Posted September 9, 2014 by the Des Moines Register

Now entering its fourth year, Capital Crossroads has tapped Cyndi Fisher to run its education and skills-based campaign, dubbed EDGE, which stands for Education Drives Our Great Economy.

Education is just one area being analyzed under the multiyear Capital Crossroads vision plan that aims to improve life in central Iowa. It also looks at bolstering the region’s core in downtown Des Moines, the health of residents and the success of local businesses, among other areas.

With more than 30 years of marketing and public relations experience, Fisher is exactly what the campaign needs, according to Mary Bontrager, the Greater Des Moines Partnership’s executive vice president of workforce development and education.

“We needed someone with very strong organizational development skills, the ability to research and pull that together and then the ability to bring people to consensus,” Bontrager said. “Cyndi’s fabulous at that.”

Fisher started as executive director of EDGE at the end of July.

Both Fisher and Bontrager sat down with the Register recently to discuss EDGE and their goals for the campaign.

Q: What is EDGE?

Fisher: Ultimately, it is working with those employers, those key businesses, and finding out what their current (workforce) needs are and what their future needs are. … I know we have a good pipeline, but ultimately what we are trying to do is take education and business and bring the human talent into the pipeline.

Bontrager: We want to look at the talent pipeline, cradle through career, and then develop some really bold, high-level regional goals that are part of the EDGE initiative.

Q: How do you get everyone on the same page?

Fisher: That’s really what this is all about — bringing together those groups so they are all at the same table. … You can really start delving into how we solve this together as a community.

Q: When you are looking at this, what is the most obvious problem that needs to be addressed?

Bontrager: I don’t know that there is an obvious one at this point. It depends on what group you’re looking at. In K-20, one area that we have to be better at is (offering) career exploration opportunities for young adults. They only know what they know, so we have to broaden what they know by exposing more young people (to career options).

Q: Right now, what are you working on?

Fisher: Right now, what I’m doing is meeting with every board member and meeting with key leaders in the nonprofit sector … as well as governmental entities. Any of the programs or initiatives that are out there, I am meeting with them, trying to get a feeling for what is happening within those initiatives. What are they being successful with? What are their challenges?

Q: Wouldn’t it be more efficient to have one focus?

Fisher: Quite frankly, all of these initiatives have their own focus. We are not trying to create something new; we are trying to become an umbrella for all of these organizations.

Q: Where do you hope this campaign ends up?

Fisher: I think, ultimately, what we want to do is help individuals achieve higher educational attainment and create a more skilled workforce, so you bring together education, workforce development and economic development.

Cyndi Fisher

Age: 56.

Family: Husband, Rand; daughters, Meredith and Maggie; son, Max.

Education: Attended University of Iowa.

Current: Executive director of EDGE and senior marketing adviser at LS2Group.

Prior experience: Fisher has held marketing and public relations positions at multiple companies, including Strategic America and Flynn Wright.