2023 Conference

2023 Conference Attendees

The Way Up XXXVI Conference

"Thriving Together in a Landscape of Change"

For over thirty-five years, women in the State of Iowa have hosted The Way Up Conference to assist women in higher education institutions as they continue to develop their leadership and administrative skills and expertise. The conference has always been designed to provide value for presenters and participants as well as networking opportunities for all.

Thursday, November 2, 2023

 Book Table & Other Vendors
 Continental Breakfast
Welcome: Conference Planning Committee

Keynote Speaker

Dr. Marjorie Hass
President, Council of Independent Colleges

"Women Leading Change"

10:45-12:00pmContributed and Invited Sessions I
 Recognition Awards
 Scholarship Awards
1:45-3:00pmContributed and Invited Sessions II
3:15-4:30pmContributed and Invited Sessions III

Networking Hour - Complimentary Social; Cash Bar

Silent Auction **

Entertainment:  3 Piece Piano Trio; Dowling High School; Directed by Steve Holland 



Banquet Speaker

Mo Collins,
Entrepreneurial Communities

"Women Rising: A Way Forward into Disruptive Times"

Silent Auction winners announced

 7:30 - ??? pmNetworking/Relaxing

Friday, November 3, 2023

7:30-8:30amBreakfast Buffet
8:45-10:00amContributed and Invited Sessions IV
10:15-11:30amContributed and Invited Sessions V

Closing Speaker

Dr. Toyia Younger
Senior Vice President for Student Affairs
Iowa State University

 “But I Don’t Wanna Change!”

1:30pmConference Completed
 **The Silent Auction on Thursday evening supports the Conference Scholarships. Want to join in on the fun ??!!
Just let Vapordeal Sanders know that you will be bringing a “basket” for the Auction.

Hilton Des Moines Downtown Conference Center
435 Park Street
Des Moines, Iowa 50309

The Hilton is a 100% smoke-free facility. See the hotel front desk for information about any outdoor smoking areas. The Hilton offers wireless Internet access throughout the conference center. On-site self-parking is $25/day; a city lot (two blocks away) is $10/day.

The 2023 Way Up Conference will be held at the Hilton Des Moines Downtown, Des Moines, Iowa.

You may wish to view the Hilton Des Moines Downtown Conference Center website.

The block of rooms is reserved at the Hilton Des Moines Downtown. To make your reservations, you may visit the Hilton Hotel website:
   Click on this link to make your reservation.    Then select your November dates for your stay.

Rooms are only $149 a night through October 18, 2023.

The Hilton Des Moines Downtown Conference Center offers wireless Internet access throughout the conference center.

Thursday, November 2, 2023

9:45-10:30 am: Opening Keynote Speaker

Dr. Marjorie Hass - President, Council of Independent Colleges

"Women Leading Change" ~ Successful higher education leaders create meaningful change even in the face of challenge, uncertainty, and resistance. In this presentation, Dr.Hass describes the essence of change leadership and provides success tools for leaders at every stage and role within an institution.

About the Speaker: Marjorie Hass is a philosopher, leader, award-winning teacher, mentor, author, and an influential thinker in independent higher education. She has led the Council of Independent Colleges since 2021. Hass is inspired by CIC’s impact on hundreds of member institutions and the more than two million students they serve. She is committed to ensuring CIC remains a valuable resource to help independent colleges and universities live out their unique missions vibrantly and fully. She guides CIC's programming to ensure it engages a diverse membership; supports member financial health and innovation; and strengthens CIC's role as a champion of independent higher education. A philosopher by training, Hass earned bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degrees in philosophy from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. She has published widely on the philosophy of language, logic, and feminist philosophy and speaks frequently on leadership, shared governance, and the independent sector in higher education. She is the author of A Leadership Guide for Women in Higher Education (Johns Hopkins Press, 2021). Insightful and relevant, Hass combines first-hand leadership experience with data-informed analysis. She has a deep understanding of the challenges presidents face and compassion and admiration for the work they and other campus leaders do. Before joining CIC, Hass served as president of Rhodes College and of Austin College. She also served at Muhlenberg College as a member of the philosophy faculty and as provost. Hass was a member of the CIC Board of Directors from 2012 to 2016. She also has served as a board member of the Association of American Colleges & Universities and as former chair of the board of the National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities. She is currently a member of the Board of Trustees at Brandeis University.

