Civic-Minded Professional: David McInally

President David McInally, Coe CollegeIowa Campus Compact Board Chair and Coe College President David McInally’s background and experience gives him a unique perspective on the role community experiences can play in building civic and career skills. As a first-generation college student (and the first male in his family ever to finish high school) he saw college as a way out.

“Community experiences were central to developing my ability to frame and solve problems, to manage projects independently, to communicate effectively, and to work with groups of diverse people,” recalls McInally. “Community experiences also developed my work ethic and confidence at entering unfamiliar or uncomfortable situations.”

During his first professional experience, McInally learned how community experiences build the skills it takes to be a civic-minded  professional. Working in student affairs at Allegheny College in Pennsylvania, he founded the Collegiate Leadership Conference, a week-long intensive (semi-wilderness) program for 50 students each summer.  The program integrated community experiences throughout all dimensions of leadership development.  

“We did everything from working with students with developmental disabilities in an equestrian program to helping elderly people care for their homes in tiny towns that were near the end of their community lives,” he said. “I will never forget the power of these community experiences for me and the students.”

As a college president, McInally now has the ability to make these experiences a priority for his students. He also recognizes the value of community engagement in potential employees.

“Community experience is a huge advantage for all job applicants at our institution,” he said.  “Employees with community experience listen well and they have the confidence to share their views in appropriately assertive ways that are generally well received by others. They also have a proven track record of getting things done.”

McInally plans to continue to build his skills through his current community roles, which include serving on boards and other advocacy roles. He encourages students to find ways to do the same.

“They will find their truest joy and most profound impact in work that they do in communities,” said McInally on his advice to students. “These skills not only make them more employable, but they also make their lives happier.”

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