Mason Harms believes in leading by example.
Good leaders, he said, exemplify three attributes: A positive energy, good attitude and a clear expectation of results. “All that stuff is contagious,” he said.
Harms demonstrates his own leadership qualities as vice president of business affairs at Waldorf College and as a member of the Forest City Rotary and the Forest City Economic Development Board of Directors.
He was invited to Rotary about five years ago by longtime friend and colleague Dave Arndt.
“At first I didn’t think I was Rotary material,” Harms said. “But I have grown to like it more and more each year.” He is currently the club’s president.
Citing the Rotary motto, “Service above self,” Harms said he appreciates the club’s local contributions to food bank and community organizations, as well as international outreach.
On a broader scale, he is collaborating with a Rotary club in Michigan to supply water filtration systems to Third World countries.
“If you don’t have food, water and shelter it’s hard to do anything else,” he said.
Harms said Rotary allows members to know “a terrific group of people I would not have met otherwise.”
Arndt has known Harms for 18 years as a colleague and friend.
“He’s just a person of high character with a core set of personal ethics,” Arndt said. “We live in a small town and Mason knows the only way to make it better is to volunteer in it.”
Harms also serves on Forest City Economic Development’s board of directors.
As chairman of the organization’s small business and entrepreneurship committee, Harms helps develop initiatives to recruit and retain business and create a supportive environment for entrepreneurs.
“It’s about putting people and resources together to do good things in Forest City,” he said.
“Mason is clearly someone who gets things done,” said Norma Hertzer, FCED administrative assistant. “He is in touch with what people want and is very easy to work with.”
Beth Bilyeu, executive director of FCED, said, “Mason brings a unique insight not only from a large institution but from a small family business.”
“It’s not often you get a board member who understands large budgets and small business,” she said. “He has a deep interest in growing his hometown.”
Harms demonstrated his adeptness in managing large budget issues at Waldorf College during its recent financial crisis. He led the complex financial and legal work necessary to complete the sale of the college to Mayes Education Inc.
He recognized the college’s severe financial problems and discussed it with then-President Dick Hanson.
“(President Hanson) took my analysis seriously and we put things in motion,” he said. “Beyond the financial and legal mechanics we had to convince people it was the right thing to do.
“There was a significant emotional component,” he said. “I think about it every day. This place is still here. People still have jobs. Students who were here last year are back and more are coming in. It’s just amazing.”
Others would use the same word to describe Harms.
“He always makes everyone feel so appreciated,” said Jan Anderson, marketing officer at TSB and a fellow Rotarian.
“The way he approaches people face to face is very encouraging. We don’t get enough of that sometimes.”