Who We Are
The Iowa Policy Project (IPP) is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization founded in 2001 to produce research and analysis to engage Iowans in state policy decisions. IPP focuses on tax and budget issues, economic opportunity and family prosperity, and energy and environmental policy.
Mission Statement
The mission of the Iowa Policy Project is to promote public policy that fosters economic opportunity while safeguarding the health and well-being of Iowa's people and the environment.

By providing a foundation of fact-based, objective research and engaging the public in an informed discussion of policy alternatives, IPP advances effective, accountable and fair government.
IPP Logo
More About IPP
Founded in 2001, the Iowa Policy Project provides timely research on policy issues of critical importance to the citizens of Iowa. Specifically, IPP focuses on tax and budget, energy and environment, and economic opportunity issues. One important way IPP reaches the public is through the media. News releases and news conferences usually accompany the release of reports. IPP staff also make frequent presentations around the state. Our clearly written reports and presentations equip all Iowans with the facts and context they need to evaluate policy alternatives.

IPP is affiliated with the Economic Analysis Research Network (EARN), which includes similar policy groups in about two dozen states. EARN was initiated by and is supported by the Economic Policy Institute.

Iowa Fiscal Partnership logoIn 2003, IPP joined with the Child and Family Policy Center in Des Moines to form the Iowa Fiscal Partnership, www.iowafiscal.org. The Iowa Fiscal Partnership offers policy solutions that value the contributions of Iowa's low-income and working families, increase economic opportunity, and reduce inequality. The Partnership was made possible with generous funding from the Annie E. Casey Foundation and the Stoneman Family Foundations. The Iowa Fiscal Partnership is affiliated with the State Priorities Partnership, which is coordinated by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities in Washington.

Current funding for IPP comes from a variety of sources, including the McKnight Foundation, the Stoneman Family Foundations, the Fred and Charlotte Hubbell Foundation, and the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, as well as individuals and organizations in the state of Iowa. Previous funders include The Joyce Foundation, The Commonwealth Fund, the Northwest Area Foundation, the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, the Retirement Research Foundation, the Iowa Finance Authority and the United States Department of Labor.

IPP is a 501(c)(3) organization. Contributions are tax-deductible.

Our Staff
Peter Fisher, Research Director
Budget & Tax, Economic Opportunity

Peter holds a Ph.D. in economics from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Peter is a national expert on public finance and has served as a consultant to the Iowa Dept. of Economic Development, the State of Ohio, and the Iowa Business Council. His reports are regularly published in State Tax Notes and refereed journals. His book Grading Places: What Do the Business Climate Rankings Really Tell Us? was published by the Economic Policy Institute in 2005. Peter is professor emeritus of Urban and Regional Planning at the University of Iowa.
Peter provides overall supervision for IPP research activities. He is directly involved in research, writing and outreach on state tax and budget issues. He has authored or co-authored the majority of Iowa Fiscal Partnership reports and guest opinions on state tax policy. Email: pfisher (at) iowapolicyproject.org

David Osterberg, Founder, Researcher and Former Director
Energy & Environment, Economic Opportunity

David is a former Iowa state representative who was chairman of the House Energy and Environmental Protection Committee as well as the Agriculture Committee. David was the Democratic candidate for U.S. Senate in 1998 and worked for one year as a consultant to the Iowa Department of Natural Resources. David holds an M.S. in water resources management and another in agricultural economics from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He is professor emeritus in the Department of Occupational and Environmental Health at the University of Iowa.

