Past Student Events

Student Luncheons and Receptions

The Harkin Institute hosts four student luncheons or receptions each semester. These events are small, intimate hour-long opportunities for students to visit with an accomplished government, nonprofit, journalism, political or public policy leader. The guests of honor informally discuss their career, share information, answer questions, provide advice, and get to know the students.  All events are held at The Harkin Institute with food provided and a business casual dress code.

Coffee Talk

Late in 2016, The Harkin Institute launched a series called Coffee Talk to bring young professionals to Drake University to meet informally over breakfast with students. The program is similar in structure to the institute’s Student Luncheon and Reception Series but differs by bringing guests who are earlier in their professional careers and may be doing good work that relates more closely to students’ short-term goals.

Past Luncheon and Reception Participants

Spring 2017

  • Kate Gainer, Executive Vice President/CEO of the Iowa Pharmacy Association
  • Des Moines Public Schools Superintendent Tom Ahart
  • Izaah Knox, Urban Dreams assistant executive director
  • Mary Kramer, former Iowa State Senator and former U.S. Ambassador to Barbados and the Eastern Caribbean

Fall 2016

  • Dennis Groenenboom, executive director of Iowa Legal Aid
  • Jeff Kaufmann, chair of the Republican Party of Iowa, AND Andy McGuire, chair of the Iowa Democratic Party
  • Senator Joni Ernst
  • Michael Gartner, former president of NBC News and owner of the Iowa Cubs

Spring 2016

  • Businessman and philanthropist Bill Knapp
  • Mike Draper, creator of RAYGUN
  • Richard Deming, oncologist and founder of Above and Beyond Cancer
  • Iowa Senator Pam Jochum
  • Tom Brokaw, TV journalist

Fall 2015

  • Congressman David Young (R-IA 03)
  • Iowa Secretary of State Paul Pate

Spring 2015

  • Roxanne Conlin, lawyer and former U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Iowa
  • Senator Charles Grassley
  • Colonel Bob King
  • Amalie Nash, Des Moines Register executive editor and vice president for news and engagement
  • David Oman, Republican strategist
  • Ruth Harkin, businesswoman, former counsel for the USDA, former member of the Iowa Board of Regents, and wife of Sen. Tom Harkin

Past Coffee Talk Participants


  • Tyler Campbell, account executive at LS2group
  • State Representative Zach Nunn, Iowa House District 30
  • Pat Rynard, Iowa Starting Line founder
  • State Senator Amy Sinclair, Iowa Senate District 14

Address: 2800 University Avenue, Des Moines, IA 50311

Phone: (515) 271-3623


Office Hours: Monday to Friday 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.