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May 8, 2018
By Taylor Middleton, media relations assistant
Northwest Missouri State University alumnus Nick Peterson recently was named 2017 Young Professional of the Year by a pair of Des Moines, Iowa, organizations for his contributions to civic, charitable, entertainment and quality of life in central Iowa.
“Being named the Young Professional of the Year was an absolute honor, especially coming from the Des Moines Register and the Young Professionals Connection,” Peterson said. “It has reaffirmed my commitment to the Central Iowa community, and I look forward to continual growth and involvement in making my community a better place for all people.”
Peterson received the award for his partnership with a local manufacturer to provide affordable transportation to central Iowa residents through the Des Moines Area Regional Authority’s (DART) Ride Share program.
While transitioning to Seattle several years ago, a fellow Bearcat suggested Peterson could live in the city without a car. He accepted the challenge and used public transportation as his primary mode of traveling for two years.
Peterson earned his master’s degree in sports administration and leadership at Seattle University while working in its athletic department. He advanced to the role of assistant athletic director of corporate partnerships.
“Moving back to Des Moines in late 2013, I saw extreme growth and development of the downtown area and how public transit could play a role in further providing opportunity and connecting the community in ways Central Iowa hasn’t seen since the removal of the street cars,” Peterson said. “My role is to exchange opportunities, enrich lives and connect communities to transit through public transportation.”
After moving back to Iowa, Peterson took his skillset to the nonprofit sector. He worked briefly for the American Cancer Society and was development manager for the National Kidney Foundation serving Iowa and Nebraska. He also serves on the executive board of the NAACP’s Des Moines chapter.
He joined DART in 2016 and quickly started developing relationships in advanced manufacturing.
His partnership with TPI Composites led to the start of a ride share program with hopes of having between six and 18 vans. Today, the program has 24 vans, and Peterson worked with another manufacturer to add bus access.
“DART has some big goals, like reaching 5 million rides by July 2019,” Peterson said. “We are working on long-term funding options to grow our service to have a bigger impact on how people move in our region. Personally, I hope to grow public-private partnerships to better connect our local businesses to their workforce and open more opportunities to more people.”
Peterson has always been economically minded and involved, which led him to completing his bachelor’s degree in education at Northwest. A 2009 graduate, he enjoyed opportunities to get involved at the University, including as a supplemental instructor and as a member of the mock trial and club soccer teams.
Peterson remembers retired faculty members such as Dr. Richard Fulton and Dr. Janice Falcone, who taught in the Department of Humanities and Social Sciences and inspired his success and interest in government. Peterson also recognizes Dr. Michael Steiner, a former faculty member in the department who now serves at Northwest’s dean of the College of Arts and Sciences and associate provost of undergraduate studies.
“He was a huge influence on me in how I hold myself today,” Peterson said. “I see him as someone with great integrity and that’s a value that I hold near and dear.”
Peterson also credits the education department for teaching him skills that have carried through to help him in his career.
“My roles since leaving Northwest have always been based on relationship-building and marketing,” Peterson said. “When I realized how influential the content from the education department was and the key values, I quickly became more successful in understanding how those related to the coursework I did while at Northwest.
“I walked away taking a lot of content that I learned in those classes and can really see why I am so passionate about history, state and local government and our role as citizens to create a better community.”
Mark Hornickel, Communication Manager
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Northwest Missouri State University
215 Administration Building | 800 University Drive | Maryville, MO 64468