Past Speakers


May:  Max Mowitz and Courtney Reyes of OneIowa. The conversation focuses on the programming and legislative work of One Iowa, an organization that advocates for LGBTQ rights in the state. The program director, Max Mowitz, discusses the various programs and initiatives offered by One Iowa, including workplace culture and advocacy, healthcare access, and the LGBTQ Leadership Institute. The executive director of One Iowa, Courtney Reyes, talks about the challenges faced in the legislature and the importance of advocacy and community support. The conversation highlights the need for pro-equality candidates and the ongoing fight against anti-LGBTQ legislation.
April:   Melissa O’Neil, CEO of Central Iowa Shelter & Services (CISS) @ 14th & Mulberry in downtown Des Moines.
  • Melissa O’Neil’s presentation on YouTube 
February:  Rob Sand, State of Iowa Auditor.
  • Rob Sand’s presentation on YouTube

February:  Ben Page, Director, Parks and Recreation, Des Moines, Iowa.

  • Ben Page’s Presentation PDF:  HERE
  • See his presentation on YouTube

January:  Representative Jennifer Konfrst, Iowa House Minority Leader.

  • Representative Konfrst’s presentation on YouTube.


DecemberRev. Dr. Gregory Neal, Senior Pastor of Grace United Methodist Church, Des Moines, Iowa.  Rev. Neal tells his coming out story and talks about the challenges of serving as a pastor while being an openly gay and married man.

  • Rev. Dr. Neal’s presentation via YouTube.

November:  Adam Equality Peters, Director of Operations at the non-profit, Clock, Inc, an LGBT+ Community Center serving the Quad Cities.

  • Adam Peters’ presentation via YouTube.

October:   a panel discussion about Coming Out, moderated by David Cotton, FFBC Vice President.  Since 1988, October 11th of each year has been recognized as National Coming Out Day, marking the anniversary of the second major National March on Washington for Lesbian and Gay Rights, which took place in 1987.  We were joined by four guest panelists: Hillary Gardner, Max Mowitz, David Naert, and Mike Triggs. The panel will explored the diverse and common experiences in their coming out journeys.  We hope the stories and insights shared will not only empower those in the LGBTQ+ community but also encourage allies to stand alongside them in solidarity. 

September:  C.J. Petersen, Executive Assistant to State Auditor Rob Sand, has a background of working in politics including chair of the Iowa Democratic Party’s Stonewall Caucus, communications director for U.S. Senate candidate Mike Franken and the Bernie Sanders Presidential campaign.

  • C.J. Petersen’s presentation via YouTube

August:  Kendra Weston, Executive Director Lavender Legal Center, provides legal representation for LGBTQ people in Iowa.

  • Kendra Weston’s presentation via YouTube

June:  2023 Scholars — This year we honor: Max Cline, Levi Cooper, Kendall Duit, Kenzie Fick,, Leo Friedman, Lilly Beth Froehlich, Beatrice Goldberry, Jackson Kaune, Beau Kell, Olivia Moody, Dallas Olderbing, Ava Rossow, Dakota Walling, and Noah Wasek. As you can see from their brief backgrounds at this LINK, their collective efforts have reached all across the state of Iowa. The program for the awards ceremony is HERE.  The class picture of these scholars is HERE.

Senator Zach Wahls was the speaker for the June 2 meeting when the FFBC annual scholarship awards were presented to the 2022-2023 recipients When Senator Wahls was a high school graduate in 2011 he received a FFBC scholarship. He became famous when he addressed the Iowa House Judiciary Committee in a public forum regarding civil unions; the speech garnering more than 3 million views on YouTube. He was also a guest on the Ellen show talking about his life and the famous speech.  He was elected to his first term in the Iowa Senate in 2018 and elected Iowa Senate Democratic Leader in November 2020.  Senator Wahls represents Senate District 37, which includes Coralville, western Iowa City and Solon in Johnson County; all of Cedar County; and the City of Wilton in Muscatine County.  

  • Senator Wahls presentation on YouTube.

May:  Kathie Obradovich of the Iowa Capital Dispatch has been covering Iowa government and politics for more than 30 years, most recently as political columnist and opinion editor for the Des Moines Register. She previously covered the Iowa State-house for 10 years for newspapers in Davenport, Waterloo, Sioux City, Mason City and Muscatine. She is a leading voice on Iowa politics and makes regular appearances on state, national and international news programs. She has led national-award-winning coverage of the Iowa Caucuses and the Register’s Iowa Poll.

