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Board Spotlight: Shannon McMahon

For our  first Board Member Spotlight we are featuring board President Shannon McMahon. McMahon is the Communication Coordinator for the City of Iowa City and a vital asset to the Housing Fellowship board. 


1. How long have you served on the Fellowship’s Board and what made you want to become involved?

I have been a member of the board for four years. I learned about the opportunity through Executive Director Simon Andrew and was inspired by the opportunity to help boost awareness of the organization and take action around affordable housing in Iowa City.

2. Tell us about your professional skills or interests. What do you find most fulfilling about them?

I have led the City of Iowa City’s Communications Office for the past 11 years, providing strategic communications and working to improve access to City information, while overseeing customer service and outreach activities. The most rewarding part of my job is connecting with the community in a way that aims to make our residents feel heard and valued.

3. How do you define success (in life or at work)?

When I have achieved an important goal that aligns with my values, when I help others achieve their goals, when I complete a project that resonates with our community’s vision, when I do my part to make this community a little bit better, I feel like I have been successful.

4. Who inspires you?

I am inspired by many – those who provide strong and honest leadership – the folks who dig into the hard work of building a better community by listening to numerous perspectives, doing so with determination and grace.

5. What advice would you give to someone who wants to be more involved in their community?

I would offer that there are many opportunities for involvement in Iowa City! City boards and commissions and a multitude of nonprofits are looking for volunteers. I would ask them what their passion is and work to connect them with the relevant organization.

6. What experiences and past roles have led you to where you are today?

If there is one thread that connects my winding path, it is service and communications, starting with 4-H as a youngster and serving as club reporter. In college, I wanted to be a journalist, and served as editor of the school paper and a member of the student council. I didn’t grow up with a safety net of wealth, which provided me with a good deal of understanding around the socio-economic barriers that people face. Early in my career, I worked for newspapers, learned graphic design, business management, and picked up as many skills as possible to do my work in the most informed way that I can. In the last several years, I have worked hard to understand issues around diversity, equity, and inclusion, how to be an ally and advocate, and how to take action to improve the quality of life for others.

7. Fun fact that people probably don’t know about you.

I was on one of Iowa’s last six-on-six high school women’s basketball teams before the sport transitioned to full court. I loved it – but it was a completely different game with specialized roles. I continued to play basketball recreationally for many years after. I still love the sport and the teamwork involved.

8. What excites you the most right now?

I am most inspired by the younger generation of people becoming more aware of inequity and injustice and inclined towards inclusion, acceptance, and support for others. I’m excited to see our future leaders and how they handle the challenges that come their way.