Jasmine Almoayyed leaves Cedar Rapids to lead continuing education at Kirkwood Community College

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Jasmine Almoayyed Town of Cedar Rapids

CEDAR RAPIDS – It has always been part of Jasmine Almoayyed’s plan to return to Kirkwood Community College.

After serving as the city of Cedar Rapids’ first economic development director, starting in 2013, Almoayyed, 38, left her post with the city to do just that.

Almoayyed began Monday as Vice President of Continuing Education and Training Services at Kirkwood Community College, where she will lead her regional workforce development initiatives and lifelong learning programs. life. She replaces Kim Becicka, who is retiring after more than 30 years in college.

Almoayyed, originally from Cedar Rapids, took classes in Kirkwood before earning his bachelor’s degree from the University of Iowa. She also previously worked at Kirkwood as a Corporate Outreach Program Manager, in a department within the division she will now lead.

“I never would have dreamed in a million years that I would be the vice president of the division I worked in, so it’s exciting,” Almoayyed said. “In some ways, it has always been part of my plan to go back, and I’m really excited about all the opportunities available to me. “

Almoayyed’s parents immigrated to the United States and did not speak English when they arrived.

Returning to Kirkwood almost 20 years after enrolling, Almoayyed said, “With the resources the college has to offer, this can really make a world of difference to people. It was this part of being the solution for people ”that made her come back.

Almoayyed recalls being fascinated by the world of city government when she started at age 29, after earning her master’s degree in political science from Iowa State University.

The Cedar Rapids opportunity intrigued her because there wasn’t much of a roadmap for the position – it was wide open for her to build a department from scratch. City manager Jeff Pomeranz put in place a plan for the city to step up its economic development efforts when he began in 2010, and this position would be critical to achieving his vision.

When she first met Pomeranz at Blue Strawberry, a downtown cafe that now operates exclusively online, Almoayyed said her excitement at the meeting fueled hers.

“He always sees the end goal, so having someone who can be so excited and who is so sure and so deliberate in what they do – it was so appealing to me, and I knew it would be fun, but kinda crazy, working for him, and it was, ”Almoayyed said.

Some might not have considered hiring a 29-year-old woman for a whole new role in the city, Almoayyed said, but Pomeranz did.

“It’s so hard to leave a circumstance when you work for someone like him, because he cares,” Almoayyed said. “… From a leadership perspective, I feel like I gained a lot from him and I respect the way… there is no difference in our office between administrative staff and senior management.

“Everyone is a bit the same, and it’s something you don’t see very often, so I really came to appreciate his style and the way he works, and the respect and appreciation. that he gives to people. “

Pomeranz said that Almoayyed had been a very effective leader in the city’s economic development efforts, knowing that in order to increase the city’s tax base, Cedar Rapids officials needed to develop a collaborative relationship with the communities of business and development. He said he appreciates Almoayyed’s leadership in bringing the city’s economic development work together into one focal point.

Almoayyed, along with his team, has helped secure nearly $ 2 billion in new capital investments, the creation of more than 2,100 new jobs and the maintenance of more than 3,100 positions. She has also supported the creation of many business assistance programs, including the city’s MICRO loan program to help businesses meet start-up or expansion expenses as well as the BACK program, which provides technical assistance. small businesses struggling with the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. and the derecho from last summer.

“She has worked tirelessly with the development community, city council, other city employees and the business community to develop new businesses, expand our tax base, and meet the needs of existing businesses in the city. our city, ”Pomeranz said. “She will be very difficult to replace.

“However, under Jasmine’s leadership, we have built an exceptional team of city economic development professionals and they know what to do, and we will continue the work of Jasmine and her team very effectively.

Economic development analyst Caleb Mason will serve as the interim manager while research is ongoing, Pomeranz said. The salary range for the position is $ 75,545.60 to $ 105,747.20.

In some ways, Almoayyed said it was “almost scarier” to take the lead in an already strong performing division and succeed its longtime leader. But she sees unique opportunities in her new role given the status of the workforce and the economy as the nation emerges from the pandemic.

“My brain is already going 160 km / h with all the things I want to do. But first I have to get there and learn the ropes, ”said Almoayyed.

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