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The Benefits of Attending DMDC with The Partnership

DMDC 2024

April 17, 2024

With a little over a month until the 45th annual DMDC trip to Washington, D.C., the Greater Des Moines Partnership is encouraging local business owners and civic leaders to consider registering for the event taking place Wednesday, May 8 – Friday, May 10. DMDC offers an opportunity to help promote regional and local priorities, attend federal policy briefings and public policy workshops, and interact with Congressional leaders. An itinerary for the 2024 trip can be found here.

Why Attend DMDC?

We asked Suzanne Heckenlaible, Executive Director of the Delta Dental of Iowa Foundation and Lori Chesser, Immigration Attorney at Dentons Davis Brown, about their previous experience attending DMDC and why they keep coming back. Here’s what they had to say:

Q: How long have you been involved with the DMDC Trip?

Lori Chesser: Over 10 years!

Suzanne H: 16 years.

Q: What drew you to DMDC that first year? What kept bringing you back?

LC: It's a great opportunity to meet people that I wouldn't ordinarily run into in my everyday work, but people that I've heard of or seen their work. It’s also a chance to see some of the inner workings of the legislative process and to meet some of the people that are in the news and hear how they talk about issues and participate in our government.

SH: It was about a year and a half into my job and the Delta Dental CEO at the time had suggested that I attend and learn more about what is impacting Iowa businesses and communities. I was also getting involved with the government policy council at that time as well. The experiences meeting new people and seeing my colleagues from across DSM, who sometimes I only see during the DMDC trip even though Iowa's a small world. It is also rewarding to engage with the Iowa delegation and their staff on important issues facing businesses and communities in central Iowa.


What do you look forward to most when it comes to DMDC?

LC: The outings are fun, and the programs are interesting. The speakers that they bring in are also interesting. I've been involved in doing some programming for the trip, and we've had good sessions on important topics where we get people in the room who wouldn't normally be together, and we can have a conversation about topics that it would not be possible in Des Moines.

SH: My favorite part of the DMDC trip is definitely the Iowa Congressional reception. It's always in a cool place in D.C., right? So, I'm super excited to check out where we are going and check out the new happening site. And a lot of the time we learn some history along the way. Everyone attending is about Iowa, and it's fun to see that in the D.C. beltway.

What has been a favorite moment at DMDC?

LC: I liked going to the soccer stadium. Thinking about the soccer stadium proposal here, it was interesting to see how that district had developed around that stadium and have a behind-the-scenes tour. SH: It’s hard to pick just one. A few of my favorites have been the White House briefing room, the ability for us to be engaged and tour behind the scenes. Another one was the W Hotel's rooftop surprise visitor, as well as meeting my favorite political journalist, Bob Scheffer (of course, I got my picture with Bob!). And I don’t think I will ever forget running three miles with Senator Grassley in Alexandria and being stopped at a crosswalk because of a parade and hanging out with former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld. And then I would never want to forget the Friday rap sessions with Rob Denson, President of Des Moines Area Community College (DMACC), that were at the Legislative Staffer Breakfast. He was well known for those rap sessions!

DMDC Event

What was the most tangible outcome that came from DMDC for you and your team?

LC: I work on immigration, and we haven’t had major progress on that issue. But it has helped me to hone the messaging and talk directly to legislators. Being able to take groups to talk to the legislators and see what resonates is helpful. We also have the ability to talk directly to legislators in a casual setting at some of the events. Once, some foreign physicians joined us and we were able to walk up to Senator Ernst and say, “Hey, here's a couple of foreign physicians who are impacted by the law we have been discussing.”

SH: DMDC has a Friday roundtable discussion with the delegation staffers. This is a strategic time not to miss because it offers an opportunity to really get into the weeds on issues with staffers and address issues impacting your business or community. We've had opportunities throughout the years, thanks to a health roundtable discussion, to educate the staffers and/or engage in conversation and dialogue about issues such as key administrative barriers to access to care as well as workforce and beyond.

We also discussed what solutions we believed could increase access to care and increase the workforce — especially in our rural and underserved communities. These discussions are critical from the perspective of what might be happening in D.C. and what regulations and policies we could in fact have an impact on. And that's why the trip matters so much. We need to stay engaged and ensure that our delegation voices the issues for those back in central Iowa.

What are you excited about for this year’s DMDC event?

SH: From the perspective of Delta Dental, this year our Government Relations Manager has the opportunity to provide a highlight at the Congressional Delegation Breakfast on Thursday and provide an overview of the commitment Delta Dental made in 2023 to Iowa nonprofits. Through community and government collaborations, we have helped to improve the health and the smiles of all Iowans.

Why would you tell other business leaders and organizational leaders to attend and participate in DMDC?

LC: You do not need to be a lobbyist to benefit from the trip., It is a way to get people who are not in government relations to the Hill and to see how that process works and have your voice heard. It is also good for connecting with people. We get some bonding time with people that you might not otherwise meet or spend significant time with. And getting away from the every day and being in a different environment is valuable in itself.

SH: That’s a good question. I think throughout the years, my feeling on this has not changed, it has never changed. It's about how DMDC is a key strategic activity for businesses, community leaders and civic leaders to engage in public relations about what your community is doing and what your company is doing while assessing governmental shifts.

What is your must-do in Washington, D.C.?

LC: The National Gallery of Art is amazing. It has an outdoor sculpture garden, and if it's hot, I put my feet in the water fountain. Also, the United States Botanic Garden is nice. It's smaller than ours, but it's a nice getaway in the middle of the city. And then the National Museum of African American History and Culture, of course. You need tickets and to plan ahead to go there, but it is impactful.

Definitely the optional tours! Especially for those who have not been to D.C., the tours are opportunities that many don't get. You get to visit museums like the National Museum of African American History and Culture or the United States Memorial Holocaust Memorial Museum . I think it's just important to get out there and have those experiences during the DMDC trip. Finally, don't miss a planned activity is my second word of advice because you never know who or what you will experience.

Learn more about DMDC, sponsored by Prairie Meadows and SHAZAM, or contact Ryan Moon at rmoon@DSMpartnership.com for more information.

DMDC is an annual trip to Washington, D.C. where community business leaders meet with policymakers to advocate for legislative priorities. Learn about how this collaborative networking opportunity achieves as one region, one voice.

The Partnership's Public Policy team engages with local, state and federal officials to create public policy that generates economic growth, business prosperity and talent development in Greater Des Moines (DSM). Learn about state and federal legislators advocating for the region and how you can become involved by attending events like Public Policy Issue Forums and DMDC. The Partnership is a nonpartisan organization.

Ryan Moon

Ryan Moon is the Director of Government Relations and Public Policy at the Greater Des Moines Partnership.