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Uplifting + Empowering LGBTQ Leaders in the State of Iowa

LGBTQ Leadership Institute

June 6, 2022

I vividly remember the day I received my admission email to the One Iowa LGBTQ Leadership Institute. I was at a place in my career focused largely on expanding my community involvement. After having moved back to Greater Des Moines (DSM) after college, I felt unfulfilled in my involvement in my community, which is a core need of mine. When I received my congratulations message from the then Executive Director of One Iowa, Daniel Zinnel, I knew that good things were ahead. Though I knew that I wanted to do more, I felt unfocused. I thought that the Leadership Institute would be a good first step, and I was absolutely correct.

I learned so much during my LGBTQ Leadership Institute class in 2018. I made deep connections with other LGBTQ people that I still stay in touch with, including individuals from all backgrounds and vocations. I was given a framework by which to create and execute my goals for my involvement in the LGBTQ community, and by the end of the course, I had learned a great deal about myself as well. The Leadership Institute was the start of many projects and achievements for me personally. And now, as I coordinate the Institute year after year, I try to remember that feeling as I shape what new cohorts look like.

LGBTQ Leadership Institute Curriculum

The LGBTQ Leadership Institute is a four-month long program focused on uplifting and empowering LGBTQ leaders in the state of Iowa. As a program, we don’t focus on creating leaders — we know that there are amazing LGBTQ folks doing work in their communities already — but rather we help connect those leaders with the tools they need to keep doing incredible work. Throughout the ten Institute sessions, curriculum focuses on many key areas, including LGBTQ culture and history, authentic and resilient leadership, civic engagement including running for office and leadership development. The LGBTQ Leadership Institute is unique in that it focuses on decolonizing leadership from the ground up. Participants are asked to recognize the way that most mainstream leadership is deeply rooted in white supremacy, transphobia, homophobia, classism, ableism and sexism, and to dismantle those systems while in leadership positions. Curriculum also focuses on how resilient and authentic leadership often involves questioning the concept of professionalism and the ways that oppression hinders our ability to show up authentically.

The LGBTQ Leadership Institute is also focused on action-oriented learning. Institute participants also learn useful skills, including community organizing, running for office and lobbying elected officials. Additionally, each participant is provided with a Leadership Development Plan, which is a framework by which participants can create actionable goals and next steps for their work in their communities. Participants are also paired with a mentor that can support them in their goals and help to connect them to opportunities within their community. Finally, Leadership Institute participants wrap up their Institute experience through the completion of a Capstone Project. Capstone Projects are flexible — participants are asked to take one step towards their goals and share that step with the class. In the past, participants have started creative projects like planning and EP, to starting nonprofits, to applying for graduate school.

2022 LGBTQ Leadership Institute Class

Since its inception in 2018, the LGBTQ Leadership Institute has graduated over 75 LGBTQ Leaders. We are so excited for this year’s class, made up of nonprofit professionals, business owners and community organizers. This year’s class will be announced on Tuesday, June 7, but if you’re interested in learning more about the program in the meantime, feel free to visit the One Iowa website. In the meantime, the One Iowa staff are excited to present this year’s class with amazing curriculum and community. We hope each participant is ready to take that next step.

Greater Des Moines (DSM) welcomes diverse talent to the region. As one of the fastest growing business communities, inclusion and attracting diverse talent in the workplace is a key strategy of the Greater Des Moines Partnership. Learn more here.

Max Mowitz

Max Mowitz is Program Director at One Iowa, Iowa’s statewide LGBTQ advocacy organization, overseeing organizational programming, direct service and community education. Max serves as a board member for the Iowa Trans Mutual Aid Fund and is a Trans doula. Max is a harpist, powerlifter, baker, abolitionist and spouse to Austin.