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Engaged Citizen Conference
Keynote Speaker & Presenters

Keynote Speaker

Darci Vetter is a strategic consultant working on international trade, food and agriculture issues. She currently serves as a Diplomat in Residence at the University of Nebraska Lincoln, where she is working to launch the Yeutter Institute in International Trade and Finance.  Ms. Vetter served as Chief Agricultural Negotiator at the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative from 2014 until January of this year, a Senate-confirmed Presidential Appointment with the rank of Ambassador.  In this role, she was responsible for bilateral and multilateral negotiations, including the Trans Pacific Partnership agricultural package, and significant bilateral negotiations with Japan, China, Brazil and other countries.

Before returning to USTR, Ambassador Vetter served as Deputy Under Secretary for Farm and Foreign Agricultural Services at the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), where she oversaw the Foreign Agricultural Service. She led the Department’s international trade negotiating team, directed USDA’s export assistance programs, and coordinated USDA's role in international food aid and trade capacity building.

Prior to joining the Obama Administration, Ambassador Vetter served as an International Trade Advisor on the Democratic Staff of the U.S. Senate Committee on Finance, where she advised Committee members on trade issues relating to agriculture, the environment and labor, including the 2008 Farm Bill and the Committee’s consideration of Free Trade Agreements with South Korea, Colombia and Panama.  She began her career as a civil servant at the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR), where she worked on agricultural and environmental issues, including the WTO Doha Round, NAFTA implementation, and the environmental provisions of the U.S.-Chile Free Trade Agreement. 

Ambassador Vetter received her Master of Public Affairs degree and a Certificate in Science, Technology and Environmental Policy from the Woodrow Wilson School at Princeton, and her undergraduate degree from Drake University in Des Moines. She grew up in Nebraska on a family farm, and lives in Washington, DC with her husband and two small children.


Debra L. DeLaet is a Professor of Political Science at Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa where she serves as the David E. Maxwell Distinguished Professor of International Affairs. Her major research interests are in the area of human rights, global health, and gender issues in world politics. She has published three books: U.S. Immigration Policy in an Age of Rights (Praeger 2000), The Global Struggle for Human Rights (Wadsworth, 2006), and (co-authored with David E. DeLaet) Global Health in the 21st Century: the Globalization of Disease and Wellness (Paradigm Publishers, 2012). In addition to these books, she has published numerous articles and book chapters in her areas of interest. In her current scholarly work, Professor DeLaet is particularly interested in questions related to human rights in everyday politics and in investigating how to build capacity in civil society to translate abstract global norms into concrete human rights practices within communities.



Michael Haedicke is an Associate Professor of Sociology at Drake University. A specialist in environmental sociology and the study of social conflict and change, his courses engage with issues of sustainability and equity in food systems, businesses, and social movement communities. Professor Haedicke is the author of Organizing Organic: Conflict and Compromise in an Emerging Market (Stanford University Press, 2016), a book which analyzes the relationship between social activism and business activities in the United States organic foods sector. The book received an honorable mention in the 2017 Best Book Award competition at the Midwest Sociological Society annual meeting. He has also published articles and book chapters about immigration and social justice campaigns in the meatpacking industry, the evolution of the natural foods co-op movement, and (with Tim Hallett) the “inhabited institutions” research perspective.


Lourdes Gutiérrez-Nájera is a cultural anthropologist whose research is vested in continued exploration of indigeneity, immigration, ethnicity, citizenship, belonging, and youth. She has published essays in numerous journals including: American Anthropologist, the Association of Mexican American Educators (AMAE) Journal, Identities: Global Studies in Culture and Power, Practicing Anthropology, and ” Urban Anthropology and Studies of Cultural Systems and World Economic Developmenth. She is also a co-edtior (with M. Bianet Castellanos and Arturo Aldama) of Comparative Indigeneities of the Américas: Toward a Hemispheric Approach, examining indigenous experiences across the hemisphere (University of Arizona Press 2012. As a professor of Anthropology at Drake University, her classes cover diverse topics such as globalization, borders and borderlands, transnational migration, oral history and Latinos in the United States.

Carlyn Crowe is a Visiting Assistant Professor and Internship Coordinator in the School of Journalism and Mass Communication. Prior to joining Drake University she worked in public relations and advocacy for non-profit, government and health care organizations.

A Texas native and self-proclaimed urban cowgirl, Carlyn's interest in food and agriculture started at the University of Iowa where she completed a photography and documentary project on Iowa farmers who survived the 1980's farm crisis. Her fellowship while studying sustainability for her Master of Public Administration degree at Drake focused on food waste. About 10 years ago she became involved in the local foods movement in Des Moines organizing educational events, researching and mapping food access, building community gardens and was one of the founders of a local foods co-op.

At Drake she has taught a First Year Seminar called the Real Hunger Games for five years. The course covers many aspects of food security--access, policy, and health, as well as provides a service-learning opportunity to engage students in community food insecurity. During January Term 2018 she is traveling to Mexico with students to study the effects of NAFTA on agriculture, food access and health.

Matt Thornton serves as an Assistant Professor in Drake’s School of Journalism and Mass Communication where he teaches courses in public relations, political communication and communication leadership.  His research focuses on aspects of news coverage and strategic messaging in political campaigns. Thornton earned his PhD in media and public affairs with a minor in American politics.  He also holds degrees in journalism and marketing management.

Prior to his transition to academia, Thornton worked in the nonprofit sector as executive director of a community and economic development corporation in Southwest Missouri.

Matt Russell is the Resilient Agriculture Coordinator at Drake University Agricultural Law Center. He has worked on retail agriculture, land tenure, conservation, climate change, farmer veterans, rural development, state food policy, and federal farm policy.  Matt is a fifth generation Iowa farmer.  He and his husband Patrick Standley operate Coyote Run Farm and market produce, eggs, and beef. He served on the Iowa Farm Service Agency State Committee from 2010 through 2017. Matt received his B.A. from Loras College in Dubuque, studied for the Catholic Diocese of Des Moines at Mundelein Seminary in Illinois, and earned an M.S. in Rural Sociology from Iowa State University.

Jennifer Terry returned to the Iowa Environmental Council as Executive Director in September, 2017. From 2013-2015, she led the Council’s agricultural water policy efforts and advocated for strengthening Iowa’s Nutrient Reduction Strategy, increased transparency and accountability for public spending on water quality projects, and mandatory water quality monitoring in state-funded watershed projects.


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