  • See Kathie Obradovich’s presentation via YouTube.

AprilSheriff Kevin Schneider, Polk County Sheriff, has served in the office since 1981.  Sheriff Schneider provides an overview of the services the Sheriff’s office provides to Polk County, Iowa, and surrounding communities. 

  • See Sheriff Schneider’s presentation via YouTube.

March:  Mark Stringer, Executive Director of The American Civil Liberties Union in Iowa.  The ACLU works within communities across the state to defend the civil rights and civil liberties of all Iowans through litigation, education, and community engagement.  This is the link to the blog by Courtney Martin referenced in his comments is HERE.

  • See Mark Stringer’s presentation via YouTube

February: Rick Wagaman, owner of HW CBD in West Des Moines, a locally owned family company. Its proprietors have been involved growing the industry for nearly a decade and helped pass the law allowing for the sale of legal CBD products in Iowa.  See his presentation HERE.

  • See Rick Wagaman’s presentation via YouTube.

January:  Matt Sinovic is executive director of Progress Iowa which is a statewide organization focused on research, education and advocacy.  Mr. Sinovic’s presentation is HERE.

  • See Matt Sinovic’s presentation via YouTube.


December:  Reverend Rushing Kimball, the  Associate Pastor at Des Moines’s Plymouth Congregational Church (United Church of Christ).  He tells his faith story, his call to service story, and his coming out story, and how all three are intertwined in his faith journey.

  • See Rev Kimball’s presentation via YouTube.

November:   Vice Admiral Michael Franken, USN (Retired) won the Democratic nomination (June 7) to run as the Democratic candidate for US Senator.  The native of Lebanon, Iowa, served on four navy destroyers, a destroyer squadron, and an aircraft carrier.  The Admiral was the first commanding officer of the USS Winston S Churchill – deploying frequently to the world’s hotspots. He retired as a three-star Admiral in 2017.

  • See Admiral Franken’s presentation via YouTube.
October:  Dana Cardin, former KCCI Assistant News Director, retired at the end of 2021.  In his talk with FFBC his theme was, “what’s your story?”  He devoted four decades to serving Central Iowans after first serving his country in the Navy. He started here as a reporter where he literally traveled the globe sharing stories that impacted Iowans. Some of his most memorable were from his feature segment called “Eye on Iowa”. Dana’s trademark writing and reporting skills shaped compelling stories. Over the last 25 years, he’s used his skills to shape the next generation of journalists as our Assistant News Director. Over the course of his career here, Dana had his hand in numerous journalism awards including a recent Edward R. Murrow award.
  • See Dana Cardin’s presentation via YouTube

SeptemberJamie Fitzgerald has served as Polk County Auditor and Commissioner of Elections since January 2007. Fitzgerald manages a staff of 49 full-time employees in five departments. His office is responsible for a wide variety of functions, ranging from paying all of Polk County’s bills to conducting elections in Iowa’s largest county.  [Note:  due to technical problems, the first seven minutes of Mr. Fitzgerald’s presentation was not recored.]  Mr. Fitzgerald’s presentation available HERE.

  • See Mr. Fitzgerald’s presentation via YouTube.

August:  Dr. Jerry Hatfield received his PhD from Iowa State University in 1975 in the area  of agricultural climatology, MS in agronomy from the University of Kentucky in  1972, and a BS in agronomy from Kansas State University in 1971 and is the retired Director of the USDA-ARS National Laboratory for Agriculture and the  Environment in Ames, Iowa, where he developed the research program of the  National Laboratory for Agriculture and the Environment. His research focused  on the interactions among the components of the soil-plant-atmosphere  continuum and their linkage to air, water, and soil quality. His focus has been on the evaluation of farming systems and their response to water and nitrogen interactions across soils and remote sensing methods to quantify field variation. A platform for his research utilizes the genetics x environment x management concept as a framework to work with producers to demonstrate how they can increase their production efficiency, increase soil health, and develop resilience to weather and climate variation as the foundation for food security. 

  • Link to Dr. Hatfield’s presentation HERE.
  • See video of Dr. Hatfield’s via YouTube.

