Loree Miles doesn’t like thinking of herself as retired. 

Rather, she says, “I don’t actively have an income.”

Miles’ working career spans from the early 1980s through 2018 and has been punctuated with numerous volunteer activities including becoming involved with Anawim Housing and Planned Parenthood of the Heartland, and serving on the Iowa Department of Transportation Commission and the board of trustees for the Nature Conservancy.

“We need to take care of people who can’t take care of themselves and to help people who need a little bit of a boost,” said Miles, who served on the nonprofit housing board for 25 years. Anawim develops and manages 740 affordable housing units in the Des Moines area.

Miles was involved in the beginnings of Anawim. In the mid-1980s, when she was vice president of marketing at Hawkeye Bank and Trust, a community member approached Miles about whether the bank would help a new nonprofit group finance the purchase and rehabilitation of houses in the central part of Des Moines that then would be sold or rented to low- and moderate-income families.

Miles said she was able to get five banks to participate in a program that allowed the group to buy and repair houses.

“I got hooked because it was the right thing to do,” she said. “They started out with a duplex and Sister Stella [Neill, Anawim’s founder and first executive director] lived in half of it, and they were going to use that for collateral for the next house, which was a house that was across the street and falling down.”

Helping Anawim grow was rewarding, said Miles, who also has worked as a national marketing director for RSM McGladrey and for 14 years was owner, developer and franchisee of Value Place Hotels.

Miles, 64, said it’s work similar to what she did with Anawim that she wants to continue doing with other organizations like the Nature Conservancy, of which she became a board member in January.

“There isn’t anybody who lives in Iowa that doesn’t understand how important the role of farming is in Iowa,” she said. “We need to be better stewards of our land and we need to help farmers do that.”

Miles said she hopes to use her marketing and organizational skills to help in getting a state sales tax increase of 3/8ths of a cent to fund the Natural Resources and Outdoor Recreation Trust Fund. Iowa voters in 2010 approved a constitutional amendment creating the fund; however, a sales tax increase is needed to fund it.

She also wants to help the group develop programs that support farmers’ efforts to use fewer chemicals.

“I understand that asking a farmer to do something above and beyond, at his or her expense, is a really big deal,” Miles said. “So if we’re going to be successful at this, we need to figure out programs to help them do the right things.” 

Miles' Areas of Influence:

Has used her skills in finance and strategic planning to help nonprofit organizations improve and grow.

Has been a voice for Iowans’ sexual and reproductive health.

Shined a light on affordable housing needs in the Des Moines area.