Iowa Ideas 2018
September 20 - 21 | Cedar Rapids

Iowa Ideas is a nonpartisan, statewide learning experience designed to explore the key questions and big ideas that will shape the future of Iowa.

Created by The Gazette, Iowa Ideas consists of in-depth, solutions-focused journalism and events. Engaged citizens, community advocates and industry leaders are invited to join us.

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Sneak peek: Iowa Ideas 2018 conference schedule preview

    A scene from the 2017 Iowa Ideas conference at the DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Cedar Rapids Convention Complex on Thursday, Sept. 21, 2017. (Liz Martin/The Gazette)
    Jun 6, 2018 at 5:05 pm

    Iowa Ideas is for those who want to have a voice in shaping the future of our state. 

    During a day and a half of learning together, attendees will hear a variety of perspectives from Iowa and beyond, take in a keynote luncheon and have plenty of opportunities to network. Find full conference details here.

    Below is just a sampling of what attendees can learn at Iowa Ideas 2018. Many more sessions will be announced soon. 
    Jump to: AgricultureEducationEnergy & EnvironmentHealth CareNext Gen. SummitHuman & Social ServicesPolicyRegional DevelopmentWorkforce


    Responsible animal production: 
    Pigs now outnumber people seven to one in Iowa, with nearly 8,000 medium- and large-scale producers active in the state. A look at traditional and new approaches to livestock management, possible technological solutions and remaining questions. 

    Nutrition facts: Food labeling and healthy consumer choices: 
    Some of the certifications, emblems and labels we see on supermarket shelves are backed up by science and standards, while others are little more than feel-good marketing campaigns. We'll hear from experts who can separate nutritional fact from fiction, discuss the impacts on producers and help consumers make informed decisions. 

    From Iowa to the world: the agricultural supply chain: 
    Agricultural products manufactured, grown and raised in Iowa travel around the world. From international companies to little-known success stories, we'll look at how far-reaching Iowa's agricultural footprint truly is. 

    Additional sessions to be announced - Back to top - Tickets >


    Closing achievement gaps in Iowa: 
    From pre-k to college, disparities in educational outcomes remain along racial and socioeconomic lines. For example, only 47.6 percent of Iowa's K-12 students dealing with disability, poverty or language learning were proficient in reading and math in 2017. How can we close achievement gaps for good?

    School and campus safety: 
    February's mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School reignited a debate about school safety, both nationally and in Iowa. Proposals have ranged from requiring all schools to have a security plan to increasing awareness to arming educators. What really works to keep students safe?

    Choice in education: What's the right mix? 
    Proponents say school choice measures like vouchers give families more options to fit a child's educational needs, while critics say these programs drain funds from public schools, which are already struggling financially. What measures might the Iowa legislature take up next, and what would their impacts be?  

    Additional sessions to be announced - Back to top - Tickets >

    Energy & Environment:

    Energy & Environment track sponsored by ITC.

    Water quality: Next steps: 
    When Gov. Kim Reynolds signed water quality legislation earlier this year, some hailed it as a legislative landmark, while others said the provisions don't go far enough. What's next for water quality in Iowa? How can the public and private sectors work together to make improvements? And what can Iowa learn from other states? 

    Will Iowa have enough drinking water? 
    While Iowa has yet to see severe droughts like other parts of the country, aquifers — including the Jordan aquifer, which lies under about 80 percent of Iowa — are being depleted faster than they can refill. We'll look at the data and what can be done to address aquifer health. 

    Ethanol, biofuels and the Renewable Fuel Standard debate: 
    As the debate over traditional and renewable fuel sources continues at the national level, how are Iowans responding to uncertainty over the Renewable Fuel Standard? We'll hear from policymakers and advocates with multiple perspectives to share.

    Additional sessions to be announced - Back to top - Tickets >

    Health Care:

    Health care workforce challenges and solutions: 
    As Iowa's population ages and chronic conditions increase, demand for physicians, nurses and home health aid workers will only continue to grow. From loan repayment programs to training programs to legislative actions, what works to attract and retain workers? And how do these issues play out in rural areas?

    Perspectives from health care leaders: 
    A Q+A session with leaders of some of Iowa's largest health institutions and beyond. What big ideas are on their minds, and how are they preparing for the changes ahead?  

    Slipping through the cracks: 
    A look at the demographics of care. What patterns and opportunities exist when considering varying physical and psychological needs across race, gender, ethnicity and beyond? A look at access to care, the advocacy groups leading the way, and how health care providers can work together to close the gaps.
    *This session is offered as part of Diversity Forum 2018

    Additional sessions to be announced - Back to top - Tickets >

    Next Gen. Summit:

    Next Gen. Summit track sponsored by Van Meter, produced in collaboration with ImpactCR and EPIC. Read more about Next Gen. Summit here > 

    Q+A: Young professional leaders of Iowa: 
    A look at issues impacting young professionals from across the state. Local YP chapter leaders will explore issues and possible solutions. 

    How to bring new ideas to life: 
    It takes persuasion, bravery and grit to create something new — but the results can be both personally and professionally enriching. This session will look at the skills needed for generating, communicating and leading your new idea.

    Communication skills for negotiations and collaborations: 
    What are the benefits to having a negotiating plan? How do you communicate effectively across varied perspectives or priorities? Topics of negotiation will cover group work, collaborations and individual development.

    Beyond career success: Building a meaningful life: 
    Hear sage advice from leaders who have made a difference in their communities, in addition to reaching the top echelons of Iowa's leading companies. What drives them to make a difference, and how did they optimize their careers for maximum impact?

