New Iowa Entrepreneurs' Coalition Members among forty under 40 class

From: Kent S.
Sent on: Tuesday, March 4, 2008 11:09 AM

New Iowa Entrepreneurs' Coalition Members


Great News!


Among the Des Moines Business Record’s distinguished “Forty under 40” class of 2008 are a few of our NIEC members. There is a reception on March 11 at the Polk County Convention Complex at 4:30 pm. ?Costs $20.00 and you can register on-line at the Des Moines Business Record site


Please take a moment and extend your personal congratulations to:


Brian Griffin

Owner, Griffin Transfer & Storage Inc.
Age 39

Whenever Brian Griffin needed to earn some extra money during college, he would hire on with the local moving companies.

“My dad had moved furniture for years,” said Griffin, recalling the path he took before opening his own moving business in Des Moines in late 2001. “In the summer, if we weren’t playing ball, we were moving furniture with my dad.”

After earning his way through college on football scholarships at Arizona Western College and Bemidji State University, he realized he no longer wanted to become a police officer as he had originally planned. “So I did what I did best,” he said, and spent the next four years working for a United Van Lines agent in Bemidji, Minn. After a move to Minneapolis and 10 more years with a trucking company there, the owners gave him the opportunity to take over some work in Des Moines, which led to him starting his own business.

He currently serves as president of the African-American Business Association and on the boards of the Better Business Bureau of Central & Eastern Iowa, Goodwill Industries of Central Iowa and the American Diabetes Association’s Des Moines chapter. For Griffin, being involved in the community is just good business sense.

“When you’re a small business like ours, just struggling to stay in business, it’s hard to advertise your company,” he said. “The best outlets for us are word of mouth and networking. What better way to get your name out than to be involved and stay involved?”

Griffin said his favorite cause is the American Diabetes Association, which he serves as a volunteer as well as being on the board. “That’s close to my heart,” he said, noting that a few of his uncles have the disease. “It’s one of the best things that’s happened to me since I’ve been here.”

The small business owner credited his staff of 12 with enabling him to succeed. “I wouldn’t be able to do the things I do in the community during the day if it wasn’t for my staff here,” he said. “I used to literally not be able to leave my office for the first three or four years of the business.” Getting out more has also enabled him to drum up more business, he said. “One of our goals is to be one of the most up-and-coming and exciting companies in Des Moines.”


Isaiah McGee

Founder, McGee Strategies LLC
Age 28

One of the mottos Isaiah McGee lives by is “in order to get what we’ve never received, we must do what’s never been done.”

This comes as a talent for McGee, who started a consulting firm and is mayor pro-tem on the Waukee City Council, receiving the most votes ever for a candidate when he ran in 2005, all before age 28. He also serves as vice president of the African-American Business Association (AABA), is on the community advisory board of the Iowa Homeless Youth Centers and is part of the inaugural class of the Waukee Leadership Academy, among many other leadership roles.

Though he is inspired by a family tradition of civic engagement, he also has the skills and motivation to gain leadership positions quickly. He claims it’s his love for relationships and analyzing different people’s perspectives. Ted Williams, co-principal of the Williams Group and president of the AABA, says it’s his ability to communicate.

“When you see someone who can communicate in a way that everybody understands what he said, what it means to him, what it means to you and what it means to others, then that’s something,” he said. “Call it a skill or an art form. I would say it’s a critical component to success.”

A Los Angeles native, McGee attended Cornell College, where he played football and wrestled. After getting a degree in history and political science, he moved to Denver for a couple of years, before returning to get a master’s degree in education at Drake University. This degree led him to start a tutoring business. Soon parents of the children he worked with began commenting on how his communication strategies could also apply to business; thus began McGee Strategies. His wife, Megan, also is involved as an administrative and creative director.

McGee’s achievements include writing the public policy for the business climate recommendations in the Greater Des Moines Partnership’s 2005 and 2006 legislative agendas for its Washington, D.C., lobbying trips and co-writing the best practice for business manual for the Generation Iowa Commission.

Now, his 18-month-old son Elisha also keeps him busy.

“He understands you can find that balance between being a successful business person,” Williams said, and “also [having] an obligation to the many communities we all serve.”


Warren Morrow

CEO, Coopera Consulting
Age 30

Growing up, Warren Morrow watched his mother go from being a community leader with a master’s degree in education in Mexico City to having to work in day care because her credentials weren’t validated when the family moved to Tucson, Ariz.

This experience has inspired Morrow in his career endeavors.

While attending Grinnell College, Morrow began to fully realize the social and economic inequalities between whites and Latinos. With Max Cardenas, an immigrant from Peru, he started the Latino Leadership Project, designed to empower youths and give all children an opportunity for higher education. Upon graduation, Morrow became the head of that nonprofit, which merged with Partners in Economic Progress and focused on providing academic and motivational support to students of color in Des Moines.

He left the nonprofit world to serve as an emerging markets and diversity consultant for Principal Residential Mortgage Inc. from 2003 to 2005. There he helped develop a strategy to achieve more Hispanic loan originations and increase the bilingual and minority workforce.

At the same time, he started Diverse Innovative Solutions with Cardenas, which focused on economic development in disenfranchised communities, and went full time with that company in 2005. In November 2006, that organization merged with the Iowa Credit Union League and was renamed Coopera Consulting, putting a stronger emphasis on working with Iowa’s credit unions to reach emerging and underserved markets. Coopera is now hiring its fourth employee and plans to open up two more positions in a couple of weeks. It also is working with national and international organizations, including the World Council of Credit Unions.

“Not only do I think it’s a good thing to do, in terms that it will fulfill me,” Morrow said, “but I also think it’s a huge economic opportunity to serve communities others are ignoring.”

Though his work keeps him busy, Morrow still finds time to serve on the boards of Making Connections and Iowa Homeless Youth Centers, and is a partner in Dos Rios restaurant downtown. He also loves traveling with his wife, Christina Fern?ndez-Morrow and playing with their dog, Baron, a Shar-Pei.

Morrow said this about his childhood:  “It’s not something to overcome, but something to inspire so that we can bring out the best in people and help people see the value of immigrants.”


Do not forget our next meeting – March 25 for those of you who will be in Des Moines rather than on spring break!?


Go to our web site and let me know if you plan to be at the next meeting








Kent Sovern


Public Management Resource Group

Des Moines Office

1534 Germania Drive

Des Moines, Iowa[masked]


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Please contact Kent and the PMRG project design team will provide you a free 30-minute project consultation.?


Our offices in Boone, Panora, and Des Moines Iowa are centrally located

to serve small business, community based organizations and government leaders throughout the upper mid-west.?



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