The Women of Achievement Award recognizes the contributions of historical Iowa women who made outstanding and lasting contributions to the citizens of Iowa, the nation, and/or the world.
One new winner is LaMetta Wynn (1933-2021), who became the first black woman to hold the position of mayor in any Iowa municipality when she was elected as the Mayor of Clinton in 1995.
She served on state commissions as appointed by three governors, and through annual trips to Washington D.C., secured $50 million in federal aid for the city of Clinton. Wynn was a registered nurse and served on the Mercy Hospital Board of Directors and Clinton Community School Board.
Wynn served on the Clinton Community School Board for 12 years, three years as president. When asked why she served on the school board, LaMetta replied that all 10 of her children had received good educations from the Clinton school system and that she simply wanted to give back, according to her obituary.
In 1993, Wynn ran for mayor of the city of Clinton and lost, coming in third out of five candidates. She ran again in 1995, with strong public support and won 54% of the vote against four men. In winning, LaMetta cemented her place in Iowa history becoming the first African-American woman to hold the office of mayor in any Iowa municipality.
She served two subsequent terms, wining decisively. When Wynn was first elected, television crews from Germany and The Netherlands showed up for interviews. One of them said that they couldn’t believe that “a city in a lily-white state” would elect an African-American women to be their mayor.
In describing LaMetta’s leadership, one person commented that “She carries a hammer in her purse; important doors open to her and she has the ability to bring government together.”
In addition to serving as mayor, three governors appointed her to commissions: Gov. Tom Vilsack appointed her to Vision Iowa; she was appointed by Gov. Terry Branstad to the Commission on the Status of African-Americans; and Gov. Chet Culver appointed her to the State Board of Education. Wynn also served as president of the Mercy Hospital Board of Directors
In addition to permanent plaques placed on the iconic Iowa Women of Achievement Bridge in downtown Des Moines, friends and family are invited to celebrate at the awards luncheon, in conjunction with the Central Iowa Conference, on Oct. 25, 2022, at the Iowa Events Center.
Other winners of the Women Lead Change awards are:
- Mary J. Whitely Coggeshall (1836-1911) — a state and national leader, orator, and writer in the suffrage movement.
- Dr. Christine Grant (1936-2021) — the first director of women’s athletics at the University of Iowa, a strong advocate for Title IX and girls and women in sport, and a founding member of the Association of Intercollegiate Athletics for Women.
- Maria, Running Moccasins, Pearson (1932-2003) — an internationally-known American Indian leader who was considered the mother of repatriation. Her partnership with former Iowa Governor Robert Ray led to the Iowa Burials Protection Act.