Board Of Directors
- Jan Reinicke, President
- Miriam Woods, Vice-President
- Dr. Bill Morain, Secretary
- Jake Auliff, Treasurer
- Dr. Patti Woodward-Young
- Zac Bales-Henry
- Hugo Mora
- Tony Khuth
- Harold DeLaria
Nate Monson (He, Him, His) serves as Executive Director of Iowa Safe Schools – a position he has held since graduating college in 2007, making him one of the longest serving and youngest Executive Directors of an LGBTQ organization in the country. Under Nate’s leadership, Iowa Safe Schools has grown exponentially to one of the largest LGBTQ organizations in the nation.
Nate’s commitment to positively impact the lives of others is also reflected in his service to the community on a variety of boards and commissions. In 2010, Nate was appointed to the Iowa Department of Human Right’s Board by Governor Chet Culver. Nate has won several awards for his work including the 2017 Distinguished Alumni Rising Star Award from Clarke University, the 2018 Pride Person of the Year from Capital City Pride, and received the distinction of being named a 2020 Champion of Pride by The Advocate.
Nate is a graduate of Clarke University where he received a B.A. in History. He is a sought after speaker on school culture, nonprofit management, and LGBTQ issues around the country serving as a keynote speaker for conferences, colleges, and corporations. Nate recently spoke for a Tedx Talk titled the Post-Modern Queer Youth Experience.
Nate and his best-dog friend Lucy live in Des Moines.
Mark Turnage (He, Him, His) is the Registrar and Office Manager for Iowa Safe Schools, where he provides help with transcripts, technical support for participants of the Safe Schools Academy, registration for the annual Iowa Governor’s Conference, and coordinating local community fundraising events since 2014. Mark graduated from the University of Northern Iowa in 2008 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 LGBT 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 contact Mark click here or call 515-381-0588
Damian J. Thompson (He, Him, His) is the Director of Public Policy at Iowa Safe Schools. Damian joins our team from the Office of the Governor, where he oversaw constituent outreach and planned special events. Before his tenure at the Office of the Governor, 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 contact Damian click here or call 515-238-1991
Jordan Mix (they/them) is the Deputy Director of Education at Iowa Safe Schools. Jordan graduated from Drake University in 2016 with a bachelor’s degree in law, politics, and society, and a minor in sociology. They also hold a graduate certificate in gender and sexuality studies from the University of North Carolina Charlotte.
While at Drake, Jordan started Iowa’s first prom for LGBTQ high school students, The Other Prom, which has been held annually since 2014. They also took the lead in writing Drake University’s Transgender Inclusion Statement, and championed establishing gender neutral bathrooms on campus. Jordan approaches their work with a listening ear and an engaged heart. Their goal is to empower educators to best serve all students by examining how gender operates in all of our lives and understanding the unique needs of LGBTQ youth.
When they’re not working, you can find Jordan hiking with their wife, cheering on the U.S. women’s national soccer team, and honing their home barista skills.
Kaylyn Fisher (She, Her, Hers) is the GSA Coordinator at Iowa Safe Schools. She is a graduate of Simpson College and holds a B.A. in Health Services Leadership, with minors in Management and Political Science. A lifelong Iowan, she loves being active in her community. While at Simpson she advocated for inclusive changes to campus residence facilities, coordinated Simpson PRIDE’s annual drag show featuring local and student participants, and helped establish the first annual Lavender Ceremony. Kaylyn’s time at Simpson was also spent interning on the Elizabeth Warren presidential campaign. Her goal is to combine her passion for advocacy and community involvement to empower students in Iowa on their own journeys. Kaylyn enjoys taking time to read a good book, volunteering, and traveling with family and friends. Her favorite trips so far have been to Costa Rica and Arches National Park in Utah.
Luke Miller (He, Him, His) is the Queer Campus Coordinator at Iowa Safe Schools. He graduated in 2020 from Drake University with a bachelor’s degree in psychology. At Drake, Luke focused on revitalizing the queer student organization, negotiating for increasingly larger budgets in a time of budget cuts. He also worked to strengthen the position of other multicultural organizations through collaborative fundraisers and protests.
As a part of his studies, Luke was a part of a social psychology research lab that focused applied research in the fields of objectification and stereotyping. He was awarded the Judith L. Allen award by the Drake psychology department for his service activities. Luke’s experiences as a leader in college translate to a passion for helping students and working with them to get the resources they need.
You can usually find Luke on the couch playing video games or watching movies if he is not lost and miles away from his home on a walk.
Brett Burk (He, Him, His) is the Community Engagement Manager at Iowa Safe Schools. In past roles, Brett has served communities as an ESL teacher, a caretaker for disabled adults, and a refugee community engagement professional.
Brett became active in LGBTQ advocacy in 2011, working at the LGBTQ Resource Center at the University of Iowa. There, he completed coursework in Linguistics and TESL along with a Certificate in Writing, specializing in poetry and grant writing. After earning his bachelor’s degree, he had the incredible opportunity to teach English and study Mandarin in Taiwan with a Fulbright U.S. Student Award. Three years later, Brett returned to Iowa, where he completed an AmeriCorps term at EMBARC (Ethnic Minorities of Burma Advocacy and Resource Center) and later worked as a Communications and Development Manager.
Brett volunteers as an LGBTQ advisory council member for Des Moines Human and Civil Rights Commission, vice chair of his local neighborhood association, and at other LGBTQ organizations in Des Moines. He is a reader, runner, and coffee shop enthusiast.
Madi Brauer (They, Them, Their) is the GSA Coordinator at Iowa Safe Schools. They graduated from Luther College in 2019.
Beyond their academic studies, they were involved in dance and ultimate frisbee. They love people and community interaction, and look forward to working with GSAs and other community groups.
Madi also enjoys getting outside and biking, walking, or dancing. They embrace their love for food by cooking and trying new recipes.
Leo Peterson (He, Him, His) is the Director of Youth Engagement at Iowa Safe Schools, where he oversees Gay-Straight Alliance and Queer Campus programming. As a licensed teacher, lifelong learner, and ardent advocate for tomorrow’s leaders, Leo’s commitment to education and youth development defines his passion and career.
Leo has served as youth engagement program coordinator for North Liberty, Iowa; associate for the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Program at the University of Iowa; and as an instructor and mentor for Eastern Iowa Community College. In all of his work, Leo believes that teaching (inside and outside of the classroom) must be culturally relevant, multicultural, affirming, restorative, antiracist, and inclusive. Leo has an MA in Higher Education and Student Affairs and a BA with majors in Spanish, African-American Studies, and Journalism and Mass Communications from the University of Iowa.
Outside of fighting for LGBTQ causes, he enjoys spicy food (the hotter the better), aimless walks, flowers, and just about anything Bravo.
To contact Leo click here or call 515-381-0588
Lucy Monson (She, Her, Hers) is the Director of Human Relations at Iowa Safe Schools. Lucy received xer Paw.hD from Bark University in 2016, majoring in Barks & Sciences, and is committed to the pawformance of every staff member on the Iowa Safe Schools team. Lucy hopes to bring fresh breath to the organization, and take a bite out of homophobia and transphobia across the state.
To contact Lucy click here or call 515-381-0588