Holly Thayer
Research Associate, Vote Smart

Holly Thayer, an activist in Urbandale, seeks to use her life's experiences to help others and create art. She grew up in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, and received bachelor's degrees in journalism, English, and art from the University of Iowa, where she was a student journalist at The Daily Iowan. After graduating in 2011, she spent about a year exploring photography and writing near Seattle, Washington, before she moved back home. Shortly thereafter, she met her husband, Andy, and continued her journalism career at the Iowa City Press-Citizen.

Holly's work reporting on K-12 education opened her eyes to the extent of race, gender, and socioeconomic gaps and biases in her community and other parts of Iowa. Through her writing and interviews with students and families, she found herself inspired to tackle these issues more directly. This led her to pursue a career in nonprofit work, her current field. Holly is a research associate and Political Courage Test Director at the nonprofit, voter education organization, Vote Smart. She is also a volunteer leader with the American Civil Liberties Union, advocating for issues like criminal justice reform and voting rights.

In addition to advocacy and voter education, Holly is passionate about creative writing, jewelry making, photography, and traveling, particularly in the mountains. She writes poetry and runs her own small, online jewelry shop.

Holly plans to continue advocating for issues that matter to her, particularly those pertaining to civil rights and civil liberties. Her goals include leading change in her community, publishing her creative writing, and starting a family with her husband. Through all this, she hopes her passion for communication and creative thinking will provide the necessary spark to make a meaningful impact on those around her.