Joan Urenn Axel
"Ms. Axel exemplifies the change in status
during the past 50 years...she is a woman who
pioneer in legal and public service."
Willard Boyd, 2006
Joan Urenn Axel, born on January 21, 1943 in Fargo, ND, is
an indefatigable participant in the lives, issues, organizations,
and communities around her. She has an innate ability to bring
people together to accomplish difficult objectives. She builds
bridges and friendships through her style of leadership. During
her nearly 50 years in Iowa, Axel frequently has been the
first woman to serve on a board or to lead an organization,
paving the way for other women to follow. She has served as
director on governing boards, a municipal utility board, the
first Iowa Lottery Commission, and the first Iowa Communications
Network Commission. Axel devotes much of her time to mentoring
women and girls in ways to reach their potential, to participate
in good government at all levels, and to be economically secure.
She was one of the volunteer founders of the Carrie Chapman
Catt Center for Women in Politics and a lead sponsor of the
Mary Louise Smith Chair at Iowa State University. Prior to
her continuing 27 year career in the private practice of law
in Muscatine, she was elected to the Muscatine County Board
of Supervisors and served as the first person to chair the
Board for two years. Her law practice has focused on personal
client services such as small and minority business development,
estate planning, elder law, family issues, and women in business.
She has served on numerous boards, including Iowa Supreme
Court Commissions, State of Iowa Commissions, and local foundations.
Axel's public service extends beyond Iowa as a participant
in the first sister-state mission to China in the 1980s with
former Governor Robert Ray and, more recently, in the sister-state
delegation establishing Iowa’s official ties to Stavropol
in Russia. Axel has impacted the lives of thousands of women
and girls with her personal time and investment in mentoring
and educating, not only through her vision and support of
programs, but also through her commitment to the rights and
dignity of others. Axel was inducted into the Iowa Women's
Hall of Fame in 2008.