Next: Your Voice Speakers
From op-eds to lobbying, this event is designed to help young professionals learn how to get their voices heard by their community and elected officials.
- Annah Backstrom, news director, The Des Moines Register
- Sandra Conlin, President of Iowa Policy
- Lynn Hicks, opinion and engagement editor, The Des Moines Register
- Christian Ucles, GOTV coordinator, Democratic Party
Annah Backstrom is News Director at The Des Moines Register, where she oversees most editors and reporters and works with the Executive Editor to drive news decisions. Before her current role, she was the politics strategist at the Register, directing coverage of the 2016 Iowa Caucuses, 2016 General Election, and statehouse coverage. She has also been a breaking news editor on the Register’s digital team. Before moving to Iowa, she was the assistant editor at the Klamath Falls Herald and News in Southern Oregon. She is a graduate of Michigan State University.
Sandra Conlin has been working in the public affairs industry for more than 18 years. She has been a lobbyist at the Iowa Legislature for 12 years, as an independent contract lobbyist for the past 9 years. Prior to becoming a contract lobbyist, Ms. Conlin served as the Midwest Regional Director of For Our Grandchildren (FOG) in 2003, a national organization working to promote Social Security reform. As the regional director of FOG, she served as the local spokesperson for the organization, giving dozens of speeches to local organizations and interviews to TV, radio, and newspaper outlets across the state. She also organized several townhall events during the campaign and arranged for grassroots intercepts about the issue for presidential candidates. Because of her work on Social Security reform, Ms. Conlin served as a panelist on the issue in 2004 at the White House’s Economic Conference. The panel was moderated by former President George W. Bush and then OMB director Josh Bolten. In 2005, she was a guest of First Lady Laura Bush for the State of the Union address, to represent the issue of Social Security reform.
Lynn Hicks is the opinion editor of The Des Moines Register. An Iowa native, he started his career at the Register while studying at Drake University and has more than 27 years of professional experience in journalism. His career highlights include running a small daily newspaper; reporting from China, Brazil and Bosnia; and interviewing characters that range from presidential candidates to drug dealers, Ashton Kutcher to U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon. Lynn lives in Des Moines with his wife, Beth, and two daughters.
Christian Ucles is a campaign operative that has worked for the Democratic Parties of Iowa, Minnesota and Texas. He has also worked on issue campaigns dealing with Marriage Equality and Environmental lobbying. During the 2016 Iowa Caucus he was the Political Director for LULAC-Iowa working to engage with over 10,000 Latinx Caucus-goers in efforts to empower a growing voting bloc in Iowa. Christian is originally from Tegucigalpa, Honduras, and has worked in campaigns in Illinois, Arizona, Texas, Minnesota but will always call Iowa home. He lives in Windsor Heights.