Speaker Date Topic
Cindy Axne Oct 19, 2018 7:00 AM
Candidate for Congress
Candidate for Congress

Cindy Axne is an Iowan, a small business owner, parent and community activist – and now a candidate for Congress from Iowa’s 3rd District.

A fifth-generation Iowan, Cindy grew up in a tight-knit family on the south side of Des Moines. Cindy’s childhood included weekends and summers spent on her maternal grandparents’ farm in Warren County, 4-H activities, and playing 6-on-6 basketball for the Valley High Tigers. Her parents raised Cindy and her sisters to speak their minds and not be afraid to take on tough fights – even when it was uncomfortable. That is the principle that has defined Cindy’s adult life – from working to keep state government accountable to the people it serves, to advocating for all-day kindergarten for every child in West Des Moines and fighting to stop a local government plan to use state park land and private property to build an unnecessary new road.

Following her graduation from the University of Iowa, Cindy worked in strategic planning and leadership development for the Tribune Company in Chicago and earned an MBA from the Kellogg School at Northwestern University. She and her husband John later moved to Wisconsin, where they started their small business. When their sons were 3 and 1, Cindy and John moved back to Iowa to raise their family in her home town.

In 2007, when her older son started kindergarten, Cindy learned that full-day kindergarten was not available to every child in West Des Moines public schools, with eligibility determined by a lottery. Cindy was outraged at the inequity of the system and concerned that students were being shortchanged. She spent the following academic year advocating and negotiating with principals, the school board and the superintendent. After nearly a year, her efforts paid off and full-day kindergarten was made available to all students in the district.

From 2005 to 2014, Cindy worked for the State of Iowa, helping over twenty different state agencies deliver government services more effectively and efficiently for taxpayers. Since then, she has focused on growing the digital design firm she runs with her husband John.

Cindy is active in her church, Sacred Heart Catholic Church, and serves as a mentor with the John Pappajohn Entrepreneurial Center at the University of Iowa. She lives in West Des Moines with John and their teenage sons, Gunnar and Rafe.

Clive Rainey Oct 26, 2018 7:00 AM
Habitat for Humanity's First Volunteer
Habitat for Humanity's First Volunteer

When Clive Rainey began culling his home and office libraries in preparation for retirement, colleagues soon began joking that he had an “arclive” worth of Habitat for Humanity history—materials that even other veteran employees had forgotten or never seen.

With every book or newsletter or pamphlet he passed along to co-workers or to the official archives of the organization, he would share an anecdote or a memory or a suggestion, helping even the newest employees understand what has made him an icon in the Habitat family. 

It is not his unmatched seniority or his status as Habitat’s very first volunteer that has endeared him to so many, but his passion for the work and his stories about the work. While many enthusiasms fade with time, Clive’s fervor for the mission of eliminating poverty housing has only grown. So, too, has his commitment to igniting that passion in others.

Often, he has spent vacations doing Habitat work. He spends many weekends quietly helping to build more Habitat homes. And he will spend his retirement continuing to do the same.

Whether serving as Habitat’s first Africa director, or speaking to audiences around the United States as he has done for the last several years, Rainey’s commitment to the work has remained as fresh as it was when he became the first person to join Habitat for Humanity International co-founders Millard and Linda Fuller in full-time work for the new organization. 

Vanessa McNeal, Director of Gridshock Documentary Nov 09, 2018 7:00 AM
Gridshock Documentary: Human Trafficking in Iowa
Gridshock Documentary: Human Trafficking in Iowa

BIO:  Vanessa McNeal, Director of Gridshock Documentary

Vanessa McNeal MSW, is an award winning documentary filmmaker, national speaker, and 2x TEDx speaker.  She speaks nationally on how to confront adversity with grace using her personal story as a vehicle to inspire and empower others.  She is known for her investment and wisdom in topics that are often difficult to talk about.  Her message has resonated with audiences around the world through the influential topics of overcoming adversity, sexual violence, social change, leadership and empowerment.

At an early age, Vanessa experienced child sexual abuse and neglict.  Due to the neglect, she wasn't taken to school regularly, so she was placed in a remedial class.  She spent time in foster care before she was raised by her grandparents.  At age 15, Vanessa was sexually assaulted at a college preparatory program and overcame the many faces of rape culture. Vanessa was the first in her family to graduate high school and went on to pursue her Bachelor's degree at Iowa State University.  She received her Master's degree in Social Work at the University of Northern Iowa.

In 2017, Vanessa founded her production company McNeal Media with the goal of creating social change through the art of storytelling.  She is the Director of the internationally recognized documentary, "The Voiceless".  The film features the stories of male survivors of sexual violence.  She won "Best Director" for the documentary at the Newark International Film Festival.  At Indiefest she received Woman Filmmaker Award of Recognition.  She is currently directing "Gridshock", a documentary that investigates the flourishing sex trafficking industry in Iowa.

Vanessa won the 2017 YWCA "Woman of Tomorrow" award.  She was also honored with the 2018 STATEment maker award in the entrepreneurial sprit category.  She has also been featured in numerous publications, articles, and news broadcasts.



Mike Happe, CEO Nov 16, 2018 7:00 AM
The Winnebago Story
The Winnebago Story

WinnebagoIND_red no R





Mr. Happe was appointed to the position of President and Chief Executive Officer at Winnebago Industries in January 2016. Prior to that, Mr. Happe served as an Executive Officer and Group Vice President of Toro’s Residential and Contractor businesses. During his 19 years at Toro, he held a series of senior leadership positions across a variety of the company’s domestic and international divisions.

Last position 

Group Vice President, Residential & Contractor, The Toro Company


  • 25 years management experience
  • Strong track record of growing businesses
  • MBA, Carlson School, University of Minnesota
  • BS Journalism, University of Kansas


  • Vision
  • Enterprise strategy
  • Talent/culture development
Kris Saddoris - Vice President of Development Jan 18, 2019 7:00 AM
Hubbell Realty Company
Hubbell Realty Company

Kris Saddoris serves as Vice President of Development for Hubbell Realty Company, directing the Development division of Hubbell.  She provides strategic insight and planning for the division and works with developments ranging from multi-family housing, mixed use development, affordable housing, retail and industrial warehouses. Hubbell Realty currently has over one million square feet in approximately 1,000 units under development in Greater Des Moines, as well as Des Moines’ newest 75 acre urban neighborhood, Gray’s Station.  

She serves as Vice President of the Board of Directors for HOME, Inc., a local non-profit affordable housing developer and as Chair of the Downtown Economic Development Committee.  She is a member of ULI Iowa, CREW Iowa and was a national CREW Impact Award nominee.  Kris was named one of the “15 People to watch in 2016” by theDes Moines Registerand recognized as the 2016 Citizen of the Year by the Downtown Des Moines Chamber.  Ms. Saddoris holds both a BS and an MBA degree from Iowa State University.