Zack Liebl: As a part of the community, he wants to make a difference wherever he can
Juggling four jobs, several volunteer commitments and an upcoming political campaign might seem daunting to some people. But 25-year-old Zack Liebl makes it a point to be involved wherever and however he can, even if that means having a to-do list that never stops growing.
A native of Willmar, Liebl is currently finishing a grant-funded, year-long position with Habitat for Humanity of West Central Minnesota. As the organization’s volunteer and family services coordinator, Liebl has led a revamping of the its volunteer program.
As part of that rebuilding, Liebl helped to recruit new volunteers by meeting with people one-on-one and speaking at various events in the community to encourage more people to volunteer.
“Our presence in the community has escalated dramatically in the last year,” Liebl said. “We’ve seen that we can bring in more people by being engaged in the community. Being active and involved is the best publicity and advertising you can get.”
Liebl has also applied that philosophy to his position as outreach coordinator for the Willmar Community-Owned Grocery. In the six months that he’s been there, Liebl has recruited nearly 100 new members to the co-op by helping to organize COG events in the area and representing COG at other community functions.
Calling it his “social time,” Liebl also works at Cornerstone Coffee, owned by his mother, one day a week.
In addition to his jobs, Liebl brings his ideas to the table as an executive board member for The Barn Theatre and serves on the Willmar Design Center’s historic preservation committee. He’s also a member of the Willmar Rotary Club and the Willmar Area Chamber’s neXt group for young professionals.
Many of Liebl’s seemingly natural leadership skills come from his experience in the military. At 17, Liebl enlisted in the Minnesota National Guard as a combat engineer in the Litchfield unit. After graduating from Ridgewater College and Saint John’s University with a degree in political science, he attended engineering school in Fort Leonard Wood, Mo., and is now the rear detachment company commander of the 850th Horizontal Engineering Company, based in Cambridge. He oversees around 55 soldiers and is in charge of personnel and training.
“I’m definitely the youngest in the battalion by far,” Liebl said. “It’s been quite a big learning curve. I’ve learned to listen to everybody and be willing to ask questions. You need to be intuitive and then give people the right resources. It’s hard, but it’s my most rewarding job.”
Recently, Liebl has set his sights on public service, announcing that he will run for mayor of Willmar in 2014. It’s not his first venture into the political arena: He also ran for the Minnesota House of Representatives in 2012 as the Independence Party candidate.
“In 2012, I wanted to bring a different perspective and encourage people to think and ask questions. I wanted to raise that awareness, and I think I did,” he said. “I’ve been thinking about 2014 for a while. With my different experiences and my mindset, being that person to help bring everyone around the community together felt like a calling for me.”
Whether in politics or in his involvement with local organizations, Liebl strives to make a difference in the community that means so much to him, and the place that he calls home.
“Until people start investing, nothing is going to get better,” Liebl said. “This is such a unique community, and there’s so much potential here that we haven’t even tapped into yet. This community is my home. It’d be pointless not to give back.”