    What we think, what we know: Life in Iowa: 
    We all know living in a small state can come with both unique benefits and quirky challenges. This session will dig into the issues YPs care about with a light-hearted format. 

    Zachary Mannheimer, Next Gen. Summit 2018 keynote:
    After moving to Iowa, Zachary Mannheimer quickly became immersed in creative placemaking. He'll share his story, including the benefits of working in a city like Des Moines, and his vision for keeping all of Iowa (yes, even rural Iowa) vibrant.

    Workshop: Finding your voice, designing our future: Attendees will be asked to consider their own strengths in the context of larger community goals. We will reflect on everything learned during Iowa Ideas 2018 and put young professionals in the driver's seat for imagining our shared future. 

    Back to top - Tickets >

    Human & Social Services:

    Protecting Iowa's kids: 
    Some of Iowa's most vulnerable children — those depending on foster care and state services — have suffered high-profile deaths in recent years.What can state agencies, schools, law enforcement and neighbors do to protect kids? 

    Diversity in criminal justice reform:
    From first contact to re-entry, how do race, sexuality, gender identity, faith, mental health and socio-economic status impact the criminal justice system? And how can we reform the system to ensure that justice truly is served? 

    Collective Impact and innovation: 
    Sometimes the whole truly is greater than the sum of its parts. How can nonprofits work together to achieve multiplier effects? Hear examples of innovative solutions, unexpected partnerships and collaborations that made a difference.

    ACES and being ready to learn: 
    What do children need in the first few years of life to succeed in school and beyond? Learn about the long-term impacts of early childhood stressors on the brain, trauma-informed approaches and how educators can make a difference.

    Effective re-entry programs and societal impact:
    What elements can help incarcerated individuals prepare for life outside the system? Representatives from reform organizations will share best practice re-entry programs and the issues addressed in the journey of life outside. Topics of race, sexuality, gender-identity, socio-economic status and more will be addressed in discussion of effective environments and re-entry programs for all.
    *This session is offered as part of Diversity Forum 2018

    Additional sessions to be announced - Back to top - Tickets >


    Do unions still matter? 
    A year after sweeping changes to Iowa's collective bargaining law, some are celebrating savings to the state and others are decrying increased costs to public sector workers. But at the same time, other groups (like freelancers) are turning to unionization, and union endorsements are still prized in elections. A look at the role of unions in the 21st century.

    Welcome home: immigrants and refugees:
    A look at the role immigrants and refugees play in Iowa, and the evolving needs of these populations. What's working, what's not, and what impact will current policy debates have on individuals and our state as a whole? 
    *This session is offered as part of Diversity Forum 2018 

    Q+A with state leaders: 
    Hear directly from the leaders who are shaping Iowa's policies.

    Iowa after #metoo: 
    From Kirsten Anderson to Dave Jamison, Iowa's political landscape has been moved by its own wave of women standing up against sexual harassment. How are the impacts of #metoo rippling through the statehouse and beyond? And will the sharing of stories lead to substantive policy changes?

    Additional sessions to be announced - Back to top - Tickets >

    Regional Development:

    Smart Cities: 
    Technology can promise increased safety, but also new challenges, when applied to public spaces. Are Iowa's cities and towns ready to adapt? A look at the potential implications of autonomous vehicles, big data, smarter stormwater management and more.

    Building inclusive, connected communities:
    How can communities develop a regional strategy and pursue economic development goals with diversity and inclusion in mind? The role of neighborhoods, housing, schools and more in maintaining a unique identity while building for the future. 
    *This session is offered as part of Diversity Forum 2018

    Affordable housing and neighborhood development:
    From rural areas making outlandish offers (free land, anyone?) to core neighborhoods and the "missing middle," access to housing is a major issue in many communities. Affordable housing is key to attracting new residents, and new projects can even revive run-down neighborhoods. We'll hear best practices and success stories.

    The role of transportation in economic vitality: 
    As Iowa faces mounting infrastructure needs and an uncertain federal funding landscape, how can we strike a balance between investing in economic development byways and re-building crumbling roads and bridges?

    Additional sessions to be announced - Back to top - Tickets >


    Unexpected workforce successes: 
    From hiring the formerly incarcerated to welcoming refugees in the workplace, some Iowa companies have been able to fill their talent pipelines with unconventional tactics. We'll hear their stories, plus actionable advice you should know if your company is considering following a similar path.

    The value of diversity and inclusion: 
    The ROI of D&I. Hear real stories from Iowa employers about the impact of setting up and implementing D&I programs and the impact they can have on a region. What roles should employers play, and what opportunities can exist for employees? And how to set the culture and create an atmosphere where inclusion is a way of life, not an exception. 
    *This session is offered as part of Diversity Forum 2018

    Benefits, recruiting and retaining top talent: 
    Competition for top talent can be fierce in a state with low unemployment and perpetual "brain drain" of college grads. Some companies have responded by offering souped-up benefits packages, including things like tuition reimbursement, pet insurance or unlimited PTO. Hear case studies from some of Iowa's top workplaces.

    Additional sessions to be announced - Back to top 


    Register today

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    Stay Up-To-Date

    Sign up for any combination of updates below.

    Get general updates on the Iowa Ideas project and track-specific newsletters and opportunities to connect.

    Your Email *
    General Updates
    Energy & Environment
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    Health Care
    Human & Social Services
    Regional Development
    Terms: I am over 13 years old and agree to the Terms of Service and Privacy Policy