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Unsung Hero: Julia Veenstra, Des Moines Christian School

By Net Assets posted 10-26-2017 10:44 AM

Julia Veenstra

Leadership |

The Will J. Hancock Unsung Hero Award is given to business officers who have made extraordinary contributions to their schools and exemplify exceptional integrity, knowledge and motivation. At the end of each school year, new Unsung Heroes receive their award from their head of school, often at a significant school occasion such as a board meeting or an all-school ceremony. What makes these Unsung Heroes so special? The highlights below come straight from their colleagues' nominations. 

See a full list of the 2017 recipients. Stay tuned to for additional profiles.

Title: Director of Business 

School: Des Moines Christian School, Urbandale, Iowa

Years in current position: 18

Years in an independent school business office: 18

Superpower: School turnaround — "She walked into a school where the administration had just left and taken about one third of the families with them. Mail hadn't been opened for two months, including some bills. The operating budget was just above $3 million." Eighteen years later, "The school sits on a new 29-acre campus, has cash reserves in addition to 30 percent, hard income above 95 percent and discounts below 10 percent. The operating budget is now over $8 million. She has dramatically increased faculty compensation and benefits and developed a professional team in the business office." 

Institutional memory: Has served four different school heads, more than 50 board members, hundreds of employees and thousands of students and is the only remaining member of the leadership team she joined in 1999. "She has been a constant during the school's incredible resurgence... Her opinions and decision-making capabilities are sought after by leaders and parents across the school." 

Team player: Recently started a leader of the quarter award, nominated by peers, to recognize good work. "She delights in the success of her team, not for her own recognition but to truly celebrate their achievements and build confidence." 

Other duties as assigned: "She volunteers in any way she can — such as jumping in and helping at the concession stand if folks there look overwhelmed, or giving someone a break at our recent gala event when they were needed elsewhere." 

See a full list of the 2017 recipients and read more about the Will J. Hancock Unsung Hero Award. will post additional profiles of Unsung Heroes over the summer and into the fall — check in to learn more about other recipients. 


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