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New Leaders Council

2014 NLC Fellows: Des Moines

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Stacie Bendixen, Program Manager, State Public Policy Group

 	Stacie	Bendixen	Stacie Bendixen is a program manager with State Public Policy Group, a public policy and organizational consulting firm in West Des Moines. At SPPG, she leads and participates on teams to engage stakeholders in policy and program development and implementation, to conduct outreach, education, and issue advocacy, and to support organizational development. Among work on many projects in diverse issue areas, Stacie serves as lead administrator for the Association of Iowa Workforce Partners.

Stacie’s passion for language has translated into a broader passion for making a difference through effective communication. She previously worked in the Office of Governor Chet Culver as Press Assistant and as Deputy Press Secretary, and was Deputy Press Secretary for Governor Culver’s 2010 campaign. She holds a B.A. in Writing from Drake University, where she also completed coursework in journalism and public relations. She worked in communications at the Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation and was a features writer and copy editor for Drake’s newspaper. She is a member of Mortar Board.

Stacie is active with Sigma Alpha Iota, a professional music fraternity, as the Editor (communications officer) with the Des Moines Alumnae Chapter and an advisor for the Drake University chapter. She has led and participates in SAI’s service projects supporting music education and performance in central Iowa. After participating in music ensembles all the way through college, she continues to play the clarinet occasionally and sings in the Drake University/Community Chorus.

Stacie has volunteered with local, state, and national political campaigns and advocacy organizations, and is an active volunteer with the Animal Rescue League of Iowa. She is a proud native of the Des Moines area.”

Leslie Berckes, Program Managaer and Field Coordinator, Trees Forever

 	Leslie	Berckes	Leslie Berckes works at Trees Forever, a non-profit that is highly active in starting, implementing, and sustaining community improvement projects. In her role at Trees Forever, Leslie works with with volunteers and organizations throughout Iowa to create a healthier environment for people and wildlife.

She earned an M.A. in Public Policy, with an emphasis on environmental policy, and a B.A. in Marketing from the University of Northern Iowa. Leslie has a diverse background in environmental and conservation issues and has worked on programs dedicated to reducing solid waste, improving energy efficiency, and promoting sustainable building practices.

Karla Bromwell, Membership & Database Coordinator, Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement

Originally from the eastern Iowa city of Davenport, Karla Bromwell moved to central Iowa to attend Simpson College, where she majored in Political Science, Criminal Justice, and Spanish. After graduating in 2008 Karla worked for the Iowa Democratic Party, Link Strategies and Easter Seals before moving into the private sector working in insurance for four years. During this time she eared her Masters of Public Administration with a non-profit management focus from Iowa State University.

Bromwell is currently the Membership & Database Coordinator for Iowa CCI an organization that does grassroots community organizing throughout the state on fair economy, immigrant rights, farming & environment, and clean elections; working toward a more just and democratic Iowa that empowers everyday people.

She has been an advocate and volunteer for Planned Parenthood since 2010. Currently serving as co-chair of Central Iowa Friends of Planned Parenthood of the Heartland. She is also involved in Young Non-Profit Professionals, 21st Century Forum, Young Professionals Connection, Habitat Young Leaders, and her sorority Delta Delta Delta.

Maggie Carlson, Graphic and Web Designer, Robert Half Technology, Contracted at Bankers Trust Company

“Maggie Carlson is a freelance graphic and web designer at Iowa’s largest privately owned bank, Bankers Trust Company. Her role involves maintaining the corporate website and creating marketing materials for wealth management, business and consumer banking divisions. She also pursues pro bono passion projects, lending her design skills to The Project of Primary Health Care, as well as other health and LGBT efforts.

While a college student in her home state of Virginia, Maggie found her way to the Greater Des Moines area for a summer internship at the Science Center of Iowa in 2009 and again in 2010. She developed a deep connection to Des Moines’s small town, yet lively metropolitan atmosphere and put down her roots in Des Moines after finishing her BA in Communication and Digital Media.

When Maggie is done obsessing over Pantone palettes and typography for the day she enjoys playing guitar, going on photography adventures and trying to convince her cat to wear a bow-tie.

Ann Dvorsky, Field Organizer, League of Conservation Voters

I was born and raised in Coralville, Iowa. My dad has been in the State Senate since I was four years old and my mom was a public school teacher who was active in the teachers’ union so our whole family has always been politically active. When I was a senior in high school I was a Page in the State Senate and that solidified my desire to be involved in politics as an adult. I attended the University of Northern Iowa and majored in Political Science. While at school I was heavily involved in the marching band, taking up leadership roles both in the band and the marching band affiliated sorority of which I am a member.

