The Hancock-Henderson Quill, Inc.

Adventures In Leadership

By: Miriam Rutzen

Alicia Pence

Born in Iowa City, Iowa in October 19, 1988 to Melissa McIntire and Troy Phillips, Alicia (Phillips) Pence graduated from West Central High School in 2007.

In April 2010, she married Travis Pence of Stronghurst.

After earning her Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology from Monmouth College in December 2010, Alicia paired up with Danielle Covert to co-found the Family Outreach Community Center (FOCC) located in Stronghurst.

In tandem with her efforts to raise support and organize logistics for the FOCC program, Alicia also became an AmeriCorps VISTA from April 2011 to April 2012.

Having attended junior high and high school with Alicia, as well as volunteered at FOCC during a "missions stay" through Rozetta Baptist Church's missions outreach program, it was a pleasure to take the opportunity to sit down with a young grown up who knew her passion and actively pursued it, overcoming many obstacles along the way.

Q: What does leadership mean to you?

A: Leadership means being a servant. Truly that is the epitome of the word to me. Just doing things to serve others. If you are not getting your hands in and getting them dirty, you are not leading.

If you would not do what you are asking the people under you to do, you are not leading.

Being an example for them to follow, showing others that you appreciate the little things-that's leadership:to help people achieve their full potential; to help them realize that they are worth something:help them to make a change for the better in their lives.

Q: To whom did you look to as a role model or leadership figure while growing up?

A: My mom Melissa. She is strong and she has been through so much. She is always working hard, doing what was needed to support us. Currently, Dave Ramsey. To go from complete bankruptcy to where he is today by working hard, pinching pennies and saving:that is amazing. During college, a friend of mine named Paige Halpin was a huge mentor for me.

She was so elegant and she just radiated Christ. When she walked into a room you just knew there was something different about her.

Mrs. Beverly Brent was my first teacher in the Southern School District.

In 2nd grade I moved here from Burlington and I was so far behind in math.

I hated times table sheets and she gave up recess the whole year to help me with my math. Now I am really good at math and love numbers.

If she would not have spent that time with me, I do not think I would have been where I am today. Coming into a school district where they cared about me and spent time with me, as an individual, was so amazing.

My teachers treated me with dignity and respect and I thrived because of that.

Q: Can you tell me about your background and resume?

A: In high school I was the Class Secretary all four years; participated in softball, volleyball, and bowling; National Honor Society Secretary my senior year; member of Chorus, Math Club, and WYSE.

In college, I participated in the sorority Alpha Zi Delta and had many leadership roles with them. Currently I am on the Board of Directors for Small World Children's Center, an EMT for Henderson County, and I volunteer often for various community activities.

I am an outside consultant for FOCC so I oversee FOCC staff, sit on the board, do community presentations as needed, and look into grants. Along with raising an active and bubbly (almost!) one-year-old, Lucas, I also serve as the Program and Event Coordinator for the Alzheimer's Association Greater Iowa Chapter.

Q: What are three things you would say to someone about life?

A: 1) Always smile, you never know what the other person is going through or to what kind of home they are returning.

2) Continue to move forward. My motto is that, "In life we either progress or regress!"

3) And know how important your community is-sometimes we take for granted the community that we live in.

I feel comfortable sending my son Lucas to school and knowing that his teachers will take pride in their job and that he is safe.

We do not have to worry about our bank stealing our money.

The bankers know your name:you go in a store and you can talk to the person behind the counter. It is a great place.

Although no longer the director for Family Outreach Community Center, her continued involvement and time investment there is just one example of the many ways Alicia Pence has pursued her passion for making our community a better place.

Her example of always approaching life with the glass half-full mentality, along with her persistence, endurance, and hard work to accomplish her goals has continued to reinforce her leadership abilities to all those around her.

As we reminisced about our good old junior high track days and how she taught me how to high jump (the technical side of it anyway), I could not help but be amazed at this young woman in front of me.

Moreover, her stories inspired me. What would happen if I were to wake up every morning and challenge myself with the same question that Alicia lives out every day: what am I going to do today to make my community a better place?

Every other life lesson highlighted in our conversation that day falls into place once that is set out at the forefront. And, as Alicia's life has exhibited, the search for that daily answer leads to quite the adventure. (For more information on the Family Outreach Community Center, visit their website at