Former CBS 2 News Anchor Becomes Non-Profit CEO
CBS 2 News anchor Karen Fuller caught up with Tiffany O'Donnell to talk about her new adventure as the C-E-O of "Iowa Women Lead Change". In 2014 - she left the anchor chair at CBS 2 and Fox 28 news to join the Women's Workforce Development Charity. She says her broadcasting career prepared her for this high profile position.
"I think IWLC gives women permission to aim high", O'Donnell says.
Tiffany is right at home in a top floor, corner office, of the Alliant building in downtown Cedar Rapids. Awards, humorous sayings and a letter from her mother are placed throughout the room. As a long time anchor for Fox 28/CBS 2 - O'Donnell is comfortable being in the public eye.
She says, "I feel like in what I do right now, in addition to my experience being in front of people, and speaking in front of people, telling stories, that has put me in a unique spot to tell the story of leadership for women."
I asked Tiffany to describe the organization in a few words. "If I was going to describe what IWLC is about, at the end of the day, it's developing a capable workforce," she replied. O'Donnell says Iowa has enormous female talent and that the speakers brought in by IWLC, expose the women to ideas and achievements they might never have known about.
"I think women, more than ever, on their own, understand what's possible for them, and are willing to take more risks than we used to. I also think that a critical piece of that is the support we receive from our partners."
O'Donnell's partner is her husband Michael. Together since they were 19 - they are raising daughters Devon and Lucci. Tiffany calls Michael the "lead parent" - because he stayed home with the girls - allowing her to work the evening hours a main anchor job demands. She says, "We've taken our turns, with our opportunities, and he recognized that this was something that was important to me, and was willing to kind of step back and be the lead parent."
Tiffany has been in the public eye since winning "Miss Iowa" in 1988. After graduating with a major in French and a minor in Communications from DePauw University in Indiana - a whirlwind internship at W-H-O in Des Moines quickly followed. "They said could you do news anchoring and weather for a brand new morning show that we're going to start. I was an intern", she says. She caught the news bug right away - but weather? She says, "I was terrible. I didn't know that there was a reason that the fronts went a certain way. I'd have fronts facing each other, farmers calling in and saying 'It's Armageddon!'...I didn't do weather for very long."
O'Donnell was on the desk the morning water started rising during the flood of 1993. But her proudest moment became a learning experience - when the boss had other plans. "The news director said, smartly, I'm going to bring in my main news anchor. Well! She took my seat at the desk, on my show! And I said, this is my show, and he said, he kind of put me in my place very quickly", said O'Donnell.
By 2001, Tiffany landed at Fox 28/CBS 2 where she would spend 13-years as a main anchor. But when "Iowa Women Lead Change" called - she gave the opportunity very careful thought. She says, "Your name becomes a brand that you don't get overnight, and so I knew that by walking away from that, I was walking away from a career."
Because she is so well known - I had to ask what the future holds. I asked O'Donnell "What would you think of a career in politics?" She said "You know? I don't know. I haven't thought about that specifically, but I wouldn't rule it out. I wouldn't rule anything out. If I've learned anything in my professional life, it's that anything is possible."
O'Donnell is taking over as CEO of "Iowa Women Lead Change", from outgoing CEO Diane Ramsey.