Molly Monk and John Foster celebrate five years with NewBoCo

NewBoCo welcomed two key team members five years ago this week.

Today? Both John Foster and Molly Monk say they wouldn’t want to be anywhere else. 

“The last five years have been a wild ride,” says Molly, who currently serves as NewBoCo’s Assistant Director of Development. “It was on my birthday five years ago that Eric Engelmann called me and said ‘Would you like a job?’ And I was like ‘Yes!’ I thought the NewBoCo team was super-cool, and I really wanted the opportunity to work with them if I ever got the chance.” 

‘It’s flown by’

Graphic designer John Foster joined NewBoCo in July of 2016, after many years of working as a freelance designer. In addition to creating materials for NewBoCo, he serves as the community manager of Vault, the coworking space located at 415 12th Ave. SE in Cedar Rapids. 

“It’s flown by,” John says today. “This is the longest I’ve been at one place, and thinking back, it’s changed a lot. But it feels like it’s gone really quick.” 

John says that both NewBoCo and Vault are the ideal working environment for him. 

“I’ve always been a pretty social work person,” he says. “It’s fun to bring on new members, and get an idea about what they do, and then introduce them to other Vault members, and see the connection happen. That’s really cool. As a designer, I see a lot of that myself, but it’s fun to see with other people. It’s just a really encouraging environment. NewBoCo has done a really good job of hiring people who are optimistic and really care about what we do here.”

Communicating impact

Just one week after John became part of the NewBoCo team, Molly Monk also joined. Originally from Minnesota, Molly learned about NewBoCo from her former roommate at Simpson College in Indianola. She was originally hired as Program Manager for the brand-new Iowa Startup Accelerator; she worked in that role for two years before moving into a development role. 

“As NewBoCo continued to grow, we found that my storytelling skills were a natural fit for grant writing, which I really enjoy,” Molly says. “I love that so much of my job is focused on communicating what our impact is. Mostly, I get to brag about the work that my co-workers are doing, and that is incredibly fulfilling.”

NewBoCo Executive Director Aaron Horn says, “It’s hard to imagine NewBoCo without Molly and John on the team. They both bring so many skills, experiences, and perspectives to the organization and they are both extremely good at what they do. They are also great human beings and really fun to work with.”

Sharing stories

Since both John and Molly started their careers at NewBoCo so close together, they naturally share many stories. One of their favorite memories is teaming up as euchre players, and decimating their co-workers on lunch breaks. 

“Molly resisted playing for the longest time,” John says. “But once she finally did, she was playing every day. We keep a spreadsheet of all our matches, and Molly and I were better playing as a team than we were individually.” 

“John and I had a real hot streak as Team Mojo, so that’s been a real delight,” Molly adds. 

Molly and John both say they hope to remain with NewBoCo for many years to come, and not just because of the environment. 

“I love the flexibility that our organization offers, and the respect that we get from our leadership team,” Molly says. “We really did our best during the pandemic to protect everyone – not just our physical health, but our mental health. That made me really proud and encouraged to be a part of this team. It’s been a wild ride, and as we continue to go forward for the next five years, I hope that we continue to shift our focus to entrepreneurs who aren’t being served, or haven’t been traditionally considered in the state. I hope that continues to be reflected in all our programming.” 

John agrees. 

“We’ve just got to keep adapting, and see where that takes us,” he says. “And personally, I want to see us keep topping ourselves on projects that challenge us. Working at NewBoCo, there’s also a lot of pressure to get it right, but it’s pressure that we entirely put on ourselves because we believe in what we do. It’s stuff that I enjoy, and we all kind of get to see the difference we make in the community.”