August Full Meeting


  • Mark Turnage (He/Him/His) is the Registrar & Office Manager for Iowa Safe Schools. He coordinates everything, from transcripts to technical support for participants of the Safe Schools Academy to registration for the annual Governor’s Conference on LGBTQ Youth.
    • See Mark Turnage’s presentation via YouTube.
  • 2021 – 2022 Scholarship Awards Ceremony, honoring Jackson Bloodsworth, Elizabeth Boese, G Ellerbroek, Hannah King, Iris Mackenzie, Taylor Mayhue, Abby McLeod, Matthew Monsivais, Ellis Montgomery, Molly Moorhead, Alaynah Rieck,and Estella J. Ruhrer-Johnson.  More about each scholar can be found on the Scholars page.
    • See the Scholarship Award Ceremony via YouTube.

May:  Eric Shepard, the new Artistic Director and Conductor of the Gay Men’s Chorus.

  • Video of Eric Shepard’s presentation via YouTube.

April:  Dave Miglin, a member of the Broadlawns medical center board and recently completed his mission of visiting every incorporated city/town in the state of Iowa. He’s also involved in Iowa Stage Theatre Company.

  • Video of Dave Miglin’s presentation via YouTube.

March:  Mark A. Babcock, who sang with Leonard Bernstein and Robert Shaw, and performed at Carnegie Hall and the New York Philharmonic, will speak about playing the carillon at Des Moines’ St Paul’s Episcopal Church.  See the September 6, 2021, Des Moines Register Article, “Meet the man who plays the church bells that ring through downtown Des Moines.”  

  • Video of Professor Babcock’s presentation via YouTube.

February:  Edward Kelly had an opinion article in the Des Moines Register on September 5, 2021, “My journey from anti-gay activist to LGBTQ ally.”

  • Video of Mr. Kelly’s presentation via YouTube.

January:  Dr. Loren A. Olson, M.D., an award-winning author of the book Finally Out and new book to be released in 2022, No More Neckties.

  • Video of Dr. Olson’s presentation via YouTube.


December:  Most Rev. William M. Joensen, Ph.D., the 10th bishop of the Diocese of Des Moines.

Video of Bishop Joensen’s presentation via YouTube.


  • John Schmacker – DSM Magazine LGBTQ Legacy Leader 2021 Honoree.
  • Steve Karlin – Anchor and Reporter for KCCI Channel 8, Des Moines, in an extremely candid social media post opened up about his struggle with depression, which affects approximately 16.1 million adults in the U.S.

Video of John Schmacker’s and Steve Karlin’s presentations via YouTube.

October: Jeffrey Rufus Byrd – a performance and video artist, shared his journey and insights with the First Friday Breakfast Club. After listening to Jeff for 40 minutes, one quickly realizes why he has been exhibited in major cities across the U.S. and in Canada, Finland, Germany, Switzerland, Poland, Columbia, Mexico, Italy, China, Cuba, and the U.K. (October)

Video of Jeffrey Rufus Byrd’s presentation via YouTube

September: Edith C. Crawford – Volunteer and Board Member for the Greater Iowa Chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association. Edith was a caregiver to her mother who suffered and passed with Alzheimer’s, her sister diagnosed with Dementia, and now her brother who is suffering with Dementia.  Edith is a retired Department of Defense employee.  She served as Secretary, Accounting Technician and Auditor.  Edith also served as the EEO Counselor and Mediator, emphasizing Alternative Dispute Resolution for the Department of Defense. She has also provided services to the Elderly through the following organizations:  Home Instead Senior Care, Des Moines; Hospice of Central Iowa, Des Moines; Eastern Nebraska Office of the Aging, Omaha. (September)

Video of Edit Crawford’s presentation via YouTube

August: Ian Lawrence-Tourhino – Director of the American Institute of Bisexuality and heads amBi, a growing network of socially-focused bi communities. As an activist, he is particularly interested in mutual support networks as a health and human rights intervention for bi people. In 2014, he was branded “the new face of bisexuality” by the New York Times, when, after an interview, they put his picture on the cover of their magazine. (August)

Video of Ian Lawrence-Tourinho’s presentation via YouTube


  • Kevin Newbury a theatre, opera and film director based in New York City. Kevin’s work focuses on issues of community, empathy and social justice, with a particular focus on our shared LGBTQAI+ history and education. After extensive research into The Lavender Scare and this neglected period in American history, he developed a new opera, FELLOW TRAVELERS based on that learning and around Thomas Mallon’s book of the same name. (July)
  • 2020 – 2021 Scholarship Presentation

Video of Kevin Newbury’s presentation and 2020-2021 Scholarship Presentation via YouTube

June:  Reverend James A. Conrad, Jr. – Pastor of Towne View Baptist Church in Kennesaw, Georgia, tells the story of his congregation’s acceptance of a same sex couple and the church’s expulsion from the Southern Baptist Convention.  Since speaking to FFBC, Rev Conrad published a memoir about this experience: The Rainbow Revival:  a paster and church on the journey towards inclusion.  (June)

