Age 37 | Economic development director, city of Ankeny

Curtis Brown is serving his community every day. In many respects, service occupies his down time, his family time, his professional life. He is, after all, economic development director for a city whose population and business opportunities seem to advance by the day.

“When I think of myself, a large part of my identity has been as a public servant over the years,” he said.

Brown didn’t set out to be a public servant. International business was his fancy when he entered graduate school at the University of Texas. Then he landed an internship with the Austin, Texas, municipal electric utility, working closely with and observing the city manager.

Days were all about building relationships with citizens and businesses, all with an eye toward advancing economic opportunities in the city.

“It really opened my eyes to public service and the privilege it is to help shape a community,” Brown said.

Although he worked in state government for a short time in his home state of Minnesota after completing his work on a master’s, he was drawn to municipal government.

“I couldn’t shake my interest in local government,” Brown said.

He has been with the city of Ankeny since 2007.

“He represents the city of Ankeny well in all settings,” wrote Tim Moerman, a former assistant Ankeny city manager who recently started work as Waukee’s city administrator.

“My first impression of Curtis was that he was cordial, genuine and likable. … I have found out that he is much deeper than that,” Moerman said.

Because he is fluent in Spanish, Brown works as an interpreter for Make-A-Wish Foundation of Iowa and last year accompanied a group of Minnesota doctors to an impoverished area of southern Mexico to serve as their interpreter.

Brown also is heavily involved in his church.

“Curtis is a role model for all of what a public service employee can be,” Mike Colwell, executive director of the Business Innovation Zone, said in a letter.

Five reasons he’s a 40:

• Builds strong relationships with business leaders, economic development professionals and area communities.

• Helps lead the Ankeny delegation on the Greater Des Moines Partnership’s annual trip to Washington, D.C.

• Active with Iowa Commercial Real Estate Association.

• Spanish interpreter for Make-A-Wish Foundation of Iowa.

• Inspiration for establishment of a Sunday evening prayer service at Our Lady’s Immaculate Conception Church in Ankeny.

Mentor: Tim Moerman, former assistant Ankeny city manager, currently city administrator in Waukee

Fun Fact: At home, Brown speaks only Spanish to his children, while his wife speaks English so they will grow up bilingual.