12:00-1:30 pm:   Luncheon & The Way Up Scholarship and Recognition Awards

5:30 - 7:30 pm:  Evening Banquet with Dinner Speaker

Mo Collins - Entrepreneurial Communities

"Women Rising: A Way Forward into Disruptive Times" ~ An array of emerging technologies promise to disrupt education in the coming decade. Across the country, women in higher ed are guiding our institutions through these tumultuous times as we reimagine our institutions, our communities and our lives in the opening days of Artificial Intelligence, Virtual Reality, the Internet of Things and more

About the Speaker: Mo Collins is the CEO at Entrepreneurial Communities, a ten-year old consultancy supporting entrepreneurs and the communities where they thrive. Her team delivers research, speaking and feasibility studies for entrepreneurial ecosystems. Mo is well known in the entrepreneurship speaking and education field. She develops curriculum and delivers courses for the International Economic Development Council (IEDC), the OU Economic Development Institute and universities and chambers of commerce in fifteen states. She is a popular speaker at the intersection of women, technology and entrepreneurship. 

Prior to Entrepreneurial Communities, Collins held progressive, senior-level roles at the University of Northern Iowa. She led the development of two business incubators and the launch of multiple award-winning tech-based entrepreneurship resources, several of which were scaled and licensed. She built the Iowa Annual Survey of Small Business and Entrepreneurs and co-authored multiple peer-reviewed publications and white papers based upon those findings.   Mo has earned personal and professional awards for her fieldwork from the International Economic Development Council (IEDC), the University Economic Development Association (UEDA), the National Association of Women Business Owners (NAWBO), The Technology Association of Iowa, MidAmerican Economic Development Association and multiple awards from the Association of Small Business Development Centers (ASBDC).

Friday, November 3, 2023

11:30 - 1:30 pm:  Luncheon & Closing Speaker

Dr. Toyia Younger - Senior Vice President for Student Affairs, Iowa State University

 “But I Don’t Wanna Change!” ~ We all know that change is inevitable. But many of us—including myself—can be hesitant to adopt new processes, procedures, work dynamics, relationships…the list goes on! We all have a lot going on in our lives and change is just one more thing to worry about. How do we navigate uncertainty in the work that we do? Together, we can share experiences and ideas of how change has been successful and help ease the burden of accepting that we must change in order to thrive and survive.

About the Speaker: Dr. Toyia K. Younger assumed the position of Senior Vice President for Student Affairs at Iowa State University on August 17, 2020.  In this role, she provides strategic leadership to the Division of Student Affairs, which encompasses a broad and diverse portfolio of student-centered departments, offices, and teams organized into three units that include Campus Life, the Dean of Students Office, and Student Health and Wellness. With over 650 professional staff and 800 student employees, the Division of Student Affairs shares one common goal: challenge and empower students to succeed as productive citizens and leaders in a diverse community.

Dr. Younger’s research and areas of expertise focus on higher education opportunity and access including community colleges, transfer students, college readiness and preparation, and underserved student populations. She serves on the Advisory Board for the National Institute for the Study of Transfer Students and is an executive committee member of the Council on Student Affairs at the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities.  An expert on a wide range of higher education topics, Dr. Younger has also been invited to serve as a keynote speaker and given numerous presentations at a variety of regional, national, and international conferences focused on student affairs, leadership development, community colleges, and transfer students.

Dr. Younger formerly served as the Vice President for Leadership Development and Partnerships at the American Association of State Colleges and Universities (AASCU) from 2016 to 2020 where she provided oversight for the creation and delivery of programs that advanced the mission and priorities of nearly 400 state colleges and universities across the United States. Dr. Younger also served as the Associate Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs with the Minnesota State College and University System (Minnesota State) from 2014-2016. In this role, she served as the chief student affairs officer for the system and provided support and advocacy for all student affairs functions on 31 college and university campuses.  In addition to her student affairs responsibilities, she also served as the interim Chief Diversity Officer providing overall leadership and direction for developing, implementing, and monitoring programs and processes that promoted and sustained access, diversity, and equity throughout the system.  She has also held positions as Assistant Provost at Towson University in Maryland and Director of Student Affairs for the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities.  A native of Flint, Michigan, Dr. Younger holds a doctorate in Education Policy from the University of Maryland College Park, a Master of Arts in Counseling and Student Development from Trinity University, and a Bachelor of Arts in Social Relations from Michigan State University.

