Meet a Local Leader: Danielle Jacobs

Danielle Jacobs, Dubuque Main Street executive director

Danielle Jacobs was born in Southern California and moved to the Midwest during her middle school years. She moved around after college but settled in Freeport, Ill., to be closer to family.

Jacobs fell in love with Dubuque 15 years ago while working at TH Media. She knew she wanted to move here and the Dubuque Main Street position provided that opportunity.

Jacobs is married to her high school sweetheart, and they have two adult children and a 7-year-old. Her passion is music. She has been a music promoter and talent buyer for more than 10 years.

Family, career highlights, past recognition, awards, hobbies: Created Red Dirt Music Fest, Freeport, Ill., 2012 (1 year event); created the Pretzel City Brewfest, Freeport, 2013 (still active); created the Pretzel City Winefest, Freeport, 2015 (still active); speaker at the National Main Street Conference, Pittsburgh, 2016; created Six One Zero (610) Music Fest, Freeport, 2019 (1 year event).

Can you name a person who has had a tremendous impact on you as a leader?

I’d have to say my parents. They did an incredible amount of work for their communities and families. I was delivering Meals on Wheels and helping at our local homeless shelter by age 10. It instilled a passion for servant leadership in me.

What are the most important decisions you make as a leader of your organization? I don’t make decisions. Our organization is very collaborative and inclusive. The board makes decisions together for the betterment of all of downtown. The staff executes those decisions.

As an organization gets larger, there can be a tendency for the “institution” to dampen the “inspiration.” How do you keep this from happening? I get out in nature. The world can seem small inside four walls, but nature brings out zest in me. I think more clearly and ideas flow like a waterfall.

Which is more important to your organization — mission, core values or vision? All three of these align in our organization. I’d say the vision is most important because the future is where we’re headed.

What is one characteristic that you believe every leader should possess? I think it is incredibly important to be humble — admit your mistakes, give credit where credit is due and be approachable.

What advice do you have for future leaders? I’ll quote musician Cody Johnson, “If you got a dream, chase it, ’cause a dream won’t chase you back.”

What lessons can leaders take away from the current pandemic? You do not need to sit at a desk, in an office, to get work done. On the other hand, humans need to interact in person for the betterment of our social health. Communication is evolving in ways we never imagined and it’s important to embrace it all.

What are two or three of the best things about being a leader? Escorting my co-workers to self-discovery.

Meeting people.

Making my spot on the map a little bit better.