3rd Annual Iowa Anti-Bullying Symposium

3rd Annual Iowa Anti-Bullying Symposium

WHEN: Friday, October 4th | 9:00pm – 3:00pm

WHERE: Iowa Events Center | 730 3rd St, Des Moines, IA 50309


HOTEL ACCOMMODATIONS: Comfort Inn Event Center | 929 3rd Street, Des Moines, IA 50309 | Click Here to Book Hotel Room

All students deserve a safe environment to learn and a supportive place to form friendships. Depression, social anxiety, loneliness, chronic absenteeism, and academic decline can all be experienced by victims of bullying. As such, sufficient bullying prevention, response, and remediation practices need to be established in our classrooms and schools to ensure all students are safe.

The mission of the 3rd Annual Iowa Anti-Bullying Symposium is to inform educators, counselors, and administrators about effective bullying remediation and intervention strategies to create safer and more welcoming school environments for all students. Starting with the basics of bullying behavior, the conference will dive into a how-to of implementing bullying interventions by looking at currently established programs throughout the state. Experts in the field will share their insights in advocating for all students, including those from marginalized and underrepresented populations, and the first-hand experiences utilizing best practices in their schools.

The 3nd Annual Iowa Anti-Bullying Symposium will take place on October 4, 2019, at the Iowa Events Center in Des Moines.


8:00-9:00am – Registration/Continental Breakfast
9:00-10:00am – Morning Keynote – Kirsten Anderson
10:00-10:15am – Break/Meet with Exhibitors
10:15-11:15am – Workshop Session #1
11:15-11:30am – Break/Meet with Exhibit
11:30-12:30am – Workshop Session #2
12:30-1:30pm – Lunch Keynote – Dr. Ryan Wise

1:30-1:45pm – Break/Meet with Exhibitors
1:45-2:45pm – Workshop Session #3
2:45-3:15pm        Closing Remarks

Keynote Speakers

Kirsten Anderson – Advocate and Founder of Equitas Solutions

Kirsten Anderson is a passionate communicator who found herself an unlikely advocate for those facing harassment in the workplace after she took a stand against her former employer: The State of Iowa. On May 17, 2013 she was fired from her job after five successful years as Communications Director for Iowa Senate Republicans.

Kirsten was fired seven hours after formally complaining about repeated harassment and retaliatory behavior by staff and lawmakers at the Iowa Statehouse. She sued the State of Iowa and Iowa Senate Republicans for wrongful termination, harassment, and retaliation and was awarded $2.2 million by a jury of her peers. This rare award sent a message to the Iowa statehouse that harassment, intimidation, and retaliation is not tolerated in the work place, especially where Iowa’s laws are made.

As #metoo takes the country by storm and empowers others to step forward, Kirsten is working to stand up for what’s right and support others who have experienced harassment in the workplace. She is determined to see all workplace harassment end in her lifetime through education, victim support, and continued dialogue. In order to ensure a safe working environment, Kirsten is advocating to end victim shaming, empower others, and start a conversation on the issue. Harassment doesn’t simply happen to women and everyone deserves to work at a place free of offensive and retaliatory behavior.

Kirsten has a degree in broadcast journalism from Northwest Missouri State University. Her professional experience includes running a non-profit, working as a communication coach and trainer, and managing an award-winning professional development program. She is a 2008 Greater Des Moines Leadership Institute graduate and former member of the Leadership Institute’s Board of Governors. She was recently named Metro Woman of the Year and is currently President of the local chapter of the Association of Women in Communications and owns Equitas Solutions, a full-time harassment-free workplace consultancy. In her free time enjoys sharing the hilarious random things her nine-year-old son says and enjoying live music with her husband.


Dr. Ryan Wise – Director of the Iowa Department of Education

Dr. Ryan Wise was appointed Director of the Iowa Department of Education by Governor Terry Branstad in July 2015 and was reappointed by Governor Kim Reynolds in January 2019.  In September 2017 he was named Policy Leader of the Year by the National Association of State Boards of Educations. He is a South Dakota native and has worked in education at the local, state, national and international levels.

Wise began his career as a high school history teacher in Mississippi and Nebraska before moving to his home state of South Dakota to launch and lead Teach for America on the Rosebud and Pine Ridge Reservations. Wise also worked to eliminate educational inequity around the world as one of the founding staff members of Teach for All, a global network of education entrepreneurs.