Thursday, November 2

10:45 – 12:00: Contributed and Invited Presentations I

  • "Creating Access for Students with Disabilities": More and more students entering higher education report having a disability. In this interactive session, participants will discuss various ways to best accommodate students to make college accessible. Participants will also discuss strategies to help students focus on their abilities and get the most out of their college experience.  
    ~ Presenter: Michelle Laughlin, Director, Access & Success, Drake University
  • "Higher Education Leadership in Changing Times": The average tenure of a college president is now 5.9 years. Challenges such as public health emergencies, enrollment declines and political polarization create a high-pressure environment where it is a delicate balance between acting quickly and making decisions with strategic vision. The panelists will talk about their experiences in addressing emerging crises and in times of transition. In addition, they will address how a vision for the future serves as a guidepost through challenging moments. 
    ~ Moderator: Rachel Dykstra Boon, Chief Academic Officer, Iowa Board of Regents
    ~ Panelists: Naomi DeWinter, EdD; President, Muscatine Community College; Vice Chancellor for Student Development; Amy C. Novak, EdD, President, St. Ambrose University; Marsha Kelliher, JD, LL.M, Former President (retired), Simpson College
  • "Hands-on Technology – Tools and Tricks to Enhance Your Productivity": Whether you're a tech-savvy professional or just starting to embrace technology, this session offers something for everyone. We will have fun with AI and learn about simple and free tech tools to automate tasks, analyze data, alleviate stress, and make our lives easier. We'll touch on the concept of computational thinking—a cognitive approach inspired by the principles of computer science to gain a deeper understanding of how computational thinking can sharpen your problem-solving skills and improve critical thinking, enabling you to break down complex challenges into manageable components and approach them systematically. During this hands-on session, you'll have the opportunity to exchange ideas, share experiences, and unlock fresh perspectives on using technology to enhance productivity. PLEASE BRING YOUR MOBILE DEVICE. 
    ~ Presenter: Magdalena Galloway, Instructor, Curriculum & Instruction, University of Northern Iowa
  • "Social Justice from Within: Including Student Voices Within Student Affairs":  “For justice to occur, all voices must be heard. For justice to occur, all voices must be free to speak their truth. For justice to occur, we must attend to all voices” (Scheyett, 2021). The broadest definition of social justice is the view that everyone should have just access to wealth, resources, opportunities, and privileges. The application of a social justice lens to higher education raises questions about and makes arguments for striving for equity and justice for all within the higher education community in light of existing disparities. These are important issues given that higher education systems were arguably designed by the privileged for the privileged and, despite ongoing efforts to promote equity, are still systems that are structurally hierarchical and inequitable in terms of power, access, and resources, which affects institutional policies, procedures, and processes. We will share some more equitable ways of working, thinking, and supporting students based on the acknowledgment that everyone has valuable expertise to contribute and how making room for student voices within and throughout student affairs can transform our campuses. 
    ~ Presenters: Nina Grant, Vice President of Student Affairs, Hawkeye Community College & Rhonda McRina, Director of Student Connection and Experience, Hawkeye Community College

