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Board of Directors

The YPC Board is made up of 16 board members that are elected annually. To contact any member of our board, click the link below.

President - Justin Haas

Justin Haas

President

president@ypcDSM.com

Hometown:

Cabot, AR

Alma Mater:

Clarke University
Drake University

Employer:

American Red Cross

What are your passions outside of work? When you're not at work, what will we find you doing?

Sports have been a big part of my life so I love getting friends together and attending various sporting events in the area.

What is your favorite thing about Des Moines?

I think this city does a great job of providing resources for its residents and isn't afraid to try new things.

What projects have you been involved with in YPC?

YPC Ambassadors

What role has mentorship played in your career?

Mentorship has played a major role in my career. My various mentors have provided knowledge for me to grow and develop into a better leader. Without their guidance I don't think I'd be the person I am today.

What app or technology do you rely on every day?

Email

President-Elect - Greg Lin

Greg Lin

President-Elect

PresidentElect@ypcdsm.com

Hometown:

Denton, TX

Alma Mater:

University of North Texas

Employer:

Drake University

What are your passions outside of work? When you're not at work, what will we find you doing?

Outside of work, you'll find me grabbing a late night slice at Fong's, moodily gazing at the skyline from the Des Moines Building rooftop, catching a show at Wooly's or the Mews, sipping a martini at the Lift, staring pensively at art at the Moberg, mainlining double espresso at Horizon Line or Mars, bathed in red light at Black Sheep, huffing and puffing on a Bcycle around Gray's Lake, or destroying avocado toast at St. Kilda.

What is your favorite thing about Des Moines?

I have two! I love the general creative vibe that Des Moines has. I tell this story a lot, but when I first came to Des Moines for my interview, the street art and the Sculpture Park convinced me to move to Iowa from Texas. Now that I'm here, I'm always surprised by the amount of art and culture that is just buzzing around you. Even running downtown, you might catch an impromptu concert from a brass band, or stumble upon a pop-up art bodega in the East Side selling Fruit Loops and original art. My other favorite thing is the access that Des Moines offers to its young professionals. This is truly unique and you won't find it anywhere else, or at least I didn't find it back in Texas. Nowhere else could you find yourself accidentally in a DART ad campaign with your face blown up to an alarming size on an elevator door or rubbing shoulders with local and national politicians. As a young person in Des Moines, the barriers and obstacles that separate you from people and positions of power and authority are surprisingly few, and we should all take advantage of our opportunities when they arise.

What projects have you been involved with in YPC?

I served on the 2018-2020 YPC Board as Diversity & Culture Chair, helping to plan speakers at committee meetings and reintroduce our Dinner Around Des Moines Series. Before serving on the board, I was heavily involved in many committees and helped to plan the 2017 and 2018 YPC Downtown Scavenger Hunt that engages young professionals with the downtown area in a different way. In addition, I served as a YPC Ambassador, helping to welcome and connect new members to YPC.

What role has mentorship played in your career?

The most important part in anyone's career is when you realize that you don't know anything. A good mentor helps you put all the pieces back together after you've been broken down.

What is something you would like to see changed in Des Moines?

I'd like to see less of a divide between the "professional" and the "creative" factions of Des Moines. And this is even before I talk about the divide between people of color in Des Moines. Sometimes when I talk about YPC with creative people, they laugh when I call them young professionals. It's important that as Des Moines grows that we also allow ourselves to grow and listen to and communicate with people who are different than us.

What app or technology do you rely on every day?

Instagram

What are your words to live by?

Stay on your hustle.

Past President - Jessie Cruise

Jessie Cruise

Past President

pastpresident@ypcDSM.com

Hometown:

Bentonville, AR

Alma Mater:

University of Northern Iowa

Employer:

Principal Financial Group

What are your passions outside of work? When you're not at work, what will we find you doing?

You'll find me at a YPC leadership meeting, working with students at the university of Northern Iowa, trying a new cold craft beer at one of Des Moines' great breweries or spending time with my amazing husband and our adorable chocolate lab, Sophie.

What is your favorite thing about Des Moines?

My favorite thing about Des Moines is that young professionals have the opportunity to be involved and have a seat at the table. I always say that Des Moines is interested in the three I's from young professionals - Insights, Inputs and Involvement. This is a very unique thing about our community and I feel fortunate to live in a place that supports the YP voice.

What projects have you been involved with in YPC?

I have been on the board since January of 2016. I started as the Student Coordinator, where I worked with local universities and post-secondary institutions to talk about the happenings in Des Moines. Then I was the At-Large Chair (now the Community Engagement Director), where I helped organize board events and the first One DSM. Year three was spent as the President-Elect where I began to learn the ropes, and I could not be more excited to experience the President role and work with this fabulous group of leaders in DSM.

