Connie Ryan has lived on the west side of Des Moines for more than four decades, moving to Iowa at the age of 10. She graduated from Roosevelt High School, holds a B.A. from Drake University, and a Masters in Social Work from the University of Iowa.

Connie is very proud of her two adult children. Michael is married to Heidi and both teach instrumental music in the public schools. Emma is a recent college graduate and works in the Chicago area. Connie is also the step-mom to Joe, who lives in California, and Erin (Chad), who lives in Kansas City.

Connie leads the statewide Interfaith Alliance of Iowa where she has been the Executive Director since 2002. She is a well-known voice in Iowa’s public square, protecting faith and freedom from misuse by religious extremists. She empowers progressive people of faith and no faith to actively engage in the state’s public debate on issues of religious freedom, equality, civility, and justice.

Connie with her son Michael, daughter-in-law, Heidi, and daughter, Emma

Being active in her community and giving back has always been a priority for Connie. She is a lifelong member of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) and attends First Christian Church in Des Moines. She has served on numerous non-profit boards including Friends of Iowa Legal Aid, board chairperson of the Iowa Immigration Education Coalition, board chairperson of Iowa Citizen Action Network (ICAN), board member and treasurer of the Iowa Safe Schools Task Force for GLBT Youth, and board member of One Iowa.

In 2010, Connie led the efforts to establish the coalition of Justice Not Politics (JNP) to protect Iowa’s courts against attacks by religious conservatives and other special interest groups. She remains as president of JNP. It is the state’s leading coalition on judicial independence.