2017 workshop attendees “ready to run”

Fourteen people who attended the 2017 Ready to Run Iowa workshops have announced their plans to run for local, state or federal office in 2017 or 2018. Additionally, one 2017 attendee is co-managing a local campaign and another was appointed to serve on a state board.

Ready to Run Iowa: Campaign Training for Women is coordinated by the Carrie Chapman Catt Center for Women and Politics at Iowa State University as part of a national network.

“So far, 14 of the 2017 workshop attendees have let us know their plans to run for office in 2017 or 2018,” said Kelly Winfrey, director of research and outreach for the Catt Center. “We hope to hear from more Ready to Run participants as they announce their candidacies or take other steps toward civic leadership.”

Offered every other year since 2007, Ready to Run Iowa had a boom in attendance this year.

“We trained 172 people in 2017, compared to 71 unique individuals in our 2015 campaign school,” said Dianne Bystrom, Catt Center director. “We’re always excited to hear from participants when they decide to seek elected office, are appointed to a board or commission, or become involved in politics in other ways.”

The 2017 Ready to Run Iowa workshop attendees who recently communicated their political plans and activities to the Catt Center are:

Jaime Allen, who attended all six Ready to Run Iowa workshops in 2017, will run as a Democrat to represent Iowa Senate District 41 in 2018. A resident of Fairfield, she is the mother of four young children and a Girl Scouts leader.

Cindy Axne is running for the Democratic Party’s nomination in Iowa’s 3rd Congressional District in 2018. She lives in West Des Moines. From 2005 to 2014, Axne worked for the State of Iowa. Since then, she has focused on growing the digital design firm she runs with her husband.

Betty Baird, who attended Ready to Run workshops in 2015 and 2017, is the co-manager for Victoria Szopinski for Mayor of Ames. She worked at the Iowa Department of Transportation and lives in Ames, where she is active in various community activities. Baird also has served on the Ready to Run Iowa Advisory Board.

Monic Behnken, who attended all six Ready to Run workshops this spring, is running for the Ames Community School District Board in 2017. She lives in Ames and is an assistant professor of sociology at Iowa State University.

Jodi Clemens is a Democrat running to represent District 73 in the Iowa House of Representatives in 2018. She lives in West Branch and owns an antique shop with her two sisters.

Jamet Colton is running for the Ames Community School District Board in 2017. She attended all six Ready to Run Iowa workshops this spring. Colton is an educational assistant and a Spanish-English interpreter for the Ames Community School District.

Louisa Dykstra is running as an at-large candidate for the Des Moines School Board in 2017. A business owner, arts advocate and school volunteer, she currently serves on the Des Moines Public Schools Legislative Action Team.

Theresa Greenfield is running for the Democratic Party nomination for Iowa’s 3rd Congressional District in 2018. She is president of a family-owned real estate development company, Colby Interests, and lives in Windsor Heights.

Richard Lynch is running for the Bettendorf School Board in 2017. He is an adjunct professor at St. Ambrose University, stay-at-home parent and translator. Originally from Dallas, Texas, Lynch moved to Bettendorf in 2015.

David Martin is running in 2017 for the Ames City Council in an open seat race in Ward 3. He was born and raised in Ames and currently owns a consulting business specializing in software issues that arise in intellectual property litigation.

Linda Murken is running for a seat on the Story County Board of Supervisors in 2018. A lifelong resident of Story County, she worked for 33 years as director of the Department of Correctional Services for the Second Judicial District. A Democrat, Murken has attended Ready to Run Iowa since 2011, including all six workshops in 2017.

Jennifer Pavlovec was appointed on May 1 to the Iowa Capital Investment Board. She has served on the City of Johnston Planning and Zoning Commission since June 2016. Pavlovec attended all six Ready to Run workshops in 2017.

Gina Perez is running for the Ames Community School District Board in 2017. An information technology professional for the Iowa Department of Transportation, she attended all six Ready to Run Iowa workshops this spring.

Ann Rathe, who serves on the Waverly Economic Development Commission, is running for the at-large seat on the Waverly City Council in 2017. She is a psychiatrist at Waverly Health Center.

Heather Ryan is running for the Democratic Party nomination for Iowa’s 3rd Congressional District in 2018. A small business owner who served in the U.S. Navy, she is from Des Moines and currently resides there. Ryan is chair of the East Des Moines Area Democrats.

Victoria Szopinski is running for mayor of Ames in 2017. She has participated in Ready to Run Iowa workshops in 2013, 2015 and 2017 as an attendee and a speaker. Szopinski has served on the Ames City Council, Ames Convention and Visitors executive board of directors, and the board of Friendship Ark Homes. She founded the Ames Progressive Alliance.

In addition to the 2017 workshop participants, the Catt Center recently heard from Renee Twedt, who attended Ready to Run Iowa in 2011. The current Story County treasurer, Twedt was recently appointed to the Iowa Public Information Board.

“We encourage all Ready to Run Iowa participants – from 2007 through 2017 – to contact the Catt Center to report their political involvement in elected and appointed office, community leadership and other activities,” Bystrom said. “We are interested in continuing to build our database tracking the political activities and achievements of our workshop participants.”

Many former Ready to Run Iowa participants have been involved in politics. Here’s our story from last summer with an update on their political activities: https://cattcenter.iastate.edu/2016/07/11/ready-to-run-iowa-participants-run-for-office/.