PEOSTA, Iowa — Northeast Iowa Community College leaders aim to help community members move forward from the COVID-19 pandemic — with the help of best-selling authors and a U.S. soccer icon.
College leaders recently started announcing details of their upcoming “Moving Forward, a Speaker Series,” which will put a focus on brain health and building resilience as the world recovers from the COVID-19 pandemic.
The announced speakers include FIFA Women’s World Cup champion Abby Wambach and bestselling author Glennon Doyle appearing together, as well as events featuring best-selling author Cy Wakeman and former Chicago Bears wide receiver Brandon Marshall. Each of those events will cost $29 to view.
“We are so excited about this opportunity to bring the caliber of speakers and the variety of speakers to our community,” said Wendy Mihm-Herold, NICC’s vice president of business and community solutions. “This is something that, in all of our communities, it affects our youth. It affects our businesses. It affects our mature population.”
The series will feature a variety of virtual events in May through July with a mix of national, state and local speakers. Some of the events are offered for free.
One event will feature both Doyle and Wambach discussing mental health, well-being and finding “resilience to persevere in any situation,” according to the college. At another event, Marshall will discuss brain health and stress management, particularly in regards to youth.
Other events that have been announced so far include a comedy night with comedian Scott Long.
There also will be events targeting different groups of essential workers and other community members with topics such as mental health first aid, the opioid epidemic and the COVID-19 pandemic, and recognizing mental health struggles among the agricultural community.
“This is a great opportunity for us to give back to the community,” Mihm-Herold said. “… It’s also a great opportunity for people to take advantage of some amazing speakers. These are some well-known, national speakers, as well as some well-known local speakers.”
Mihm-Herold said that with the series, college leaders wanted to help provide training to different groups at a reasonable cost and to look at how to move forward from the COVID-19 pandemic with a focus on brain health.
“We really were pretty intentional of how we picked the trainings that we’re doing with this initiative,” she said. “It’s all about focusing toward brain health for essential workers, essential careers, and making sure we would have a series that would be very impactful.”
The series is being funded with the help of a grant of just more than $400,000 from County Social Services, the state mental health/disability services region that includes the northern part of NICC’s district. Mihm-Herold estimated that about 75% of that grant is going toward speakers, though the funding also is being used for other initiatives.
Erin Powers Daley, NICC’s director of student and community development, said the grant was key to helping the college bring in prominent national speakers.
“The goal was, how to reduce the stigma, how to serve mental health, how to use these dollars to help bring access,” she said. “Without these grant dollars, these larger-name speakers … would not have been possible.”
Powers Daley said she hopes the speaker series shows community members the ways in which the college is there for them.
“We’re a resilient group of people, but also as a college, and a community college particularly, we’re here for the community,” she said. “And this is one way we could get that at a free or reduced cost for many of our community members.” More information is available at bit.ly/3dudtgo.