I also got a job working in the President of the University’s office in the Governmental Relations department and did a constituent services internship in Governor Culver’s office in 2010. I graduated in May 2012 and right away started a job in Congressman Loebsack’s district office in Cedar Rapids focusing on immigration casework. In January 2013 I moved to Des Moines to be a Legislative Secretary in the Iowa House of Representatives. In Des Moines I became involved in numerous young professional organizations including the Iowa Democratic Party Blue Guard, 21st Century Forum, and Young Professionals Connection. I am currently employed as a Field Organizer with the League of Conservation Voters.

Carmen Garcia, State of Iowa

Carmen Garcia currently works for the state of Iowa in the Department of Human Services in the Child Care Assistance program. Carmen has always had a strong interest in public service sector.

She previously worked for The Midland Group, an organization contracted by an area hospital system to help uninsured and under insured clients apply for public benefits. While her time there, she was able to help countless people obtain government assistance to help over the cost of their medical bills. Afterwards, she worked with the Greater Quad Cities Hispanic Chamber of Commerce (GQCHCC), as the Program Manager. During her time with GQCHCC, Carmen fostered key relationships throughout the community to further build capacity and expand the organizational mission. She researched, developed and implemented new program initiatives catered to minority populations.

Carmen is active in her community as a member of several organizations. She sits as a Board Member for L.U.N.A (Latinas Unidas por un Nuevo Amanecer), a non-profit that serves for victims/survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault. She serves as a lay member of the Grievance Commission of the Supreme Court of Iowa. She serves as a mentor to a middle school child for Latinas/Latinos al Exito. She also remains active with Lambda Pi Upsilon Sorority, Latinas Poderosa Unidas, Inc.

Carmen graduated from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign where she majored in International Studies with a focus on human rights. She obtained her graduate degree from Drake University where she studied public administration and was a member of the Phi Alpha Alpha, National Honor Society for Public Affairs and Administration.

Carmen is native of Moline, IL, who enjoys volunteering, traveling, exploring Des Moines and spending time with her husband, Anthony.

Rhonda Greenway, International Language Program Manager, Iowa International Center

Rhonda Greenway is the International Language Program Manager at the Iowa International Center where she leads the state’s premier interpretation and translation service. In this role Rhonda overseas more than 100 independently contracted interpreters and translators, representing over 50 languages and dialects. Her interpreters and translators provide services to schools, hospitals, clinics, governmental agencies and other nonprofits across Iowa. All interpretation and translation service profits are utilized to fund the Iowa International Center’s programs which strive to uphold the Center’s mission of welcoming the world to Iowa.

Rhonda holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Communications and Global Studies from the University of Northern Iowa (UNI), as well as, the distinction of Certified Nonprofit Professional through the Nonprofit Leadership Alliance. While at UNI, Rhonda had the opportunity to study abroad at Fatih University in Istanbul, Turkey, focusing on human development through multilevel classroom observations and evaluations. She presently serves on the Iowa United Nations Association State Board of Directors where she serves on the marketing and fundraising committees.

She possesses an extensive background in educational programming, having participated in the George Washington Carver Internship Program with the World Food Prize in 2011 where she assisted in the launch of the United States Department of Agriculture Wallace-Carver Internship Program and the inaugural Iowa Youth Institute. Additionally, she served as the Secretary-General of the Iowa High School Model United Nations Program from 2010-2011, managing a team of college students tasked with facilitating multiday conferences for Midwest high school students.

Greenway has enjoyed growing personally and professionally through working to better Iowa. Specifically, through collaboration with the University of Iowa, Iowa State University and the Iowa Board of Regents, as the Northern Iowa Student Governmental Director of Governmental Relations Rhonda launched Universities for a Better Iowa, a statewide campaign to promote legislative and community support for public university funding. Prior to her work with the Northern Iowa Student Government she interned with the Iowa Finance Authority as a governmental intern assisting the Iowa Jobs program and was a member of the Iowa Association of Business and Industry’s inaugural Leadership Iowa University class in 2009.

