By Margaret Stadtwald
While Scott Dahlke only recently became Muscatine Center for Community Action’s (MCSA) interim executive director, his passion and vision for the position shine. His experience with MCSA will certainly give him an edge, as Dahlke has served as the programming director for MCSA for the past year. As programming director, Dahlke worked with former director Charla Schafer on many projects and made monthly presentations to the board of directors. Dahlke feels his collaboration with MCSA’s leadership and work with the board’s strategic mission means MCSA “won’t miss a step,” as he transitions to interim executive director.
Dahlke’s history with MCSA will help him lead successfully and ensure MCSA continues to provide needed services. But, his twin passions of helping the less fortunate and of serving the Muscatine community will also drive him to find even more ways for MCSA to support those in need. Originally from New York, Dahlke first started helping homeless and at-risk populations there before spending ten years working for the Wilderness organization in North Carolina. When reflecting on these experiences, Dahlke said, “I have worked with the underdogs since I started my career. I’ve seen success with some of the people I worked with and that sticks with you.” Dahlke saw more than a little success in these two programs. While working in North Carolina, Wilderness lowered at-risk behaviors in the population it served by 75%. In New York, his group dropped at-risk behaviors in its population by 100%. With a strong track record and plenty of experience to draw from, Dahlke has many tools to help strengthen MCSA going forward.
Dahlke’s drive to make MCSA as effective as possible springs from his love of Muscatine as well as his love of helping others. While working in North Carolina, Dahlke met and married his wife, who grew up in Cedar Rapids. When the economy took a downturn in the mid-2000s, they decided to move closer to her family and “wallpapered” southeastern Iowa with job applications. Eventually, Dahlke took a position with the Robert Young Center in Davenport. After doing research, he and his wife decided to move to Muscatine, and things fell into place. First Robert Young opened an office in Muscatine, and then MCSA needed a programming director, allowing Dahlke to shift into these positions and play a greater role in the Muscatine community. “I love this community,” states Dahlke. “From this position, I’ve seen that at its heart there are so many people willing to give . . . I want to get anyone who is interested involved and do whatever I can to spread the message about this community.”