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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 - Greg Lin

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Greg Lin

President

President@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.

President-Elect - Ngozi Igbokwe

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Ngozi Igbokwe

President-Elect

PresidentElect@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.

Past President - Justin Haas

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Justin Haas

President

pastpresident@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

Secretary and Treasurer - Vish Gajerawala

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Vish Gajerawala

Secretary and Treasurer

treasurer@ypcDSM.com

Hometown:

Des Moines, IA

Alma Mater:

Iowa State University University of Iowa

Employer:

Wells Fargo

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 - Kaylea Wilde

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Kaylea Wilde

Community Engagement Director

commengage@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.

Professional Development Chair

Professional Development Chair

prodevelopment@ypcDSM.com

Hometown:

 

Alma Mater:

 

Employer:

 

Volunteer Chair - Addison O'Conner

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Addison O'Conner

Volunteer Chair

volunteer@ypcDSM.com

Hometown:

Riverside, IA

Alma Mater:

Simpson College

Employer:

Kathleen Stahl Travel, 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?

Diversity and Culture Chair - Dannie Patrick

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Dannie Patrick

Diversity and Culture Chair

diversity@ypcDSM.com

Hometown:

Kansas City, MO

Alma Mater:

Missouri State University

Employer:

Great Western Bank

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

Trying different foods, watching documentaries, enjoying new things around town

What is your favorite thing about Des Moines?

The ability to make an impact in my community

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

More equal representation and access to opportunities for people of marginalized backgrounds

What role has mentorship played in your career?

Having mentors has given me the opportunity to advance in my career and build a great network

What are your words to live by?

There's got to be a deep voice within you that is untouched by definitions and it is there that you become divinely who you are. - Viola Davis

Civic Chair - Maddie Wilcox

Maddie Wilcox

Civic Chair

civic@ypcDSM.com

Hometown:

Waterloo, WI

Alma Mater:

Drake University

Employer:

Iowa Department of Public Health

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

Social Chair

social@ypcDSM.com

Hometown:

 

Alma Mater:

Employer:

 

Marketing Chair - John Soener

John Soener

Marketing Chair

marketing@ypcDSM.com

Hometown:

Des Moines

Alma Mater:

Humboldt State University

Employer:

United Way of Central Iowa

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

I'm passionate about spending quality time with friends & family, world foods and curated dining experiences (I love making a cocktail), music - specifically pop divas, classic rock, and music festivals, spending time outside, and new experiences in all forms.

What is your favorite thing about Des Moines?

I love the size. Big cities have always overwhelmed me and I've spent a lot of time in college towns. So, being in a city where I can visit new neighborhoods, try new restaurants, and meet new people - without being overwhelmed - is ideal.

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

I want to see equity baked into the operations of the city. There is a plethora of statistics, both on the local and national level, showing the economic and social disparities between white people and People of Color. I want to see these disparities actively and overtly addressed within Greater Des Moines. Now more than ever, there are many organizations and companies working to promote equity at the local level. However, there are also political, social, and economic forces fighting against this work. I want to see real and measurable changes in the social and economic status of historically marginalized groups.

What role has mentorship played in your career?

I owe a lot of my success, personally and professionally, to informal mentorships. In undergrad, I was struggling to understand who I wanted to be and the impact I wanted to have. My degree program director was hugely influential in inspiring me to find direction in life and focus on achieving my goals. While serving in the Peace Corps, I was a younger volunteer. I had amazing friends during my service that all, in their own way, served as my mentors. They taught me so much about the world and my place in it. Finally, when returning to Des Moines and hunting for jobs, there were wonderful community leaders here to help me make connections and find professional opportunities.

What are your words to live by?

Gratitude in all things :)

Membership Chair - McKenzie Kielman

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McKenzie Kielman

Membership Chair

membership@ypcDSM.com

Hometown:

Waverly, IA

Alma Mater:

Wartburg College

Employer:

ABI Foundation

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

My time is spent putzing from one hobby to another. Picking up my ukulele, a book, paintbrush or pen, then out to the garden, for a hike or to the barn to see my horse. My favorite days are entirely unplanned, free to roam or rest. Thank goodness for good friends and family who sign-on for directionless adventures with me!

What is your favorite thing about Des Moines?

Discovery is around the corner in Des Moines. I love that when I take a moment to look a little longer or ask another question, there's a direct connection to something of personal and global significance. Always something to see and something to learn in Iowa and about Iowans and how we contribute to the world!

What role has mentorship played in your career?

