Young Leaders Society

YLS members volunteering

YLS May Day
YLS members make May Day baskets with our friends at Friendship Ark!


United Way of Story County created the Young Leaders Society (YLS) in 2011 to engage and educate professionals under the age of 40. YLS's threshold of $250 helps young professionals grow in philanthropy.
YLS contributions further the mission of United Way of Story County and impact 30,000 people in Story County by supporting more than 90 core programs, three community impact areas, and a grants program for emergencies and emerging needs.


Join Young Leaders Society (YLS) and participate in year-round engagement opportunities including educational sessions and volunteer activities. 

Required to join:

  • Open for ages 40 and younger
  • $250 annually to sustain your membership in YLS


YLS Co-Chairs

Tillie Good, ISU Office of Extension and Outreach

Akelo Harris, ISU Office of the Sr Vice President and Provost

Committee Members

Chelsey Aisenbrey, Ames Lab 

Rachel Behrens, Workiva

Josh Carper, ISU Athletics

Nick Johnson, Ames Ford Lincoln

Grace Larkey, Renewable Energy Group

Michael McCool, Mary Greeley Medical Center

Jessica Mortvedt, Haverkamp Properties

Lisa Oxley, State Bank and Trust

AJ Pollard, Renewable Energy Group

Craig Welter, Hertz Farm Management

Kristin Pates, United Way of Story County


View a full list of YLS members here!



Kristin Pates

Campaign Director




YLS Day of Caring
The YLS 2019 Day of Caring team, working hard!


YLS members sorting donations at Overflow Thrift Store

Supporting Our Youth: Mental Health and Suicide Prevention

October 24 12-1:00pm - YSS Headquarters (420 Kellogg Ave, Ames Iowa)


Suicide affects individuals, families, and communities. Please join the Young Leaders Society on Monday, October 24 from 12:00 - 1:00 p.m. to hear how YSS programming is combatting this crisis and what you can do to help. YSS is meeting an important need, and your donation to the United Way of Story County is helping to make a difference. To RSVP for this program, email Kristin at Lunch will be provided. The meeting will take place at YSS Headquarters (420 Kellogg Avenue, Ames, IA). There is metered parking on the street.

Note: if you or someone you know needs immediate help, please call CICS Mobile Crisis Response 844-258-8858 or the national 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline at 9-8-8.


Blast Back to School Backpack Stuffing

August 11 from 5-7pm

We'll be volunteering with the Blast Back to School group to help get local youth ready for the upcoming year. Email Kristin at to add your name to the list. We'll have nearly 1000 backpacks to get ready to send to area school districts. This volunteer activity is one that can work well to bring kids, too, if you're interested. 


Young Leaders Society Annual Kickoff 

July 20th 12-1:15pm - Jacobson Athletic Building


Join us for our annual YLS Kickoff, with special guest Matt Campbell!

We'll have a short presentation at Jacobson Athletic Building and then enjoy a tour of the Stark Performance Center! We'll also be collecting school supplies that will benefit Blast Back to School, a local organization that provides school supplies and backpacks to local students in need, completely free of charge. So bring your donations and come hungry, lunch will be provided by Renewable Energy Group.

Members and non-members welcome, but RSVP is required. Email Kristin Pates at to RSVP.


Non-Profit Volunteer Leadership - Senior Vice President and Provost Jonathan Wickert

June 14 12-1:30pm at The Launch Pad (Room 4250) ISU's Student Innovation Center


Have you considered volunteering your time to help the causes you care about? Many organizations in the Story County area are actively looking for volunteers and/or board members. You can make a difference in small and big ways!

Please join the Young Leaders Society for lunch and a discussion about innovation and non-profit leadership with Dr. Jonathan Wickert. Dr. Wickert serves as Senior Vice President and Provost at Iowa State University and the United Way of Story County's Board Chair. After lunch an optional tour of the Student Innovation Center, a unique building offering workspaces and programs to ISU students and the community, will be offered. 

Parking is available in Lots 21, 22, or at the Memorial Union. .