David co-founded the organization with Mark Smith, former president of the Iowa Federation of Labor, AFL-CIO, and served as executive director from IPP’s inception through June 2013. He is co-author of several IPP energy and environment reports. David speaks widely to explain the findings of IPP reports. Email: dosterberg (at) iowapolicyproject.org
Mike Owen, Executive Director
Iowa Fiscal Partnership Director

Mike covered local, state and federal policy issues in a 21-year news career in Iowa and Pennsylvania. He received his bachelor’s degree in journalism and political science from the University of Iowa. He served three terms on the West Branch Community School Board, 2006-17.
In 2001, Mike became IPP’s first full-time employee, editing reports and coordinating communications. In July 2013 he became executive director, supervising staff, assuring strong research and financial integrity, raising funds and interacting with the Board of Directors. Mike also coordinates IPP efforts to promote public understanding of federal policy impacts on Iowans. Email: mikeowen (at) iowapolicyproject.org
Nathan Shepherd, Office Manager

Nathan joined IPP in December 2007. He has helped to manage a small business over the past decade and previously worked as an environmental organizer with a statewide advocacy organization.
Nathan received his bachelor of science degree in general agriculture - environmental studies from Southern Illinois University at Carbondale in 1987. Email: nshepherd (at) iowapolicyproject.org
Natalie Veldhouse, Research Associate
Economic Opportunity

Natalie joined IPP in January 2018. Her focus is in issues of economic opportunity and safety net policies. She previously worked with the University of Iowa Public Policy Center on education and health policy research. Natalie also served as an AmeriCorps VISTA with the Crisis Center of Johnson County, where she coordinated research efforts for the Johnson County Hunger Task Force.
She earned her master's degree in social work at the University of Iowa in 2018 and holds a bachelor of arts in ethics and public policy also from Iowa.. Email: nveldhouse (at) iowapolicyproject.org
Colin Gordon, Senior Research Consultant
Economic Opportunity

Colin has been part of IPP since its earliest days, co-authoring the first State of Working Iowa report in 2001, and each report since in that widely respected series. He also has authored other reports to advance effective and accountable policies that help working families, particularly analysis of economic development subsidies and health-care issues. He is the author of New Deals: Business, Labor, and Politics in America, 1920-1935; Dead on Arrival: The Politics of Health Care in Twentieth-Century America; and Mapping Decline: St. Louis and the Fate of the American City.

Colin has a Ph.D. in history, and is a professor and former chair in the Department of History at the University of Iowa, where in April he was named a Collegiate Fellow, the highest faculty honor in the College of Liberal Arts. Email: colin-gordon (at) uiowa.edu
Lily French, Senior Policy Consultant
Economic Opportunity and Outreach

Lily joined IPP as a research associate in March 2008, later adding the role of outreach coordinator to her duties before leaving in June 2012 for a teaching position at the University of Iowa. A former policy analyst for the US Department of Health and Human Services and the Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development, Lily also directed a women's business center in Madison, Wis., before returning to Iowa. Over the past 10 years, she has served as an adviser to state and local government officials on issues of child care, workforce development and microenterprise development.
Lily holds a Master of Social Work degree from the University of Michigan and a bachelor's degree in Sociology from the University of Iowa. Email: lily-french (at) uiowa.edu
Joseph Wilensky, Intern
Economic Opportunity and Energy

Joe Wilensky is a graduate student with the School of Urban and Regional Planning at the University of Iowa with concentrations in transportation and land use planning. He has experience working on poverty mitigation projects, community resiliency and food security initiatives, and power generation project for off-grid communities.

Joe is from New Jersey. He holds a B.A. degree in political science and economics from American University.

Our Board of Directors

Janet Carl, President, is a former Democratic state representative from Grinnell. She is director of Academic Support for Writing and Speaking at Grinnell College.
Sue Ravenscroft, Vice President, lives in Ames and is a professor of accounting at Iowa State University.
Jennifer Sherer, Treasurer, lives in Iowa City and is director of the Labor Center at the University of Iowa.
Ken Sagar, Secretary, lives in Des Moines and is president of the Iowa Federation of Labor, AFL-CIO.
Paul McAndrew is an attorney in Coralville focused on worker's compensation and disability benefits.
Lana Shope lives in Indianola and is executive director of the Iowa Community Action Association.
Dale Todd lives in Cedar Rapids and is regional director of development for the Hatch Development Group.