Led to Serve

Central College graduates give back to their communities through public service. Like so many Central College alumni, Bob Andeweg ’84, Sarah Hennesy ’91 and Justin Fletcher ’02 felt called to do more for the good of others. While all serve their communities in different ways, each acknowledges it’s the guidance from key players in their Central experiences as well as the things they learned at Central that led them to where they are today.

Bob ’84 and Charity Andeweg. A native Iowan, Andeweg has had a fulfilling career in law and serves as mayor for the City of Urbandale.

The Early Years

Bob Andeweg ’84 grew up in Pella, Iowa. His parents attended Central College, so that played a role in his decision to also attend, and with it being a smaller school, it was a good fit.

Andeweg studied political science and economics at Central. He was a proud member of the A Cappella Choir, a manager for the Central Dutch football team and he also had a job in town.

He built great friendships in his time at Central with students and incredible relationships with his professors. 

The late Emeritus Professor of Economics, “Don Butler was a tremendous professor,” Andeweg shares. “He was always able to relate with students and his tenure at
Central allowed him to impact multiple generations.” Andeweg was one of Butler’s first “grandstudents” having taught his parents before him.  

“Each fall, he’d have a gathering at his house with all of his grandstudents. He truly cared for all of us,” Andeweg says.

“The professors at Central were always great,” he says. “They were happy to talk to and work with you. They were accessible, had their doors open, made sure students understood concepts when they had questions.”

The Path to More

After creating great memories on campus and on tours with the A Cappella Choir, Andeweg went to law school and was later hired by a firm in Des Moines, Iowa. He’s always been in the Greater Des Moines area and has enjoyed a great career in law. He found himself wanting to do more, though.

Andeweg decided he wanted to give back to the community he called home. He knew the mayor of Urbandale, Iowa, at the time, EJ Giovannetti, and made it known he wanted to do what he could to help. 

“I think he finally got tired of me and asked me to be on the planning and zoning commission,” Andeweg chuckles.

His next step was to run for Urbandale City Council in 1999. Five people ran for the three open seats and in Urbandale the highest votes fill the seats, rather than being divided by area in the community. 

“Five people ran and I came in fourth,” Andeweg says. “So I didn’t get elected. But fate stepped in and one of the newly elected council members had to resign as they were moving out of town.” 

As a result, Andeweg was appointed to city council. He ran for council for two more terms until running and being elected mayor of Urbandale in 2005 where he’s been the mayor ever since.

Mr. Mayor

“Being mayor is not a full-time job, but it can certainly take up a lot of time,” Andeweg says. “My role as mayor is being the voice of the city and our council and to be an ambassador for our city in many ways. I think that in itself and our work to bring the community together makes the time more than worth it.”

Andeweg represents Urbandale on several boards and commissions in the greater Des Moines metropolitan area. 

“That’s probably where I have a better or greater influence representing Urbandale on those boards and commissions,” Andeweg reflects. “Being the voice of Urbandale, making sure we’re heard and doing what we should be doing as a city throughout the entire area because we’re all in it together. There are almost 20 communities that make up the Des Moines metro, and we need to play our part in that.”

As one can imagine, there are many meetings for a mayor to attend. “I can be gone from sunup to sundown,” Andeweg says. “I try to schedule a lot of breakfast or coffee meetings early in the morning to meet with council members and anyone else I need to visit with. During the day, though, I’m just focused on my day job as an attorney trying to get things done for my clients. Trying to keep my schedule in balance can be pretty difficult. I don’t have a lot of idle time.”

Fortunately for Andeweg, there’s a great deal of flexibility in his schedule. 

“Being an attorney is probably one of the best jobs to have as a mayor because I can be pretty flexible,” he says. “Most of my work happens from 8 a.m. until 5 p.m. but I can flex and get things done earlier in the day or later at night if or when I need to.

That flexibility is what helped Andeweg pursue his work in public service. “I’ve been very blessed to be with law firms that are very patient. The firm I work for actually puts an emphasis on public service. They value the fact that it’s not just about doing your legal work, but rather about being a valuable member of the community.”

“I truly appreciate that I have very patient, understanding law partners that know this is part of what we need to do to pay our civic rent back to the community,” he says. 

True to his Central roots, the desire to leave the community better than he found it is deeply ingrained within Andeweg. 

More To Do

“Looking ahead, I still want to practice, be valuable and keep learning,” he says. “I love working with clients. It’s great to see projects come together and see clients happy and successful. And that’s what I want to continue doing. I’m also trying to help and mentor some of our younger lawyers in the firm so they can do the same thing.”

