Ballet Des Moines SHE partnership, LadyLike DSM, Forty Under 40
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APRIL 3, 2023
Hello and happy April! We’ve got a lot of exciting news and events in this week’s edition of Fearless, so let’s get right to it.

  • Fearless has partnered with Ballet Des Moines in anticipation of the ballet’s production of "SHE." In doing so, I’ve had the pleasure of spending the last month with the immensely talented artist Jami Milne working on an interview and portrait series that sheds light not just on the successes of these incredible women, but the compromises, fears and ongoing pressures they have faced and continue to face in pursuing their passions. You can see the project on the Fearless website, and you’re also invited to see the portrait installation in person at Mainframe Studios on April 7 from 5 to 8 p.m.
  • We introduced 10 of the 26 women in this year’s Forty Under 40 class last week, and this week, we’re sharing the profiles of eight more.
  • LadyLike DSM is hosting its fifth in-person event later this month. We talked with some of the event’s organizers about its mission, which is to empower Black women in the Des Moines metro area by offering opportunities for connecting, learning and supporting one another.
  • Registration for the first Fearless Focus virtual event of the season is open! We’ll be talking with past Iowa Women’s Hall of Fame inductees about their experiences in leadership. Join us on April 27!

Lastly, nominations for the Business Record’s Women of Influence awards are now open through May 5. Find all the information and see past honorees at the Business Record website.

Have a great week!

– Emily Kestel, Fearless editor

10 stories of leadership, perseverance and authenticity
Clockwise, from top left: Siobhan Spain, Christine Her, Sonia Reyes, Jordan Colbert, Teree Caldwell-Johnson, Mary Mascher, Nancy Mwirotsi, Jo Christine Miles, Courtney Reyes, Sara Nelson. Portraits by Jami Milne.
What is it we see when we look at each other? When we really look at the woman to our left or to our right?

Society teaches us to look for labels, to classify success by titles. A quick scroll through social media shows a timeline of only the perfectly posed and curated highlights of someone’s life.

In anticipation of Ballet Des Moines’ production of "SHE," a triple bill exploring themes of identity, self-expression and belonging created by three leading female choreographers, the organization is partnering with Fearless to shine a spotlight on 10 Central Iowa women.

Exploring the topic of female leadership, the interview and portrait series sheds light not just on the successes of these incredible women, but the compromises, fears and ongoing pressures they have faced and continue to face in pursuing their passions.

The portraits within this series were taken during conversation — sometimes in motion, with a slight blur of the hand or eyes closed in reflection. The black and white imagery is used to evoke a memory, long-lost or perhaps never fully realized, that we exist in this world because a woman came before us, as did a woman before her, forever giving way to a lineage of past lives. Their stories, passed down and part of us now, a continuation of love and loss, of joy and grief, of sorrow and celebration — fleeting moments that span time and generations.

Call it perseverance, desire, survival or unbridled joy, the willpower of a woman is unmatched. The following stories offer a glimpse of who these women are, what they believe in, and the experiences that led to the lives they live today.

An art installation featuring the portraits will be on display in studio 246 at Mainframe Studios through April 30. The project’s creators will be at Mainframe’s First Friday event on April 7 from 5 to 8 p.m. to answer questions about the project.

"SHE" is part of Ballet Des Moines’ 22-23 Belonging season and runs April 27-30 at the Stoner Theater. More information and tickets can be found at the Ballet Des Moines website.

Meet 8 women in this year's Forty Under 40 class
This year, 26 of the 40 young professionals in this year's class of the Business Record's Forty Under 40 are women. We'll introduce you to all of them in upcoming newsletters. To read their full profile, click on their name.

What is it that drives you? Recognizing the impacts that local government has on the community, both positive and negative. Accountability and transparency must be front and center within government operations for us to right the wrongs of the past and improve the public services that we provide today and into the future.
Cynthia Lande, member, BrownWinick Law Firm

What's your biggest passion, and why?
As a parent and athlete, I am passionate about kids, health and wellness. One of my favorite things to do is watch my kids participate in sports or other activities. It has been an absolute pleasure to be able to help increase access to these types of programs for other kids as a board member for Can Play.
Leah Lint, diversity, equity and inclusion consultant, EMC Insurance Cos.

What's your biggest passion, and why? Action. Every day is an opportunity to make progress toward our goals in life, at work or in the community. It’s not always easy to see the impacts of our efforts, but even the smallest of actions add up and can change the world.

Blaire Massa, CEO, Ballet Des Moines

What is it that drives you? There is so much that can be done! To make our society better, to understand each other, to grow and learn and progress. Change is hard, but I would rather trip and get back up in an effort to improve than spend my life waiting for things to get better.

Kathleen McGuire, director, finance and capital markets, Invenergy LLC

What's your biggest passion, and why? I want women and girls to experience the support, love and mentorship that I have been privileged enough to have in my life. I know that I am where I am today because of that support, and I want to share that with as many women and girls as I can.

What is it that drives you? Empathy. Navigating grief and numerous challenges after the sudden loss of my dad when I was 19 is a core part of my story and grounds my approach to life. There are systems that are broken and so many people that are hurting. I had people who advocated for and showed me compassion at a time when I needed it most. It is with this spirit of gratitude I do my best to serve others both in my career and in the community.