1:45 – 3:00 Contributed and Invited Presentations II

  • "Emotional Intelligence in Leadership: on Humility, Brene Brown, and Neuroscience": More than a decade ago, psychologist Daniel Goleman wrote in the Harvard Business Review, “The most effective leaders are all alike in one crucial way: They all have a high degree of what has come to be known as emotional intelligence. It’s not that IQ and technical skills are irrelevant. They do matter, but...they are the entry-level requirements for executive positions.” Since then, emotional intelligence has become recognized as a must-have leadership skill. When infused into servant leadership, it creates a relationship with self and encourages relationships with others in an authentic way. Emotionally intelligent leaders are more likely to stay calm under pressure, resolve conflict effectively, and respond with empathy. However, becoming aware and educated in emotional intelligence does not always come intuitively. This session will explore the core elements of emotional intelligence and offer strategies to improve your EI.
    ~ Presenter: Oksana Grybovych Hafermann, EdD, Chief of Staff, Professor, Office of the President, University of Northern Iowa
  • "How to Navigate the Changing Legal Landscape in Higher Education": From Title IX to Constitutional free speech to ADA accommodation, higher education institutions confront daily legal compliance issues. In many of these areas, the law is subject to shifting agency guidance, new statutes and regulations, and court decisions. This presentation is designed not only to identify emerging trends in higher education law, but to present strategies for assessing and handling common and challenging scenarios.
    ~ Presenter: Rebecca Reif, Attorney, Ailers & Cooney
  • "What's it like to be LGBTQ on the Way Up?": These professionals will discuss various issues that LGBTQ higher education professionals face in today's workplace and higher ed environment.
    ~ Moderator: Erica Spiller, Vice President of Student Affairs, DMACC
    ~ Panelists: Susan Harper, Director, Center for LGBTQIA+ Student Success, Iowa State;  Jocelyn Krueger, Collections Manager/Registrar, Grinnell College Museum of Art; Susan Hill, Department Head, Philosophy & World Religions, University of Northern Iowa
  • "Deliver on Your Promises: Identifying and Removing Systemic Barriers for Historically Excluded Students": This interactive session will provide participants with data and implications for policy and practice in higher education impacting historically excluded populations from enrolling and completing postsecondary education. Presenters will provide examples of successful initiatives they have implemented to best serve and assist historically marginalized students. 
    ~Presenters: Janine Baeza, Associate Director of Freshman Recruitment & Access, University of Northern Iowa and Jesús Lizárraga Estrada Ed.D., Director of Student Success & Retention, University of Northern Iowa

3:15 – 4:30 Contributed and Invited Presentations III

  • "AI in Higher Education: Unleashing Potential, Navigating Impact": This panel discussion will delve into the world of Conversational AI, focusing on its nature, applications, and profound implications for higher education. In this session, esteemed experts and thought leaders will shed light on the revolutionary technology of Chat GPT, providing insights into what it is, how it can be effectively utilized, and its transformative potential in the educational landscape. Moreover, the panelists will explore the ethical considerations, privacy concerns, and social implications that accompany the integration of Conversational AI in educational settings. This thought-provoking discussion aims to equip participants with the knowledge and foresight necessary to harness the power of Chat GPT responsibly, ensuring its positive impact on higher education while upholding the values of inclusivity, equity, and academic integrity. (This session's title and description were generated by ChatGPT.)
    ~ Moderator: Ivy Schuster, IT Training Specialist and Software Contract & Licensing Manager, Grinnell College
    ~ Panelists: Disa Cornish, PhD, CHES, Associate Professor, Public Health, University of Northern Iowa; Maggie Jesse, Executive Director, ITS Office of Teaching, Learning & Technology, University of Iowa; Joshua Moris, MISM (Master's of Information Systems Management), Instructor of Computer Science, Clarke University
  • "Fostering a Culture Where Diverse Perspectives are Valued": A diverse campus community holds the promise of enriching the learning experience of all students. It further helps all of us understand multiple perspectives and new ideas, thus enriching our lives. Join us to learn more about Iowa's rising student demographics and why continuing DEI efforts are both important and possible in today's higher education world.
    ~ Presenters: Trevalova Augustin, MSW, Office of Asian and Pacific Islander Affairs, Iowa Dept. of Human Rights; Ilima Young-Dunn, LMSW, Professor and Chair of Human Services, Des Moines Area Community College; Fransisco Mota, MSW Candidate at University of Iowa; Early Services Program Caseworker, Orchard Place PACE Center
  • "How to Thrive in a Multi-Generational Workplace": The workforce is constantly evolving, while the higher education workplace can be slow to change. The structure of many offices in higher education, which often includes undergraduate and graduate student team members, leads to several generations working alongside one another. This session will offer practical tips for leading and working in a multi-generational team, so everyone can not only survive, but thrive.
    ~ Presenter: Katharine Johnson Suski (she/her), Assistant Vice President for Enrollment Management & Executive Director of Admissions and New Student Programs, Iowa State University
  • "Exploring Engagement and Retention of First-year Gen Z Post-Pandemic": How is Gen Z showing up in their first year after experiencing part of their high school years in a virtual world and global pandemic? Explore trends, successes, and challenges first-year students are experiencing and see how the University of Iowa uses data to connect with students in a changed world.  Click here for Presentation.
    ~ Danielle Martinez, Director of Student Retention, University of Iowa and Tina Arthur, Director of Orientation Services, University of Iowa

