Jason Kiesau has overcome many challenges to get to where he is today. Moreover, Kiesau has turned those experiences into a passion to give young people the opportunities he didn’t have.

Helping others whose life stories are similar to his own plays a huge role in Kiesau’s life. When he’s not at work, one can find him volunteering his time with organizations including ManUp Iowa, where he mentors boys who simply want someone to look up to.

Kiesau does it because, not long ago, he was one of those boys.

Kiesau grew up in a home with many emotional challenges in his relationship with his father. Kiesau became a father himself at 18. At age 23, after spending two years working for an advertising agency, Kiesau said some professional adversity  prompted him to take a step back and re-evaluate himself as a person.

“When you really start digging into the consequences of unhealthy relationships in your life, you realize it affects everything you do,” he said. “I was tired of making mistakes.”

After moving to Des Moines, Kiesau went back to school to focus on business. He also read the book “Seven Habits of Highly Effective People,” and it was almost like the stars aligned for him, he said. 

“It helped me get back in touch with what I wanted to do in the world,” Kiesau said. “I wanted to help people who were experiencing what I’d experienced.”

Before joining Merit, Kiesau ran his own business focused on employee and leadership assessment. He also is co-owner of North Pole Entertainment and one of the driving forces behind Des Moines’ annual Santa Pub Crawl.

Kiesau also gains inspiration from his family, which includes 17-year-old daughter Marriah; 5-year-old son Daxon; as well as Kiesau’s girlfriend and her 7-year-old son. 

“I ask myself what kind of adults am I responsible for creating?” Kiesau said. “They are my major drivers and a significant part of my world.”

Reasons he’s a Forty:

• Facilitated the Central Iowa Leadership Study for Merit Resources and helped introduce employee and leadership assessments to employees  and clients

• Owner of North Pole Entertainment, which organizes the annual Santa Pub Crawl, an event that has raised almost $30,000 for Young Variety and Mentor Iowa

• Volunteers with ManUp Iowa as a mentor to teenage boys and assists the organization in a number of operational capacities

• He served two years as a board member of Young Variety, as well as two years as vice president of professional development while on the board of Young Professionals Connection. He also is co-organizer of WineArtMusic.