Bethany grew up on an acreage just outside of Atlantic, Iowa, population 6,817. After high school, she headed to Iowa State University thinking she was going to be a landscape architect. She quickly realized she didn’t love drawing but also discovered city planning; she was fascinated with the art and science of the field and finished her studies in 2009.
Bethany eagerly looked forward to applying her skills towards economic development or neighborhood planning – anything except transportation planning. Of course, with the great recession, job options weren’t plentiful, and Bethany ended up as a transportation planner. At 23 and still wearing her rose-colored glasses, she built a coalition to pursue a $2 million grant from the Partnership for Sustainable Communities – a once-in-a-generation federal investment in planning.
Over the course of the next several years, Bethany managed development of The Tomorrow Plan, the first regional comprehensive plan for Greater Des Moines. The team engaged an unprecedented 27,000 people in the process and brought a new-found focus on housing choice, arts in education, and water trails to the region. In 2014, Bethany was hired as director of Capital Crossroads, the vision plan for Central Iowa. She managed over 700 volunteers and began moving back to her rural roots as she focused on water quality efforts.
In 2017, Zack Mannheimer recruited Bethany to help build the creative placemaking team. Bethany loved puzzles as a child and sees placemaking as a solution to the community-wide puzzles across the US. In 2018, Bethany’s role switched over to the business side of things, as she was recruited by McClure’s CEO to become his Senior Advisor; Bethany remains involved with the Placemaking team and several of their integral projects.
She serves on the boards of US Green Building Council Iowa Market Leadership Advisory Board, the Great Outdoors Foundation, and the Iowa Rural Development Council. Bethany and her husband, Vito, live in Des Moines with their three fur babies. Bethany has spoken on her work in partnership with the US Department of Housing and Urban Development, the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, Smart Growth America, the National Association of Development Organization, and the National Housing Conference, among others. Bethany loves cooking (especially with produce she grows), traveling and discovering hidden gems, and taking in as many concerts as possible.
Bachelor of Science
Community & Regional Planning
Iowa State University
Awards & Honors
Des Moines’ Business Record 40 Under 40
Leadership Iowa (Class of 2015-2016)
Global Shapers Des Moines Founding Curator
ISU STATEment Maker
Next American Vanguard
Director at Capital Crossroads – oversaw implementation of Central Iowa’s regional vision strategy
Iowa Great Places – initiative of the Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs
Des Moines Area MPO – led development of The Tomorrow Plan
Jester Park Center Capital Campaign Team