Friday, November 3

8:45 – 10:00 Contributed and Invited Presentations IV

  • "Navigating the Changing Landscape of Credentialing in Higher Education": Alternative and micro-credentials encourage lifelong learning and open pathways for students with a diverse set of backgrounds, needs, and career goals. In this highly interactive session, we'll explore the diverse range of alternative and micro-credential options available to students and professionals seeking to build their skillsets. Whether you're interested in badges, bootcamps, certificates or other forms of non-traditional credentialing, this session will provide valuable insights and strategies for navigating the changing landscape of credentialing in higher education. Presenters will share their journey learning about alternative credentials as a part of the University of Northern Iowa Academic Positioning.  Click here for Presentation.
    ~ Danielle McGeough, Interim Director of Women's and Gender Studies, University of Northern Iowa; Gabriela Olivares Cuhat, Associate Dean of Research and Curriculum Development of the Graduate College, Research Integrity Officer, University of Northern Iowa; Marcy Seavey, STEM Coordinator, Academic Affairs, University of Northern Iowa; Alicia Rosburg, Professor of Economics, Interim Department Head of Economics & MBA Program Coordinator, University of Northern Iowa
  • "'They are Essential': Exploring the Femtor (and Mentor) Role in Higher Education": Despite community colleges being a feminized space (Ward & Wolf-Wendel, 2017), women are still marginalized (Aiston & Fo, 2021) in senior-leadership positions (ACE, 2017) and as faculty members, who play a key role in the institution. One way women faculty members navigate their careers and overcome these gender inequities and barriers is by having a femtor (female mentoring) network to help guide, support, and empower them. In this highly interactive session, participants will be asked to participate in activities and discussion as a way to explore the reality of femtor networks, how we build them, and how we use them.  Click here for Presentation.
    ~ Presenter: Kayla Lucht, Ed.D,. Communication Professor, Des Moines Area Community College
  • "Women of Color in Higher Education: An Open Discussion": This panel session is a focus on issues impacting women of color in historically white institutions in Iowa. Discussion will evolve around identity, gender, class and policy implications influencing the lived experiences of black and brown women in higher education administration. The conversation will also include in-depth discussion with session attendees who are encouraged to interact and discover best practices and strategies of practicing inclusive leadership through an equity lens. Panelists will be asked to share recommendations for personal self-care and professional development plans.
    ~ Moderator: Rashandra Oatis,  Administrative Assistant to the Dean of Manufacturing & Skilled Trades, Scott Community College
    ~Panelists: Angela Ibrahim-Olin, Associate Dean, Accountability and Care, University of Iowa; Jeanette Thomas, Education Consultant for Equity, Iowa Department of Education, Bureau of Career and Technical Education; Revathi Rajagopal (Raja-go-paul) Vongsiprasom (Vong-see-prah-sum), Dean of Opportunity and Engagement, Western Iowa Tech Community College
    Camelia Rubalcada, Dean of Student Success, Hood College; Dr. Dalila Sajadian, Director of Learning Support Division, North Iowa Area Community College
  • "Thriving at Work: Strategies for Maximizing Your Personal Wellbeing and Support of Others": The last few years have been difficult for so many reasons, with many variables beyond our control. What can we do for ourselves and others amid challenging times like these? This session will focus on how to thrive at work, with strategies for personal wellbeing, as well as tangible steps for improving the wellbeing of those you work with. We all have the potential to positively influence our workplace culture. 
    ~ Trisha Welter, MPH, Associate Director, Student Wellness, The University of Iowa

