Meet Tammy Koolbeck: Iowa State Center’s executive director


By Claire Norton [email protected]

Tammy Koolbeck, executive director for the Iowa State Center.

Claire Norton

Managing conferences and booking hundreds of the Iowa State Center’s musical performances, comedic guests and entertaining shows require a steadfast individual.

Tammy Koolbeck oversees day-to-day operations at C.Y. Stephens Auditorium, Fisher Theater and the Scheman Building in her new role as executive director at the Iowa State Center.

She began her role as executive director in August after traveling in and out of the country with the same overhead company, VenuWorks, which also runs the Iowa State Center complexes.

VenuWorks, an Ames-based company, contracts with the management of many facilities across the country. Every employee at the Iowa State Center is employed under VenuWorks.

Patti Cotter, development and sponsorship manager at the Iowa State Center, said Koolbeck gets involved with individual supporters and donors, as well as the local community.

“We introduced [Koolbeck] to the CEO of the Greater Iowa Credit Union, they did a curtain speech,” Cotter said. “There’s a lot of getting to know the community.”

With a staff of 27, Koolbeck strives to stay on top of the many events the Iowa State Center hosts every year.

“The enjoyment and talent of mine is that every day really is different,” Koolbeck said.

Koolbeck said event days are filled with checking on the tour managers, reviewing budgets, checking on food and beverages, meeting with donors and an occasional curtain speech, where she welcomes the crowd before a show.

Steve Peters, president of VenuWorks, said this is an opportunity for Koolbeck to do less traveling and be close to home.

“I chose her because she is an outstanding marketer and venue-relations builder,” Peters said. “She is one of those people that is a natural-born connector with people.”

Cotter said Koolbeck is more than willing to get feedback from community members.

“It’s always important, I think, for directors to listen to feedback from the community about the types of programs that people want to see,” Cotter said. “It’s really great that she’s getting out and meeting people and hearing what they like about the Iowa State Center.”

Just after graduating with a bachelor of science degree in public relations from Mount Mercy University, Koolbeck worked as a production manager for a foreign communications firm.

Later, Koolbeck worked in mall management, hotel sales, and in 1995, became director of marketing at the Five Seasons Center. Koolbeck became chief marketing officer and senior vice president upon leaving VenuWorks’ corporate office.

Traveling 200 days per year, and working four Super Bowls, Koolbeck said she is glad to be back home.

“[I] had the opportunity to go back into a building and still work with VenuWorks and still work in Iowa,” Koolbeck said. “So when the opportunity came to be in a building and be at Iowa State, I embraced the opportunity.”

Koolbeck currently serves nationally on multiple boards. She also works with agents and promoters to develop more shows to entertain the Ames and ISU community.

Koolbeck also works with event management majors to help them gain internships.

“I really love the interaction with the people,” Koolbeck said. “Especially with having a conference center, that means we have clients pretty much every day.”