←Return to Homepage

Black. Iowa. Millennial.

Spring 2016

The City of Des Moines and the State of Iowa, respectively, have been acknowledged with national accolades including 6th best state for millennials, Des Moines listed as 9th best place to live in U.S. Weekly in February 2017 and top best city for young adults in 2017. While the city and state boast these national honors, in the shadows is an alarming ranking — Des Moines, Iowa the 9th worst city for African Americans.

The factors considered were percent of blacks, black median household income as a percent of white household median income and black unemployment rate compared to unemployment rate of all people. As a note, in the same poll, the Waterloo/Cedar Falls area was ranked 10th worse.

In acknowledging the obstacles and respecting the continuous ability to overcome, the African American Leadership Academy sought to change the way that Black Iowan Millennials are portrayed in the local media. From the creative entrepreneurs, to the influencers in corporate America, to the world-changers in the non-profit and educational realms, the goal is to highlight the change catalysts who we call our brothers and sisters. The following articles will highlight both Iowa Natives, those born and/or raised in Iowa and Iowa Captives, those who move to Iowa and made it their home, with a purpose of sharing success stories in the local black community, providing a platform to praise one another in our ability to overcome hindrances and to assist one another in our efforts to influence change in the community around us, in the city and in the state at large. 

Those interviewed for the project included here have some tie to Iowa State University. 

Breanne Ward

Breanne Ward

Breanne Ward is a clinical therapist with New Sight, Inc. and a nationally recognized certified rehabilitation counselor with the Commission on Rehabilitation Counselor Certification (CRCC).  She serves on numerous boards and committees, including the African American Case Review Team for Department of Human Services and Trauma Informed Care Stakeholder's Committee. She has provided vast trainings to Iowa CASA, Iowa's 5th Judicial Department of Corrections, Drake University, Simpson College and Polk County Crisis and Advocacy Services.  In 2014, she founded ForWard Consulting, LLC to provide culturally relevant speaking engagements and more motivation-led conversations for community change.

Her graduate alma mater is Drake University where she earned a Master’s in Counseling at Drake University. Her undergraduate degree was obtained at Iowa State University, receiving a Bachelor’s degree in Child, Adult and Family Services with a specialization in Youth.  Ward has her temporary license to provide mental health counseling for the state of Iowa.  She has great faith that she will continue to be a vessel to carry out the work of her community and welcomes new opportunities to strengthen and empower others.

Interview Conducted by Nekesha Palmer

What do you appreciate most about living in Iowa?

I appreciate living in Des Moines because it’s continually growing and progressive for the next generation (i.e.: new housing developments, recreational activities and trails, innovative companies being planted in the state, etc.)

Being a captive or native of Iowa, what is your motivation to stay here?

I am motivated to stay in Iowa due to the pace, creative business opportunities and the ease of networking with diverse members in my community.

Can you share a few of your proudest moments while living in Iowa?

Three proud moments while living in Iowa has been getting married, getting a Master’s degree from Drake University and having my son.  Each of these moments brought the people I love the most to celebrate new stages of my life with me.

If you would change one thing about Iowa and/or your experience while living here what would it be? Or would you not change anything?

I would have more inspirational events (i.e. gospel concerts, jazz clubs, African American sponsored and hosted events) that promote African American businesses and connection.

What professional organizations are you associated with? How are you involved?

At this time I am a certificate holder of Commission on Rehabilitation Counselor Certification and interested in participating in Iowa Mental Health Counselors Association.  These two associations assist with better service delivery as a clinical therapist.

What cultural organizations are you involved in? (i.e. fraternities/sororities, diversity focused organizations etc.)

I am a member the African American Case Review Team for the Department of Human Services.

What do you aspire for your community?

I give back to my community to inspire it.  I mentor people of color in the Drake University Counseling Program, I speak at churches and schools and I support community events.

What would your advice be to a recent college graduate considering leaving Iowa “just because” (meaning they don’t have a job opportunity somewhere else but are looking to move just to get out of Iowa)?
I strongly advise the graduate to make sure that unresolved issues are dealt with so they are not taking baggage with them to the next city.  Many natives have had traumatic experiences that are easy to run away from versus than be still and deal. I would also encourage the graduate to move outside of their comfort zone and try new things in their geographical area to enhance their experiences in Iowa (i.e.: restaurant, theater, park/trail, downtown bike rides, etc.).