What app or technology do you rely on every day?

Twitter. I absolutely love Twitter. I get news updates, community updates, funny GIFs and memes and the ability to follow all the dog accounts that I can!

What are your words to live by?

I am not afraid of tomorrow, for I have seen yesterday, and I love today.

Secretary and Treasurer - Vish Gajerawala

Vish Gajerawala

Secretary and Treasurer

treasurer@ypcDSM.com

Hometown:

Des Moines, IA

Alma Mater:

Iowa State University University of Iowa

Employer:

John Deere

What are your passions outside of work? When you're not at work, what will we find you doing?

I enjoy spending time with friends and family. Also enjoy the outdoors by biking on trails.

What is your favorite thing about Des Moines?

Des Moines continues to grow and offer more to its residents.

What projects have you been involved with in YPC?

I am creating a dashboard with financial and other relevant information that is easy to digest for our board members.

What role has mentorship played in your career?

It has helped me to consider others’ perspectives leading to more sound, collaborative decisions.

What is something you would like to see changed in Des Moines?

I’d love a Korean BBQ restaurant!

What app or technology do you rely on every day?

Microsoft Excel

What are your words to live by?

Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish.

Community Engagement Director - Abigail Weatherwax

Abigail Weatherwax

Community Engagement Director

commengage@ypcDSM.com

Hometown:

Ankeny, IA

Alma Mater:

Iowa State University

Employer:

Intoxalock

What are your passions outside of work? When you're not at work, what will we find you doing?

I enjoy spending time with my friends and family, drinking wine while watching a good movie, and exploring Des Moines!

What is your favorite thing about Des Moines?

The city atmosphere with the small town feel.

What projects have you been involved with in YPC?

One Des Moines, Sand Volleyball league, Professional Development workshops, Dinner Around Des Moines and other committee events

What role has mentorship played in your career?

Mentorship in both the formal and informal capacity has gotten me to where I am today. I wouldn't be the person I am or have the career I have with out the circle of mentors I have surrounded myself with.
Thank you!

What are your words to live by?

Never Give Up

Professional Development Chair - Ashley Randel

Ashley Randel

Professional Development Chair

prodevelopment@ypcDSM.com

Hometown:

Johnston, IA

Alma Mater:

University of Notre Dame
Mendoza College of Business

Employer:

Customer Experience Consultants (CEC)

What are your passions outside of work? When you're not at work, what will we find you doing?

Spending time with the Fam! Playing board games, art projects, family movie night... you know the fun "mom/wife" stuff! I also really enjoy Traveling, Journaling, and.... organizing literally anything!

What is your favorite thing about Des Moines?

This is pretty cliché but I love how nice the people are! There are so many opportunities and people are always willing to step in and help in any way that they can! It's kind of joke within my family but we can't forget to mention the chip dip! Anderson Erickson hit the nail on the head with that one!

What projects have you been involved with in YPC?

I am new to YPC and the board so jumping in feet first and really looking forward to the personal development as well as the value I can bring to the Social Media management!

What role has mentorship played in your career?

Mentorship is something I speak very highly of. The motivation, guidance/advice and support is crucial to self development. I have learned so much from the many mentors that are in my network but I also have learned just as much mentoring others.

What is something you would like to see changed in Des Moines?

There are a lot of hidden gems within Des Moines. I think sharing these gems will help people in DSM want to support the local/small businesses which will help grow our community support!

What app or technology do you rely on every day?

The app I use the most by far is Audiobooks, only because I listen to self development books in the background while working. The one I rely on the most is likely facebook because it houses my events, photos, and keeps me up to date with what's going on with family and friends!

What are your words to live by?

When you replace "Why is this happening to me?" with "What is this trying to teach me?", everything shifts!

Volunteer Chair - Addison O'Conner

Addison O'Conner

Volunteer Chair

volunteer@ypcDSM.com

Hometown:

Riverside, IA

Alma Mater:

Simpson College

Employer:

Kathleen Stahl Travel, Gilroy’s Kitchen + Pub + Patio, Fresko

What are your passions outside of work? When you're not at work, what will we find you doing?

When you're not work, what will we find you doing? I love going for a walk or run on trails and trying new restaurants for dinner.

What is your favorite thing about Des Moines?

You get the perks of living in a big city (various events, organizations, and restaurants), while not having terrible traffic and insanely expensive rent.

What is something you would like to see changed in Des Moines?

