Peggy Huppert describes herself as the “face and voice” of the American Cancer Society in Central Iowa.

Huppert is the first senior representative of community engagement for the American Cancer Society in Central Iowa, a position created in September 2013 as part of a national reorganization. The position is designed to connect the organization with community members as well as better educate them about the American Cancer Society’s mission.

Huppert, a Wisconsin native, started her career as a newspaper reporter and editor but quickly transitioned to the world of nonprofits. She’s worked in communications, development, government relations and as executive director for both community and statewide nonprofits. She has served on the boards of four nonprofits, and also  owned a consulting business while her children were growing up.

Huppert first moved to Iowa to attend college, and despite a recent nine-month stay in the Twin Cities, she’s happy to be back in Iowa and in her new role.

“I’m excited to focus on having an impact on the Des Moines area in the fight against cancer,” Huppert said. “Although we enjoyed our time in the Twin Cities, my husband and I really missed Central Iowa and wanted to return.”

Describe your role with the American Cancer Society.
I’m responsible for engaging with business, health care and community leaders in Central Iowa to promote the work of ACS, engage new volunteers and solicit support. I lead the market team of 10 staff members with a goal of increasing overall income and mission outcomes.

What’s a day in your job look like?
I might be planning or running a market team meeting, or focusing on our key accounts and goals. I spend a lot of time talking to my teammates about their challenges and brainstorming solutions. I meet with marketing and HR staff at midsized businesses as well as nonprofits with whom we work or want to work. I identify, cultivate and recruit high-level volunteers. Recently some colleagues and I spent time over the lunch hour selling Dollars 4 Denim stickers to employees at Principal Financial Group Inc. We raised $1,400 and talked to dozens of people about our programs and events. I love stuff like that.

Since coming into this position, what has your focus been? How have you approached it?
A fair amount of time has been spent learning, planning and gathering information since this is a new position. I’ve enjoyed getting to know my new teammates (some of whom are new to the organization) and building the team, which really just started in January. We’ve developed a market profile and goals, for which we’ll all be responsible. We are small -- 22 people -- but do a tremendous amount of diverse work for ACS locally, statewide and nationally. 

What new ideas do you hope to bring to this position? 
I’m excited about the market team concept. Regularly bringing together people whose work impacts the Des Moines community, whether that’s planning events or working with health systems or advocating for policy changes, will help us be more effective and save more lives. Truly working collaboratively can be challenging. I’m trying to make it fun and rewarding, finding early wins that people can celebrate.

What other short-term goals do you have? What about long-term goals?
My short-term goals are to get some new organizations involved in the fight against cancer through ACS and have successful fundraising events this year – the Coaches vs. Cancer gala and golf tournament, Making Strides Against Breast Cancer walk and the Polk County Relay for Life. Longer term, I’d like to see more information sharing, cooperation and maybe even collaboration among cancer groups. Cancer is the No. 1 killer of Iowans and causes so much suffering. There is a lot left to do.

What do you enjoy doing in your spare time?
My husband and I are huge football fans, so from September through January, we enjoy watching our favorite teams. This year, we added the Winter Olympics and March Madness to the mix. We have four adult children, elderly parents and seven needy dogs in our family who demand their share of time and attention. Now that the weather is improving, we’re looking forward to riding our motorcycle and bikes, along with playing tennis, gardening, swimming and golfing. We love live theater, concerts and movies. And a major hobby for both of us is politics, so this will be an active year for that.