Please RSVP to Kristin at and note any dietary restrictions.


Good Neighbor Emergency Assistance; Lunch and Learn

May 3 12-1pm Ames Public Library PEO Room

United Way Young Leaders Society (YLS) invites you to a program with Good Neighbor’s director, Lori Allen. Good Neighbor provides emergency assistance for Story County residents, including emergency food vouchers, rent and utility assistance, and gas vouchers. Join this program to hear Good Neighbor present on local trends and the importance of United Way's allocations in delivering their vital services.

Lunch will be provided. Please RSVP to Kristin at by April 29.


Holiday Volunteering with UW partner agency Salvation Army

Flexible dates and times from December 15-22

The Young Leaders Society Committee encourages you to join us for the October meeting where we will learn about our partner agency ACCESS. Originally established in 1976, ACCESS is celebrating its 45th anniversary of serving our community. Their mission is to address the roots and impact of domestic and sexual violence through services that enhance safety, empower survivors, and promote understanding and social justice within our community. This is sure to be a timely presentation as October is domestic violence awareness month. Please consider taking a part of your day next Wednesday to learn about how our gifts are helping this organization through United Way.

Young Leaders Society members are invited to volunteer together to help make the holiday season brighter for local families. UWSC partner agency Salvation Army needs YOU to help in the food pantry and with the annual toy drive. In addition to your own volunteer time, please consider signing up with a friend or sharing this email with others in your organizations or circles!


Help in the Salvation Army food pantry - TOP NEED!

Main duties: organizing shelves, packing food, interacting with clients in a welcoming and friendly manner

Time: 12:30-3:30 Monday through Friday from December 13-24


Organize toys for the annual toy drive

Main duties: sort and organize boys by age group as donated toys are received

Time: any time between 11:00-5:00 from December 13-22 , suggested shift time of 3 hours


Pick up toys from participating businesses

Main duties: receive a list of collection sites, drive to site and interact with the spokesperson there to say thank you, load toys and then unload at the distribution site

Time: 9:00-11:00 on December 15


Distribute toys to families

Main duties: welcome clients to the toy drive distribution and help sign in then check out after they shop the donated items

Times: 1-7:30pm on December 22, suggested shift time of 3 hours


Domestic Violence Awareness Month - Learn about our partner agency ACCESS

October 13

9:00am (virtual meeting)

The Young Leaders Society Committee encourages you to join us for the October meeting where we will learn about our partner agency ACCESS. Originally established in 1976, ACCESS is celebrating its 45th anniversary of serving our community. Their mission is to address the roots and impact of domestic and sexual violence through services that enhance safety, empower survivors, and promote understanding and social justice within our community. This is sure to be a timely presentation as October is domestic violence awareness month. Please consider taking a part of your day next Wednesday to learn about how our gifts are helping this organization through United Way.


Blast Back to School Prepping

August 12


Back to School Blast is a collaborative effort of many community members and organizations (of which United Way is one!) that helps make sure Story County youth have the supplies they need to kick off another year of learning. This volunteer opportunity is all about prepping those materials before the big event next week! You'll be sorting donated school supplies and packing backpacks.

YLS Members are encouraged to sign up on the Back to School Blast link if they are interested in helping. Sign up here! The volunteer opportunity will take place on August 12 from 5-8 at Storey Kenworthy.


Born Learning Trail Refresh

Time and date flexible - let us know what works for you! 

Born Learning Trails throughout Ames are in need of a fresh coat of paint to get them ready for families to enjoy this summer. If you or a small team would like to volunteer to take on this refresh, please email Kristin at


Young Leaders Society Summer Social

July 28


Young Leaders Society members AND others interested in joining the group are invited to our summer social at Brookside Park's Hickory Shelter for lunch and to hear about United Way's work with YLS. We'll be discussing our 2025 Community Impact Goals: how we're meeting needs, what challenges our community is experiencing, and the new ideas that can help bring about solutions. United Way's Born Learning Trail will serve as a backdrop for the presentation. We hope you can join us! 