His approach to his work as mayor is similar. “I’m in my fifth term as mayor and I know I won’t be in this role forever, but I’ve been very blessed to be mayor for as long as I have,” Andeweg says. “I want to continue encouraging younger people to get involved as the next generation of leaders in the community. We all need to give back in some way and I think public service is a great way to do it. I want to leave Urbandale better than I found it. I want to make sure that I’m leaving a positive impact on our community.”

As for his time at 812 University St., Andeweg doesn’t shy away from giving credit where credit is due. “Central gave me a great foundation for my future and it was the best experience I could have had.”


Campus roommates turned lifelong friends, Dawn Zwart ’91, Sarah Hennesy ’91 and Shari Kerr Miller ’91 still meet up when they can.

For A Lifetime

Sarah Hennesy ’91 grew up in Fairfield, Iowa. She didn’t know much about Central until she toured the campus and experienced Central firsthand. Hennesy was taken by how friendly and welcoming everyone was. It just felt right.

Hennesy double majored in religion and Spanish. She was involved in theatre through a musical production early on, studied abroad in Granada her junior year and focused on her religion individual study thereafter.

During the individual study, Hennesy worked closely with Thomas Kopecek and William Herbrechtmeier, professors emerti of religion.

“One of the most significant and memorable things for me about Central is how the professors took such individual time with me and helped me figure out what I was going to be good at,” Hennesy shares. “They really helped me focus. It’s because of my professors at Central that I ended up going to law school and becoming a judge. I intended to be a minister and sort of had a crisis of faith. It was Herbrechtmeier who really took the time to talk me through this crisis and pointed me toward law school.”

Because of that relationship, Hennesy’s life was forever changed. To be able to sit a student down and know them well enough to sense when something is off or that another path could lead to better results just goes to show it’s not a tagline — the relationships made at Central and their impact truly last a lifetime. 

“I have been thankful ever since I went to law school that I had a teacher who cared so much — not just get to know a student, but to help them find direction,” Hennesy shares. “And that’s why I think Central is so significant to me. It’d be hard to get that at a large school or many other places.”

Sorting Things Out

From Pella, Hennesy attended Drake University to study criminal law. Following her graduation, she became a public defender in Des Moines, Iowa. She did this for two years, later moving to Spain to teach English for one year as she was working to sort some things out.

Upon her return to the U.S., she worked as a criminal defense attorney in Washington, D.C., for eight years. “I loved being a criminal defense attorney,” Hennesy says. “It was really exciting!”

When she met her husband, the couple made the move back to the Midwest. 

“When we had kids, I thought I was going to be a stay-at-home mom,” she says. “I stayed home for one year and realized that if I focused all of my attention on this poor little being, I was going to drive them insane. I needed to do something else, so I got a job at Legal Aid in St. Cloud, Minnesota.”

While there, another guiding hand stepped in. “One of the judges pulled me aside and said, ‘You know, I think you’d be good at this,’” Hennesy recalls. “There was an opening coming up and she recommended I start the process of applying. She was just one of those special people, who I’ve been fortunate enough to know that care about reaching out and helping younger people.”

“I hadn’t really thought about being a judge and I didn’t know this judge that well at the time. I’ve gotten to know her since, and she consistently reaches out to people to try to help further their careers. She loves to support other women. She saw something in me that made her think I would enjoy this work and she was right.”

Judgment Day

The opening came toward the end of 2011. “It had been almost a full year and I was told it would take several rounds of applying to get a job,” Hennesy says. “So, I wanted to put my name in the ring. To my surprise, I ended up getting it the first time around! I wasn’t quite ready and my family wasn’t either. I went from working part-time and still being sort of a part-time stay-at-home mom to being hired for a job in that was more than full time. It was an adjustment for me and my family, but I’m glad that I got the opportunity.”

Unlike some states, in Minnesota, you must be appointed and then elected to be a judge, standing for election every six years. Hennesy is in her second elected term as a judge and was elected Seventh Judicial District Chief Judge in 2021. 

A Day In The Life

“My role is different than when I started now that I’m a chief judge,” Hennesy shares. “I’m in court pretty much every day but now I’m also part of our State Judicial Council. We set policies for judges in Minnesota, and I really love that. Some of my days are spent doing the administrative portions of the work and I’m almost always in court every day whether it’s over Zoom or live court,” she says.