Dr. Glenda Bivens.

Dr. Glenda Bivens

Dr. Glennda M. Bivens is a statewide Community and Economic Development Specialist with Iowa State University Extension and Outreach. A native of California, Glennda moved to Iowa in 2010 and has since made Des Moines her home. Glennda’s role within Extension and Outreach allows her to use research to transform communities into what the community members want to see.

Dr. Bivens is the recipient of the President Obama Volunteer Service Award, ACPA Commission for Social Justice Educators Award and Iowa State University Martin Luther King Jr. Service Award. Dr. Bivens also volunteers with the Children and Family Urban Movement, the Community Foundation of Greater Des Moines, Womyn of Colour Network, Des Moines Valley Golf Club and is a member of the Links, Inc. 

Dr. Bivens received her Ph.D. (2016) in Education with a  Community College Leadership concentration, and graduate certificates in Applied Human Research Methods and Social Justice from Iowa State University. She also holds a master’s degree in Educational Leadership and Policy Studies from the University of Texas at San Antonio and a Bachelor of Arts degree in Liberal Arts with a Black Studies concentration from the University of LaVerne.

Interview Conducted by Lindsey White

What do you appreciate most about living in Iowa?

The first thing that comes to mind is the cost of living. Specifically, as a California native where rent for a one bedroom can cost an upwards of $2000+ a month,  to not have to pay such a large chunk of my monthly income for a living space or having to rely on roommates to have decent housing is something I appreciate. The next thing would be that it was relatively easy to build community and find individuals from various backgrounds with common interests. Many of the connections I have made have been developed through volunteering. I have also found a great professional support system in Des Moines. As someone who believes in having my own executive board, I can say that the guidance I have received here will be a benefit to me for years to com.

Being a captive or native of Iowa, what is your motivation to stay here?

Have a good "Framily" here. "Framily" is my word for a friend who has become like family. When I think of the many black female leaders in Central Iowa and the impact they have had in this community, I continue to be encouraged.

Can you share a few of your proudest moments while living in Iowa?

  • Giving my first public speech during The Political Party – nonpartisan event aimed at engaging millennials to be engaged in political landscape.
  • Joining Links, Inc. (June 2016)
  • Becoming a member of the best sorority in the world - Delta Sigma Theta, Inc. (April 1, 2017).
  • Being named the Tri-Chair of Social Capital for Capital Crossroads – Central IA Vision Plan – building leadership, equity, inclusion and stability in central Iowa for people that may have hardships facing their goals or ambitions. The fact that my expertise and perspective is valued, even though, I’m not from Iowa.
  • I am on the national advisory board for the United Way Asset Limited Income Constrained Employed (ALICE) study gives me an opportunity to uniquely contribute to the betterment of the community.
  • Graduating from Iowa State with doctorate degree in Community College Leadership. I am the first person in my immediate family to graduate from college and moving away from them was definitely difficult. Roughly 2 percent of all Americans have a doctoral degree. If you break that percentage down by race and gender, black women represent a very small percentage of people with a doctorate degree. My goal is to support Black women reach their educational goals just as Black women helped me.
  • I also won the 2017 National Dissertation of the Year Award from the Counsel for the Study of Community Colleges. To literally be the best in my class is something I am still coming to understand.

If you would change one thing about Iowa and/or your experience while living here what would it be? Or would you not change anything?

There are some significant economic challenges in Iowa based on race and ethnicity. Thinking about people of color broadly, and Black people specifically, there is a lot of work that needs to be done. I wish there were more opportunities to offer livable wage and underemployment in Iowa and more focus on creating solutions to problems.

What professional organizations are you associated with? How are you involved?

Leadership Roles

  • Tri Chair- Social Capital of Capital Crossroads
  • Opportunity Plan Leadership Team
  • United Way ALICE National and State Advisory Counsel Member

What cultural organizations are you involved in? (i.e. fraternities/sororities, diversity focused organizations etc.)

I am a member of Delta Sigma Theta, Inc., The Links, Inc. I serve on the Advisory Board for CFUM WYLD Girls and I’m the Secretary for Des Moines Valley Golf Club — an African American golf club founded in the 1930s.

