Baker-Latimer - Carrie Chapman Catt award

Iowa State alumna Vanessa Baker-Latimer was selected as a 2019 Carrie Chapman Catt Public Engagement Award recipient for her work as a housing coordinator for the city of Ames. 

Recently, one Iowa State alumna has been named the recipient of an award for her work with public entities.

Vanessa Baker-Latimer, housing coordinator for the city of Ames and alumna of Iowa State, was selected as the 2019 Carrie Chapman Catt Public Engagement Award recipient.

This award is one of the highest awards bestowed by the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences at Iowa State. The award recognizes alumni who have demonstrated outstanding achievement in their work with public entities.

“I got a call from someone telling me they were wanting to nominate me for this award and that they already had but they just wanted me to know,” Baker-Latimer said. “They didn’t want to ask me because I was going to say ‘no, don’t do it.’ Several people had written letters of support to go along with it.”

Baker-Latimer said she likes to stay behind the scenes and that is why she would have said no to the nominator if they had asked before sending in the nomination.

“I don’t need all that publicity and stuff,” Baker-Latimer said. “I just want to do a good job in whatever I do for the city and community.”

Baker-Latimer received a master of public administration degree from Iowa State in 1989.

Baker-Latimer said she has worked for over 37 years as the housing coordinator for the city of Ames. During that time, her responsibilities have included managing and administering the city’s affordable housing programs, providing housing-related financial analysis, acquiring property and managing new construction projects, overseeing the department’s $2 million-plus budgets and managing more than $45 million in various federal, state and local grant funds.

“I do things like that to help people who need assistance in that area,” Baker-Latimer said.

Baker-Latimer also serves the community through leadership and participation on various boards, councils and committees. Baker-Latimer is the treasurer of the Ames Chamber of Commerce executive board, member of the McFarland Community Advisory Council, chair of the Ames NAACP Freedom Fund Banquet and member of the Martin Luther King Jr. Day celebrations committee.

“I am certainly very humbled to be among the honorees that received this very distinguished recognition for the work they have done, so it was very humbling,” Baker-Latimer said. “I am very honored to have people feel that I should receive this award; I don’t necessarily seek this [...]. I just want to do a good job, I just have a passion for helping people and a commitment to my organization. I am just blessed to have been able to do it and the recognition wasn’t necessary.”

Baker-Latimer was presented with the award at the ISU Alumni Association luncheon and ceremony Friday.

The Carrie Chapman Catt Public Engagement Award is awarded to alumni of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences (LAS) who have demonstrated “outstanding” achievement for their work with public entities at local, state, national or international levels, according to the LAS Alumni website.

The award recognizes the achievements of Carrie Chapman Catt, who was a suffragist, early feminist, political activist and Iowa State alumna. Catt was president of the National American Woman Suffrage Association and led the fight for ratification of the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

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