Age 36 | Environmental planning and historic preservation branch director, Federal Emergency Management Agency
Eric Wieland returned home to Iowa from active duty in 2008 as floodwaters were devastating the eastern part of the state. Wieland, a major in the Iowa National Guard, said he knew he wanted to help and quickly got involved with the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) restoration efforts.
He now manages the FEMA branch that is in charge of environmental planning and historic preservation. He oversees projects that are concentrated in Cedar Rapids and Iowa City, such as restoring the University of Iowa’s Art Building and Cedar Rapids’ Public Works Building.
“It’s funny; I joined the National Guard as a way to pay for college,” he said. At the time, Wieland was studying landscape architecture and environmental studies at Iowa State University, but he soon realized how important his decision was and went down the route to become an officer.
Then 9/11 happened, and Wieland said he knew things were going to change. He was deployed to Ohio for a short period and later served in two yearlong deployments to Afghanistan and a yearlong deployment to Kosovo.
Balancing his professional life with his personal life was hard, he said, and his deployments delayed his family plans. However, Wieland has now been happily married for five years to Susan Stull, and the two are expecting their first child in May.
Wieland is in the Greater Des Moines Leadership Institute’s current class and is actively involved with Road Rally Charities, an organization that puts on car-related events and donates all of its proceeds to local charities and organizations.
“I’m a huge car guy, so there’s that natural interest there to begin with,” Wieland said. “There are numerous car-oriented groups, but they aren’t as inclusive, and not all have a charity-related message.”
Five reasons he’s a 40:
• Oversees and manages FEMA-funded environmental planning and historic preservation projects related to the 2008 flooding.
• Founding member, past president and current member of the board of directors for Road Rally Charities.
• Now a major in the Iowa Army National Guard, Wieland has served his country since 1993, including two yearlong deployments to Afghanistan and a yearlong deployment to Kosovo.
• Awarded two Bronze Stars, a Meritorious Service Medal and three Army Commendation medals during service with the Iowa National Guard.
• Has been involved with the Iowa chapter of the American Society of Landscape Architects since 2000.
He regularly takes part in the Des Moines Marathon, the Drake Relays Half Marathon, the Dam to Dam race, the Big Creek Triathlon and RAGBRAI with his wife, Susan, who he says is just as competitive as he is.