Published on January 30th, 2013 | by Joe Lawler
2012 YP of the Year: Winner Lauren Burt
Still shy of 30, Lauren Burt is already an established leader in and outside of Des Moines. Now she can add 2012 Juice Young Professional of the Year to her growing list of accolades and accomplishments.
Burt, 29, joins Andrew Allen (2009), Chris Diebel (2010) and Tiffany Tauscheck (2011) as the winners of our annual award, which honors YPs who have made significant contributions to the quality of life in central Iowa.
“Lauren’s skill set makes her a very versatile employee and positions her well for future opportunities,” said Steve Lacy, president and CEO of Meredith Corporation, where Burt coordinates all-employee meetings at 20 nationwide locations in her role as manager of corporate communications. “Her focus, determination and community connections will be an asset to her as she pursues her career goals.”
Burt has been busy serving as a board member for groups like Junior League of Des Moines, Young Variety and Winefest Grand Cru, as well as holding a position as a state commissioner for the Iowa Commission on Volunteer Services, a role she was appointed to by Gov. Terry Branstad.
She’s a champion of our city. In 2011, Forbes named Des Moines America’s Best City for Young Professionals. The ranking was a testament to how Des Moines has changed and grown over the last 10 years. Every young professional in the area played a part in the city’s high ranking, but Burt’s role was a bit more tangible.
At the time Burt was working as the director of media and marketing for economic development at the Greater Des Moines Partnership. She led a national public relations campaign for the city, which included getting Des Moines on Forbes’ radar.
“Lauren worked directly with the reporter to provide information that was key to getting Des Moines considered for the YP list, much less the top honor,” said Jay Byers, CEO of the Greater Des Moines Partnership.
At only 27 Burt served as 2011-2012 president of the Junior League of Des Moines, an organization with which Burt has a family connection. When she was a child her mother worked with Junior League and that involvement provided her with an example for what she wanted to do with her life.
“I grew up with the knowledge that to those whom much is given, much is expected,” Burt said. “I identified with doing something bigger outside of myself.”
Burt doesn’t join an organization with the thought of joining its board or becoming president. Rather, she said she joins because she’s passionate about or believes in each group’s mission. She wants to make a difference, and in trying to do so many doors have opened for her.
For Burt, the big opportunities also can be the scary ones. Like becoming president of the Junior League of Des Moines. But they also give her chances to grow.
“It was a big challenge, but it seems like you can learn the most from big leaps like that,” Burt said.
Burt’s big advice for would-be leaders is to make a phone call to a group or organization and ask what you can do to help. Burt has been observant in other cities while traveling for Meredith and said that she’s rarely seen the kind of opportunities and involvement for YPs that we have in Des Moines.
“Lauren’s personal level of community and civic engagement, her high degree of professionalism, and her ability to maintain a positive attitude while handling the demands and stress of a busy work and personal life make her a valued leader,” Byers said.
Burt hopes to see more young professionals step up for leadership roles. YPs will see more leadership opportunities open up to them in their late 20s and early 30s, and Burt is especially hopeful more young women will seize those opportunities.
One of her hobbies is collecting etiquette books, including antique selections full of outdated and oddball information. But she’s found something that has stood the test of time from those older books into the Emily Post-inspired work on shelves today.
“I firmly believe good manners open all doors,” Burt said. “No matter who you are or what you’re doing, I think it is important to treat people with civility and have respect for others.”
That etiquette is evident when you meet her, and is a trait noticed and appreciated by many in her professional career — like her mentor, Bonnie Campbell, a partner at LPCA Public Strategies.
“Because of Lauren’s remarkable poise and grace, she exudes professionalism and competence. Lauren’s personal style is warm and welcoming and confidence-inspiring,” Campbell said. “Whether among young (or older) professionals, it is literally impossible not to take Lauren seriously. She is a natural leader.”
Her advice for young professionals:
“The first step is to figure out what you want to do and what you’re passionate about. Volunteers don’t get paid, so they have to have a lot of passion to spend countless hours being involved. Secondly, don’t be afraid to get involved. Any organization trying to make an impact will never say no to help. So don’t be afraid to make a phone call or go to a meeting.”
Lauren M.G. Burt
About Burt: The director of corporate communications for Meredith Corporation, a national media and marketing company based in Des Moines. She was the 2011-2012 president of the Junior League of Des Moines, an at-large board member of Young Variety, part of Winefest Des Moines’ Grand Cru, and state commissioner for the Iowa Commission on Volunteer Services.