Rising Star: Heather Satterly

Heather Satterly in detail

Age: 31.

Job title/occupation/place of employment: AmeriCorps director, City of Dubuque.

Volunteer activities:

  • Contributing Partner of Volunteer Iowa’s Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Committee.
  • Member of the Iowa AmeriCorps Director Leadership Council.

Education: Master’s of Public Administration student at Northern Illinois University. Bachelor of Science in recreation, parks and tourism administration from Western Illinois University, Associate of Arts degree from Black Hawk Community College.

Family: Partner, Ian Merrill; two furchildren, Luna and Astra. Parents, Tammy and Gene; three brothers, Heath, Tom and Tim.

Person most inspirational to me and why: I am inspired by a lot of strong women who I get to work with on a daily basis. Marie Ware has mentored me since I started with the city, and always challenges me to grow. Cori Burbach has helped me find my passion in local government as a vehicle for community change. Chris Kohlmann has shown me what it means to be a strong and compassionate leader. I am surrounded by amazing women.

Favorite thing to do outside of work: I love to hang out with my dogs — walks where the dogs befriend neighbors, couch cuddles, puppy play dates with best dog friends.

One word to describe me: Responsible.

What’s one thing that most people would be surprised to know about you: Before I pursued by degree in recreation administration, I studied history — specifically comparative religion, and I am an atheist. Most people think that makes me dislike religion, but I find religion and its cultural importance to be very interesting.

Greatest fear: Losing my sense of curiosity.

What’s the one thing you are most passionate about in your life: Creating a community that people feel welcome and that they belong in, respected for who they are and that they are treated equitably and given opportunities to be successful in their lives.

Heather Satterly, City of Dubuque Leisure Services

Heather Satterly, the City of Dubuque’s AmeriCorps director, is more of a behind-the-scenes person. She’s been with AmeriCorps in grant management for nearly a decade, having come to Dubuque from the Davenport, Iowa, program.

Marie Ware, with City of Dubuque Leisure Services, said Satterly is a leader and a role model when it comes to equity work.

“She is walking the talk, and models the fact that personal growth in this area only comes through getting uncomfortable, vulnerable and curious,” Ware wrote in Satterly’s nomination letter. “She incorporates equity activities for every AmeriCorps training that she holds throughout the year to make sure it is always front of mind, providing members with experiences that they can use in the classrooms as well as in their personal lives.”

A new division Satterly has worked to create is the division of community impact. Once unrolled, the division will look at fines and fees the city assesses on residents to determine if they’re “appropriate for our community to receive them.”

“Is it inappropriately targeting marginalized community members? Is it too high that a person in poverty won’t even be able to pay?” she said.

Satterly’s ultimate vision is to “bring more restorative justice practices” to the Dubuque community. She also hopes to address “big community needs” through volunteerism.

One example is the DBQ Shovel Crew, a program in the city’s engineering department that consists of volunteer community members who shovel snow for those who can’t physically do so. The program helps residents avoid a fine that they might not be able to financially afford.

Nearly 40 volunteers helped 23 homeowners with snow removal, providing roughly $11,000 in potential savings to homeowners, according to city data.