Mental Health in Story County: "In Our Own Voice"

May 20


Mental health continues to be a topic of focus for Ames, Iowa and our nation. The Young Leaders Society is excited to welcome United Way Partner Agency, NAMI Central Iowa, to share more about mental health with our members. Angela Tharp, Executive Director of NAMI Central Iowa, will share about how COVID-19 has impacted mental health, followed by a presentation entitled “In Our Own Voice” and finally a call-to-action for our members. NAMI In Our Own Voice is a presentation and interactive discussion that aims to change the attitudes, assumptions and stereotypes about people with mental health conditions. Presenters living with mental health conditions share their personal stories, including what happened, what helps and what’s next. Join us on May 20 at noon for this engaging presentation.  #StigmaFree  #YouAreNotAlone  


Learning Loss for Youth due to COVID-19

April 23


The past year has been challenging for both children and parents. School closures combined with regular summer learning loss impacted our kids from both a national and local perspective. Join us for a virtual event on April 23 featuring Malai Amfahr, the Story County Reads Director, as she discusses key issues around the impact, including what it reveals about inequity within the education system. She'll also provide an overview of what the Campaign for Grade Level Reading is and how this network has been responsive to the needs of Story County, and share opportunities for the YLS members to engage with the program through the United Way of Story County.


Workforce Innovation Grant Presentation

February 25

10:00 - 11:00am

Join us for a presentation to hear about the Story County Workforce Innovation Project, funded by the Coronavirus Relief Employer Innovation Fund, and how it expanded opportunities for 26 Story County residents whose employment was affected by the coronavirus pandemic. These graduates received their certificate in either the certified nurse assistant, manufacturing, or welding programs. Attend this Zoom meeting to learn about the grant project, as well as other recent and upcoming workforce innovation projects United Way is leading within Story County.

Learning opportunity: Primary Health and dental care

December 17

12:00 - 1:00pm

How can we ensure critical dental care is available for all members of our community? Previously, the Story County Dental Clinic at MICA was able to serve this vital role, but COVID-19 strained their already fragile financial margins and they are no longer able to offer this service. Luckily, Primary Health is filling this role of vital dental care for uninsured and underinsured people. Attend this Zoom meeting to learn about the service coming to Story County.


Miracle Park Preview

October 22

12:00 pm - 1:00 pm, Ames Miracle Playground and Field, 2500 Duff Avenue (East Entrance)

Join us for a special preview of the Miracle Playground before it opens! Come learn about what makes this park so special for Story County and hear the details about the adaptive equipment it provides for all children to enjoy. United Way of Story County provided $90,000 through major grants to make this park happen for our community!

*Masks and social distancing required.


YLS at UWSC Kickoff

Sept 11

7:30 at Jack Trice Stadium

Annually, YLS comes together at the UWSC Kickoff event to partake in the excitement of beginning the campaign, and follows that up with getting. their hands dirty with Day of Caring. Since this year will be unlike any other, stay tuned as we revamp our plans to adjust to our current landscape.


Volunteer to Stop Summer Learning Loss

July 24, 31 and August 7

11:15am - 12:30 pm, Meeker Elementary, Mitchell Elementary, Sawyer Elementary, and Ames Public Library

United Way of Story County is partnering with Ames Community School District, Ames Public Library, and Rotary of Ames to distribute free books each week at the grab and go meal sites in Ames. We are looking for volunteers to help distribute books for youth in grades PK-12 at all four sites. The book distribution is held outside in the parking lot near the grab and go meal locations. Everything is contactless, as the caregiver will pull up and indicate how many books per grade level are needed (1 per child per week). All books are packaged and labeled, making this easy for volunteers! Sign up here or email Malai Amfahr at


Innovation in stopping summer learning loss

June 4 at 9am

Virtual Meeting

Summer learning loss, or “summer slide”, is the achievement gap that happens for youth over the months when school is not in session. Research commissioned by the Wallace Foundation has consistently demonstrated “summer slide” disproportionately impacts youth who are from low-income families more negatively than their peers.

