WEST DES MOINES — Former University of Iowa football teammates Dallas Clark and Kyle McCann have hooked up again 15 years later in a nonprofit venture designed as “Iowans Helping Iowans.”
McCann, formerly a shareholding attorney with Brick Gentry P.C. of Des Moines, had served as a legal consultant for Clark’s nonprofit venture, The Native Fund, before becoming its full-time executive director 10 months ago.
Clark, an NFL tight end for 11 seasons, created The Native Fund as a nonprofit organization to help Iowans coping with natural disasters, with additional long-range plans of assisting Iowa youths and recent military veterans.
The nonprofit’s first large-scale fundraiser was a concert held where Clark and McCann played their home football games as Hawkeyes. The Aug. 27 concert was headlined by country music star Blake Shelton. Also appearing was country musician Tucker Beathard, brother of current Hawkeye quarterback C.J. Beathard.
Clark began working on his idea for such a venture in 2008, when a powerful tornado leveled the town of Parkersburg and floodwaters filled more than 10 square miles of Cedar Rapids and damaged much of the University of Iowa campus in Iowa City. Growing up in Livermore in northwest Iowa, he knew there was a spirit among Iowans of helping each other in a crisis.
Clark and actor Ashton Kutcher, also an Iowa native, joined in a partnership to launch The Native Fund.
“My hope is that The Native Fund will provide an avenue for Iowans, both near and far, to directly help Iowans in their times of need,” Clark stated on the organization’s website, www.thenativefund.org.
When Clark retired from the NFL, he focused on the effort to raise funds and organize resources to assist Iowans in times of need. Programs and financial assistance are also planned for Iowa’s post-9/11 military veterans and Iowa children afflicted with life-threatening illness or disease.
As the scope of the organization’s outreach grew and details of the concert as its first big event unfolded, Clark turned to his former quarterback for full-time assistance.
“I was working at Brick Gentry and worked closely with them as legal counsel for a period of time,” said McCann, an all-state quarterback, state tournament golfer and leading scorer for the 1997 state basketball championship team while in high school in Creston. “As things moved more quickly, people on the board had other full-time obligations and they needed a staff in place to execute the mission. They asked me to take an executive role about 10 months ago.”
Last year, The Native Fund was in action as a force of volunteers helped with flood relief efforts, such as sandbagging, in northeast Iowa in Charles City and the surrounding area. Much of McCann’s work involves building a database of volunteers in various parts of the state who can be deployed when disaster strikes.
Overseeing the logistics and contracts associated with the concert, billed as “Back Porch Revival,” was one example where McCann’s legal expertise came into play. He graduated from the Creighton University School of Law after earning his bachelor’s degree from the University of Iowa and playing one season in the now-defunct NFL Europe league. He was also in the New York Jets training camp before playing in Europe.
At Brick Gentry, McCann worked extensively in securities law, corporate governance, mergers and acquisitions and sports law.
“In my position with The Native Fund, I still get to rely upon a lot of my previous legal experiences and contract negotiating skills,” McCann said. “There are many similarities. At the same time, it has been a rewarding change to be part of the early development of a nonprofit organization that benefits fellow Iowans. We think this is unique concept that can provide assistance to Iowans in times of need.”