Escape

Meet Our Team

Becky Smith (She/Her/Hers) is the Executive Director of Iowa Safe Schools. She has spent most of her career in direct service of LGBTQ youth across Iowa and is excited to be stepping back into the work that Iowa Safe Schools is doing statewide.

Becky holds both her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in social work, with an emphasis in cultural competency when working with marginalized populations, as well as grassroots organizing. She is inspired by the incredible work being done by young people across the state in GSAs and QSOs. Becky is especially interested in helping students and young people use their voice to create positive change in their communities through youth activism and advocacy efforts.

When not connecting with community partners or supporting the work of the team at Iowa Safe Schools, Becky spends her time liking photos of cats on Instagram and sipping on cold brew coffee from Starbucks.

To connect with Becky, please send an email to becky@iowasafeschools.org.

 

Damian J. Thompson (He, Him, His) is the Director of Public Policy & Communications at Iowa Safe Schools. Before Damian joined our team, he worked at the Office of the Governor, where he oversaw constituent outreach and planned special events. Previously, Damian worked at a bipartisan public relations and lobbying firm in Des Moines. He graduated cum laude from Drake University in 2017 with his Bachelor of Arts in Law, Politics & Society. While a student at Drake University, Damian was politically active, interning with Iowa Congressman David Young as well as at the Harkin Institute for Public Policy & Citizen Engagement.

In his free time, Damian enjoys collecting antiques, watching classic films, listening to vinyl records, and avoiding hot beverages.

To connect with Damian, please send an email to damian@iowasafeschools.org.

 

Jordan Mix (they/them) is the Director of Educational Programming at Iowa Safe Schools. They graduated from Drake University in 2016 with degrees in Law, Politics, and Society; Sociology; and Women and Gender Studies. While at Drake they were the president of Drake’s LGBTQ organization, Rainbow Union, helped establish the first all-gender bathroom on campus, and collaborated heavily in writing Drake’s Transgender Inclusion Statement. Jordan also completed their graduate studies in Gender and Sexuality Studies at the University of North Carolina Charlotte.

In 2019, Jordan was the head curator of a project called Breathe, Learn, Act — the first ever virtual care package for parents and loved ones of transgender and non-binary kids. Jordan joined the Iowa Safe Schools team in March of 2020, where they work with K-12 educators to develop LGBTQ-Inclusive curriculum, facilitate an online academy for Iowa’s K-12 educators, and lead training sessions for students, educators, and other community members.

When they’re not working, you can find Jordan hiking with their wife, cheering on the U.S. Women’s National Soccer Team with their cat, and honing their home barista skills.

To connect with Jordan, please send an email to jordan@iowasafeschools.org.

 

Mark Turnage (He, Him, His) is the Registrar & Office Manager for Iowa Safe Schools. He coordinates everything, from transcripts to technical support for participants of the Safe Schools Academy, to registration for the annual Governor’s Conference on LGBTQ Youth. Mark graduated from the University of Northern Iowa and has been involved in community events and advocacy-related fundraising since moving to Des Moines in 2011.

The son of two teachers, Mark’s experience in both education and empowering youth expression includes three years as Pleasantville High School Fall Play Director, providing audio/technical support to high school entertainment and athletic programs, and partnering with local LGBTQ organizations and venues to promote the work of Iowa Safe Schools.

You can always find Mark at the midnight premiere of the latest Batman film, curating his comic book collection, playing the latest Metal Gear videogame, indulging his inner film geek, or working on writing the next great Batman story.

To connect with Mark, please send an email to mark@iowasafeschools.org, or call 515-381-0588.

 

 

Dana Van Renterghem (She/Her/Hers) joins the Iowa Safe Schools team as the Parent & Family Coordinator. Dana graduated from Central College with a bachelor’s degree in sociology, and a minor in communication studies.

Since graduation, she has spent most of her career working with at-risk youth in a multitude of roles. Dana has provided direct care to teenagers in multiple residential settings, supported families in reunification and permanency efforts while involved with the Department of Human Services, and advocated for LGBTQ youth in a previous role as GSA Coordinator with Iowa Safe Schools. She has a passion for helping youth grow as individuals while reconnecting with loved ones who have been estranged. Dana strongly believes in the power of human relationships and empathy, and finds joy in seeing others reach their full potential. 

Dana is currently enrolled at the University of Denver and has begun the journey of earning her MSW. In her spare time, Dana enjoys nothing more than being an aunt to her nieces and nephews. When she isn’t with her family or friends, Dana can be found at the gym, re-watching shows from her childhood, or enjoying the outdoors.

To connect with Dana, please send an email to dana@iowasafeschools.org.

 

Board of Directors

Jake Auliff, President

Miriam Woods, Vice President

Jan Reinicke, Treasurer

Dr. Patti Woodward-Young

Zac Bales-Henry

Harold DeLaria