Iowa Ideas 2023

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Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

Invited. Heard. Understood. Addressing DEI issues through solutions-driven, open conversation.

    Tools for the unique needs of students

    Tools for the unique needs of students As classroom culture evolves, what tools are available for educators to address the unique needs of students? How are generations of educators acknowledging and adjusting to changes in the classroom from when they were in school? Are social/emotional techniques working/effective?

    October 12, 2023 at 10:10AM

    • Jenny Schulz

    • Yen Veirhoven

    • Gina Weekly

    • Dan Devore


    Creating Political Barriers to those who need help

    A look at how newly passed regulations can face challenges when practiced at the local level, using SNAP benefits and free lunch program as examples. How do restrictions impact those that take the step for assistance, but are turned down or faced with too many obstacles? How can barriers be addressed so those that need it most can benefit?

    October 12, 2023 at 10:10AM

    • Luke Elzinga

    • Keenan Crow


    Opportunities and challenges for students of color

    Though the diversity of Iowa’s schools continues to increase, finding teachers and support staff of color remains a challenge for school districts. We’ll look at how districts are trying to address the diversity of its teaching and education staff, while also working to address the way it serves students of color during and around the school day.

    October 12, 2023 at 11:15AM

    • Barb Hanson

    • Sarah Swayze


    Mental Health

    How should Iowa’s mental health system be reimagined to solve access, fragmented care and high out of pocket costs and create a system that operates more seamlessly? What are the main barriers that are impacting the adult system, and what needs to be done to help scale up a system focused on children?

    October 12, 2023 at 1:20PM


    Intersection: Creative Ways to address food scarcity

    Creative ways to address food scarcity. The number of people seeking help from foodbanks has continued to increase. While there have been grants for facilities, can Iowa do more to help their peers experiencing food scarcity. We’ll look at what’s being done in Iowa as well as whether there are additional programs that could be implemented or expanded that have worked other places.

    October 12, 2023 at 1:20PM

    • Linda Gorko


    Support for diverse artists.

    What do individuals from diverse backgrounds need to reach their full artistic potential? How have successful artists overcome obstacles when conditions for support are challenged? In addition to diversity, equity and inclusion, how are local arts communities fostering a sense of belonging for everyone who wants to participate?

    October 12, 2023 at 2:25PM

    • Antonio Chalmers (aka DJ Antonio "Tone Da Boss" Chalmers)

    • Heather Wagner

    • Caleb Rainey


    Coming together for the greater economic good

    Some Iowa communities have banded together to find ways to raise wages of childcare workers, or solve other access or equality issues at a community level. We’ll look at how communities have built momentum and plans to tackle the challenges or economic strategies at a community or regional level.

    October 12, 2023 at 2:25PM

    • Bethany Snyder

    • Emily Schmitt

    • Kaitlin Byers

    • Dave Herrell


    Navigating Iowa's Culture Wars

    Just like many other states, Iowa has been thrust in cultural fights about gender, books, the extent of which parents or educators should drive decision-making in schools and more. What impact is this having on policy-making bodies, and how can the public at large navigate these divisive fights. We’ll explore how issue-framing and other strategies can reduce the intensity of these fights.

    October 12, 2023 at 2:25PM


    Life after incarceration

    How are restorative programs working for people currently serving in and upon leaving prison? This session will look at how areas of need for an individual are identified and if the programs in place are truly setting people up for long-term success. Who are the key partners in tracking what’s working and ways to strengthen the need for these individuals to truly thrive?

    October 12, 2023 at 2:25PM

    • Michelle Heinz

    • Peggy Huppert


    Answering a neighborhood’s needs

    What happens when community hubs localize their services, focusing on where people live? How can community hubs such as neighborhood centers serve as a central source for childcare, housing and more? This session will discuss how Iowa communities are using this approach, which can build trust, retention and engagement.

    October 12, 2023 at 2:25PM


    Balancing Intellectual diversity and polarization

    Navigating the seas of political polarization and culture war issues pose unique challenges for universities. What are the risks culture wars pose to Iowa’s colleges and universities and what impact could that have if students align with like-minded colleges or avoid states where majority party politics differ from their own?

    October 13, 2023 at 8:30AM

    • Jed Peterson


    Housing for all

    The process and challenges when it comes to renting, buying, and maintaining a home. What resources are available for people at various stages of risk? How can assistance be more accessible-before the step of eviction or foreclosure?