Jessie Hill, Project Manager, Groundswell Public Strategies

A central Illinois native, Jessie came to Iowa in 2008 to study politics and public relations at Drake University. She quickly fell in love with the state, graduated from Drake in 2012 and is currently working as a project manager at Groundswell Public Strategies.

Jessie encompasses a variety of skills in politics and communications that include specific knowledge regarding public affairs, public relations, media relations and social media. She specializes in managing public relations campaigns for a wide range of corporate and non-profit clients.

In her free time, Jessie enjoys spending time with her friends and family, painting, going to concerts, running and cooking.

Sarah Jacobson, Development Communications Coordinator, DARTS

“Sarah Jacobson recently started a new job as Development Communications Coordinator at DARTS in St. Paul, Minnesota. Even though she is moving to Minnesota, she grew up in Ames and spent the last year living and working in Des Moines as an AmeriCorps VISTA Member.

Sarah received her B.A. in Marketing from Cedarville University in Ohio. After graduating, she joined AmeriCorps VISTA and moved to Hartford, Connecticut, where she worked for Hands On Hartford. That experience gave her a passion and a stepping stone for working in nonprofits. Sarah served another year with AmeriCorps VISTA as a VISTA Leader at Central Iowa Shelter & Services in Des Moines, Iowa.

Sarah plans to continue to work in nonprofits and would eventually love to open her own nonprofit bakery or small business. In her free time she loves to bake, cheer on her favorite sports teams, and travel to new places with friends.

Brandt Johnson, Project Developer, AmeriCorps/Greater Des Moines Habitat for Humanity

Growing up in south eastern Iowa presented me with unique challenges that I would consider un-ordinary for most individuals. I was diagnosed with ADHD as a young child and struggled to cope with it in my early ages. When I reached high school I decided to take steps to help me deal with my ADHD such as participating in several sports and joining extracurricular clubs. One such club was Model UN which opened my eyes up to what the world looked like outside of Iowa and the US. That experience provided me an opportunity to go outside of my comfort zone and adapt to certain environments in which I was unfamiliar with. This helped lead to my decision to go to the University of Kansas to pursue degrees in both Political Science & History.

While attending KU, I was able to study abroad for a semester in the Netherlands researching transnational entities such as NAFTA and the EU and how they coincided with national governments. This was a life altering experience that completely changed how I not only viewed the world, but also myself and what I could do to be a better global citizen. Upon returning from the Netherlands, I interned for Representative Louis Ruiz in the Kansas House legislature. We focused our attention on working to address immigration, pension and tax reform bills that were on the agenda at the current time back in the Spring of 2012.

After graduation, I took a job in the financial industry solely to have a job and realizing that this was not cut out for me, I felt compelled to take a different career path. I decided to enlist as an AmeriCorps VISTA member after driving around the city of Des Moines one day and seeing the amount of poverty that was all around us. I am currently a Program Developer with the Greater Des Moines Habitat for Humanity focusing on educational outreach and opportunities with our partner families. When I am not at work or networking with my YPC colleagues, you can find me either engaging in playing tennis or reading any media outlets to gather today’s news stories.

Alicia Kuhle, Service Coordinator, Newbury Living

Alicia is the Service Coordinator at Plymouth Place, a low-income retirement community. In this role she offers a broad range of psychosocial services ranging from emotional support to referrals for community resources.

Alicia was born and raised in Worthington, Minnesota. She attended the University of South Dakota where she graduated with a bachelors in Health Care Services and was actively involved in Healthcare Executives Advancing in Leadership, Alpha Phi Sorority, and the St. Tomas More Newman Center Leadership Council. While at the University of South Dakota she spent a semester in The Netherlands as an intern with a long-term care organization. She also holds a Masters of Health Care Administration from Des Moines University.

Alicia is actively involved in various non-profit organizations throughout the Des Moines metro area. She is currently serving on the board for Habitat Young Professionals as the VP of fundraising. During her spare time you can find Alicia out on the golf course, on a relaxing run throughout Des Moines and coaching future figure skaters at Metro Ice Sports Facility.

Kelli Lydon, Electronic Storage Coordinator, Davis, Brown, Koehn, Shors & Roberts, P.C.

Lydon.jpgKelli Lydon is co-founder and Vice President of the Des Moines Rehabbers Club, a nonprofit dedicated to community revitalization in Des Moines through renovation, preservation, and maintenance of Des Moines’ existing housing stock. Through her work with the Rehabbers Club, Kelli has connected homeowners with resources, promoted historic preservation, and educated members about sustainable practices in home improvement. She continues to put these practices to work on her own home, a 1918 bungalow in the Union Park neighborhood of Des Moines.

