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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 - Ngozi Igbokwe

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Ngozi Igbokwe

President

President@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.

President-Elect - Dannie Patrick

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Dannie Patrick

President-Elect

PresidentElect@ypcdsm.com

Hometown:

Kansas City, MO

Alma Mater:

Missouri 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?

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

Past President - Greg Lin

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Greg Lin

President

pastpresident@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.

Secretary and Treasurer - Yolanda Wei

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Yolanda Wei

Secretary and Treasurer

treasurer@ypcDSM.com

Hometown:

Beijing, China

Alma Mater:

Coe College

Employer:

Goodhue, Coleman & Owens, P.C.

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

In my free time, I enjoy learning new skills. You can find me on the golf course or in the studio glass blowing with my friends.

What is your favorite thing about Des Moines?

Des Moines is a multicultural community that has supported me and I'm proud to call it home. Des Moines abounds with opportunities. The thought leadership young professionals are displaying in this city provides a vibrant backdrop of art, business, finance, politics, etc. to make connections with others.

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

People have always said Des Moines was an up and coming city. I've seen much of the world, and Des Moines is a world class city. Individuals like those at YPC that have put this city on the map!

What app or technology do you rely on every day?

Word, Excel, WIPO, Patentscope, USPTO, and Google.

Community Engagement Director - Devin Erin Sweeney

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Devin Erin Sweeney

Community Engagement Director

commengage@ypcDSM.com

Hometown:

Maplewood, MN

Alma Mater:

Baldwin Wallace University

Employer:

MercyOne Des Moines Foundation

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

Spending time with friends and family, kayaking with my dog Toffee, exploring new restaurants and breweries, and getting comfy on my porch swing with a good book and cup of coffee.

What is your favorite thing about Des Moines?

My favorite thing about Des Moines is the atmosphere; the city has a relaxed community feel with all the amenities for a big city. You can see a touring Broadway show, check out a baseball game, go hunting, kayak on the river, all in the same week, within 20 miles of the city center – what more could you ask for!

What role has mentorship played in your career?

Mentorship is really helpful I'm learning from someone else's experience and expertise.

What are your words to live by?

Differences of habit and language are nothing at all if our aims are identical and our hearts are open.

Professional Development Chair - McKenzie Kerry

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McKenzie Kerry

Professional Development Chair

prodevelopment@ypcDSM.com

Hometown:

Charlotte, NC

Alma Mater:

University of North Carolina at Charlotte

Employer:

Principal Financial Group

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

Cooking yummy vegan dishes, walking all over town with my puppy, listening to podcasts and TED Talks, reading (fiction is my favorite), volunteering in the community

What is your favorite thing about Des Moines?

I love how accessible opportunities are in Des Moines, as opposed to larger cities. Whatever you're interested in - community involvement, performing arts, small business ownership, etc. - there are resources and communities available to support you.

What role has mentorship played in your career?

My first formal mentor played a tremendous role in helping me understand the ins and outs of corporate America and how to balance work and ambition with self-care and rest. She's seen me from middle school through post-college and continues to support me and advise me as she experiences new chapters of life herself.

What are your words to live by?

"Whether you think you can or think you can't, you're right." - Henry Ford

Professional Development Chair - Haley Meissen

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Haley Meissen

Professional Development Chair

prodevelopment@ypcDSM.com

Hometown:

Wien, MO

Alma Mater:

Truman State University

Employer:

Turnberry Solutions

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

When not at work, I love spending time with friends and family. Whether its a coffee chat, board game night, or simply taking a walk, I am passionate about good conversation and the value of time together. I also started an Iowa Bucket List when I moved here in 2019 and that list is ever being crossed-off and added to, so I am usually trying a new restaurant, attending a Des Moines event, or visiting various Iowa attractions. If you have any "must-dos" or "must-trys", let me know!

What is your favorite thing about Des Moines?

Des Moines is the perfect size city - its large enough there is always something happening and to do, yet small enough the community is tight-knit and supportive. It is easy to meet someone in Des Moines who has an unexpected mutual connection to you!

What role has mentorship played in your career?

In college, my mentor helped me find what excited me in a career and encouraged me to take risks in accepting my first job (like moving to a city where I knew ONE person!). From there, my first work mentor helped me understand the value I can contribute and when to speak up. Mentors have helped shape my career and push me to strive for continual improvement!

What are your words to live by?

"Knowledge is power, but enthusiasm pulls the switch."

Volunteer Chair - Keith Welch

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Keith Welch

Volunteer Chair

volunteer@ypcDSM.com

Hometown:

Fort Wayne, Indiana

Alma Mater:

Ball State University

Employer:

Aon

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

My three favorite things to do after work are grilling out while reading on my rooftop patio, trying out as many restaurants/bars in the downtown area as I can, or at a spin class

What is your favorite thing about Des Moines?

The farmers market is my favorite place to be every Saturday. Hundreds of vendors come in from all over the state and the atmosphere is impossible to beat!

What role has mentorship played in your career?

Mentorship has played a significant role in my life, not just my career. Mentors from when I was younger have guided me while I formed my life philosophies that have helped me maintain an appropriate work-life balance. Throughout my career, I've been fortunate to have positive mentors. They have helped me identify appropriate study methods as I earned my professional credentials and navigate complex problems within the workplace. Additionally, when I considered what I wanted with my career, it's been hugely beneficial to have a trusted source to confide in.

What are your words to live by?

A mentor when I was younger taught me that the most important thing in life is to always keep the most important things the most important.

Diversity and Culture Chair

Diversity and Culture Chair

diversity@ypcDSM.com

Civic Chair - Jefferson Fink

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Jefferson Fink

Civic Chair

civic@ypcDSM.com

Hometown:

Carlisle, Iowa

Alma Mater:

Iowa State, (BS, MA) Drake University Law School

Employer:

Sellers, Foxhoven, Galenbeck and Nelson, Kitchen Collage

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

Cooking!