10:15 – 11:30 Contributed and Invited Presentations V

  • "A White Middle-Class Professor Unpacks Her Backpack of Privilege: A Transformative Learning Experience": Transformative learning involves developing ways to challenge students to critically examine their current attitudes, assumptions, and beliefs. It can be challenging to provide transformative opportunities for students to understand how factors such as race, religious beliefs, socioeconomic status, sexual orientation, and gender identity can affect access to critical societal resources.  Students are often reluctant to examine how their own social statuses have provided them with privileges that are often inaccessible to others. This presentation will demonstrate how educators can use Peggy McIntosh’s “ White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack” to unpack their own privilege backpack as a way of modeling how students can examine the role privilege may have played in their own individual life chances.
    ~ Presenter: Marti Doyle, PhD, MSW, Social Science and Bioethics Professor, Mercy College of Health Sciences
  • "Change Management Essentials: How to Mobilize Your People Around Change When Stakes are High": Even well-planned initiatives with good solutions won’t succeed if your employees don’t get on board. Join us as we explore how to mobilize your people around change to deliver the expected outcomes. We’ll cover how to effectively manage change on two levels: the organization and the individual employee. We’ll clarify key roles in typical higher ed change initiatives and explore who needs to do what. You’ll learn the #1 reason employees resist change and what you can do to help them embrace change.
    ~ Presenter: Blair Wagner, Asst. Director of Change Management and Consulting, University of Iowa
  • "Are you retirement ready?": Whether retirement is just around the corner or years from now, it is never to early to start planning. The average American spends roughly 20 years in retirement. We spend our lives working hard and dreaming of the day we can retire. Planning for retirement means more than dreaming, it means begin strategic and focused.  Click here for Mike Finley's Q&A after the conference.
    ~ Moderator: Darlas Shockley, EdS, Executive Dean, Emeritus, Indian Hills Community College
    ~Panelists: Kim Linduska, Ph.D., Executive Vice President, Emeritus, Des Moines Area Community College; Mike Finley, aka The Crazy Man in the Pink Wig, Executive Director with The Giving Solution; Kristin Griffith, SHIIP/SMP Director, Iowa Insurance Division
  • "Mental Health Support: What are Students Saying?": As we identify our own personal support systems, which are foundational to mental health, what are students identifying as a valuable attribute on campus? The session is an opportunity to dive deeper into understanding the multifaceted attributes of supporting students’ mental health.  Click here for the Presentation. 
    ~ Presenter: Dr. Heidi L. Clark, EdD, MSN, RN, Grand Canyon University

The following four scholarships and awards will be presented at The Way Up Conference.  Click the links for more details about each recognition:

The Way Up Conference Thanks You for your Sponsorship!

Delta Dental Logo

Delta Dental

Mission Statement: Delta Dental of Iowa is dedicated to improving the health and smilesof the people we serve.

TIAA logo


Mission Statement: A Fortune 500 organization that serves not-profit institutions & their employees. We've helped millions pursue financial well-being, and we haven't done that by standing still. We've innovated, evolved and expanded our business to become the recognized leader we are today.

Iowa Coordinating Council

The Iowa Coordinating Council for Post High School Education is composed of representatives of the Presidents and Trustees of public and private colleges and universities in the State of Iowa. In addition, the Iowa College Student Aid Commission, the Iowa Department of Education, and Iowa Public Television are members.

UIOWA logo

University of Iowa

Mission: In pursuing its missions of teaching, research, and service, the University seeks to advance scholarly and creative endeavor through leading-edge research and artistic production; to use this research and creativity to enhance undergraduate, graduate, and professional education, health care, and other services provided to the people of Iowa, the nation, and the world; and to educate students for success and personal fulfillment in a diverse world.

ISU logo

Iowa State University

Mission: Create, share, and apply knowledge to make Iowa and the world a better place. We must prepare the leaders of our nation and the world. To make the world a better place, Iowa State will call upon its great strengths in student-centered education, global collaboration, and transformational basic and applied research. Iowa State will lead in developing more sustainable ways to produce and deliver safe and nutritious food, water, materials, and energy; integrate the protection of plant, animal, and human health; and care for our environment. We will design tools and infrastructure that will create entrepreneurial opportunities. The major changes sweeping the world are creating extraordinary opportunities for Iowa State to capitalize on its land-grant mission and be at the forefront in addressing our common, global challenges.

UNI logo

University of Northern Iowa

Mission: The University of Northern Iowa provides transformative learning experiences that inspire students to embrace challenge, engage in critical inquiry and creative thought, and contribute to society.

IACCT logo

Community Colleges for Iowa

Mission Statement: IACCT's Mission is to support the Community Colleges as they educate Iowa's workforce.

