Dee Vandeventer was born in Berwyn, Illinois, where she was raised by her mother, Dorothy Cotton, with support from her grandma and grandpa Nelson. She graduated from Lyons Township high school and then attended Iowa State University, where she earned her B.S. in Psychology. Dee later went on to earn an M.A. in Communications/Public Relations from the University of Northern Iowa. Dee grew up in an entrepreneurial family, and credits her grandfather and mother as huge influences on her life. Dee’s grandfather owned and operated a trucking business outside of Chicago, which Dee’s mother later took over. It was this entrepreneurial spirit that helped shaped Dee and later influenced her decision to open her own business.
Dee began her professional career at a savings and loan operation before moving on to the University of Northern Iowa where she served as the Director of Annual Giving. It is here that Dee’s true passion for fundraising began. After many years with UNI, Dee moved on to KWWL, where she would work with two of her now partners at ME&V, Mark Mathis and Bryan Earnest. These three, along with partner James Infelt, recognized a need for a different type of advertising firm in the Cedar Valley, one that was client-driven. And so, in the summer of 1996, ME&V was formed. The goal of ME&V was to create synergy between clients and staff that would result in effective and impactful marketing and fundraising strategies. Since its opening in 1996, ME&V has experienced tremendous growth, serving over 800 clients and employing over 50 people in Cedar Falls, Cedar Rapids, and Des Moines offices. ME&V’s accomplishments extend far beyond simply their remarkable growth, as they have also been recognized by the advertising industry on numerous occasions. These recognitions include the Ernst and Young 2002 Entrepreneur of the Year award, Inc Magazine’s 2002 and 2003 list of the 500 fastest growing companies in America, and the Eastern Iowa Chapter of the Association of Fundraising Professionals’ 2002 Business Philanthropist of the Year.
Dee’s motto is “Having fun while doing well” and this is evident in everything that she does. She has a passion for fundraising, and has developed and presented numerous seminars and workshops to organizations such as the Association of Fundraising Professionals’ (AFP) 2003 and 2005-2009 International Conferences on Fundraising; the 2006 and 2010 National Hospice and Palliative Care Management and Leadership Conferences; the 2007 Joint Conference of the American Society on Aging and the National Council on Aging; and the 2007 and 2008 National Association of Area Agencies on Aging Conferences. Dee has also been very active in volunteerism in the Cedar Valley, and has served on a number of boards including the Iowa State University Foundation Board of Governors; chair of the 2006 Cedar Valley United Way Campaign; past chair of the Cedar Falls Chamber of Commerce and the Community Foundation of Northeast Iowa; past president of the Junior League of Waterloo-Cedar Falls; and many others. Dee also helped to establish the Cedar Falls Community Schools Foundation and the Greater Cedar Valley Alliance.
In addition, to commemorate her 50th birthday, Dee set out to do something different, something that would make an impact and a difference in people’s lives. She decided to put out a challenge, “The Fifty is Nifty Fund and the $50,000 Challenge” where she encouraged friends and family members to give $50,000 in new money to their favorite charitable organization. The challenge was a huge success, generating over $1.1 million dollars in new revenue for over 200 charitable organizations across the United States.
Dee lives in Cedar Falls and is delightfully married to her husband Dave. They have two children.