Athena nominee Amy Nimmer made a career in coaching others to realize their potential.

Amy Nimmer has left her imprint on her longtime employer Deere & Co. with a coaching program that still exists, as well as on the Quad-City community, where some call her "the godmother" of the merged regional chamber.

Now retired after 38 years with the Moline-based Deere, Nimmer rose through the ranks from an administrative assistant in information systems in 1977 to an IT programmer and systems analyst in the manufacturing systems area. She eventually found her niche in human resources, holding several leadership roles, and also holds the distinction as the first woman president of the John Deere Foundation.

"I was not an IT technology major, so Deere trained me and there were not a lot of (IT professionals), and for sure, there were not a lot of women," Nimmer recalled of her early career.

But that experience would help her see the impact of peer coaching and lead her to be a strong advocate as well as a dedicated coach and mentor. Nimmer shifted her focus to human resources in 1995 as the Internal Coaching program was taking root. The program, which still exists along with a mentoring program, offers employee-to-employee coaching services.

"Mentoring is 'I have the skill you need, I've been in your job and I'm going to help you get better,'" she said. "Coaching is 'I may not know you or what you do, but I'm highly trained in listening and can help you bring out the best in you.'"

Nimmer, who retired in 2016 as Global HR Operations director, said the coaching program has expanded around the world.

"It was a big impact on my life and a time in my career when work and family came together," she said, adding she used some of the same skills in parenting then two teenage daughters. 

Nimmer was often at the forefront of change. She led the company's U.S. Recruiting & Staffing division as paper resumes were replaced by an online application process. The manager of John Deere Learning, she helped lead the creation of the online training program known as John Deere University.

"You cannot believe how far and fast technology impacted what we do," she said.

At John Deere Foundation, which she led from 2008-2010, the new role "joined John Deere and the community for me," she said. As part of the job, she became engaged in more community organizations and activities including the various chamber organizations that existed then.

Northwest Bank President and CEO Joe Slavens, who along with Nimmer's daughters nominated her for Athena, credits her advancing the creation of a single regional chamber.

Calling her the "godmother of the Quad-Cities Chamber," he said it was Nimmer who kept the early merger conversations on track. "Without her guidance and leadership, I'm not sure we would have made it."

Nimmer, who is quick to point out that other women were involved, said a single chamber and a single Quad-City voice only made sense, particularly from an economic development standpoint. "For us, it was just the right time," she said. 

At the time, she said "it was hard to get anything done with two states, two counties, five-plus cities, a river. It was more that those things were barriers. Today, when you're trying not to be Any City, USA, those things are more assets than liabilities."

She is pleased the Quad-Cities now has adopted a regional view, and now lends her leadership to the Q2030 regional plan initiative. "Now it's more a 'we view' from the mayors (and business leaders) than a 'me view.' That alone is a huge shift." 

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