Kelli is a Des Moines native who returned to her hometown after receiving a BA in Literature from DePaul University in Chicago. She has a passion for historic preservation, whether it’s historic buildings or letters and photographs. In her free time she volunteers at public institutions, scanning and preserving historic collections as well as providing archiving advice and help to family and friends.

A co-host of the Des Moines chapter of Drinking Liberally from 2008-2012, Kelli’s political focus has been getting people together to share ideas, educating others about progressive issues, and encouraging collaboration between issues-based organizations.

In her free time, Kelli enjoys playing music, discovering new vegetarian recipes, and experimenting with black and white film photography.

Christopher Merkle

Christopher Merkle is a J.D. candidate at Drake University Law School. His career goals include providing legal counsel and services to nonprofit organizations.

Before enrolling at Drake, he worked at the University of Iowa Museum of Art (UIMA) where he was responsible for coordination of K-12 outreach programs and managing the senior outreach program; as well as K-12, university, and adult instruction, creation of educational materials, and intern supervision.

Kaitryn, Patchett, Account Manager, LS2group

Kaity is an account manager at LS2group, a bipartisan public relations, public affairs, and marketing firm in the heart of the East Village. She focuses primarily on public relations and public affairs efforts around the Midwest, with various clients from industries including manufacturing, healthcare, energy, health and wellness, and agriculture. Kaity brings a strategic and creative approach to clients’ needs, and helps grow new team members to succeed in their goals. She loves the team environment and continues to learn something new every day. Prior to joining LS2group, she worked with the House Democratic Caucus communications staff to help state legislators better connect with Iowans through print, web-based sources, and social media sites. She then served as a legislative assistant to the ranking member of the Iowa House Ways and Means committee during the 2012 legislative session, managing schedules and assisting with constituent communication efforts.

While attending the University of Iowa, Kaity participated in the launch of a new personal care product line with Prefense, LLC, an Iowa-based start-up company. She also enjoyed working with seniors in the dining room of Oaknoll Retirement Community in Iowa City. Outside of LS2group, Kaity spends time volunteering for various Iowa political campaigns and participating in progressive groups around Des Moines. Biking, enjoying good food, and spending lots of time with friends and family are also high on her list of favorite activities. Kaity is a member of the Phi Beta Kappa academic honor society and graduated with distinction from the University of Iowa with a Bachelor of Arts in political science in 2011.

Katy Stovall, Audience Acquisition Marketing Manager, Meredith Corporation

Katy Stovall moved to Des Moines from Lake Tahoe, California to attend Drake University in 2002. After cheering on the Bulldogs, she graduated with a bachelor’s degree in marketing and management. Katy found the growing Des Moines community lively and exciting enough, although a bit too cold, to put some down some roots and stick around. Nearly seven years later, Katy is still enjoying Des Moines community and friends she’s met along the way.

Katy is currently employed at Meredith Corporation as an Audience Acquisition Marketing Manager. Her responsibilities include assisting in the development and execution of digital marketing strategy for Better Homes and Gardens. She also assists editorial teams in creating online programs and tools to grow site traffic and lead generation. Although Katy believe she’s still trying to figure out what she wants to do when she grows up, she has developed a passion for marketing and all things techy.

Katy is working on her MBA through the University of Iowa through their extension program here in Des Moines and is hoping to be completed in 2016. She has also been an active member in Chapter GH of P.E.O., an organization dedicated to the education of women, since 2012 and volunteers on her HOA board as secretary. In her spare time, Katy pours her heart and soul into volunteering as the Province Director of Chapters for the Zeta Province of Kappa Kappa Gamma. Katy enjoys helping college woman develop their own leadership styles and empowering them to be strong, successful woman in the communities that they live in.

E.B. Updegraff, Digital Marketing Manager, Landauer Publishing

A former AmeriCorps VISTA member, E.B. currently works as the Digital Marketing Manager for Landauer Publishing and serves on the board of Passageway, a clubhouse for adults experiencing mental illness.

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New Leaders Council is a 501 (c) (3) public charity dedicated to educating a new generation of leaders and to providing those leaders with the tools they need to succeed. NLC does not engage in political or legislative activities of any kind, does not support or oppose any candidate for public office, and serves only as an educational leadership training ground.