An Interview With Scott Raecker: Character Counts In Today's Political Climate

Character Counts: An Interview With Scott Raecker

MORE ABOUT Scott Raecker

Scott Raecker serves as Director of The Robert D. and Billie Ray Center at Drake University (formerly known as Character Counts In Iowa) – a position he has held since the work of the center was founded by former Governor Robert D. Ray as a lasting legacy to the Iowa Sesquicentennial in 1997.

The Robert D. and Billie Ray Center was created by Drake University to serve as a local, regional, national and global resource for applied research and programming in the areas of leadership, ethics and civility. The Ray Center is a national partner of the Josephson Institute of Ethics, where Scott has previously served as both Chairman of the Board and CEO, as well as the Institute for Excellence & Ethics. From the preschool environment to the corporate boardroom, The Ray Center is coordinating efforts to create a positive environment of civility, principled decision-making and ethical leadership in our daily lives.

Scott’s commitment to positively impact the lives of others was also reflected in his 14 years of public service as a member of the Iowa House of Representatives from 1999 through 2012. In the legislature, Scott served in numerous leadership roles including chair of the House Appropriations Committee, chair of the Ethics Committee, and chair of the Midwest Council of Government’s Legislative Leadership Institute.

Scott is involved in numerous civic volunteer efforts.  Scott serves as a board member of the Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation, Drake University School of Education National Advisory Board, Board Member Emeritus of the Smithsonian Institution Center for Folk Life and Cultural Studies Advisory Board, Drake Bulldog Club Board, Shining City Foundation, and board member of the Rotary Club of Des Moines AM. Scott is a member of Gloria Dei Lutheran Church and Urbandale Chambers of Commerce.

Scott is a graduate of Grinnell College where he received his B.A. in Political Science and Religious Studies.  Scott is also certified as a character development specialist and corporate ethics trainer through the Josephson Institute of Ethics and has recently been featured as a keynote speaker on ethics and civility to state legislatures across the United States.

Scott and his wife, Martha, live in Urbandale and have two adult children, Emily and Max.


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Photo ofScott Raecker
Scott Raecker
Job Title
The Robert D. and Billie Ray Center
1213 25th Street,
Des Moines, Iowa, 50311


  1. Dr. Bullock: I am enjoying your leadership series and have a couple of observations I would like to share with you. I am an old (1957) UD graduate who grew up in Dubuque. I served in an Army Special Forces unit, was wounded in Laos, and then spent 38 years in US Govt Intelligence. Late in my career I was the Deputy Inspector General for the Defense Intelligence Agency and before retiring was the Agency’s Liaison Officer to the Joint Intelligence Task Force in Key West Fl (a multi-agency counter narcotics organization. While my background and leadership knowledge/experience is, for the most part, narrowly focused, I have some strong, not necessarily correct, opinions on Leadership. First and foremost is what mission(s) does the leader see for her/his self and is it clearly defined? Your challenge in leading UD is certainly difference than mine was in the office of the inspector general. What type of control do you have over subordinates and is there a very clear (I hate these words) “chain of command” clearly understood by these subordinates and the overall, in your case, student body? Lastly, your own personality type determines your leadership approach and must be true to your beliefs. Words like honesty, integrity, empathy, common good, christian values, as examples are only words and will vary greatly from person to person vis-a-vis their leadership tendencies. Looking at our newly elected President I believe the overarching concern reasonably learned people have re his leadership is simply….what does he see as his mission? At this point, I certainly do not know. I hope my ramblings make some sense. Best wishes Ed Sponable (class of 57)

  2. Ed,
    Thank you so much for your thoughtful comments!! I agree with you. Mission is imperative. In fact, there has long been a sign on my office wall (formerly on the conference room wall): “It’s about the Mission…period.”
    Best to you!

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