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Dianne Bystrom, Carrie Chapman Catt Center for Women and Politics, (515) 294-4185
Barb Dietrich Boose, ISU Foundation, (515) 294-5779
Skip Derra, News Service, (515) 294-4917


AMES, Iowa -- Iowa State University has received a $100,000 gift from alumni Joni and John Axel, Muscatine, to support the Carrie Chapman Catt Center for Women in Politics endowment fund and to establish the Joni and John Axel Leadership Development Series.

The series will provide workshops and guest speakers; mentoring opportunities; field trips related to women, politics and leadership; and possible student employment to support and assist with programming. The Axels' gift was announced Sept. 18 at the Women and Philanthropy Luncheon hosted by the ISU Foundation and the Catt Center.

"The reason the idea of the Leadership Series appealed to me," John Axel said in announcing the gift, "was not only because Joni and I agree on the mission of the Catt Center and the capabilities of women, but because I wanted to honor my best friend -- my wife, Joni."

The gift to the endowment fund will help the center continue to provide leadership development and educational opportunities for women and men interested in politics, public policy and administration, and public service. The center offers learning opportunities through programs that blend the resources and scholarship of the academic environment with the actual experiences of individuals in public and private sectors.

With their gift, the Axels provide a perpetual source of support for the leadership series and the Carrie Chapman Catt Center.

"Joni and John's gift will have an immediate and lasting impact on the Carrie Chapman Catt Center and on opportunities for Iowa State students to learn and develop leadership skills," said Dianne Bystrom, director of the center. "Their generosity will enhance the Iowa State experience for students for years to come."

Joni Urenn Axel earned a bachelor's degree in history (1964) from Iowa State and a law degree (1981) from the University of Iowa. She is an attorney and director of the Muscatine law firm of Stanley, Lande and Hunter P.C. Joni is a past member of the ISU Foundation Board of Directors and past president and member of the ISU Alumni Association. She has served on the executive committee of the Hoover Presidential Library Association.

John Axel earned a bachelor's degree in industrial administration (1964) from Iowa State and an MBA (1966) from the Wharton School of Finance and Commerce at the University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia. He is chairman and CEO of Iowa Companies Inc., Muscatine. John has served in a number of civic and volunteer roles, including co-chair of the Iowa delegation to the Republican National Convention; co-chair of the Mayor's Youth Advisory Committee; founder and president of the Friends of the Musser Public Library; board member of the Muscatine Chamber of Commerce and Muscatine Community Schools; and chair of the Eastern Iowa Economic Development Council.

Both Joni and John Axel are Governors of the ISU Foundation, past members of the ISU College of Business Dean's Advisory Council and past recipients of the ISU Alumni Association's Outstanding Young Alumni Recognition.

The Iowa State University Foundation is a private, non-profit corporation dedicated to securing and managing gifts and grants that benefit Iowa State University.


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