The Humanities Iowa Board approved four new members at their recent meeting in June at Iowa State University. The new members include Sue Cosner (Panora), Jeff Heland (Burlington), Ken Lyftogt (Cedar Falls) and Steve Siegel (Ottumwa).
Sue Cosner is Vice President of Community Initiatives with Iowa Area Development Group and manages the Ripple Effect program in partnership with Iowa Network Services. She is the former city manager of Panora with more than 26 years of local government experience including work in redevelopment, rural and urban planning and association management.
She also has taught in the department of Community and Regional Planning in the College of Design at Iowa State University. Until 2008, she served a 13-year gubernatorial appointment to the City Development Board.
Cosner said her work has given her the opportunity to travel the state and that through those experiences she has found "unique Iowa stories hiding in the most interesting, sometimes out of the way places."
"My interest in serving on the board of Humanities Iowa is motivated by my respect and appreciation for the artful, scholarly and cultural endeavors of Iowans," Cosner said. "I want to be a part of a larger commitment to supporting and sustaining these endeavors."
This is Helands second stint on the HI board, previously serving from 2002-2008. During that time, he served one year as board president and one year as past president.
He is an insurance agent and a financial service advisor for the New York Life Insurance Company. He also has served as solid waster commissioner of Burlington, mayor of Burlington, president of the Iowa League of Cities and on the Des Moines County Board of Supervisors. Currently, he chairs the Human Rights Commission in Burlington and is a trustee for Southeastern Community College.
"Jeff has an outstanding record of public service that will be a real asset to Humanities Iowa," said Christopher Rossi, the executive director of Humanities Iowa. "His familiarity with the board and with Humanities Iowa also will be valuable."
Ken Lyftogt teaches introductory and advanced courses on humanities, American civilization and U.S. history at the University of Northern Iowa in Cedar Falls. He specializes in the American Civil War, and is the author of four books including "Iowas Forgotten General: Matthew Mark Trumbull" (University of Iowa Press, 2005), "From Blue Mills to Columbia: Cedar Falls and the Civil War" (Iowa State University Press, 1993), "Left for Dixie: The Civil War Diary of John Rath (Mid Prairie Books, 2004) and "The Sullivan Family of Waterloo (Sunseri with the Waterloo Public Library, 1998).
Lyftogt also is a member of the HI Speakers Bureau.
"Ken is an acknowledged expert on Iowa and the Civil War," said Christopher Rossi, the executive director of HI. "This topic has unending interest throughout the state, so Kens knowledge should assist the board greatly in evaluating grant requests in this area."
Steve Siegel is a native of Bettendorf and a graduate of Grinnell College. He also has an MA in American studies from the University of Kansas and a MSW from the University of California at Berkeley. He works as a Union Representative for the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, Council 61.
Siegel is no stranger to public service. He is currently serving his fourth term on the Wapello County Board of Supervisors. He has worked to enhance the Wapello County trail system and worked on the establishment of the American Gothic House Welcome Center in Eldon.
Siegel, who describes himself as an amateur historian, said that he has a deep interest in Iowa history. He would like to see local governments become "more involved in preserving and discovering local history."
"I would like to see local government become more active in helping educate average Iowans about the significance of our own history and its impact upon all of us," Siegel said."
The mission of Humanities Iowa is to promote understanding and appreciation of the people, communities, cultures, and stories of importance to Iowa and the nation.