2018 First Amendment Days Speakers

Kirsten Anderson
Kirsten Anderson

Kirsten Anderson is a passionate communicator who found herself an unlikely advocate for those facing harassment in the workplace after she took a stand against her former employer: the State of Iowa. On May 17, 2013 she was fired from her job after five successful years as Communications Director for Iowa Senate Republicans.

Kirsten was fired seven hours after formally complaining about repeated harassment and retaliatory behavior by staff and lawmakers at the Iowa Statehouse. She sued the State of Iowa and Iowa Senate Republicans for wrongful termination, harassment, and retaliation and was awarded $2.2 million by a jury of her peers. This rare award sent a message to the Iowa statehouse that harassment, intimidation, and retaliation is not tolerated in the work place, especially where Iowa’s laws are made.

As #metoo takes the country by storm and empowers others to step forward, Kirsten is working to stand up for what’s right and support others who have experienced harassment in the workplace. She is determined to see all workplace harassment end in her lifetime through education, victim support, and continued dialogue. In order to ensure a safe working environment, Kirsten is advocating to end victim shaming and start a conversation on the issue. Harassment doesn’t simply happen to women and everyone deserves to work at a place free of offensive and retaliatory behavior.

Kirsten has a degree in broadcast journalism from Northwest Missouri State University. Her professional experience includes running a non-profit, working as a communication coach and trainer, and managing an award-winning professional development program. She is a 2008 Greater Des Moines Leadership Institute graduate and former Leadership Institute Board of Governors member. She currently President Elect of the local chapter of the Association of Women in Communications and in her free time enjoys sharing the hilarious random things her eight year-old son says and enjoying just about any live music show with her husband.

How to connect with Kirsten:




Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/KirstenAndersonAdvocate/

Anderson will present “Speaking Up About Workplace Harassment at 12:10 p.m. on Wednesday, April 11, in 163 Hamilton Hall.

Emily Blobaum
Emily Blobaum

Emily Blobaum is a senior in journalism and mass communication at Iowa State University. She is also the managing editor of content and a photojournalist at the Iowa State Daily. She has a passion for multimedia documentary journalism but also enjoys taking photos of athletic events and writing features about students from diverse backgrounds.

Blobaum has interned at Iowa Public Television as a production assistant and the Herald Publishing Company as a photographer. She was raised in Des Moines, Iowa, and enjoys traveling and spending time outdoors.

Blobaum is a recipient of the 2018 Greenlee School and Kappa Tau Alpha Diversity & Inclusion Award. She will be be recognized and share her work at a presentation ceremony at 9 a.m. on Friday, April 13, at 169 Hamilton Hall.

Ally Karsyn is the founder, producer and host of Ode, a live storytelling series where community members tell true stories on stage to promote positive impact through empathy. Each event is recorded for broadcast on Siouxland Public Media, the NPR affiliate in Sioux City, Iowa, where she is the arts producer and afternoon announcer. She received the 2017 Images & Voices of Hope Restorative Narrative Fellowship for her work on the storytelling series. Ode also won Current’s 2017 Local That Works contest.

Karsyn is a former features reporter and columnist for the Sioux City Journal. She received the 2016 Genevieve Mauck Stoufer Outstanding Young Iowa Journalists Award and the 2016 Jay P. Wagner Prize for Young Journalists from the Iowa Newspaper Association.

Karsyn is a recipient of the 2018 Greenlee School and Kappa Tau Alpha Diversity & Inclusion Award. She will be recognized and share her work at a presentation ceremony at 9 a.m. on Friday, April 13, at 169 Hamilton Hall. She will also lead a session exploring the meaning of belonging through art at 10 a.m. following the presentation ceremony in 172 Hamilton.

Paul Kix. Photograph © Beowulf Sheehan
Paul Kix. Photograph © Beowulf Sheehan

Paul Kix is an alumnus of Iowa State’s Greenlee School of Journalism and Communication. Since he graduated in 2003 Kix has written for such publications as the New Yorker, GQ, New York, Men’s Journal, and the Wall Street Journal.

His first book, The Saboteur, was just published by Harper, an imprint of HarperCollins. It’s a nonfiction narrative based on the war exploits of Robert de La Rochefoucauld, a French aristocrat who became a Resistance leader during WWII, escaping three times from the Nazis, and gaining expertise from a secret band of British commandos on whom Ian Fleming based James Bond.

Kix will present “Talk is Cheap. Free Speech Isn’t: Why the First Amendment Is Worth It” at 8 p.m. Thursday, April 12, at Benton Auditorium in the Scheman Building.

Kix will also present a reading of his book followed by a Q&A and book signing, at 2 p.m. April 14 at the Ames Public Library.

John Whyte
John Whyte

John Whyte was educated at the University of Toronto, Queen’s University and Harvard Law School. He was a member of the Queen’s University Faculty of Law for 28 years, serving as its Dean from 1987 to 1992. He has also taught at Osgoode Hall Law School of York University and at the University of Toronto Faculty of law, and at Niigata University, Tilburg University and the University of Melbourne. He was the Douglas McK. Brown Visiting Professor at University of British Columbia and held the Law Foundation of Saskatchewan Chair at the University of Saskatchewan.

He has been awarded an honorary degree by York University.

His public service career includes serving as the Director of Constitutional Law for the Government of Saskatchewan during national constitutional negotiations from 1979 to 1982. In this position, he participated in the drafting of Canada’s Constitution Act, 1982, including the new Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. He also served as Saskatchewan’s Deputy Minister of Justice and Deputy Attorney-General from 1997 to 2002. He has appeared before the Supreme Court of Canada in a number of constitutional cases.

He has also been part of constitutional reform processes in the Republic of Georgia, Nepal and Vietnam.

Whyte will present “Is Democracy Dying?” at 7 p.m. Wednesday, April 11, at Alliant Energy-Lee Liu Auditorium in Howe Hall.