Le Mars, Iowa

Craig Ihnen worked in education more than twenty-five years and directed some 150 theatrical productions during his career. From 1982 through 1994, Mr. Ihnen was a teacher, director, and coach at Le Mars High School, Le Mars, Iowa where his students were frequent award winners at the Iowa High School Speech Association all-state festival.

Since 1994 Mr. Ihnen has served as the executive director of IHSSA, which oversees speech, theatre, and debate activities for over 48,000 students and 492 member schools in the state of Iowa.

Over the years Mr. Ihnen has shaped IHSSA into an organization that is admired throughout the country. He united IHSSA with other major Iowa theatre and speech organizations to work together to achieve common goals and implemented a very successful online registration system that serves more than three hundred schools.

Mr. Ihnen’s work with EdTA includes serving as a leadership coach beginning in 1999 and as a member of the National Individual Events Showcase national committee since 2004.

Mr. Ihnen received the 1986 Outstanding Young Men of America Award and the Iowa Thespian Leadership Award in 2003, and was inducted into the Ames Chamber Hall of Fame, the Iowa Schoolmasters Walt Whitman Club in 2001, and the Iowa Thespian Hall of Fame in 2002.

Mr. Ihnen’s legacy lies in the lives he has touched. A former student, B.J. Schuller, remembers how Mr. Ihnen convinced him to sign up for his speech class and would not take no for an answer. Mr. Schuller capitulated, and the previously indifferent student eventually made the honor roll, later following in Mr. Ihnen’s footsteps and becoming a high school drama and speech director himself.