Mentors have been the encouraging voice, the bigger picture, the digging deeper. In addition to the tactical advice on how to navigate situations or pursue long-term goals, the mentors in my life have shown me how to live and work at our best and during our worst. I appreciate the care my mentors – formal and informal – have taken in regular, open and meaningful communication.

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

I would like to see more community spaces that embrace all community members to come together with a similar connectivity as provided by parks and the public library. Shared spaces create shared understanding.

What are your words to live by?

"Find a little more happy exactly where you are."

Impact Downtown Chair - Maddy Schmidt

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Maddy Schmidt

Impact Downtown Chair

impactdowntown@ypcDSM.com

Hometown:

Ames, Iowa

Alma Mater:

Iowa State University

Employer:

INVISION Planning | Architecture | Interiors

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

I am currently in the process of working towards becoming a licensed architect, which has been keeping me very busy as I study for my exams. My goal is to become licensed by the end of 2022 – fingers crossed! When I’m not at home studying or loving on my two pets (1 dog, 1 cat), I enjoy exploring everything Des Moines has to offer in my free time, but that’s not to say I don’t have regular spots I like to frequent. The Farmer’s Market, along with Annie’s Pub, is my go-to spot on a Saturday morning for some mimosas and people watching. Brunch at Mullet’s is always a top favorite of mine as well – their chicken and waffles are *chef’s kiss*. I’ve been known to participate in various trivia nights downtown, although general trivia is definitely not my strong suit. If there’s ever a festival of any sort happening downtown, I’m likely there. In a perfect world, I would be traveling every weekend to new and exciting cities in and out of the United States.

What is your favorite thing about Des Moines?

Des Moines has a very wide range of events to participate in all throughout the year. No matter who you are or what your background is there is going to be something here for you to do or get involved in. Des Moines is always growing and I’m excited to see it develop over the coming years!

What role has mentorship played in your career?

I’ve been very fortunate throughout my journey through architecture to have mentors at every step of the way. From teachers in high school, to instructors in college, to coworkers at INVISION, there’s a long list of people that have benefited my career in the role of mentorship. My mentors have always been a support system to whom I can rely on whenever I need a push to enhance my abilities and knowledge. Architecture is a very hands-on and knowledge based field where experience is everything. Being a young mind in a field that requires experience, you have to be comfortable with reaching out to others when you need help and a good majority of those around you will be more than happy to assist you.

What are your words to live by?

I have recently taken on a few new philosophies to live by, many of which come from a podcast by Alexis Fernandez, but my top favorite is to ‘chase change’. The idea behind chasing change is the acceptance that nothing is permanent and we should strive to incorporate change throughout our day-to-day lives. I see the ability to adapt to new situations and environments as being a vital skill for any professional to have. A supporting notion to chasing change is to ‘start before you’re ready’. This can go for just about anything. More often than not, that thing you’ve been putting off because you’re scared or don’t think you’re totally prepared for is going to go just fine. Putting something off is just going to make you ruminate over it again and again and will ultimately make you not want to do it that much more.

Athletics Coordinator - Quinn Slaven

Quinn Slaven

Athletics Coordinator

athletics@ypcDSM.com

Hometown:

Mason City, IA

Alma Mater:

Simpson College

Employer:

LS2group

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

I enjoy exercising, participating in recreation leagues, hunting, and rooting for the Chicago Bears.

What is your favorite thing about Des Moines?

Des Moines has so many opportunities for young professionals, yet in many ways it retains the small-town Iowa feel I've always loved.

What role has mentorship played in your career?

Everyone's experience navigating a career is different. I try to learn from people with different backgrounds and perspectives to help better inform my choices.

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

I'd like to see more people excited to come home. Des Moines is no longer the default option for young professionals looking to jumpstart their careers. The entire region of central Iowa is a great place to plant roots and grow a life.

What are your words to live by?

Find a way.

Social Media Coordinator - Cayla Nord

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Cayla Nord

Social Media Coordinator

socialmedia@ypcDSM.com

Hometown:

Cambridge, IL

Alma Mater:

Western Illinois University

Employer:

United Way of Central Iowa

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

Outside of work you can find me hanging out with my dogs, volunteering or scrolling through social!

What is your favorite thing about Des Moines?

The generosity of the people who live here!

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

Breed Specific Legislation

What are your words to live by?

Just Do It - Though I know this phrase is already widely popular, there is no time like the present to start something new.

Webmaster - Samantha Schwarz

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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 learning 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 conveniences of a big city without all the congestion 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