What is your favorite thing about Des Moines?

Seeing the community grow and expand and be truly creative

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

Greater focus on regional growth, focus on sustainability

What role has mentorship played in your career?

Great deal, the Bar association and other legal groups have a great deal of mentorship built in.

What are your words to live by?

I'm not dead yet, you are what you repeatedly do

Social Chair - Sam Plank

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Sam Plank

Social Chair

social@ypcDSM.com

Hometown:

Urbandale, Iowa

Alma Mater:

University of Northern Iowa

Employer:

Grand View University

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

I am a big reader, especially of recent literary fiction, classics, and political theory. My reading pairs well with my love of coffee — so you’ll often find me around the many excellent Des Moines area coffee spots! I’ve been trying my hand at writing for my own enjoyment recently, and I’ve found it incredibly satisfying. Finally, I watch as much soccer as I can, which often leads me out to bars and restaurants at all sorts of odd hours of the morning and night

What is your favorite thing about Des Moines?

For me, it’s home. I never feel as though I’ve “outgrown” the place because of its versatility. Des Moines is – as I never tire of saying – a big small town or a small big town, depending on where you are coming from. When I need small town coziness, Des Moines is there. When I need big town excitement, Des Moines is there.

What are your words to live by?

From the end of my favorite movie It’s a Wonderful Life (1946), Clarence the angel writes on the inside cover of a Bible for George Bailey: “Remember, no man is a failure who has friends.”

Marketing Chair - Samuel Malkasian

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Samuel Malkasian

Marketing Chair

marketing@ypcDSM.com

Hometown:

Sequim, WA

Alma Mater:

Faith Baptist Bible College

Employer:

Superstorm Restoration

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

Rock climbing, running, working on my car, or doing board games! Anyone that spends enough time with me also knows how much I love coffee and typically, people will find me sitting in a coffee shop somewhere in the Des Moines metro area. I also love coding and recently have been focusing heavily on learning python so I can add LED lights to my lego sets and make them look cooler!

What is your favorite thing about Des Moines?

I love the downtown area. During the summertime I will go on runs around the sculpture gardens. I also love the variety of restaurants and love finding new places to eat.

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

I would love to see more young people in the business world. I realize that's part of the mission for YPC, but most young people that I have talked to aren't aware of it. I think empowering those young people to pursue their business dreams would be a huge benefit to the culture of Iowa because I think there's a lot of toxic corporatism and people my age are just burned out from it. Having tools that readily help them -- specifically help them change their mindset and grow mentally would be huge.

What are your words to live by?

Lack of confidence kills ambition.

Membership Chair - Cecily Robinson

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Cecily Robinson

Membership Chair

membership@ypcDSM.com

Hometown:

Marion, Iowa

Alma Mater:

The University of Iowa

Employer:

Easterseals Iowa

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

My favorite activity is trying new restaurants and food. I also love making things (I cycle through crafts!), going to events around Des Moines, and continuing to learn new things every day.

What is your favorite thing about Des Moines?

Des Moines has so many opportunities - My favorite thing are the many festivals and events where there is an opportunity to have fun and meet new people!

What role has mentorship played in your career?

Mentorship has been so important in my career. I have had mentors who have been able to guide me in professional development, deepen understanding, and become confident in my decision-making.

What app or technology do you rely on every day?

I would be lost without my calendar and GPS!

Impact Downtown Chair - Eric Schaffer

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Eric Schaffer

Impact Downtown Chair

impactdowntown@ypcDSM.com

Hometown:

Waterloo, IA

Alma Mater:

University of Iowa

Employer:

KPFF Consulting Engineers

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

Outside of work I like staying active. On most days, you'll be able to find me working out at the downtown YMCA, racing sailboats at Saylorville Lake, or playing tennis/pickleball at one of the courts around the Greater Des Moines Area.

What is your favorite thing about Des Moines?

My favorite thing about Des Moines is all the things to do. There is always something going on during the weekends. New restaurants and places to go see are always popping up around the metro. Des Moines has found a way to balance big city amenities with a manageable size.

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

Des Moines is still considered a small city, but at the rate it's growing it might not stay small for long. I hope that Des Moines continues to improve on multimodal transportation by renovating infrastructure to accommodate walkable, bikable communities. In the suburbs where Des Moines is rapidly growing, I would like to see more multi-use zoning that allows for a mixture of multi-family residential and commercial areas.

What are your words to live by?

Strangers are friends you have't met yet.

Athletics Coordinator - Michael Ciabatti

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Michael Ciabatti

Athletics Coordinator

athletics@ypcDSM.com

Hometown:

Cedar Rapids, Iowa

Alma Mater:

Iowa State University

Employer:

LS2group

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

When not at work, I enjoy spending time outside, especially hiking! I'm an avid golfer and enjoy traveling around the country visiting college friends and family.

What is your favorite thing about Des Moines?

My favorite thing about Des Moines is how accessible our city's events are! Whether it's the Dew Tour at the Lauridsen Skatepark or a pride parade in the East Village, it's great to see how many people show up and support the community!

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

One thing I'd like to see change in Des Moines is more support for small businesses! I think our city does a great job supporting entrepreneurship already, but there's always room for improvement. We have so many businesses that constitute Des Moines' identity and they deserve our full support and patronage!

What are your words to live by?

At Iowa State, I was part of the Iowa Beta Chapter of Phi Kappa Psi. One of our songs included the phrase "amici, usque, ad aras," which translates to "a friend until the end." In all of my professional relationships and friendships, I try to let people know I'm on their team until the very end, no matter what they need!

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