What's your biggest passion, and why? Connecting people. I was anxious to pick up my career and move here six years ago, but found the people of Des Moines to be extremely welcoming as I established roots in the community. As a way to pay that kindness forward, I really enjoy introducing professional connections to potential clients and friends to friends.
Abi Reiland, senior associate, JLL (Jones Lang LaSalle)/ owner, CrossFit 8035

What's your biggest passion, and why?
Empowering women of all ages to become whatever and whoever they want to be. I was fortunate enough to grow up with family, teachers and coaches who helped me develop a foundation of confidence. Every girl/woman deserves the opportunity to believe in their limitless potential.
In the headlines
Kris Saddoris, vice president of development at Hubbell Realty Co., has been named the 2023 Iowa State University Ivy College of Business Real Estate Professional of the Year by the Business Record. Saddoris has nearly 38 years of real estate development experience in the Greater Des Moines area. During her career, she has had major roles in the creation of over 100 multifamily communities in Iowa, 56 of which were low-income housing developments.

Gov. Kim Reynolds has appointed Mary Mosiman as the new director of the Iowa Department of Revenue. Mosiman also served as state auditor before losing her reelection bid in 2018. Under Reynolds’ government reorganization plan, the department will soon absorb the state lottery and alcoholic beverage control operations.

Iowa guard Caitlin Clark has been named as the Associated Press women’s basketball Player of the Year. In the Elite Eight round of the NCAA tournament, Clark recorded the first 40-point triple-double in NCAA history.

Jan Jensen, associate head coach for University of Iowa women’s basketball, will headline the Count the Kicks Changemakers Luncheon on April 17. The event is an annual fundraiser for Healthy Birth Day Inc., the nonprofit that houses the Count the Kicks public health campaign.

Now-retired NFL quarterback Tom Brady has acquired an ownership stake in the WNBA’s Las Vegas Aces. "I am very excited to be part of the Las Vegas Aces organization," Brady said in a statement. "I have always been a huge fan of women’s sports, and I admire the work that the Aces’ players, staff, and the WNBA continue to do to grow the sport and empower future generations of athletes."
Worth checking out
A story about what happens when the people and institutions that are supposed to protect, fail (ESPN). What would the economy look like if it worked for women? (The 19th). How Nancy Hopkins and her tape measure revealed the extent of sexism in science (Nature). Help wanted: Women needed for U.S. chips manufacturing plan to succeed (Iowa Capital Dispatch). If your feminism doesn’t include Muslim women, it’s not feminism (Bustle).
How to address representation of women in leadership
The barriers that women face in ascending to formal leadership positions, or even just being a leader in their everyday lives, are plentiful. Everyone’s journey is different, however. In this conversation with Iowa Women’s Hall of Fame honorees, we’ll talk about their experiences in leadership, how they got to where they are and what support systems have helped them the most. Come ready to be inspired and learn tips you can apply to your own career or community involvement.

Featured panelists:
  • Dianne Bystrom, director emerita, Carrie Chapman Catt Center for Women and Politics, Iowa State University
  • Christine Hensley, retired Des Moines City Council member
  • Mary O'Keefe, retired chief marketing officer, Principal Financial Group; owner, A&E Balm Co.
  • Mary Swander, artistic director, Swander Woman Productions; executive director, AgArts
  • Dr. Deborah Turner, Board member, League of Women Voters

Join us for this free virtual Fearless Focus event on Thursday, April 27, at noon.

How a dream for a conference for Black women in DM continues on
Fifth in-person LadyLike summit to be held on April 15
LadyLike DSM co-founders Lindsey White and Diedre DeJear in 2022. Photo courtesy of LadyLike DSM.
As Lindsey White stepped to the podium to give opening remarks at the 2022 LadyLike Summit, she took a deep breath and looked into the crowd.

She saw the faces of 200 Black women, looking back at her.

White immediately felt a sense of awe and pride. A whole room filled with Black women, in Des Moines. All because of a vision she had five years before.

In 2016, White was looking to attend a women's conference that focused on and featured Black women. She soon realized she would have to travel to Chicago, Atlanta or Houston to go to one.

"Instead of investing my own money in somebody else's thoughts and plans and community, it was like, I'm sure that there's others here that need this as well. Why don't we just try to create something here?" she said.

In April 2017, LadyLike DSM was born with a mission to empower Black women in the Des Moines metro area by offering opportunities for connecting, learning and supporting one another.

Its signature event is a daylong conference in the spring that focuses on connecting Black women with each other, uplifting them and providing a safe space for them to be themselves.

The LadyLike PowHER Summit on April 15 this year will feature breakout sessions, a keynote speaker, a panel discussion and networking opportunities, as well as time to shop for products by Black women-owned small businesses. Organizers are expecting 300 people to attend.

Topics discussed throughout the event will include establishing wealth, staying healthy and work-life balance.

This year, LadyLike is hosting an additional event on April 14 from 5 to 7 p.m., the evening before the summit, that’s open to everybody in the community who wants to learn about allyship and network with Black women.

The Friday event will include a panel discussion featuring community leaders Helena Young, Nyra Bottley, Tiara Mays, Bridget Cravens-Neely and Teree Caldwell-Johnson, who will talk candidly about their experiences as Black women, as well as opportunities for shopping, White said.

Tickets for the LadyLike PowHER Summit start at $50. Tickets for the LadyLike Ally event are donation-based.

Be fearless with us
At its core, Fearless exists to help empower Iowa women to succeed in work and life. We believe that everyone has a story to share and that we cannot progress as a society unless we know about one another. We share stories through featuring women in our reporting, featuring guest contributions and speakers at our events.

We are always looking for new stories to share and people to feature. Get in touch with us!

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