IEC's Strategic Plan: What's at our Core

posted by Dr. Brian Campbell on Tuesday, December 6, 2022

For years, weekly staff meetings at IEC have started with a question. Some are silly: “What’s your favorite and least favorite Halloween candy?” Some are more serious: “What is one place that’s special to you that inspires your work on climate change?” Through the chaos of the last few years, this weekly ritual has been a source of comfort and connection, a way of sharing our lives through stories, hopes, and fears.  

This weekly tradition exemplifies many of the core values articulated in IEC's strategic plan:  

  • Our greatest strength is our relationships, within our team and our diverse coalition.  
  • Our work is informed by science, data, and stories.  
  • We are a trusted voice, respected for our integrity and resourcefulness.  
  • Sometimes we educate and lead; other times, we learn and follow.  
  • We are inclusive.  
  • We are non-partisan.  
  • We listen to others.  

These values shape every aspect of our work together, with relationships at the center of all we do toward our mission of a just, healthy environment and sustainable future for all Iowans. But what does this look like in practice, and what is distinctive about this strategic plan?  

Coalition Work

First, we work as a coalition, in partnership with literally hundreds of other organizations in Iowa and beyond. During the session, we convene Legislative Round Table meetings several times a month to coordinate with others working at the capitol on issues of climate change, clean energy, clean water, conservation, and environmental justice.

Fund the TrustWe have also helped formed new coalitions, like Fund the Trust, working to support expanded funding for conservation and outdoor recreation, or the Iowa BlueGreen Alliance, bringing labor and environmental groups together to support quality jobs in the state’s growing clean energy economy.

One of the great joys of our work is getting to connect with so many different people and organizations, each with different stories and perspectives, forming a coalition stronger than the sum of its parts. 

Local Focus

Our strategic plan continues to affirm this statewide coalition work, but also prioritizes a growing focus on local communities. This year, we did outreach in communities like Perry and Storm Lake facing the impacts of agricultural pollution on recreational waters and water treatment. We were also excited to support grassroots leaders and elected officials in Waterloo and Windsor Heights as they set ambitious climate goals, committing to 24/7 carbon free electricity. They join Des Moines and just a handful of cities around the world with this goal.

Iowa Energy & Infrastructure Funding HubWe are also providing resources to help local leaders understand and access the historic level of federal funding dedicated to infrastructure and climate action. Check out our new website,, which includes specific resources on Justice 40, a vision for ensuring at least 40% of the benefits from federal investments go to historically disadvantaged communities. 

This environmental justice focused grassroots, local outreach supports a key goal in our strategic plan: to help grow a more diverse, inclusive environmental movement in Iowa. We have been working with students and professors at the Drake Community Press to conduct interviews and organize conversations with people across the state gathering stories about environmental justice in Iowa. This collaboration has brought exciting new relationships with artists, writers, storytellers, and community activists whose diverse perspectives can inform policy priorities and make for a larger and more powerful coalition. 

Corporate Accountability

Relationships are at the core of what we do at IEC, and part of what that means for IEC is maintaining conversation with state regulators like the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) and the Iowa Utilities Board (IUB). This year, we convened a group of partners to providing feedback to DNR on its CAFO rules, which are not doing enough to protect Iowa’s lakes and rivers from animal manure.

Iowa Utilities Board buildingWe consistently intervene at the IUB, pushing our energy utilities to transition more quickly to reliable, affordable renewable generation. We utilize our technical and legal expertise to serve as a watchdog through these formal government channels. We also maintain relationships with the utilities themselves, and our new strategic plan recognizes the importance of corporate accountability as part of that relationship.

Clean Up MidAmOur Clean Up MidAm campaign has been increasingly vocal using media and grassroots organizing to push the state’s largest climate polluter to close its coal plants. We see lots of potential for more corporate accountability strategies across our work on clean energy, clean water, climate change, and environmental justice. 

Building a Movement

This is exciting and impactful work, and none of it is possible without you, the powerful network of members and supporters across our state. We are grateful for our relationships with generous, dedicated Iowans, and we have been thrilled to reconnect with many of you this year through some of our small, local fundraising events.

In just the last few months, I have traveled to Decorah, Davenport, and Cedar Rapids for “house party” gatherings in breweries and backyards, to meet individual supporters and find ways we can collaborate more closely in communities across the state.

We will be visiting many more places in the months ahead, so let us know if you want to welcome IEC staff and supporters into your home or community. We would love to hear your story and your vision for Iowa’s environment, and to deepen our relationship with you. 

  1. clean energy
  2. clean water
  3. environmental justice
  4. renewable energy

About The Author

Brian Campbell served as Executive Director of the Iowa Environmental Council from 2020-2022. Prior to his role with IEC, Brian worked for more than six years as the as Director of Sustainability - Education and Partnerships at Central College in Pella to integrate sustainability t ... read more