IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) — The director of the Iowa Department of Transportation is boldly inviting his employees to go where they've gone many times before: a work meeting.
An official video produced by DOT staff features Director Mark Lowe and six other top department leaders dressed as characters from "Star Trek: The Next Generation."
The video urges employees to attend a two-day annual leadership development conference that begins Wednesday in Ames. It was recorded and distributed weeks ago.
Lowe is the star of the two-minute video, dressing in the uniform of Capt. Jean-Luc Picard, playing with a toy snowplow at his desk and smiling as he flashes the Vulcan salute. With "Star Trek" theme music playing, he says the mission is to engage employees "to boldly go where no DOT has gone before."
The DOT division directors featured in the video didn't dress up but their official headshots have been photo-shopped onto the bodies of "Star Trek" characters. For instance, IT director Annette Dunn is shown as Tasha Yar and administrative services division director Lee Wilkinson is Worf.
"My management team were unwitting and very gracious victims of my sense of humor," Lowe said in a statement emailed to The Associated Press.
Lowe, a lawyer and longtime DOT official, has led the agency since replacing Paul Trombino on an interim basis in 2016. Gov. Kim Reynolds made Lowe the agency's permanent director last year.
Lowe recorded another video for last year's conference invitation that features him eating a bowl filled with dates — and trying to "save" one. He said he has found that the videos are a "very quick, easy and efficient" way to raise awareness about the conference and connect with employees using self-deprecating humor.
"It's important to me that we 'shrink' the leadership gap by humanizing ourselves to our staff, so that we are approachable and not intimidating," he said.
He said the videos were produced and distributed using DOT internal resources and therefore "cost nothing," adding that he's received very positive feedback.