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When pioneering Clinton leader LaMetta Wynn became Iowa’s first Black female mayor in 1995, President Bill and Hillary Clinton sent their congratulations from the White House. She was contacted by news crews from Germany and the Netherlands eager “to talk to the lady from Iowa who broke down the perceived wall of non-white women holding office in the State of Iowa,” her longtime friend and dedicated volunteer Jennifer Graf, of Clinton, said. Back then, the new mayor – who bested four white men to win the job – was surprised by all the fuss. “I thought only Clinton people would care who would be mayor in Clinton,” Ms. Wynn told Ebony magazine in 1996. “Maybe some of the towns around us, but I never thought my victory would draw this much publicity.” What, one wonders, would the longtime city, health care, education and community leader say today about being selected one of Women Lead Change’s 2022 Iowa Women of Achievement? That’s the posthumous award created by Iowa WLC to recognize historical Iowa women who made outstanding and lasting contributions to the citizens of Iowa, the nation, and/or the world. “She would be very gracious and she would look at me and smile and say, ‘Jennifer, you are something else,’ and she’d give me a hug,” said Ms. Graf, who nominated Ms. Wynn for the WLC honor. “She would appreciate it and she would know it’s paving the way for others.” Leading by example was one of Ms. Wynn’s missions, admirers say, and there’s ample evidence to show that she accomplished that and more. Consider, for example, that after Ms. Wynn’s death on June 24, 2021, Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds ordered the state to fly flags at half staff. “Serving as a mayor, school board member, and a role model for the community, LaMetta Wynn’s life was dedicated to helping others,” Ms. Reynolds wrote then. “Her list of accomplishments along with the historical significance of being the first African-American female mayor in Iowa’s history blazed a trail for others to follow. Her legacy will serve as a powerful reminder to the greatness of Iowans and the values and ideals embedded so deeply in America’s DNA: character, determination, and hard work are what count.” On Tuesday, Oct. 25, the WLC’s Central Iowa Conference will celebrate her character and determination as well those of the other three honorees – Mary J. Whitely Coggeshall, Christine Grant and Maria “Running Moccasins” Pearson – at an awards luncheon in Des Moines. All four women also will be recognized with a permanent plaque on the Iowa Women of Achievement Bridge in downtown Des Moines. Ms. Wynn’s contributions are all the more impressive because throughout much of her career in public service this dedicated nurse continued to work the graveyard shift while, along with husband Tom, raising nine daughters and one son. Like everything else in her life, Ms. Wynn excelled at that too, Ms. Graf told the QCBJ. All her children are successful with careers in education, medicine, social work, law enforcement and food services. And her grandchildren are equally wonderful, said Ms. Graf, who first knew Ms. Wynn as a nurse. They would later serve together on the Clinton School Board where, Ms. Graf said, “I found she was not only a wonderful friend but she was a great mentor. She opened my eyes to a lot of things and helped gently guide me to be a better school board member myself.” Ms. Graf said her friend “was a great asset for our community and our state. She lived a life of service, privately and publicly.” “You go through life and everybody has opinions about people and what their thoughts are but you never, ever, hear anything negative about her,” she added. “That just does not happen.” Quiet, dignified, stoic and thoughtful are among the adjectives friends and admirers use to describe Ms. Wynn. That doesn’t mean she was soft, however. “Those of us who knew her well, knew when basically the hammer was coming down,” Ms. Graf said. “When she had her glasses on, she would tilt her head down and look over the top of her glasses. You would know something was going to happen.” She was a Republican and counted Senator and Mrs. Charles Grassley and former Gov. Terry Branstad among her friends, Ms. Graf said. But she didn’t put partisanship ahead of the public good. A favorite photograph, for example, shows Ms. Wynn posing with President Barack Obama, with whom she shared a birthday. Or, as Ms. Graf said Ms. Wynn would put it – “President Obama shared her birthday, she didn’t share his.” She credits Ms. Wynn’s success in winning office in a largely white city and state to a personality “that was so engaging that she wasn’t off-putting.” That personality also proved useful when Clinton leaders traveled to Washington to “do a dog and pony show” to compete for federal grants in the days before earmarks, Ms. Graf added. From those trips, she secured $50 million in federal aid for the City of Clinton. Ms. Wynn also was appointed by three governors to serve on state commissions and she also served on the Mercy Hospital Board of Directors. In all she did, she made her point quietly and well, Ms. Graf said. For example, she described a dinner the school board hosted for at-risk teachers. “Two tables were kind of boisterous, laughing, which was fine,” Ms. Graff said. “But only one of those tables was admonished by the server to keep it down, and for no reason.” Before leaving the restaurant, Ms. Graf said, Ms. Wynn excused herself to speak privately with the server. Ms. Wynn told the woman, “Do you understand that there were two tables doing that and the table you went to was the table that had people of color? Is this the image we want to present to guests in our community?” It was done both quietly and kindly, Ms. Graf said, “and it was a teaching moment for that woman.” As school board president, Ms. Wynn also was a regular presence in Clinton schools “to show children that people of color are approachable, knowledgeable and kind,” Ms. Graf added. “Many students had never seen a person of color in our community and her presence and leadership helped to guide young minds to be accepting and to aspire to her greatness.” Her lifelong friend also served as an agent of change, Ms. Graf wrote in the award nomination, and “put her mark on transportation, cooperation and her attitude of inclusiveness helped many businesses to thrive and brought new business to our area. She will long be remembered as Clinton’s own hometown hero.”