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Valerie Van Kooten named new administrator of State Historical Society of Iowa


DES MOINES – Valerie Van Kooten of Pella has been named the new administrator of the State Historical Society of Iowa, beginning April 5.

“We are very excited to have Valerie joining the State Historical Society of Iowa in this leadership role,” said Adam Steen, director of the Iowa Department of Administrative Services, which oversees the historical society. “Her experience and record of high-level achievement will be major assets as the historical society continues its dual mission of preservation and education into the future.”

“I am immensely humbled to take the reins of the State Historical Society of Iowa, as I have loved this institution since I was a little girl,” Van Kooten said. “I am grateful for growing up in a very history-oriented family, which gave me a love for our state and the knowledge that Iowa’s history must be preserved and promoted. I look forward to working with the dedicated staff at the museum, archives and library, and historic sites.”

Van Kooten comes to the historical society with a wealth of experience in Iowa history, historic preservation, capital campaigns, executive leadership and more.

Currently, she is the owner and founder of Van Kooten Grant Consulting, working with clients to identify and fulfill needs, sustainability and funding sources while crafting and advising about grant applications.

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Previously, she served as the executive director of Pella Historical Museums where she spearheaded a capital campaign that raised $2.7 million in 13 months, and renovated the Scholte House and Gardens, the Boyhood Home of Wyatt Earp and many features in the Historical Village. She has also worked in public relations at Rolscreen Company (now Pella Corporation), and taught technical writing and history at Central College before becoming Central’s grant writer.

In addition, Van Kooten has considerable experience in membership, grants and donation programs. She served on the Iowa Economic Development Authority’s Enhance Iowa Committee for four years; was chairperson of the Community Attraction & Tourism committee; served on the State Association for the Preservation of Iowa Cemeteries grants committee; and is chair of the Marion County Pioneer Cemetery Commission. She also was a Humanities Iowa speaker for nearly 20 years, giving presentations about women’s fashion in Iowa, 1850-2000.

Van Kooten is a graduate of Iowa State University with a bachelor’s degree in Journalism/Mass Communications and has taken journalism master’s degree classes at Drake University. She also holds a Grant Professional Certification (one of only 475 in the United States).

She lives in Pella with her husband, Kent, and has 3 sons and 4 grandchildren.

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