Iowa women you should get to know this International Women's Day

Newly elected Coralville City Council member Meghann Foster (from left) takes the oath of office Jan. 9 from City Attorney Kevin Olson during a City Council meeting. The Coralville councils is one of five in Johnson County that has a majority of women. (Stephen Mally/The Gazette)
Newly elected Coralville City Council member Meghann Foster (from left) takes the oath of office Jan. 9 from City Attorney Kevin Olson during a City Council meeting. The Coralville councils is one of five in Johnson County that has a majority of women. (Stephen Mally/The Gazette)

The Gazette has featured countless stories about women making an impact in Iowa in the past. On this International Women's Day we take a look back at some of the most recent examples.

In politics


Ashley VanornyNewcomer Ashley Vanorny ousted three-term incumbent Justin Shields in December’s runoff election for the Cedar Rapids City Council District 5 seat. 

Vanorny, 32, captured more than 59 percent of the vote, compared with the roughly 38 percent that Shields, 75, received, according to unofficial results from the Linn County Auditor’s Office.

Vanorny, an information technology analyst, led in each of the southern district’s precincts and among early voters. Read more about her...

Mazahir SalihSalih, who worked as a community organizer with the Center for Worker Justice, expressed interested during the campaign in improving the city’s transit system, especially for low-income residents. The public transportation system currently offers no service on Sundays with hourly stops on weekdays on most routes.

“I think low-wage workers, they need transportation on Sunday, after hours like second shift,” said Salih, who could not be reached for comment by deadline on Tuesday for this story. “While I talk to people in this community, some people have great ideas but they cannot participate on, like, City Council meetings, school board meetings because transportation ends early in some parts of the city.” Read more about her...

Here's more about Iowa women in politics:

From councils to Congress, onrush of women seeking officeOn the local level, more women in 2017 ran for and got elected to Johnson County’s city councils than in at least the four previous election cycles. On the national level, there are far more women running for Congress this year than since at least 2012. 

“What me and my colleagues across the country think is that this is sort of another tsunami of women not only being interested in running for office, but voters being interested in electing women,” said Dianne Bystrom, director of the Carrie Chapman Catt Center for Women and Politics at Iowa State University. Read more...

In the community

Nicki RossAs the executive director of a food rescue organization. Nicki Ross faces challenges at work aren’t like those others have.

For her, problems mean getting 8,000 pounds of yogurt distributed to food pantries and other organizations in just four days’ time.

“We call it ‘selling.’ You know, driving around with a truck full of yogurt or whatever the thing is and stopping at all your recipients and saying, ‘You really want some of this don’t you?’” Ross said, adding that her organization did end up getting all that yogurt distributed. Read more about her...

Three local women who are making an impactThere is a “war for talent” in Iowa that makes this a good time to support leadership and growth opportunities for women in the workplace and in the community, says Jo Miller, chief executive of the Be Leaderly career strategy firm.

The Cedar Rapids firm helps employees and companies around the world foster leadership for women through training, conferences and consulting.

Only 15 states have a larger gender pay gap than Iowa — where median earnings of full-time, year-round female workers in 2015 were 77 percent of similar male earnings, according to an American Association of University Women review of U.S. Census data.

Moreover, only about 6 percent of Iowa’s for-profit companies had women in chief executive officer roles, including only three female CEOs in 25 of the largest employers in the Corridor, a Gazette review showedRead more...

At their jobs

Stacia Dougherty- Stacia Dougherty is the executive chef at Lion Bridge Brewing Company in the Czech Village in southwest Cedar Rapids. Read more about her...

Monica Nieves- Monica Nieves, director of special events for the Iowa City/Coralville Area Convention & Visitors Bureau, is serving as race director for Run CRANDIC.

She is working closely with the Cedar Rapids Metro Economic Alliance, Corridor Running Club and GO Cedar Rapids to bring the inaugural race weekend to fruition. Read more about her...

Young Iowa farmers learning lay of the land- Almost two-thirds of U.S. farmland is managed by people 55 or older, according to the coalition’s report. However, over the next five years, almost 100 million acres of that farmland are expected to change ownership and need a new farmer to take over, according to the National Agricultural Statistics Service.

This situation is priming the country for more new, young farmers to take over. These farmers under 35 are mostly women, highly educated and likely be sustainable or organic farmers, according to the report. Read more...

In sports

Emily MaxwellAn Iowa City native’s first Iditarod sled dog race is underway in Alaska while her family is posting updates of her journey on Facebook.

On Sunday, Emily Maxwell, 33, began her first roughly 1,000-mile Iditarod, an annual race from Anchorage to Nome, Alaska. Throughout the journey. her mom, Mary Maxwell, plans to post updates of Team Max the Iowa City 2 Nome Facebook page.


“We’re nervous and a bit anxious about Emily doing this race, but she is so happy and excited that we’re feeling her enthusiasm,” Mary Maxwell said in an email. “I’ll be watching the online tracker nearly continuously.” Read more about her...

Deb Carneol and Sarah Lacina- Deb Carneol of North Liberty and Sarah Lacina of Marion were among 50 people from around the world who completed this year’s World Marathon Challenge. They ran a marathon each day for seven days on seven continents, going from Antarctica to Africa to Australia to Asia to Europe to South America to Monday’s finale in Miami Beach, Fla.

Running with a sore knee she said was “the size of a softball” and a flaring Achilles tendon, Lacina nonetheless had her fastest 26.2-mile run of the seven Monday, finishing in 4 hours, 23 minutes and 45 seconds. Read more about them...

To read about more Iowa women in sports click here.

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