On June 3rd, the Ottumwa Leadership Academy celebrated 16 new graduates, bringing the alumni total to 164. As the Academy begins preparations for its 10th year, Joel Pedersen, graduate of the 2013 class of the Ottumwa Leadership Academy, will serve in the lead role of Dean. This volunteer position collaborates with the Curriculum Committee of the Advisory Board and the Executive Director to review, evaluate, and improve the curriculum for the year in addition to helping facilitate the monthly sessions.
Pedersen, Superintendent of the Cardinal Community School District, is an Ottumwa High School graduate. He received his bachelor’s degree from Buena Vista University and holds a Master of Education (MEd) degree from Drake University.
Pedersen started his career as a fifth-grade teacher in Chariton, followed by teaching first grade for the Davis County School District. He then served as the Davis County Middle School Principal and was named the 2010 Iowa Middle School Principal of the Year. Those experiences led to his appointment as Cardinal Community School District Superintendent in 2010, where he has continued to earn accolades, including the title of 2020 Iowa Superintendent of the Year.
In a September 2016 article for School Administrator, where he discussed his leadership at Cardinal Community School District, Pedersen said “People look to leaders to solve an organization’s problems. I acknowledge and own the challenges the school district faces, but now I always approach students, faculty and those real challenges with a positive mindset. By ensuring we have a positive environment for students, we can influence the community today, while setting the stage for the future.
“I am honored and humbled to be serving as the next Dean for the Ottumwa Leadership Academy,” Pedersen said. “As a graduate of the Ottumwa Leadership Academy, I have experienced firsthand how important this opportunity can be for developing future leaders in Ottumwa and Wapello County. I look forward to helping participants grow their leadership abilities over the next year.”
Hollie Tometich, Executive Director of the Ottumwa Leadership Academy is eager for Pedersen to bring that same positivity to the Academy. Tometich said, “I am excited to work with Joel as the 2022 Dean! He has proven leadership and am happy that as a graduate of the 2013 O.L.A. Class that he is able to come full circle to fill this role.”
In order to qualify for the Academy, those interested must live and/or work in Wapello County, fill out an application, and submit it by June 30, 2021. A tuition of $950 can either be paid by an individual or a sponsoring organization – typically where the participant works. “We are very fortunate to have 4 scholarships available for next year’s class for those who come from small organizations or nonprofits that don’t have funds in their budgets,” stated Hollie Tometich, Executive Director of Ottumwa Leadership Academy. “We have the Andy Hansen Legacy Scholarship, Marlene Sprouse Legacy Scholarship and 2 Alumni Association Scholarships.”