Laurie Phelan

Former President of JAG Iowa

Board Member: State Affiliate Representatives​

Laurie Phelan serves as the current and only President and CEO of Phelan Forward  Consulting, LLC. She graduated from Drake University with a Masters of Education and her undergraduate degrees are in Communication and Sociology.  Laurie is the founder and former President/CEO of Iowa Jobs for America’s Graduates  (iJAG) serving in that role for 24 years. She now serves on the JAG National Board of  Directors and supports JAG affiliates through her executive strategist role with JAG.  Laurie served as the State Director of School-to-Work for six years before becoming the  Administrative Consultant to the Iowa Director of Education. During this time she managed Comprehensive School Reform, Charter Schools, Workforce Development programs, established the first in the nation Teacher Apprenticeship, and helped establish Career Pathways for the state of Iowa.

Over the past 30 years the majority of Laurie’s work has focused on designing and implementing programs for young people who were not experiencing success in the traditional education and workforce systems. And, helping employers see their future workforce for their talents vs barriers. She is known for her seemingly endless passion  and advocacy for “that kid no matter what!”

Launching iJAG in 1999 was a dream come true for Laurie. The challenges among young people in Iowa were growing and as were the barriers to system-wide reform. So,  with the support of the Governor and private sector, Laurie established what is now the most successful youth centered program in her state, Iowa Jobs for America’s Graduates  (iJAG). Spanning over 24 years, the program averages a 97% graduation rate among students facing many barriers to successful graduation, continued education, and work.  iJAG continually exceeds national standards for graduation, employment and school-to-work transition.  

She credits her career success to a solid family and faith structure, experiences that developed her passion for this work, impactful relationships in all public and private sectors, and holding the needs of struggling students first.  

Whether it is establishing programs to help level the playing field for those with the most challenges, fundraising to grow programs that work, embracing differences, and helping students understand the power of a handshake. Laurie believes in doing work that is life changing.