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To kick off Women’s History month, we are recognizing Remarkable Women in our community. 

Renee Hardman is a leader in the metro who serves on the West Des Moines City Council.  But through her work with Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Iowa, she’s become a champion for young people, especially girls of color.

“My mom raised three girls as a single parent so I always knew there was need and folks needed mentors and an expanded village,” explained Hardman.

Hardman started volunteering with Big Brothers Big Sisters more than three decades ago.  So long ago, her littles are now big and grown.  In many ways, Hardman’s life of service came full circle.  Almost four years ago, she left the corporate world to devote herself full time to Big Brothers Big Sisters as CEO.

“Renee has been remarkable in this community.  I have met people that didn’t even know I knew Renee and when they talk about her, their light just goes off because she’s really touched the lives of so many people,” said Skylar Mayberry-Mayes who has worked for and alongside Hardman over the years.

Hardman started a new program for girls 9 to 13 based on the book, “I Am Enough”.

“I just love everything about this book.  I love everything about it,” she said.

The program, like the book, is all about empowering and encouraging young girls.  Teaching them to love themselves and to dream big.

“I love that mantra, I love the phrase.  I get up and say it every morning.  I get up, ‘I am enough’.  I’m going to have trials and tribulations, I’m going to have setbacks, but through it all, I know that I am enough,” said Hardman.

That’s what she told herself when she ran for office the first time.  Hardman became the first African American city councilwoman in West Des Moines history.  It’s just the latest example of her trailblazing the way for women and people of color.

“What makes Renee stand out, you’re right, she doesn’t just talk the talk, she walks the walk.  And oftentimes when people are given opportunities to serve in the community, they take that opportunity and they serve, but what Renee does is she also creates opportunity for those coming behind her,” said Mayberry-Mayes.

“Wherever I go, whatever I do, I want to leave that place better than how I found it.  And that is what remarkable women do,” said Hardman.

A remarkable woman who has dedicated her life to inspiring the next generation with three simple, but powerful words:  I Am Enough.