Speaker Date Topic
Mark Busch Director of Education Iowa Safe Schools Feb 21, 2019 11:30 AM
Providing safe, supportive, and nurturing environments and communities for LGBTQ youth

Founded in 2002, Iowa Safe Schools is the strongest LGBTQ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer) youth organization in the Midwest. The mission of Iowa Safe Schools is to provide safe, supportive, and nurturing learning environments and communities for LGBTQ and Allied youth through education, outreach, and advocacy. Staff at Iowa Safe Schools provide youth engagement and community building support for gay-straight alliances in middle schools and high schools across all 99 counties in Iowa and approximately 35 collegiate institutions. We also provide in-person and online teacher professional development opportunities to empower teachers to develop inclusive curriculum, and we advocate for policies at the Iowa Legislature to support the needs of LGBTQ youth.


Mark Busch (He, Him, His) is the Director of Education at Iowa Safe Schools. He is responsible for leading professional development efforts for educators and school leaders across the state to learn about marginalized communities and develop welcoming classrooms through Iowa Safe Schools’ Safe Schools Academy. He is also the planning chair for the National Safe Schools Convening, orchestrating four school climate and culture symposiums across the Midwest. A proud graduate of the University of Northern Iowa, Mark earned his Bachelor of Arts in Chemistry Teaching in 2011 and Master of Arts in Science Education in 2018

Phoebe Trepp - Executive Director Feb 28, 2019 11:30 AM
Willis Dady Emergency Shelter

Phoebe has served as the Executive Director of Willis Dady Homeless Services in Cedar Rapids Iowa since 2015. During this time Willis Dady successfully launched and completed a $3 million capital campaign, the first in the agency’s history.  Phoebe has helped develop and implement a range of programs to address the lack of affordable housing and homelessness. These include the Community Overflow Weather Shelter System; a shelter for anyone in need in Linn County during the winter months, a range of permanent supportive housing projects to help address the lack of affordable safe housing for people with multiple barriers, a regional homeless prevention program to help low-income residents avoid evictions and identify housing alternatives prior to becoming homeless, and Fresh Starts; a janitorial business that provides supported employment to people experiencing homelessness.  Prior to her work at Willis Dady Phoebe worked at Shelter House in Iowa City, and the Appalachia Service Project in East Tennessee.  She is pursuing a Masters of Public Health at the University of Iowa, and has a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Minnesota.

Pramod Dwivedi Mar 07, 2019 11:30 AM
Linn County Public Health Update
Sarah Dawson, CEO/Scout Executive Mar 14, 2019
Whats new in Scouting
Whats new in Scouting

Sarah began her Scouting career as a District Executive in the Winnebago Council in July of 1999, following her graduation at the University of Northern Iowa with a degree in Business Management, and a Communications minor. 

She has served in several positions since then, within several BSA Councils across the country, including District Director and Field Director in Bay-Lakes Council, (Appleton, WI), Director of Development in Northern Star Council (St. Paul, MN),  Director of Field Service in the Pikes Peak Council, (Colorado Springs, CO), and has been serving in her current role as Scout Executive/CEO of the Hawkeye Area Council, (Cedar Rapids, IA) since 2013. 

Sarah is the proud mom of two active and adorable young scouts- Colton (13) and Grant (10).

Pami Erickson Red Cross Mar 21, 2019 11:30 AM
Red Cross of South and Eastern Iowa

Pami Erickson has been leading the American Red Cross in south and eastern Iowa as the Community Chapter Executive of the former Iowa Rivers, Hawkeye and Grant Wood Chapters.

Before coming to the Red Cross in 2012, Erickson spent 20 years in education as a classroom teacher, consultant, and examiner for the National Council for the Accreditation of Teacher Education. She also has experience in retail sales management and marketing. Erickson and her husband, Dennis, have six children and two grandchildren. She enjoys traveling and spending time with family and friends.

Tom Milligan Actor TKM Productions Mar 28, 2019 11:30 AM
Humanities Iowa Speakers Bureau

In 2014, my wife, Deb Kennedy, and I realized entertainment needs were growing and changing, and from those new and modern day needs, we established TKM PRODUCTIONS. Our goal is to provide entertainment that is as individual and unique as you. Whether you are planning a corporate event, or a family gathering, we can provide entertainment custom designed for your needs. Offerings range from dinner theatre productions, something light and funny, or something serious and thought provoking,  live music, children's plays and workshops.

Glen Schwartz-Prairie States Mushroom Club Apr 04, 2019 11:30 AM
Scientific and educational activities related to fungi and appreciation of wild mushrooms

Glen Schwartz grew up on a dairy farm in north-central Minnesota, and has been an active outdoor enthusiast his entire life. He has been a member of the Prairie States Mushroom Club for about 12 years. Glen served as President of the club for  7 years, and is currently the club Secretary. He has been employed by Collins as an engineering technician for the past 45 years.


Melissa Carlson Families Helping Families Apr 11, 2019 11:30 AM
Programs to Assist Children and Families in the Iowa's Foster Care Program

Melissa Carlson joined Families Helping Families as the Executive Director in January 2019. Melissa grew up in Sand Springs, OK and attended Northeastern State University in Tahlequah, OK. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in Marketing. From working with large brands such as Chick-fil-A and Whole Foods Market to a small Chamber of Commerce in a city of 9,000 people, Melissa has many years of marketing, event planning and community relations experience. Melissa’s family permanently relocated to the Cedar Rapids area in June 2018 after her husband accepted a job as a Supplier Quality Manager at Husco International in Maquoketa. Melissa enjoys reading, movies, concerts, shopping and watching her kids play sports. Melissa lives in Marion with her husband Dennis and their two daughters.

Take Away Hunger Meal Packaging Apr 18, 2019 11:00 AM
Zach Kucharski , Executive News Editor Gazette Apr 25, 2019 11:30 AM
Ideas to Shape the Future of Iowa & How to Get Involved

Zack Kucharski is the Executive News Editor for The Gazette, a media company within the ESOP corporation Folience. Zack started at The Gazette in 2000 as a freelance reporter and has been with the company ever since. Now part of our leadership team, Zack oversees the operation of all of The Gazette's news reporting and content and is leading the company’s statewide initiative Iowa Ideas. The Gazette’s recent purchase of five-day dailies in Washington, Mt. Pleasant and Fairfield has also added to his list of strategic responsibilities.

Zack serves on several councils and committees, including the Iowa Newspaper Association, the Iowa Freedom of Information Council, the University of Iowa School of Journalism and Mass Communications and is a steering committee member on Iowa’s Creative Corridor’s regional task force.

Zack grew up in Chicago and upon enrolling at The University of Iowa, decided to make the corridor his home.  He lived in Iowa City from 1997 to 2008 and currently lives in Cedar Rapids with his two daughters Claire and Adelyn.  

Kimm Harris May 09, 2019
The Mandela Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders

The Mandela Washington Fellow Program has been hosted at the University of Iowa for three years and will have 25 Fellows again this summer.  

The program was started four years ago to identify entrepreneurs and leaders in Sub-Saharan Africa and bring them to the US for six weeks.  This is a very competitive program with over 40,000 applicants for 700 positions at 25 Universities. It is also quite competitive for the Universities so we are very proud to be selected year after year.

This is allowing the Fellows to learn from us and Iowa based companies and individuals developing opportunities in Africa.