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Emily Grieves
Jeff Schott  
Improving future for Iowa cities...
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Spanning two nations…
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EMILY GRIEVES Lessons learned at leadership institute guide student’s pursuit of new opportunities.

Emily Grieves never gives up.

In fact, the University of Iowa student, who has run for positions with UI Student Government (UISG) three times, says failure is a critical part of learning about leadership.

“Failure is part of success in politics, for sure. You just kind of have to feel bad about it for a little while and then move on,” says Grieves, a fifth-year senior Spanish and integrative physiology major in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.

Grieves was one of 30 undergraduate women from across the state who participated in the second annual Iowa National Education for Women’s Leadership Institute, hosted by the UI Women’s Resource and Action Center (WRAC) May 31 through June 5 in Iowa City.

The eighth-generation Iowan ran for a UISG senator position her sophomore year and had a landslide victory. She then campaigned for vice president her junior year and for president her senior year, but lost both of those races.

Despite the two losses, Grieves says she doesn’t consider the experiences failures. In fact, she picked up other valuable roles within UISG, such as serving as a student safety advocate on the executive board.

Though some might have thrown in the towel on politics, not Grieves. She says the experiences strengthened her resolve to participate in the institute.

“Hearing women tell their stories about not letting failure bring you down and not letting a setback knock you out of the game was really an inspiration. There isn’t anyone who is successful who hasn’t had a setback,” Grieves says. “True success comes when you can brush that off your shoulder or learn from the mistakes and keep moving on.”

And move on she has. Grieves has taken the lessons she’s learned from the institute and applied them to her life to pursue new leadership opportunities.

Grieves says that her experiences are benefiting her in a role she held earlier this year as executive director of the UI 10,000 Hours Show Project, an all-volunteer initiative to encourage community involvement, as well as in her current role as president of Student United Way. And she’d like to pursue a law degree after graduating from Iowa in May 2010.

Kelly Thornburg, the institute coordinator at WRAC, says that Grieves is a perfect example of why it’s so important to provide this experience, especially since Iowa is one of two states in the nation that has never elected a female governor or sent a woman to the U.S. Senate or House of Representatives.

“We invest in this program and in our participants because we can see how much they want to do and how important it is for them to contribute to their communities in a substantive way,” Thornburg says. “I have no doubt that training women to be skilled, confident, collaborative public servants will have a positive impact on our world.”

by Lois J. Gray; photo by Kirk Murray

January 4, 2010