Working for The Greater Des Moines Partnership, Jay Byers certainly believes there are benefits to being in central Iowa.
And through his role with the Partnership, Byers is striving to make the region an even better place to live and work.
“I think living in central Iowa really gives you tremendous business opportunities in an area that is small enough to allow you to get involved easily,” he said.
The Greater Des Moines Partnership supports economic policies and community development projects that will improve the quality of life in central Iowa, and the organization often accomplishes its goals through legislative initiatives. Byers, CEO of the Greater Des Moines Partnership, is responsible for developing the Partnership’s public policy positions and advocating for those positions on the state, regional and federal level.
Byers calls his efforts at the Partnership “a really good mix of my two previous careers.”
After acquiring an interest in public policy while a student at Simpson College, Byers pursued a career in law, attending the University of Iowa College of Law before moving to Indianapolis to join Ice Miller as a corporate attorney — a job he landed after making a cold call to Simpson graduate Sam “Chic” Born ’67, who worked at the practice.
Byers was only with the law firm for a year before he was drawn into the political arena by another Simpson graduate, John Norris ’81, who he met in law school. At the time, Norris was serving as Congressman Leonard Boswell’s chief of staff, and he hired Byers to run Boswell’s Iowa office, which Byers continued to do until taking the job with the Partnership in 2005.
“I took a 50 percent pay cut, loaded a U-Haul and moved back to Iowa,” Byers said of his transition from law to politics.
To this day, Byers considers Norris one of his greatest role models for his “example of living a lifestyle and choosing career paths that are both personally rewarding and can make a difference in other people’s lives.”
Byers was also influenced by his experiences at Simpson, particularly his participation in the fraternity Alpha Tau Omega, which helped him develop leadership abilities, and a May Term trip to Russia in 1992, which he said “opened my eyes to the big picture.”
“Looking back and seeing that we were there in such a critical time in history, it was really amazing that we were able to experience that,” he said.
Outside of work, Byers, gives back to the community. He is chair of the Indianola Parks and Recreation Commission and a board member for childserve, the Simpson College Alumni Association and Alpha Tau Omega. He is also the cofounder of the Equal Justice Foundation’s annual benefit concert Lawlawpalooza.