What do you aspire for your community?

Economically self-sufficient, safe and their whole being to be welcome — racial, ethnic, religious, sexuality, gender – all aspects of who they are not just a part.

What would your advice be to a recent college graduate considering leaving Iowa “just because” (meaning they don’t have a job opportunity somewhere else but are looking to move just to get out of Iowa)?

There are a lot of opportunities in Iowa. The key is getting connected in the community through volunteering and networking. There are things to do here, but you won't find them if you don't take a risk or meet new people. Invest in other people and they will invest in you. If there is a skill set you need to get where you want to go faster, consider joining a non-profit board. Don’t just get on the diversity committee, get on the finance committee and learn how people invest in their priorities.

Lindsay Cannaday.

Lindsay Cannaday

Lindsay Cannaday joined Bankers Trust in fall of 2012 as an Administrative Assistant II to three senior commercial relationship managers. She was promoted in fall 2015 to Commercial Lending Associate II supporting five senior commercial relationship managers. Promoted in spring 2017 she now holds the role of Credit Analyst in the Commercial Lending Department. She is the co-chair of the Bankers Trust Diversity & Inclusion Committee and completed the Bankers Trust Leadership Academy with the 2016 Class. Lindsay also holds the Bankers Trust seat on the Greater Des Moines Partnership Inclusion Council.

Lindsay earned her Bachelor’s degree in Financial Management from Upper Iowa University, Magna cum Laude. She’s a candidate in the Iowa State University Business Professional MBA Cohort. Outside of the bank, she serves on the Larry Carter Scholarship Committee, James B. Morris Scholarship Committee, she is a proud member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc., and is a cheerleading coach at Theodore Roosevelt High School in Des Moines, Iowa.

Lindsay was born in Washington, D.C. and raised in Des Moines. Lindsay volunteers her time with the A.S.C.E.N.D. program through Alpha Kappa Alpha. She also enjoys spending time with her son, Ryan.

Interview Conducted by LaKrisha Spivey

What do you appreciate most about living in Iowa?

The biggest thing I appreciate is the simplicity. I enjoy being able to go to multiple events during the day without too much planning ahead and not dealing with the hectic traffic of big cities.

Being a captive or native of Iowa, what is your motivation to stay here? 

I was born in D.C. and grew up here, I consider myself as a native.

Cost of living and availability of good jobs and atmosphere of family. May always run into someone you know and being able to have those informal conversations and feeling connected within the community.

Can you share a few of your proudest moments while living in Iowa?

One of my proudest moments was purchasing my first home. I’m also very proud about return to school to get my MBA. My anticipated graduated date is in 2018. Another moment was having Drake come last year and being able to enjoy a big concert here in Des Moines and it shows how progressive Des Moines is starting to get.

If you would change one thing about Iowa and/or your experience while living here what would it be? Or would you not change anything?

I wish Iowa had more minority owned businesses to share in the economic growth and have the availability of more natural and unique products.

What professional organizations are you associated with? How are you involved?

Greater Des Moines partnership Inclusion Council – Represent Bankers Trust and our views about Diversity and Inclusion.

I also serve on the Larry Carter Scholarship Committee and James B Morris Scholarship Committee – These are minority scholarships which we award students that are most deserving in our community that are in high school and college. These mean a lot to me since I received both scholarships when I was younger.

What cultural organizations are you involved in? (i.e. fraternities/sororities, diversity focused organizations etc.)

I am involved in the Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority which allows me to be engaged in a lot more and I’m passionate about the work we do in our community like volunteering for A.S.C.E.N.D. (Achievement, Self-Awareness, Communication, Engagement & Development Skills which focus on college readiness and life skills. Our target demographic is minority eighth grade to high school.).

What do you aspire for your community?

I aspire that we could cultivate a lot of the many cultural organizations to be more cohesive and find ways to fix the issues instead of one or two trying to fix the problems by themselves. We can tackle and accomplish more being a united front.

What would your advice be to a recent college graduate considering leaving Iowa “just because” (meaning they don’t have a job opportunity somewhere else but are looking to move just to get out of Iowa)?

Tell them to stick it out. There are a lot of like-minded individuals here who have the same drive, ambition and goals as you and Des Moines is what you make it.

 

Submission Form
←Return to Homepage