Joan Urenn Axel


"Ms. Axel exemplifies the change in status of women

during the past 50 years...she is a woman who is a

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.