Rusty MartinCommunications Director, Iowa Senate Democratic Research Staff
Rusty Martin is the Communications Director for the Iowa Senate Democratic Research Staff and has been employed by the Senate since 1999. With his team of staff and interns, he is responsible for helping senators with constituent communications, including email newsletters, web sites, photos, radio commentaries, and video clips. He also helps plan Senate news conferences and the general advocacy of Senate policy positions. Before coming to work for the Iowa Legislature, he was an elementary teacher and a technology consultant for the University of Iowa and the University of Northern Iowa. He is a graduate of the University of Iowa. Mr. Martin is a former member of the Perry City Council, the executive board of the Legislative Information and Communications State Section of the National Conference of State Legislatures, the executive board of the Iowa Civil Liberties Union and the State Central Committee of the Iowa Democratic Party.
Karen FeslerRepublican Activist and Blogger
Karen Fesler is a local Republican activist and most recently started writing a political blog, “A Reluctant Revolutionary.” Ms. Fesler has been active in local, state, and national political campaigns in both Iowa and in her home state of Missouri. In 2004, she served as the volunteer communications coordinator for the Bush-Cheney campaign. She is past President of the North Liberty Commerce Committee and the North Liberty Development Group, and also served as Chair of the Coralville Parks and Recreation Commission. She and her husband own Fesler’s Inc., a public safety equipment dealer in North Liberty. She has a BS degree in Elementary Education from Southeast Missouri State University in Cape Girardeau, Missouri.
Renee SchulteIowa State Representative
Renee Schulte was elected to the Iowa State House in 2008 as the representative for District 37. In this capacity she works to continue relief for those affected by the 2008 flood, as well as to increase funding for mental health issues. She is a member of the Committees for Education, Human Resources, Judiciary, State Government and the Subcommittee on Health and Human Services Appropriations. Representative Schulte is also a mental health counselor, and an adjunct professor of psychology at Mount Mercy College. She holds a MA in Counseling and Educational Psychology and a BA in Psychology from New Mexico State University. Representative Schulte is a member of the Antioch Christian Church, the Professional Women’s Network and serves on the Board of Directors for the House of Hope.
Rod SullivanJohnson County Board of Supervisors
Rod Sullivan of Iowa City is a Johnson County Supervisor, first elected in 2004 at the age of 38.
Rod grew up on a Heritage farm near Sutliff, and attended K-12 in the Lisbon school system. He went to the University of Iowa, earning a BA in 1988. He has held several positions in the field of human services, including 6 years with the Department of Human Services and 6 years as Executive Director of the Arc of Johnson County.
Rod is married to Dr. Melissa Fath, a Research Scientist at the UI and a volunteer Pharmacist at the Free Medical Clinic. They have 3 adult children and have served as foster parents for another 40+ children.
Rod has been active volunteering for the Shelter Overflow, United Way, Community Foundation of Johnson County, Affordable Homes Coalition, Coalition for Racial Justice, City High Little Hawks Club, and the Batterer’s Education Program.
Rod is a member of several community organizations, including: St. Andrew Presbyterian Church, Iowa Foster & Adoptive Parent Association, Sierra Club, Johnson County Ag Association, Center for Worker Justice, ACLU Hawkeye Chapter, AFT Local 716, and NAMI. He also served 4 years as Chair of the Johnson County Democratic Party.
Rod feels his biggest accomplishments as a County Supervisor include the passage of several ordinances: Human Rights, Sensitive Areas, Minimum Wage, and Storm Water Management, just to name a few. The passage of the Conservation Bond, kickstarting the 1105 Project, and restoration of the Sutliff Bridge are three proud moments. He is also proud of starting the Livable Community for Successful Aging and Local Foods Policy Boards, along with the County’s first Trails Committee. Rod also points to the Community ID program, rural warning sirens, Free Tax Help program, and investments in sustainability as major accomplishments.
Caroline J. Tolbert
Caroline J. TolbertProfessor, Department of Political Science, University of Iowa
Professor Tolbert’s research interests focus on American politics, especially voting and elections, election reform, state politics, race/ethnicity, and information technology. She is former co-director of the University of Iowa Hawkeye Poll. Dr. Tolbert is the coauthor of a half dozen books and more than thirty articles in scholarly journals. Her books include Virtual Inequality: Beyond the Digital Divide and Digital Citizenship: The Internet Society and Participation. Digital Citizenship was ranked one of 20 best-selling titles in the social sciences by the American Library Association. She is a national expert on direct democracy and coauthor of Educated by Initiative: The Effects of Direct Democracy on Citizens and Political Organizations in the American States. Her latest book, Why Iowa: How Caucuses and Sequential Elections Improve the Presidential Nominating Process (with D. Redlawsk and T. Donovan) examines how we nominate presidents in the United States and ways to reform the process. Dr. Tolbert holds a PhD from the University of Colorado at Boulder. To visit Dr. Tolbert's web page, click here.