United Way of Story County has addressed this serious issue with collaborative programs since 2013 through the work of our education coalition Story County Reads. The seriousness of summer learning loss underscores how our teams are working to address even more anticipated learning loss that is occurring because of Covid-19 and the closures of public schools since mid-March. We will explore the role inequity plays on learning loss, specific program efforts in Story County to counter “summer slide”, and opportunities for how you can be involved.  

United Way Response and Recovery: Connecting our Community Amid Covid-19

April, 16 at 4pm

Virtual Meeting

Please join us for a YLS member update to hear how United Way is the leading the response for community needs during the current pandemic. We promise a brief presentation and time for your questions. Finally, we will finish our time together with a call to action on how you can continue to be part of the movement to LIVE UNITED.


September 13, 2019 - Volunteer with YLS for Day of Caring

Are you ready to get your very own 2019 LIVE UNITED t-shirt? Join the YLS Day of Caring team! We'll be attending the kickoff breakfast together at 7:30 at the Plex, and then heading over to LSI to help with maintenance on their grounds from 9-12. We'd love for you to be a part of the team!

United Way Kickoff - 7:30am on September 13 at The Plex

YLS Day of Caring Project - 9:00am-Noon on September 13 at LSI


August 13, 2019 - Learn about the Healthy Life Center

The Young Leaders Society Committee invites you to join us for an informational session on the proposed Healthy Life Center project. Health, of course, is one of United Way's pillars with education and financial stability being the other two. Attending this meeting will give members and potential members the opportunity to learn about and ask questions regarding a project that has the potential to create opportunities for increased health in Story County and also be utilized by many partner agencies. 

Tuesday, August 13 from 4:00-5:00pm

United Way of Story County Conference Room, 315 Clark Ave, Ames


July 18, 2019 - Practice Makes Perfect Event at Sukup

The Young Leaders Society Committee invites you to join us at Sukup Basketball Complex to hear how "practice makes perfect" with United Way. The event will bring together philanthropists age 40 and under to see the BIG difference the YLS group is making in the lives of many.

Program will feature:

  • Behind the scenes tours of Sukup Basketball Complex

  • An address from Coach Prohm

  • Impact speakers from funded programs

  • Complimentary lunch for attendees

Thursday, July 18 from 12:00-1:00pm

Sukup Basketball Complex, 1011 S Dakota Ave, Ames, IA 50014

RSVP required. 


April 30, 2019 - Volunteer with us as we host Friendship Ark Homes

YLS is hosting a May Basket event for our friends at Friendship Ark Homes!  Friendship Ark provides homes for persons with intellectual disabilities that celebrate their uniqueness and helps them reach their fullest potential. For this May Day volunteer opportunity, YLS members will help prep and restock supplies for attendees from Friendship Ark Homes while they create fun baskets. Friendship Ark then plans to deliver their creations to nursing homes the next day. Your assistance in the project will help make a memorable experience for all!

Tuesday, April 30, 2019 from 9:45-11:15

United Way of Story County, 315 Clark Ave, Ames, Iowa 50010


April 3, 2019 - Joint Tocqueville/YLS Appreciation

Members are invited to join us for an exclusive evening for our Tocqueville Society donors ($10,000+) and Young Leader Society members at Brush (formerly Creative Spirits).  There will be hosted appetizers, custom art, and a short program at 5:20pm. 

Wednesday, April 3, 2019 from 5-6p

Brush, 4820 Mortensen Road, Ames, Iowa 50014


February 27, 2019 - YLS Mental Health Resources Panel 

Join YLS for a panel discussion on the growing issue of mental health needs.  Learn the new ways organizations are meeting those needs and referring to United Way funded programs.  The panel will include representatives from Mary Greeley Medical Center, McFarland Clinic, and Ames Community School District.  Attendees will leave with a better understanding of the complexity of providing mental health care and resources available in our community. 

Wednesday, February 27 at 12:00pm

Mary Greeley Medical Center  Atrium A Conference Room

(Parking available in ramp; room is just off of the sky walk.) 

Complimentary lunch for members.

RSVP to Kristin here.