Grinnell College logo

Grinnell College

Mission Statement: When Grinnell College framed its charter in the Iowa Territory of the United States in 1846, it set forth a mission to educate its students "for the different professions and for the honorable discharge of the duties of life." The College pursues that mission by providing an education in the liberal arts through free inquiry and the open exchange of ideas. As a teaching and learning community, the College holds that knowledge is a good to be pursued both for its own sake and for the intellectual, moral, and physical well-being of individuals and of society at large. The College exists to provide a lively academic community of students and teachers of high scholarly qualifications from diverse social and cultural circumstances. The College aims to graduate individuals who can think clearly, who can speak and write persuasively and even eloquently, who can evaluate critically both their own and others' ideas, who can acquire new knowledge, and who are prepared in life and work to use their knowledge and their abilities to serve the common good.

Central College logo

Central College

Mission Statement: Central College is a residential liberal arts college dedicated to helping students discover and develop their greatest potential. Guided by its ecumenical Christian tradition, the college community engages in vigorous, open inquiry in pursuit of academic excellence. The College nurtures the development of the mind, while fostering spiritual and emotional maturity and physical well-being. Central integrates career preparation with the development of values essential to responsible citizenship, empowering graduates for effective service in local, national and international communities.

Drake University logo

Drake University

Mission Statement: Provide an exceptional learning environment that prepares students for meaningful personal lives, professional accomplishments, and responsible global citizenship. The Drake experience is distinguished by collaborative learning among students, faculty, and staff and by the integration of the liberal arts and sciences with professional preparation.

Loras College logo

Loras College

Mission Statement: Our commitment to the Catholic intellectual tradition - Loras College is a Catholic, diocesan college explicitly oriented to promote service of both church and world through encouraging all members of the community in development of their “diverse professional, social and religious roles.” The college strives to be a community demonstrating the highest standards of the Catholic intellectual tradition and welcoming all people into a dialogue to promote core values of truth, respect, responsibility, excellence and service.

Loras College logo

Mount Mercy University

Mission Statement: Mount Mercy is a Catholic University providing student-focused baccalaureate and graduate education in the spirit of the Sisters of Mercy. As a Catholic university founded by th­e Sisters of Mercy, Mount Mercy welcomes women and men of all beliefs to join our community in the
pursuit of baccalaureate and graduate education and service to those in need.

Wartburg College logo

Wartburg College

Mission Statement: Wartburg College is dedicated to challenging and nurturing students for lives of leadership and service as a spirited expression of their faith and learning.

DMACC logo

Des Moines Area Community College

Mission Statement: DMACC provides quality, affordable, student-centered education and training to empower Iowans of all ages and backgrounds to pursue life's opportunities and achieve their career dreams.

Hawkeye Community College logo

Hawkeye Community College

Mission Statement: Hawkeye Community College is a globally informed community of successful lifelong learners. Hawkeye Community College will be recognized for educational excellence, exceptional student services, and responsiveness to diverse communities.

Iowa Central Community College logo

Iowa Central Community College

Mission Statement: Iowa Central Community College promotes intellectual discovery, physical development, social and ethical awareness, and economic opportunities for all through an education that transforms lives, strengthens community, and inspires progress.

Iowa Valley Community College logo

Iowa Valley Community College District

Mission Statement: Iowa Valley Community College District is committed to providing quality learning experiences, ensuring student success, responding to diverse community needs, and building community partnerships.

Iowa Western Community College logo

Iowa Western Community College

Mission Statement: Iowa Western Community College is a learning community committed to excellence in meeting educational needs and improving the quality of life through programs, partnerships and community involvement.

Kirkwood Community College logo

Kirkwood Community College

Mission Statement: Kirkwood Community College identifies community needs; provides accessible, quality education and training; and promotes opportunities for lifelong learning

Northeast Iowa Community College logo

Northeast Iowa Community College

Mission Statement: Northeast Iowa Community College provides accessible, affordable, quality education and training to meet the needs of our communities.

Western Iowa Technical Community College logo

Western Iowa Tech Community College

Mission Statement: As a comprehensive community college, our mission is to provide quality education and to economically enhance the communities we serve.


