the Polk County Board of Supervisors for 18 years and counting. I'm currently the only female out of five supervisors, and I have the privilege of working for all Polk County residents. I'm proud of all the wonderful growth we've seen throughout Polk County. We've been recognized as the No. 1 Wealthiest City in America by the "Today Show," No. 1 Best City for Families by Kiplinger and the No. 6 Best Place for Businesses and Careers by Forbes. But there are still some people, like my neighbor, who have been left behind.
We should continue to acknowledge our great successes and recognize our obvious leaders. But remember that leadership comes in many forms -- and many times these leaders still need our support. We need to lift them up and show them that they are appreciated and needed. Our strong Midwestern ethics are deep in Polk County, and leaders emerge from all walks of life.
Angela Connolly was first elected as a Polk County supervisor in 1998 and served recently as chairperson in 2015. She represents the 2nd District, which includes the northwestern area of the city of Des Moines, a portion of unincorporated Polk County and West Des Moines. She has been active in many civic and community activities, including Neighborhood Organizations. Connolly currently serves as co-chair of The Tomorrow Plan and tri-chair for Capital Crossroads: A Vision for Greater Des Moines and Central Iowa.