    October 13, 2023 at 8:30AM

    • Carrie Woerdeman

    • Denise Fuller


    Beyond writing a check

    We will assess the response to DEI initiatives and barriers they’ve faced. What’s going wrong and what’s going right when it comes to intent vs. Action from civic leaders, employers and the public? How can quick reaction without long term strategy negatively impact even the best intentions?

    October 13, 2023 at 9:40AM

    • Joy Briscoe


    Customized employment

    A session on Iowans who advocate individualized employment for people with disabilities, and how this unique approach is addressing Iowa’s continuous workforce challenges.

    October 13, 2023 at 9:40AM

    • Connie Parrish

    • Theresa Lewis


    Intersection: Social needs and partnerships between schools and non-profits

    The ability to reach students and their families about available resources while gathered consistently at school. Who leads these partnerships? What communication or practice of information distribution is most effective? How can nonprofits build trust among the students, faculty, and staff?

    October 13, 2023 at 9:40AM

    • Maggie Hartzler


    Strain within immigrant and refugee families

    The transition to a new country and a new community can present myriad hardships, but what about the challenges in family dynamics? What do roles and traditions look like, and how do those contrast with life in Iowa? How does transition – of transportation, housing, education and employment -- affect the family? And how are these complicated by language barriers? What can be done to support families?

    October 13, 2023 at 10:45AM

    • Dr. Stacey Cole

    • Mike Mbanza

    • Elizabeth Buch

    • Henny Ohr

    • Mugisha Gloire


    Environmental Justice in Iowa

    Marginalized groups often face unique challenges and roadblocks when it comes to accessing clean air, water and resources that help them live sustainably. How can we draft environmental laws and policies that ensure everyone is being served and protected equally? What kind of assistance is available and how could it be improved?

    October 13, 2023 at 10:45AM

Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Articles

  • A look at rural school districts in any direction will show that Storm Lake — a northwest Iowa city in Buena Vista County with a population between 10,000 and 15,000 — is in a very different position than its counterparts. Every district surrounding Storm Lake has a hyphenated name, indicating districts that have merged. As many of them face lon...
  • The morning of March 16, 2020, the production teams at Theatre Cedar Rapids sent out daily rehearsal calls for our three then-upcoming, concurrent shows. We had a classic play rehearsing in our downstairs studio theater, a contemporary play four days from opening in our auditorium and a 28-member musical cast in rehearsals upstairs. I was the di...
  • Our world has a long history of conflict and conversation regarding humanity’s treatment of humanity. The current conversations about race, in particular, go back many, many years. Last year, the murder of George Floyd continued the debate about race in our country. In 2020, it’s estimated that between 16 million and 26 million people participat...
  • In the time since the murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis in May 2020, social justice movements across the United States and in other countries have formed and reformed to in efforts to gain visibility for their ideas and their goals. In Iowa, two groups, by way of example — only some 30 miles apart — have taken different approaches.
  • It seemed every day of 2020 presented a new situation. From the derecho to racial injustice to a pandemic, my first year as mayor of Iowa City taught me that no elected leader has all the answers, but every elected leader has the tools to get there — the voices of their people. I have always believed input from the community will yield more inno...
  • Whether it's the derecho, coronavirus, or Iowa's rural housing challenges, finding affordable housing in Iowa will have a growing impact on Iowa's economy. What can communities do to help more projects get through the pipeline? Panelists include: Lauren Johnson, Polk County Housing Trust Fund; Stephanie Murphy, Cedar Rapids Neighborhood Finance ...
  • A look at the realities for immigrants arriving to Iowa and access to resources for success. Establishing a home, finding employment and connecting to a new community bring to light challenges that go unnoticed by many. Hear from panelists devoted to improving the process while recognizing the positive impact these individuals have to the state....
  • David M. Kennedy is the Executive Director of the National Network for Safe Communities, a project of John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York City. Mr. Kennedy and the National Network support cities implementing strategic interventions to reduce violence, minimize arrest and incarceration, enhance police legitimacy, and strengthen rela...
  • The achievement gap in education is the disparity in academic performance between groups of students. In Iowa, that's students with economic hardship, individualized education plans (IEPs), English as Second Language and Black and Hispanic students. How can we close those gaps? How big of an impact is COVID having? What efforts hold the most pro...
  • Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, food insecurity was a major issue for families across the state. Then the pandemic came and has stretched many programs even further. How is food insecurity trickling into other aspects of life? What opportunities can Iowans adopt to help reduce the insecurity? Panelists include: Deann Cook, Unite...

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