Gary Palmer, President/CEO, joined Prairie Meadows in 1998. Gary has lived in eastern Polk County, Iowa, all his life. A graduate of Bondurant-Farrar High School, Gary earned an associate’s degree from Grand View University (Des Moines) and a bachelor’s degree in business management from Drake University (Des Moines). Gary served on the Prairie Meadows Board of Directors from 1994-1998 before he became a full-time staff member at Prairie Meadows.
Gary has served on the United Way of Central Iowa’s Live United campaign cabinet, and he was a former director on the board of the Civic Center of Greater Des Moines.
Gary is presently Chairman of the Iowa Gaming Association’s executive board, and he is a member of the Grand View University Board of Trustees.
He also currently serves on the boards of directors of the Greater Des Moines Partnership and Junior Achievement of Central Iowa. Gary is active in the Altoona Chamber of Commerce, East Polk Rotary Club, King David Masonic Lodge, Za-Ga-Zig Shrine, and he is a member of the Royal Order of Jesters.
He also served two consecutive 3-year terms as an elected director on the Bondurant-Farrar School Board.
Gary was personally recognized in 2011 along with Prairie Meadows by Iowa Character Counts as that organization’s Partners of the Year.
In 2012, Gary accepted on behalf of Prairie Meadows the Greater Des Moines Convention & Visitors Bureau’s award for Overall Visitor Choice of the Year.
Also in 2012, Gary was named chair of the Iowa ALS Walk.
In early 2013, the Altoona Area Chamber of Commerce presented Gary with its distinguished Newell Franklin Award for dedication to service and support of the Altoona Area Chamber of Commerce.
Also in 2013, Gary chaired the Governor’s Luncheon for Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts, he co-chaired the 2013 Character Counts All-Star Dinner, he was honored as Father of the Year by the American Diabetes Association, and he presided as Honorary Chair of the Glanton Scholarship Dinner. In 2014, Gary has been elected to serve as chairman of the Greater Des Moines Committee.
Gary honorably served in the United States Air Force from 1965-1969, which included a one-year tour of duty in Vietnam. Gary and his wife Ginger have two daughters, Wendy (Bill) Murphy and Amanda (Kyle) Mertz, and four grandchildren – Sophie, Palmer, Madilyn and Flynn.