Council Bluffs Mayor Matt Walsh, former president of the Iowa League of Cities, presents this year's Rhonda Wood Smith Award to Manning City Administrator Dawn Rohe at the organization's annual conference in Des Moines on Sept. 15. The award recognizes city officials who are young or new to local government.
Council Bluffs Mayor Matt Walsh, former president of the Iowa League of Cities, presents this year's Rhonda Wood Smith Award to Manning City Administrator Dawn Rohe at the organization's annual conference in Des Moines on Sept. 15. The award recognizes city officials who are young or new to local government.

The Manning city administrator’s “bold innovation and commitment” were recognized with a statewide award lastmonth.

Dawn Rohe is the most recent recipient of the Rhonda Wood Smith Award, presented by the Iowa League of Cities each year to a city government official who is young or new to the work.

“This is a fun award to give out, because it truly is intended to recognize people early in their career who are taking initiative and doing good things,” said Alan Kemp, executive director with the Iowa League of Cities. “Dawn is really one of those individuals who from a very early age within her community has worked closely with elected officials — she’s very engaged, very visionary, very entrepreneurial — and has pursued these things with the council to really benefit the city, and I think it really shows.”

Rohe, 33, has worked with the City of Manning since 2007, first as city clerk and then as city administrator since 2008. She graduated from Manning High School in 2001 and studied business and entrepreneurship at Buena Vista University.

“Locally and regionally, Dawn is clearly recognized as a leader,” states her nomination, which was penned by Manning Mayor Harvey Dales and Main Street Manning Board President Ron Reischl. “She clearly holds the best interests of the Manning community in her heart. ... Her leadership, as a young adult, encourages others to do the same.”

Rohe received the award at the Iowa League of Cities’ annual conference in Des Moines Sept. 15. She attended to speak about Manning’s downtown revitalization during a panel — a ruse to get her there for the surprise award that allowed her to contribute to the conference as well, Reischl said.

“Dawn Rohe ... has shown bold innovation and commitment and is a great model to other city officials, young and not-so-young,” states her introduction at the award ceremony.

“I was extremely surprised but grateful,” Rohe said. “Manning is successful because of great teamwork, and I’m very lucky to get to work with a lot of very talented and passionate people.”

The award is named for Rhonda Wood Smith, a single mother who was mayor of Garner while also working as a municipal consultant, according to the Iowa League of Cities’ website.

It seeks to “encourage and affirm participation in local government by young people who may make greater sacrifice for public service due to significant career and family commitments,” according to information from the Iowa League of Cities.

Rohe’s nomination notes that she has been involved in major projects in Manning for years.

She is spearheading an area trails project that she hopes to expand to a regional system, eventually linking Des Moines with Council Bluffs and Omaha, according to the nomination.

She has successfully written grant applications for various city organizations and was integral in the city’s downtown revitalization, the nomination states. She is involved in a local committee to address the city’s housing shortage and was a member of a committee that ultimately brought Boulders Inn and Suites to Manning. She has been involved in a variety of other committees, organizations and projects that have led to major changes in Manning, as well as recognition and awards of various types for the city.

“The award confirms on a state level what we knew at a local level, and that is that Dawn is a huge asset to the Manning community — not only in her skills, but in her dedication to the community,” Reischl said. “She’s had her finger on every project in Manning, and in many cases, she’s the lead person on the project.

“We’re just thrilled for Dawn.”

Previous area recipients of the award include Carroll Mayor Ed Smith in 2001, Carroll Mayor Adam Schweers in 2013 and Carroll City Clerk Laura Schaefer in 2014.