By Emily Kestel

Last year, to launch the Fearless initiative, we introduced you to 12 fearless Iowa women. Together, they were courageous, honest, confident, persistent, brave, purposeful, daring, resilient, authentic, unselfish, passionate and persistent. 

The six people we talked to this year are no different. They’ve taken big risks, they serve as leaders in their respective communities in their own right, and they are confident in doing so.  

At the beginning of each interview, I ask them to tell me about a time that they were fearless. I let them take that prompt wherever they’d like. Many of them elaborate on particular moments, but what I found was that for most of them, they’ve lived their whole lives fearlessly.




Being fearless is making the choice to be honest about who you really are. Read Jo Allen’s story.


Being fearless is demanding to not be invisible. Read Suzan Erem’s story. 


Being fearless is taking care of your family after an immigration raid. Read Maria Gonzalez-Alvarez’s story.


Being fearless is moving to a new country after spending 10 years in a refugee camp. Read Dalia Kyi’s story.


Being fearless is saying yes when the president asks if you would consider serving as a U.S. ambassador. Read Mary Kramer’s story. 


Being fearless is continuing to move forward after unimaginable loss. Read Teresa Zilk’s story.


All of these stories are purposely told in their own words to elevate and empower their voices. They have been edited and condensed for clarity.

I’ve always described the Fearless profiles as ones that shed light on who someone is, not just what someone does. That being said, these stories are deeply personal. I hope by reading them, you are able to empathize with them. Hold them close and share them with others. We all have moments of fearlessness, and I encourage you to share them with us

At its core, Fearless aims to amplify the perspectives of all Iowa women and gender-nonconforming individuals. The stories in this issue represent all of us. We are all fearless. 


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