James Jordan Scholars Leadership Institute

James Jordan remains an important and unique figure in West Des Moines and Central Iowa history. A leader in many fields as well as a staunch abolitionist and Conductor on the Underground Railroad, his life is the inspiration for the James Jordan Scholars Leadership Institute.

Jordan Scholars Visit the Polk County Supervisors

Wednesday, October 26, 2016, local students selected for the West Des Moines Historical Society’s James Jordan Scholars Leadership Institute met with Polk County Supervisors for a discussion of the many opportunities for young leaders to become involved in politics and volunteering in the metro. Discussions also included the recent Supervisor’s work on the proposal to raise the minimum wage in Polk County, with the Scholars gaining valuable insight on the behind the scenes processes involved in local government.

This is the second year for the James Jordan Scholars Leadership Institute, bringing together area high school juniors with leaders in business, politics and philanthropy; all areas in which James Jordan excelled. There are 20 students, representing 10 local high schools. Scholars are selected by their teachers and school administrators, and must understand the important role of community service and the nature of leadership.

The Jordan Scholars Institute provides an interactive learning experience for Central Iowa students, enabling visits with leaders from organizations such as Kemin Industries, West Bank, the World Food Prize, the City of West Des Moines and the West Des Moines Community Foundation.

Picture caption: (from left to right) Sarah Boese, Rony Molia Martinez, Bishnu Adhikari, John F. Mauro, Alejandro Zarate, Leslie Perez, Tom Hockensmith, Angela Connolly, Emily Bogel, Madeleine Jennisch, Robert Brownell, Madeleine Smith, Joselyn Cardenas-Flores, Mark Nagel, JJ Kapur, Haley Dostalik, Emma Peterson, Henry Frantz, Steve Van Oort, Nyakota Ding, Connor Urquhart

Jordan Scholars 2016/2017 Class Announced

The West Des Moines Historical Society proudly launched the 2nd class of the James C. Jordan Scholars Leadership Institute Wednesday, August 17. Twenty-three juniors from 11 area high schools will spend the next 9 months learning about leadership in the fields of agriculture, politics, philanthropy, banking and business from amazing corporate and public entities such as Kemin Industries, Ruan Transportation, the Iowa Legislature, Polk County Supervisors, the World Food Prize, West Bank and Greater Des Moines Partnership.


From left to right: (back row) Mark Nagel, Alejandro Zarate, Connor Urquhart, Emily Bogle, Haley Dostalik, Graham Link, Rony Molia Martinez, Taylor Seals, Madeleine Jennisch, Madeleine Smith, Bishnu Adhikari, Dillon Rover.
(front row) Leslie Perez, JJ Kapur, Alex Peterson, Nyakota Ding, Joslyn Cardenas-Flores, Emma Peterson, Jasmine Inthabounh.

2015/2016 Scholars

A graduation ceremony was held for the 2015/2016 Jordan Scholars Class Wednesday, May 18 at the Raccoon River Nature Lodge. The 16 Scholars were recognized for their successes over the past 8 months, including contributions during meetings with area leaders, submissions on an on-line blog, and the writing of an essay in an attempt to demonstrate the lessons they learned.
All the Jordan Scholars were amazing young leaders, and received a shirt from Raygun with “I.O.W.A.: Incredible Overachievers With Attitude.” Four Scholars were recognized as recipients of a financial awards sponsored by the Jordan Family Foundation. Those winners are (l to r:) Abigail Dowd, Vivian Broderick, Ali Tow and Noah LaVie.

4 award winners inside

A slideshow of the graduation may be found by clicking on this link: Jordan Scholars Graduation
From left: Jordan Jenkins, Linda Melara, Noah Phillips, Haley Ness, Colton Zimmerman, Ryan Hummel, Rachel Greene, Cheyann Neades, Abigail Dowd, Calla Lloyd, Vivian Broderick, Nick Toulouse, Elliot Anderson, Libbie Skeffington, Cesar Marfal, Lal Zual, AllisonTow From left: Jordan Jenkins, Linda Melara, Noah Phillips, Haley Ness, Colton Zimmerman, Ryan Hummel, Rachel Greene, Cheyann Neades, Abigail Dowd, Calla Lloyd, Vivian Broderick, Nick Toulouse, Elliot Anderson, Libbie Skeffington, Cesar Marfal, Lal Zual, Allison Tow
The inaugural class of 17 high school juniors and seniors are learning about Jordan’s contributions in the fields of civil rights, banking, agriculture, government, insurance, education and transportation. Armed with this information about the past, Jordan Scholars are also meeting with current leaders in these fields to explore what leadership means today. The goal is to provide an interactive, hands-on experience for students that engages them in an experience that educates, motivates and inspires them to become active participants in building the future of Iowa as it becomes an increasingly ethnically and racially diverse community.
Meetings are held monthly at the Jordan House, Bennett School and sponsors’ businesses. We want to thank the following sponsors of the James Jordan Scholars Leadership Institute:
Scholars at Legislature