I would like to see major corporations and elected officials implement more environmental sustainability efforts.

What app or technology do you rely on every day?

My Google Home. It is my alarm clock, weather reporter, DJ, and friendly search engine.

What are your words to live by?

You only live once. Dare I say… YOLO?

Civic Chair - Maddie Wilcox

Maddie Wilcox

Civic Chair

civic@ypcDSM.com

Hometown:

Waterloo, WI

Alma Mater:

Drake University

Employer:

Advocacy Strategies, LLC

What are your passions outside of work? When you're not at work, what will we find you doing?

I love spending time with my husband, family, and friends. I spend most of my free time cooking, hiking, and enjoying Des Moines restaurants. During non-pandemic years my husband and I love to travel, so I'm looking forward to that in the future.

What is your favorite thing about Des Moines?

Des Moines is the perfect example of a "small town, big city." It is a tight knit community with big city amenities and opportunities including the arts and local sports teams. I am proud to call Des Moines my home.

What projects have you been involved with in YPC?

So far on the YPC Board, I have been involved with the Public Service Symposium, candidate forums, and a fun trivia night, amongst other activities! I am excited to see what else this year holds and the additional value we can provide to our YPC members.

What role has mentorship played in your career?

Having solid mentors has meant introductions within my industry, opportunities to expand my skills, and a support system to bounce ideas off of. I can credit all of my career opportunities to giving mentors and a hard work ethic.

What are your words to live by?

My favorite quote is from To Kill a Mockingbird- "Before you can learn to live with others, you must first learn to live with yourself." It is a humbling reminder to always hold myself accountable.

Social Chair - Amy Luong

Amy Luong

Social Chair

social@ypcDSM.com

Hometown:

Des Moines, Iowa

Alma Mater:

University of Iowa

Employer:

LS2group

What are your passions outside of work? When you're not at work, what will we find you doing?

I am either watching tv with my dog, cooking, hanging out with my family, or doing some more event planning for the other organizations I am involved with.

What is your favorite thing about Des Moines?

My favorite part of Des Moines is the proximity to everything. We don't have to deal with crazy rush hour traffic like other cities do.

What role has mentorship played in your career?

The role mentorship has played in my career is helping me understand that everyone's goals and paths to their goals are different and we don't always have to fit a box.

What is something you would like to see changed in Des Moines?

We need more variety of cuisines. I wish we had more korean barbecue restaurants. I hope we are able to get some scooters available in the Downtown area.

What app or technology do you rely on every day?

I rely on my phone every day. I am very connected and always accessible by phone. My phone is labeled "Amy's Life."

What are your words to live by?

"What's the worst that can happen?"

Marketing Chair - Ngozi Igbokwe

Ngozi Igbokwe

Marketing Chair

marketing@ypcDSM.com

Hometown:

Des Moines, IA

Alma Mater:

Iowa State University

Employer:

Principal Financial Group

What are your passions outside of work? When you're not at work, what will we find you doing?

Outside of work I enjoy visiting local restaurants with friends, hanging out with family, and being involved in the community.

What is your favorite thing about Des Moines?

My favorite thing about Des Moines is the spring and summer, that's when we have a lot of festivals, concerts, the Iowa State fair, and the farmers market. It makes me feel like I'm in a big city.

What projects have you been involved with in YPC?

I joined YPC in February 2019. As a newer member, I am excited to be apart of the board and see the great things we can accomplish this year. I have a lot in store from a marketing perspective so get ready!

What role has mentorship played in your career?

Mentorship has played a huge role in my career. I attribute some of my success to great mentors. My mentors helped me uncover what my passion was, guide me, and encourage me.

What is something you would like to see changed in Des Moines?

I would like to see more people of color in the c-suite

What app or technology do you rely on every day?

Definitely my cell phone. I rely on my cell phone because it's how I stay connected to the outside world. I can call people, text, surf the web, all kinds of things.

What are your words to live by?

Everything happens for a reason.

Membership Chair - Patrick Kading

Patrick Kading

Membership Chair

membership@ypcDSM.com

Hometown:

Lee's Summit, MO

Alma Mater:

University of Wisconsin - Madison

Employer:

Global Atlantic Financial Group

What are your passions outside of work? When you're not at work, what will we find you doing?

You'll find me reading, hiking, exploring Des Moines, hitting the gym, meeting new people and spending time with friends and family.

What is your favorite thing about Des Moines?

The people and how easy it is to get involved.

What projects have you been involved with in YPC?

I've been involved in the YPC ambassador program, a panelist for the #WhyDSM YPC event in 2019, and I am currently working on developing a small group networking program for YPC.