During the pandemic, the judicial system had to adjust. “We did everything by Zoom for a while and now we’re hybrid,” Hennesy says. 

“Some things can’t really be done well on Zoom like a jury trial, so those are in person, but a large number of things we do now via Zoom don’t involve juries.”

Hennesy has great hopes for the future and plans to make them happen. “I’m focused on helping my district and judges statewide” she says. “We want to keep the efficiencies like we’ve had with Zoom but also want to continue to build public trust and confidence in our system by showing continued compassion for the people. So it’s trying to help judiciary strike that balance going forward.”

With more greatness to come, Hennesy fondly reflects on her time at Central. “I don’t know where I would be without my professors at Central who were so intelligent and knew how to truly help students see in themselves what they needed to succeed,” she says. “I think that’s a rare gift and Central seems to have more than its fair share of these kinds of teachers who are good at making connections with students and helping them see their own potential.”


Justin Fletcher ’02 is a manager of investment accounting by day and gives back to his community as a member of the Norwalk Community School District School Board.

The Road to Central

Justin Fletcher ’02 came to Central from Crawfordsville, Iowa. A lifelong Iowa Hawkeye fan, he looked at larger schools at first. But as he started to evaluate his academic needs and desires to be successful, a smaller school seemed to align with what he wanted his experience to look like. 

Fletcher connected with coaches at Central in his later years of high school and fell in love with Pella, Central’s smaller campus and class sizes, programs and more. He built some great memories and relationships on campus with coaches and friends from his time on the baseball team, and perhaps most notably, his wife, Amanda Hansen Fletcher ’00.

Life In The Professional Lane

After Central, the value of a smaller organization was instilled in him. Throughout his career, Fletcher has sought out smaller employers where he could do a variety of tasks and have a larger impact while getting to know and work closely with people.

As a professional in the world of finance, Fletcher has learned several different areas in the field. Currently in investment accounting, his work involves finance and security theory, working with investments, solving problems and more.

“I get to do creative things, consistent things, be a leader and work with really great people for a great company,” Fletcher says.

Fletcher’s first job out of college provided key experiences that planted the seed for his work down the line. In his role, he helped manage a trust for school districts and cities providing Fletcher with countless opportunities to meet with school officials. 

School: A Family Tradition

“A lot of people in my family have worked in schools — my wife, mom, brother, grandparents, cousins — in many different roles,” he shares. “While being a teacher wasn’t what I wanted to do, I’ve always had an interest in our schools and passion for the important work that happens there.”

Years later, Fletcher learned about a couple of openings on the Norwalk Community School District School Board. Given his desire to give back to the community, family history in education and professional journey, he decided to run for one of the open positions and was elected for the first time nearly 10 years ago.

Fletcher’s grandfather instilled in him that if you wanted to see a difference, you needed to put in the work to make it happen and make it better. 

“If you’re not willing to be part of the solution, it’s just noise,” he says. “So, roll up your sleeves and do the work, make good decisions and help make a difference.”

And his work certainly has made a difference. They’ve completed countless capital projects and made changes within programs and the district for the better. 

“On the school board, we’re always thinking about the stakeholders of the district — the students, of course, staff, taxpayers, the state — and how all these pieces come together or may be affected by a decision,” Fletcher explains. “It’s all about what’s in the best interest of the district. We can do a lot of things, we just can’t do everything. It’s our job to be good stewards of the resources the district and voting taxpayers have trusted us with.”

No longer the “new kid” on the board, Fletcher has had the opportunity to help the school district in many different ways, including mentoring new board members. 

“It’s a volunteer role, so you know the folks on school boards care about this work and the community,” Fletcher says. “Sure, there’s some community recognition for these roles, but individuals serving on school boards are driven by their passion for their community, the students and education. It’s about having the frame of mind to learn, listen and evaluate decisions, not based on your personal thoughts, but more so thinking about it on the spectrum of a timeline. How will this decision impact us today, tomorrow or however many years from now?”

There’s a lot of growth going around the Des Moines metropolitan area, Norwalk included. Fletcher’s hopes for this growth involve strengthening the community, more opportunities for the students, providing a great experience and so much more.

“The relationships and experiences I had at Central taught me a lot of what I can incorporate today in my job and in my work on the school board. The ability to have all the tools in your toolbox is something I’ve found very helpful.” 

In true Central fashion, Fletcher, Andeweg and Hennesy use the tools and skills they gained from Central to serve their communities in their leadership roles. That’s the Central way.

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