Episode 33

Published on:

19th Feb 2023

Brenda Mainwaring S3E33

Brenda Mainwaring, the President and CEO of the Iowa West Foundation, one of the region’s largest philanthropic organizations, talks about the Foundation’s work in supporting the community. She shares recollections from her early life, a career going from cultural anthropologist to CIA analyst to corporate leader, lessons learned for leadership and life, and the importance of people and philanthropy in developing thriving communities.

Brenda Mainwaring is President and CEO of the Iowa West Foundation, one of the state’s largest private foundations having awarded more than $500 million in grants since its inception. From a small country school and an outdoors childhood, Mainwaring started her professional life as an intelligence analyst at the Central Intelligence Agency specializing in demographics and cultural dynamics. She advised elected, appointed and military officials during the First Gulf War, the Yugoslav Conflict and military action in Haiti. Mainwaring has 30 years of experience in government and public relations and regulatory matters, including executive positions at Union Pacific Railroad, communicating through crises that included Hurricane Harvey, contentious layoffs and facility closures, and the COVID pandemic. Her undergraduate and graduate degrees are in Cultural Anthropology from the University of Iowa, where she served as a Teaching/Research Fellow.

Show artwork for Lives Radio Show & Podcast with Stuart Chittenden

About the Podcast

Lives Radio Show & Podcast with Stuart Chittenden
Every Sunday at 9am on KIOS 91.5FM, Omaha's NPR affiliate, Season Three of Lives will tackle the big questions: What is a good life? Why are we here? How might we feel more connected? These and other big questions about how we live will be explored each week. Through intimate conversations, fascinating guests will share their spiritual, philosophical, artistic, and cultural approaches to exploring the wonders of our human experience. Join me as we delve into the practical and profound possibilities of living well.

As well as listening to this Season Three of Lives being broadcast on KIOS, listen back to Seasons One and Two, featuring fresh voices and diverse perspectives on culture, community, business, and more. From the Midwest and beyond, inspiring guests share compelling stories spanning the fields of politics, business, media, community activism, arts and humanities, philanthropy, and more.

On air since January 2017, Lives Radio Show & Podcast initially broadcast on the community radio station Mind & Soul 101.3FM in north Omaha, housed at the Malcolm X Center, and more recently broadcast with 1st Sky Omaha.

About your host

Profile picture for stuart chittenden

stuart chittenden

I believe that conversation enables us to live better and work well by building strong relationships as individuals, teams, and communities.

Driven by that belief, I founded Squishtalks to design and deliver conversation experiences and programs for small to Fortune 500 corporate clients and for a variety of non-profit organizations. I regularly speak and facilitate workshops on the principles of conversation and how their practice enlivens our potential. My belief in the profound power of conversation to awaken our humanity has led to me being selected to speak at three different TEDx events.

I am a British expatriate calling Omaha, Nebraska home since 2004. Before moving to America, I was a London-based lawyer working on major international transactions. In Omaha, as well as founding Squishtalks, I co-founded Gilbert+Chittenden with creativity expert Dan Gilbert, which is a creativity consultancy that helps individuals and organizations realize their best futures and apply design thinking processes to achieve innovative breakthroughs.

Among my community endeavors was the project: a couple of 830 mile long conversations. Inspired by John Steinbeck's Travels with Charley, in an RV I adventured for four weeks along side roads and among small towns to talk with Nebraskans. Traveling through conversations, discovering the lives, cultures and stories of people I met, the project was a long hello to Nebraska.