What is something you would like to see changed in Des Moines?

I like to say Des Moines is a city on the verge of finding its identity. I'd like to see leaders in Des Moines cement their vision on what kind of city we want to become and continue to build a community that Iowans can take pride in.

What are your words to live by?

Believe in the potential of people. If you want to lift yourself up, lift up someone else. Success is better when it's shared.

Impact Downtown Chair - Amal Barre

Amal Barre

Impact Downtown Chair

impactdowntown@ypcDSM.com

Hometown:

Des Moines, IA

Alma Mater:

University of Amsterdam Creighton University

Employer:

CommonBond Communities

What are your passions outside of work? When you're not at work, what will we find you doing?

My passions are making crepes, reflecting on the built environment and advocating for affordable housing in no particular order. I used to host crepe socials in my small but cozy apartment pre-COVID times. While the campaign for crepes is on pause for now, my passion to transform all I meet into crepe lovers is alive and strong.

What is your favorite thing about Des Moines?

My favorite thing about Des Moines regularly changes but this summer it's been the bike trails. I've been using them throughout the summer and it's been an incredible way to connect with Des Moines.

What projects have you been involved with in YPC?

My first event as an Impact Downtown Chair was the Hotel Fort Des Moines tours.

What role has mentorship played in your career?

Mentorship has played a critical and encouraging role in my career. I've always had a strong passion for community and housing development but didn't always know how to transform this passion into a defined career trajectory. As an urban planner working in the non-profit housing sector, I'm constantly learning to thrive in the "undefined." Mentors have guided me to understand that your career doesn't always have to be defined as long as there is clarity in passion and vision, you will find opportunities that align with what you want out of a career. So, why restrict yourself when you can undefine the boundaries of your own career experience?

What is something you would like to see changed in Des Moines?

How we think about affordable housing from public and policy perspectives. Safe and affordable housing is the foundation for positive human development and a mind-reset, a re-conceptualization of our understanding of housing is required to transition us into a more accessible and equitable future for all Des Moines residents.

What app or technology do you rely on every day?

My Calendar, I'm lost without it!

What are your words to live by?

Community is the act of individuals taking collective ownership of an experience. I wear many hats and these words guide me in all of my roles, particularly in my work with youth.

Athletics Coordinator - Jake Boyle

Jake Boyle

Athletics Coordinator

athletics@ypcDSM.com

Hometown:

Ankeny, IA

Alma Mater:

University of Northern Iowa Palmer College of Chiropractic

Employer:

Central Health Chiropractic

What are your passions outside of work? When you're not at work, what will we find you doing?

Ultimate frisbee, architectural design, boating

What is your favorite thing about Des Moines?

The People

What role has mentorship played in your career?

Firmly believe onsite training with experts in the field is the best way to learn. You can read all you want on a topic but until you immerse yourself in it, you will never truly understand. I fine tuned my skills and knowledge by traveling the country shadowing docs in my field.

What is something you would like to see changed in Des Moines?

I love my town but the health of people is concerning. More health and wellness awareness would be nice.

What app or technology do you rely on every day?

I am not tech savvy. I'm rarely on technology and I believe people need to unplug more for both their physical and mental health.

What are your words to live by?

People don't care how much you know until they know how much you care.

Social Media Coordinator - Kaylea Wilde

Kaylea Wilde

Social Media Coordinator

socialmedia@ypcDSM.com

Hometown:

Sioux City, IA

Alma Mater:

Grand View University

Employer:

WPA

What are your passions outside of work? When you're not at work, what will we find you doing?

You can generally find me taking care of my plants or on a walk with my dogs!

What is your favorite thing about Des Moines?

The variety of restaurants and things to do.

What role has mentorship played in your career?

Mentorship has provided proper direction and growth.

What app or technology do you rely on every day?

My calendar!

What are your words to live by?

You are the average of the 5 people you spend the most time with.

Webmaster - Samantha Schwarz

Samantha Schwarz

Webmaster

webmaster@ypcDSM.com

Hometown:

Newton, IA

Alma Mater:

Simpson College

Employer:

John Deere

What are your passions outside of work? When you're not at work, what will we find you doing?

I enjoy learnig and teaching! You will find me teaching evening classes at DMACC and studying for my Master of Computer Science.

What is your favorite thing about Des Moines?

I love that Des Moines has all the conviences of a big city without all the congention and traffic!

What app or technology do you rely on every day?

Google Keep, I don't think I could get anything done without making a list first.

What are your words to live by?

I don't know but I can figure it out