Wise earned a doctorate in education leadership from the Harvard Graduate School of Education, a master’s degree in public administration from the University of Nebraska at Omaha, and a bachelor’s degree in history from Creighton University.

Would like to submit a presentation proposal, click here!

Workshop Sessions:

Out of the Classroom: Navigating Social Media and Cyberbullying

Dr. Rachel Young – University of Iowa

With the significant prevalence of smartphones and electronic devices, acts of bullying have expanded outside of the classroom through social. In this session, participants will reflect on current research analyzing how parents perceive the role of cyberbullying in the lives of their students. Participants will have time to discuss the results of the study and its implications in their schools and classrooms.

Safe Schools Law: Developing Anti-Bullying Policies and Procedures in Your Schools

Nicole Proesch – Attorney, Iowa Department of Education

Iowa Code provides detailed guidance for a school district to enforce bullying prevention, intervention, and remediation best practices. Legal experts will be present to provide participants with the tools they need to recognize and address bullying as defined by state law.

Legal Responses to Bullying: Recent Trends in the Classroom and the Courtroom

Daniel Van Sant – Staff Attorney, Disability Rights Iowa

Attendees will learn about legal obligations when responding to incidents of bullying as well as how courts have been ruling on bullying cases.

Schoolwide Pride Guide: Advancing Bullying Prevention through Children’s Books

Mark Busch – Director of Education, Iowa Safe Schools

While a majority of educators feel confident in addressing acts of bullying in the classroom, they feel ill-equipped to frame anti-bullying conversations around important social justice issues, particularly those concerning LGBTQ students. In this session, a professional development specialist will share lesson plans that provide elementary educators an opportunity to discuss bullying prevention and LGBTQ issues in the classroom. Participants will have the time to reflect on their own teaching and gain access to dynamic classroom resources.

That’s A Red Card: Bullying in the Extracurricular Environment

Dana Van Renterghem – GSA Coordinator, Iowa Safe Schools

Bullying can occur both inside and outside the classroom, and one of the major sources of reported incidents of bullying occurs during extracurricular activities. In this session, participants will learn how to create a safe and supportive team environment. Participants will learn about the protections students have when involved in extracurricular activities, and best practices and resources for bullying intervention and prevention will be shared.

Bullying in the Workplace: Dispute Resolution Between Educators

Thomas Mayes – Attorney, Iowa Department of Education

Significant progress has been made to minimize acts of bullying between students in the classroom, but what happens when it happens between adults. In this workshop, participants will analyze acts of bullying between teachers, administrators, and other educators. Participants will walk away with the tools and resources they need to prevent and address educational disputes.

Prevention through Connection

John Eyerly – Superintendent, George-Little Rock Schools

About one in 10 Iowa students believe there is no adult at school they feel comfortable turning to, which can increase the likelihood of student violence, self-harm, and bullying. In this session, participants will learn low-cost strategies for bullying prevention through fostering a positive student-teacher school climate.

Intervention and Remediation through Healing Circles

Dee Martin – “Let’s Talk” Mediator/Circle Keeper, AMOS “Let’s Talk”

The aim of restorative justice is to heal the harm done by the offender and rehabilitate the offender to avoid future bullying harm. In this session, participants will learn how to integrate healing circles and intentional conversations into their bullying intervention and remediation plans to decrease the instances of bullying. A healing circle facilitator from Iowa will be present to answer any questions participants may have.

Bullying and the Bully Pulpit: How to Engage Students in Productive Political Discourse

Damian Thompson – Public Policy Manager, Iowa Safe Schools

In an increasingly partisan environment, students can become victims of bullying as a result of their political beliefs, party affiliations, or candidate supports. While we want to engage our students in relevant political discourse in the classroom, it can often shift into polarizing arguments that can be difficult to facilitate or acts of bullying. In this session, the public policy manager for Iowa Safe Schools will share about the current political climate and how it is shaping political conversations in our classrooms. Participants will be given resources to best facilitate civil discourse and political conversations in their classrooms.

Roughly 200 educators and community advocates from across the state are expected to attend this year’s conference. Are you interested in exhibiting at the 3rd Annual Iowa Anti-Bullying Symposium? Click here to register as an exhibitor.