Since 2004, Tiffany Menke has been the face of the Urbandale Chamber of Commerce, but her path to being named president of the organization dates to when she earned the nickname “The Casey’s Girl.”

Menke said the name stuck after an encounter many years ago when she was working the morning doughnut shift at a Casey’s General Store in Newton, her hometown. It was a rainy day that came after a long dry spell. For some reason, customers were in a foul mood.

“There was a gentleman who came in one morning for coffee, and everyone was grumpy because it was raining, and I just looked at him and said, ‘Are you the one who prayed so hard for all this rain?’ He looked at me and said, ‘You’re what I’m looking for.’ ”

She was offered a job in customer service with a film production company, and that job led to a six-year stint as vice president of marketing and tourism for the Newton Chamber/Alliance. She was charged with serving as director of the Newton Convention and Visitors Bureau, a division of the Newton Chamber/Alliance. She also carried out marketing projects for the Newton Development Corp., Newton Housing Development Corp. and the Newton Chamber of Commerce, all of which were under the Newton Chamber/Alliance umbrella.

All because she said the right thing at the right time and learned a lesson in building relationships. The Casey’s Girl really had no designs on nonprofit management prior to that rainy morning in Newton.

These days, having served the last 13 years as president of the Urbandale Chamber of Commerce, she can’t imagine doing anything else.

“I love it. I get paid to make a difference in people’s lives,” she said. “What better job is there?”

When Menke was hired at the Urbandale Chamber, the organization was located in a double-wide cubicle at City Hall. It had 200 members. These days it has more than 700 members and is located in Class A office space on 100th Street. About 40 percent of the membership is located outside Urbandale. Menke believes businesses outside the city are attracted by the Urbandale Chamber’s diverse benefits.

“We do a really good job of meeting our members’ needs,” she said.

She admits that her life, including her inclination to “volunteer whenever anybody needs something,” is tightly bound by activities related to the chamber and her four children. “My kiddos are my main focus,” she said. Don’t be surprised if they show up with her at a chamber function or volunteer event.

If she catches some spare time, Menke likes to camp, fish and canoe with her kids. She’ll be the one baiting the hook. You never know what will turn up at the end of the line.

Three Areas of Influence

  • Leading the effort in 2016 that landed a five-star accreditation from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, placing the Urbandale Chamber among the 1 percent of all chambers in the nation to receive the designation. “It is a validation of what we are doing here and the impact that we are having,” she said.
  • Launching an Urbandale Chamber campaign that resulted in an increase in non-dues revenues and provided additional programs for its members. “We are not organized just to help ourselves; we are here to help our businesses. It completely changed the position of the chamber,” Menke said.
  • Avoiding saying “no” to an opportunity to volunteer. “I’m all over the place,” she said.