Rising Stars: Kelly Wenzelman, of Cottingham & Butler

At the age of 19, Kelly Wenzelman wanted to find a career that would match her ambitious spirit.

She found it though an entry-level role at Cottingham & Butler. It only took a few years for management to notice Wenzelman’s talents, and she was promoted to her first leadership role.

During the next two decades, the Dubuque native’s hard work kept her moving up, and she serves as vice president of property and casualty brokerage service for the Dubuque-based insurance firm.

“That’s what I love about this place, truly,” Wenzelman said. “I’ve worked really hard in each role I’ve been in, and C&B recognized that and moved me to the next step.”

Wenzelman always knew she wanted to stay in her hometown. Fortunately for her, Cottingham & Butler’s continued growth meant that she could advance to more challenging roles without having to leave Dubuque. Her husband, Justin, also works at Cottingham & Butler, and they have two sons.

Wenzelman often talks about her modest start at the company to inspire their new hires and show how far they can advance if they have enough ambition and work ethic.

She considers her leadership style to be like an inverted pyramid — working at the ground level to support and elevate her team, rather than just giving orders.

“Hands down, that is my favorite thing about my role,” she said. “I watch (my team) develop, get better and stronger, and do great things over time.”

Her colleague, Mark Roling, nominated her as a Rising Star because she works hard, cares for her colleagues and leads by example.

“Her words match her actions and she is willing to do absolutely anything that she asks anyone else to do,” Roling wrote.

Wenzelman’s passion for leadership also extends to her role as president of Women’s Leadership Network, as well as recently taking a place on the board of directors for Riverview Center.

WLN brings together local women from various industries to network and share their experiences and advice. WLN also offers training events and guest speakers.

She said many women experience similar concerns and struggles in their professional and personal lives, and being able to share ideas and inspire each other is incredibly valuable.

“The networking and recognition WLN provides to women is so important,” she said.