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Jay Byers Named Simpson President-Elect

News Conference Set for 1:30 p.m., Wednesday, May 17


Simpson’s Board of Trustees has named Jay Byers ’93 president-elect of Simpson College. The board approved him as the Presidential Search Committee’s recommendation at its spring meeting held Friday, May 12. Byers will succeed Marsha Kelliher, who is retiring this summer.

“Jay is the perfect choice to lead Simpson College,” said Terry Handley, chair of Simpson’s Board of Trustees. “He has a fervent passion for Simpson’s mission and a distinguished history of game-changing, visionary leadership. We are excited to see the innovative boldness he will bring to building on the significant strategic momentum created under President Kelliher.”

A member of Simpson’s Board of Trustees since 2012, Byers will become the College’s 25th president. He will assume office for the 2023-24 academic year.

“I never imagined I would have this incredible opportunity to lead the college I care about so deeply,” said Byers. “I am truly humbled and honored to receive the confidence of Simpson’s Board of Trustees and the Presidential Search Committee. During my board service, I have gained a front-row view of the exciting momentum that continues to grow at Simpson. I am thrilled to be joining such an impressive community of students, faculty, staff, alumni and benefactors who make Simpson such a special place. Together, we can, and we will take Simpson to new heights of distinction. I can’t wait to get started.”

Byers excelled in his 18 years of executive leadership with the Greater Des Moines Partnership, including the past 11 years as president and CEO. Under his leadership, The Partnership experienced significant growth, expanding to represent 11 counties and 24 Affiliate Chambers of Commerce with more than 6,500 members, making The Partnership the fourth largest regional chamber of commerce in the country. During his tenure, DSM has been the fastest-growing major metro in the Midwest in terms of population, GDP and job growth, and received countless rankings and accolades. Byers also previously chaired the Iowa Chamber Alliance at the statewide level and the Association of Chamber of Commerce Executives (ACCE) at the national level and served as the U.S. representative on the International Chamber of Commerce World Chambers Federation General Council.

Prior to the president & CEO position, Byers served as The Partnership’s senior vice president of Government Relations and Public Policy. Before joining The Partnership, he worked as district director for Iowa Congressman Leonard Boswell and as an attorney at the Ice Miller Law Firm in Indianapolis, Indiana, after earning his Juris Doctor from the University of Iowa College of Law.  

The 2015 Simpson College Alumni Achievement Award winner holds numerous other community leadership roles. He currently serves on multiple boards of directors, including Catch Des Moines, America’s Cultivation Corridor, ChildServe and the Blank Park Zoo Foundation. Byers’ other accolades include being named the #2 Most Influential Business Leader by the Des Moines Business Record (2019-23) and Des Moines Business Record Forty Under 40 Alum of the Year (2012) and earning the ACCE Chairman’s Award (2020) and Catch Des Moines Community Champion Award (2014)

Byers will be formally introduced at a Simpson College news conference scheduled for 1:30 p.m., Wednesday, May 17, in Hubbell Hall, located on the second floor of the Kent Campus Center. Please see building 23 on this campus map.