  • Downtown Des Moines Public Art: Catch beauty on every street corner. A $40 million sculpture park in Downtown Des Moines, complete with 30 works of art. Take in a tour experience by bicycle or by foot. Glimpse downtown murals, architecture, outdoor art installations, sculpture and monuments. Greater Des Moines is a city rich with public art that is free for all to enjoy.
  • Botanical Garden: Fun is in bloom, no matter the season, at the Greater Des Moines Botanical Garden. Explore and celebrate beautiful, sustainable horticulture within the 14-acre domed conservatory and outdoor gardens. 
  • Des Moines Art Center: Recognized by international art critics as a world-class museum in the heart of the Midwest, the Des Moines Art Center has amassed an important collection with a major emphasis on contemporary art. The collection is housed in three striking buildings, each designed by a world-renowned architect. With the exception of special events, admission to the museum is free. The Des Moines Art Center boasts outstanding exhibitions, educational programs, restaurant and museum gift shop.
  • Funny Bones Comedy Club: Most businesses intend to enter a new market with a bang. When The Funny Bone Comedy Club and Restaurant arrive in a city, however, the sound heard was uproarious laughter. Co-Founders Mitch Kutash and Gerald Kubach opened the first Funny Bone in Pittsburgh, PA after Gerald became enthralled with a comedy show. Years later, The Funny Bone has invaded over 25 markets and is still expanding today.  The Funny Bone has been bringing nationally-recognized humorists to these clubs for over 30 years. Such superstars as Jerry Seinfeld, Rosanne Barr, Tim Allen, Drew Carey, Jim Breuer, Kathleen Madigan, John Pinette, DL Hughley, Gabriel Iglesias, Josh Blue, Ellen Degeneres and Dave Chappelle have dazzled crowds with their comedic genius. The Funny Bone also continues providing the freshest up-and-coming comedians, as well as developing local talent. The Funny Bone is a recognized pioneer in accommodating diverse community needs. From hosting numerous charitable functions, to being the gathering place for various corporate outings and meetings, to holding children's comedy and magic shows, The Funny Bone Comedy Club and Restaurant has etched a permanent mark in comedic history.
  • West Des Moines: Click here for current schedule of events.


  • 8th Annual Indie Author Book Expo (November 4th, Iowa State Fairgrounds): Join us at the Elwell Building as we celebrate all things wordy & nerdy at our biggest book expo yet!   Featuring: Autographed books for sale/they make the best gifts! Get all your holiday shopping done early; Free Admission; Free Goody Bags (while supplies last). Come see what makes us Iowa’s biggest book show!
  • Wine and Clay (November 4th, Valley Junction): Wine & Clay is a celebration of the earth arts featuring artists selling work in pottery, figures, tiles, tableware, fibers, jewelry and wood. To further celebrate the earth arts, the event highlights a variety of wines available for purchase as a tasting flight or as a single glass. Wine & Clay also features a variety of clay demonstrations, music and culinary faire.
  • Emo Orchestra Featuring Hawthorne Heights (November 3, Hoyt Sherman Place): For emo music lovers and orchestra aficionados alike, Emo Orchestra is a new live experience that brings some of the most beloved emo songs of your youth to the theater stage with a full orchestra arrangement. Along with special guest Hawthorne Heights, the orchestra will elevate songs from bands such as Taking Back Sunday, My Chemical Romance, and Dashboard Confessional in a way never done before. Emo Orchestra is a perfectly designed tribute to the music that shaped emo fans.
  • Shania Twain Concert (November 3rd, Wells Fargo Arena): Five-time GRAMMY® Award-winning legend and the best-selling female artist in country music history Shania Twain announced the second leg of her 2023 Queen of Me Tour. Due to phenomenal demand following the wildly successful announcement of the first leg, Shania is adding 19 new fall dates to her highly anticipated tour. The tour is in support of Shania’s forthcoming album Queen of Me, out February 3, 2023.
  • Guitarist Steve Hackett (November 5th, Hoyt Sherman Place): Guitarist Steve Hackett joined Genesis in 1971, making his band debut on the Nursery Cryme album which enjoyed a greater commercial success in Europe than the UK. After extensive touring, the band were encouraged, by audience reactions, to further experiment with ever longer compositions and develop their ability to incorporate strong narratives. This, in turn, allowed frontman Peter Gabriel more opportunity to indulge in the theatrics which helped to raise the band’s profile.  Now, for 2023, Steve brings Foxtrot at Fifty to North America for a string of eagerly awaited dates following the huge selling UK 2022 tour.

Other Des Moines Area Events

Additional Attractions