2014 Women of Influence honoree: Lynette Rasmussen
Friday, August 01, 2014 6:00 AM
Lynette Rasmussen touches a lot of borders.
Position: Corporate counsel for The Rasmussen Group Inc.; executive director of the Rasmussen Foundation
Education: Bachelor’s degree from Augustana College, Rock Island, Ill.; Drake University Law School
Hometown: Des Moines
Family: Husband, Kurt; children Sanna, Karl and Maren
Hobbies: World travel
As a student in the Saydel Community School District, the then Lynette Skow saw herself as an international person, and why not? Her family celebrated its Danish roots, and she grew up reveling in the large Danish community that has settled in Iowa for generations.
She was what you might call bruising buddies with Kurt Rasmussen and his family, whose immigrant forebears launched Jensen Construction (now operating under The Rasmussen Group Inc. umbrella) 100 years ago in the Danish enclave of Kimballton and ultimately moved its base of operations to Greater Des Moines.
We say bruising buddies because the two were highly competitive, both gaining statewide attention as student-athletes.
“We kind of fought like brother and sister,” Lynette said. “He was my competition, and I was his competition. The fact that we got married caused a lot of people to scratch their heads.”
Kurt proposed to Lynette in the spring of 1989 after the two teamed up to negotiate the release of two 150-ton cranes that were being held at the Port of Houston on shipment for Jensen Construction.
Dial forward 25 years and Lynette is general counsel for a construction conglomerate headed by Kurt, and the couple, along with their two daughters and their son, routinely factor visits to foreign lands into their vacation plans.
None of this is to say that the international reach is all play. Since 2010, Lynette has been the honorary Danish consul for Des Moines, a title bestowed by Queen Margarethe II of Denmark. Lynette’s voice message at work includes instructions on how visitors from Denmark can contact her if they find themselves in a difficult situation.
Lynette’s roots are firmly planted in Greater Des Moines. She was the first woman named president of the Prairie Meadows Racetrack and Casino board of directors. The Rasmussens have guaranteed multiyear support to the John Stoddard Rally Against Cancer, and they are supporters of the YMCA of Greater Des Moines Y Camp in Boone.
Her community activities provide lessons for her roles on the international scene.
She recently chaired a breakout session at the annual Danish Consular Conference in Copenhagen, where she used a little of the diplomacy that was necessary while chairing the Prairie Meadows board, with each person having a different personality and agenda.
“At times when things were very controversial, you had to take a deep breath and be very focused,” she said.
Three areas of influence
First woman named president of the Prairie Meadows Racetrack and Casino board of directors.
A United Way of Central Iowa Outstanding Volunteer from 1997 to 2000.
“She has been a force for betterment in our community, lending her expertise to and talents to projects and work leading to a great impact both locally and internationally,” according to the Community Foundation of Greater Des Moines.
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