Meet the YNPN Steering Committee

Here’s a look at the individuals who’ve joined forces to launch the Des Moines chapter of YNPN. All are local young professionals who have been drawn to the nonprofit sector. Feel free to connect with any of us about your ideas for the organization:

Danny Heggen is a project manager for the Blue Zones Project with Healthways. He previously worked with Community! Youth Concepts as the Youth Program Coordinator where he worked with youth on social entrepreneurial and service learning projects. Before joining Community! Youth Concepts, Danny spent time collecting stories from imprisoned women and homeless youth, which were then published. He lives in Des Moines with his wife.


Danny says: “In between work hours, I balance playing music with my band Seedlings, writing, cooking, gardening, sitting in on TEDxDesMoines planning meetings, and dreaming up ideas with friends. Mostly, though, I hang out with my lovely wife. The idea of organizing YNPN stemmed from a couple years of conversations with friends working in the nonprofit field. I cannot tell you how many times I heard someone say, “I wish there was a group of people who got together for…” fill in the blank – discussions, drinks, etc. I’m glad to be a part of finally bringing this group together. The most exciting part of YNPN for me is the fact that nonprofit professionals is Des Moines will have a community to connect with, learn from, and contribute to. This really is filling that gap.”

Katy Heggen is a communications strategist at Planned Parenthood of the Heartland. Full bio to come!

Sarah Myren originally came to Iowa from her home state of Minnesota to study Sociology, Spanish, French and Social Work at Simpson College. She started an Americorps*VISTA position at Children and Family Urban Ministries after graduating and became involved with the two organizations that share space with CFUM on the near-north side, Trinity UMC and Las Américas Comunidad de Fe. After her VISTA year concluded, Sarah served another VISTA year at the Des Moines “I Have a Dream” Foundation before starting a position at Orchard Place-PACE as a Latino Outreach Coordinator and BHIS (Behavioral Health Intervention Services) Caseworker.


Sarah says, “I keep myself busy by participating in Latino and immigrant advocacy events in Des Moines, preparing and singing music at bilingual services every week, playing soccer, working on crafty projects and watching movies with friends and family. When I first heard about YNPN, I was really excited for an opportunity to meet other service and advocacy-minded young professionals in the area!  Being from out of state, most of the connections I have in Des Moines are through my time at Simpson and it’s great to be able to branch out and meet/learn from others with similar passions.”

Michelle Raymer coordinates the mentoring and volunteer programs at Community!Youth Concepts. She’s also worked in affordable housing, refugee resettlement, and was a Peace Corps volunteer in Guinea, West Africa. Michelle graduated from Central College with a degree in Political Science, Spanish, and International Studies and will graduate from the Drake University Master of Public Administration, Nonprofit Management emphasis in May 2013. She lives in Des Moines with her husband, daughter, and dog.


Michelle says: “In my (somewhat limited) free time I enjoy gardening at our community garden plot, cooking, volunteering on a scholarship committee for Togolese youth, spending time with family and friends, and making Pinterest inspired projects with my sister. I’m excited about YNPN because of its potential to create networking/collaborating opportunities that enhance the quality of services provided by nonprofits across the metro.”

Brianne Sanchez came to Des Moines with a journalism degree from Mizzou and started her professional life as a staff writer for Juice magazine. A suburban Chicago native, Brianne was inspired by all of the Des Moinesians she met who were doing great things and decided to get back to her service-oriented roots and pursue her MPA from Drake University. She worked in public relations for the university before joining the Des Moines “I Have a Dream” Foundation staff. She also helps plan TEDxDesMoines events with a small volunteer team.


Brianne says: “When I’m not at work, you can probable find me riding my bike on the trails, sampling some of my husband’s home cooking or homebrew, crafting with my friends from the East Village store Ephemera or curled up with a book. I love Des Moines as my adopted hometown and am excited to be a part of projects that help our city grow. I think YNPN, because of its national presence, will help link our community to others around the country and hopefully provide a landing place for other Des Moines transplants looking to break into the nonprofit sector.”

Sunni Swarbrick came to Des Moines with a program services administration degree at the University of Northern Iowa and started her professional life as a receptionist/project assistant at the Community Foundation of Greater Des Moines.  Sunni transitioned into her role Simpson College in July 2012 as their Corporate & Donor Relations Specialist where she manages the college’s corporate funding relationships and their donor stewardship program. Sunni will graduate in December 2013 from the Drake University Masters in Public Administration, Executive Leadership emphasis.


“When I’m not at work or in class, I keep busy with Young Professionals Connection & Young Variety. I also enjoy running, biking, cooking, reading and spending time with friends/family. I enjoy spending my time volunteering in support of Children & Family Urban Ministries and the Des Moines “I Have A Dream” Foundation. I am excited about YNPN because it will create an opportunity for like-minded young professionals to come together to help promote and raise the awareness of philanthropy in the Greater Des Moines community.”

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