Video of Reverend Conrad’s presentation via YouTube

May:  Peter Montgomery – Senior Fellow, People for the American Way.  Peter Montgomery has studied the Religious Right movement and its right-wing political allies for more than two decades. He has written extensively about marriage equality, religious liberty, and other conflicts at the intersection of religion, politics and LGBT issues. He has been cited as an expert in national publications including the New York Times, Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, USA Today, and The New Yorker, and has appeared on national broadcast outlets including MSNBC and National Public Radio. (May)

Video of Peter Montgomery’s presentation via YouTube

April:  Chris Godfrey – former Iowa Workers’ Compensation Commissioner (April)

Video of Chris Godfrey’s presentation via YouTube.

March:  Dr. Virginia “Ginger” Campbell – hosts podcasts Graying Rainbows (Coming Out Later in Life) and Brain Science.  (March)

Video of Dr. Campbell’s presentation via YouTube

February:  Brian Bond – Executive Director, PFLAG, K. Bond is a former Obama Administration official and LGBTQ advocate with an extensive background in constituency outreach and coalition bridge-building. Brian most recently served as the Coalitions Director for the Climate Action Campaign in Washington D.C., working to protect clean air and promote action to limit climate change. Prior to that, he was the Deputy CEO for the 2016 Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (February)

Video of Brian Bond’s presentation via YouTube.

January:   Eric Marcus – Making Gay History author and podcaster,  Mr. Marcus is the author of a dozen books, including two editions of Making Gay History (the original 1992 edition is entitled Making History), Why Suicide?, and Breaking the Surface, the #1 New York Times bestselling autobiography of Olympic diving champion Greg Louganis. Eric is also the co-producer of Those Who Were There, a podcast drawn from the Fortunoff Video Archive for Holocaust Testimonies. And he is the founder and chair of the Stonewall 50 Consortium. Learn more about Eric in this NBC News profile. (January)

Video of Eric Marcus’ presentation via YouTube.


Romen Borsellino – writer, executive producer, and the Co-creator of Freeform’s Kal Penn Approves This Message (December)

Video of Romen Borsellino’s presentation via YouTube.

Jane Clementi – as co-founder the Tyler Clementi Foundation she wants to make sure that our society learns the consequences of discrimination and bullying, as she learned all too personally through the loss of her son. A native of New Jersey and devoted mother of three sons, Jane speaks passionately to parents and community leaders about the need to not merely “accept” or “tolerate” children who come out as LGBT, but to embrace them as wondrous creations of God. Jane speaks on the need for parents of LGBT children to come out and speak openly of the love they have for their children, and in doing so each one of us can impact the world around us and create accepting environments. (November)

Video of Jane Clementi’s presentation via YouTube.

Hon. Rob Sand – State of Iowa Auditor.  Mr. Sand oversees three divisions within his office:  the Administrative Division, the Financial Audit Division, and the Performance Investigation Division.  (October)

Video of Rob Sand’s presentation via YouTube.

Ambassador Luis C. deBaca (Retired) – former head of the U.S. State Department’s Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons during the Obama Administration (September)

Video of Ambassador deBaca’s presentation via YouTube.

Tim Thompson – ManKind Project GTBQ Gateway New Warrior Training Adventures, (August)

Video of Tim Thompson’s presentation via YouTube.

Dr. Ryan Wise – Dean of Education, Drake University (June)

2019 – 2020 Scholarship Presentation

Video of Dr. Ryan Wise’s presentation via YouTube.

Hon. Mark W. Bennett – Ret U.S. District Judge and Director, Institute for Justice Reform & Innovation, Drake University Law School (May)

Video of Hon. Mark W. Bennett’s presentation via YouTube.

Ted Corrigan – CEO and General Manager, Des Moines Waterworks – Operation During Global Pandemic (April)

Video of Ted Corrigan’s presentation via YouTube.

Troy Price – Former Chair of the Iowa Democratic Party (March)

Courtney Rayes – Executive Director, One Iowa, (February)

Senator Claire Celsi – State of Iowa Legislator (January)

Click here for the audio of some of the past speakers prior to 2020

Speaker Recommendations:  If you have a recommendation for a speaker for a future First Friday Breakfast Club meeting please email to, providing information about the potential speaker, and contact information for them.  Your contact information would be appreciated as well. 

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