Laura Wenman's photo

Why I Lead

With a mission to Empower Individuals and Strengthen Families, Catholic Charities is dedicated to caring for our neighbors in need. This mission is one Laura Wenman, Catholic Charities Executive Committee and Board of Directors member, connects with deeply.

Laura witnessed the influential work of Catholic Charities from a young age. In both her home and her school, she learned how important it was to care for those in need.

“My parents sacrificed to provide us with a Catholic education, and I was fortunate to be educated by the Sisters of Mercy,” said Laura. “In addition to their daily example, they connected serving those in need with the charitable work of the Church. Catholic Charities was one of the many examples they offered to serve as the hands and feet of Christ.”

“We are all called to feed the hungry, clothe the naked and care for the sick. These are things Christ has called us to do,” said Laura. “It is, however, more than just being kind. While we want to help in a meaningful way, it is equally important to connect how our faith inspires these efforts.”

Laura’s passion for serving others was eventually incorporated into a healthcare vocation.   Returning to her “Mercy roots,” she served more than 20 years as the Vice President of Mission and Ethics at MercyOne Des Moines Medical Center before retiring last June. During her tenure, Laura was instrumental in facilitating a partnership between MercyOne and Catholic Charities. For many years, MercyOne has served as one of Catholic Charities’ top sponsors.

“I think every element of my professional life has been blessed by working with people who have found themselves in need,” said Laura. “Catholic Charities gave me the structure to combine my professional and personal goals, and now that I am retired, I have the time to serve more robustly.”

“There are a lot of commonalities between healthcare and what Catholic Charities does for our community. Those who are challenged by their healthcare status often don’t have the social support Catholic Charities generously supplies,” said Laura. “It continues to be a natural partnership focused on caring for the whole person and providing what they need.”

Laura’s connection with the organization continues to grow through her involvement with the Catholic Charities’ Executive Committee and Board of Directors, serving multiple terms. Through this, she provides thoughtful discernment and insight on the direction of the organization. She is grateful for the opportunity to make a meaningful impact in this way and enjoys working with all program areas.

“One thing I really love about Catholic Charities is the organization is not content to sit in one place but instead remains cognizant that needs change. Through analysis and dialogue, we can respond to the signs of the times,” said Laura.

In addition to providing her leadership and guidance, she and her husband Jim also support Catholic Charities as donors.

“It is easy to show compassion to people when you know their story, however, it is far more important to be able to reach out and embrace them without judgment,” said Laura. “Catholic Charities has given us an opportunity to live in this way and for that, I am incredibly grateful.”

In September 2024, Catholic Charities will celebrate 100 years of providing help and hope to all in need. Laura is confident the organization will continue to grow and evolve to care for the ever-changing needs of our community.

“Catholic Charities is very forward-thinking,” said Laura. “While it is wonderful to celebrate all that has happened before us, where we really make a difference is learning from our past and applying that to the needs we see coming down the road.”

She hopes to see more people get involved with Catholic Charities however they can whether it’s through donations, volunteering or providing advocacy. She encourages others to take that first step and to learn more about what Catholic Charities does for those in need.

“Again, the ‘what’ we do is secondary to the ‘why’ we do it,” said Laura. “Those we serve are our brothers and sisters. When we support Catholic Charities, we live out the sacred call we have been given by Christ himself.”

For more information on how you can get involved and support the mission at Catholic Charities, contact Director of Development, Bobbi Jo Smith at 515-237-5064 or