Sue Woody becomes executive director of Des Moines' public library system Monday.


Sue Woody, newly named executive director of the Des Moines Public Library system, is looking forward to a meeting after she takes the reins next week. "I want to meet with our fabulous management team to strategize our goals," she says enthusiastically.

Her move to the director's office is just across the hall, but it's the latest step in a career that has been dedicated to young readers. "Early literacy is a passion of mine," she says. That was reflected in her early years with Border's Books and at the Alligator's Tale, a shop she created for young readers in the late 1990s. In fact, she came to the public library system as a coordinator of children's programming and later created the library's Rosie Reader mascot. "Yes, I wore that costume hundreds of times," she says with a laugh.

In recent years, she elevated marketing of the library's AViD series (Authors Visiting in Des Moines) and created Simple Steps to Success, a program to encourage early reading within families. Woody is sure to push for more library outreach and community engagement. "I'd like to take our outreach to the next level, removing barriers to library access and services," she says.

And you can expect her to promote the library's digital offerings. "The city is clamoring for more," she says, referring to the online virtual library as "our seventh branch."

Entering her new role at age 55, Woody says her most important public message is simple: "The library is for everyone," she says, "young, old, rich or poor." In that regard, a library may be the most democratic of public institutions—and Sue Woody invites you to experience all that it offers.

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By Design presents dsmDining —

After a 45-year career, cooking coach Deb Cazavilan is scheduling her final season of classes.


By Wini Moranville

Deb Cazavilan has been teaching Des Moines-area residents to cook since 2003, but here’s a head’s up: Your window of opportunity to learn from this culinary pro—who began her 45-year career in the food business as a soda jerk at the age of 15—will soon close. She’s winding down her Wooden Spoons Workshops and retiring at the end of the year.

Cazavilan says that while business is strong and classes continue to fill, a life-threatening health scare within her immediate family this past spring made her and her husband re-evaluate what’s important. Now, she plans to re-focus on family and do more traveling. In the future, she may consider doing private events and an occasional pop-up class—but only, she says, "when the feeling hits or just to keep me out of trouble."

Topics for her final series of classes include spring rolls (starting Aug. 5), artisan pizza (starting Sept. 9), artisanal bread baking (starting Oct. 14) and the 15th annual Pie-Baking Workshop (starting Nov. 8). Starting on Dec. 2, she’ll conclude her workshops with classes on the Original Ankeny Mudslide Pie, one of her most-loved recipes (and once one of her best-kept secrets). See the full schedule here

More information on Wooden Spoons Workshops can be found at

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Olson-Larsen Galleries presents dsmArts —

"A Monumental Journey" uses the form of African "talking drums" to raise awareness of cultural communications through history.


"A Monumental Journey," the new downtown art installation commemorating the 1925 organizers of the National Bar Association in Des Moines, will be dedicated in ceremonies at 11 a.m. Thursday, July 12, on Hansen Triangle, at the corner of Grand and Second avenues. The monument honors the determination of a dozen African-American lawyers who created an independent bar association after being denied membership in the American Bar Association. The Greater Des Moines Public Art Foundation commissioned Chicago-based sculptor Kerry James Marshall to create the work. He will discuss his career and the creation of this piece in a lecture at 6 p.m. Thursday in Drake University's Sheslow Auditorium, 2507 University Ave. Admission is free, but seating is limited, so register here to be included. Learn the history behind the monument in this article from the current issue of dsm magazine.

A good and decent man who responded conscientiously to needs and opportunities as they arose, Gov. Robert Ray died Sunday at 89.


Reflecting Monday on the death of former Gov. Robert Ray, several of us at dsm noted that we had different political perspectives but readily agreed on three admirable qualities that Ray exemplified:

  • Gracious civility. A partisan politician in an era that permitted bipartisanship, Ray sought the counsel of political rivals and welcomed opportunities to overcome differences. 
  • Natural leadership. Ray had a graceful way of embracing diverse opinions and finding consensus in politics, business and social environments.
  • Compassionate humanitarian. We believe Robert Ray acted in keeping with his conscience and his sense of moral rectitude over expediency or political advantage.

Gov. Ray had many other admirable qualities, of course. But these three endeared him to people without regard to politics. They are enough to secure his special standing in the hearts of Iowans, a standing that will endure as long as his memory lives among us and his record lives in state history. 

And so we mourn an honorable man. We recall that he was among the first people entered in the rolls of our Sages Over 70 recognition, honoring the best among us. We recommend this tribute, published in 2011.
A detailed bio can be found here.

Gov. Ray will lay in state at the Iowa Capitol late Thursday afternoon and evening, following a brief ceremony at 5 p.m. Visitors are encouraged to arrive early (starting at 4 p.m.) as security checkpoints will be utilized. Citizens will be able to pass by Gov. Ray’s casket and pay their respects between 5:30 and 8:30 p.m. The governor's funeral Friday begins at 1 p.m. at the First Christian Church at 25th and University.

High fashion meets fast action every summer at Polo on the Green, a fundraiser for Variety, the Children's Charity.


One of the most spectacular fundraisers on our philanthropic calendar, Polo on the Green is a strong money-maker for Variety, the Children's Charity. We congratulate the organizers and wish more charitable events could sell out so quickly. And we're intrigued to learn that this year's Polo on the Green, July 15, has adopted a new business model: Prices were raised and attendance was capped at 500, ensuring the event's upscale image, controlling costs and managing crowds at the rural venue. Attendance in recent years had crept close to 1,000 people, according to Variety's Margie Gibbons. The new formula must be working: Gibbons says Variety already has a waiting list for next year's tickets. 

From classics to contemporary, the Home Show Expo is a showcase of style from members of the Home Builders Association.


The annual Home Show Expo returns this week, offering opportunities to wander among a neighborhood of new homes and wonder at the details and decor. The event, located in Clive this year, is hosted by the Home Builders Association of Greater Des Moines. Note that parking is not available at the homesites but only at Waukee High School, where visitors will be shuttled to visit the new homes, each fully furnished by local vendors.

Tickets are available at the gate: adults, $10; ages 5-12, $5, under 5, free. Show dates and hours:

  • July 14, 10 a.m. - 9 p.m.
  • July 15, 10 a.m. - 8 p.m.
  • July 19, 4 p.m. - 9 p.m.
  • July 20, 1 p.m. - 9 p.m.
  • July 21, 10 a.m. - 9 p.m.
  • July 22, 10 a.m. - 8 p.m.
  • July 26 - 4 p.m. - 9 p.m.
  • July 27 - 1 p.m. - 9 p.m.
  • July 28 - 10 a.m. - 9 p.m.
  • July 29 - 10 a.m. - 6 p.m.

Delayed from last year due to a blown disc while running against the wind, Bob Seger is back, coming to Des Moines Nov. 27.


With a disc in his spine repaired, legendary rocker Bob Seger and his Silver Bullet Band will perform at Wells Fargo Arena Nov. 27, a concert rescheduled from last year due to surgery. For other fun opportunities, explore a pair of easy-to-use online calendars. We at dsm magazine and the Business Record maintain this calendar with handy filters so you can see just the types of events you're searching for. For even more categories, check Catch Des Moines.

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