Capital Clicks

 Greater Des Moines Partnership CEO selected as Simpson president

By: - May 15, 2023 3:48 pm

Jay Byers has been named president of Simpson College. (Photos courtesy of Greater Des Moines Partnership and Simpson College)

Jay Byers, president and CEO of the Greater Des Moines Partnership, was selected as the 25th president of Simpson College, both organizations announced Monday. 

Byers is a 1993 graduate of Simpson, and has served on the board of trustees since 2012, and previously served the college as an adjunct professor from 2001 until 2004.

In January, Simpson College President Marsha Kelliher announced her plans to retire from Simpson in 2023, and would work until a successor is named. The private college located in Indianola has been under the leadership of Kelliher since June 2020.

In a news release from Simpson, Byers shared his appreciation to the college. 

“I am truly humbled and honored to receive the confidence of Simpson’s board of trustees and the presidential search committee,” Byers said. “During my board service, I have gained a front row view of the exciting momentum that continues to grow at Simpson. I am thrilled to be joining such an impressive community of students, faculty, staff, alumni and benefactors who make Simpson such a special place.”

Terry Handley, chair of Simpson’s board of trustees, noted Byers’ leadership style. 

“Jay is the perfect choice to lead Simpson College,” Handley said. “He has a fervent passion for Simpson’s mission and a distinguished history of game-changing, visionary leadership. We are excited to see the innovative boldness he will bring to building on the significant strategic momentum created under President Kelliher.”

Simpson is a private liberal arts college that serves about 1,200 students. Simpson’s main campus is located in Indianola, with another campus in West Des Moines targeted toward continuing and graduate students.

Byers worked with the partnership for 18 years, and started serving as president and CEO in 2012. Before that, he served as the organization’s senior vice president of government relations and public policy starting in 2005. 

The Partnership noted Byers’ desire to differentiate the Greater Des Moines region with placemaking projects. Byers was involved in various Des Moines area projects, including the Lauridsen Skatepark, the Pro Iowa Soccer Stadium, Iowa Confluence Water Trails and more. 

During Byers’ tenure, Des Moines has become the fastest-growing major metro in the Midwest in terms of population, GDP and job growth, according to a Partnership news release. 

“Jay’s visionary leadership has had an enormous impact on Greater Des Moines, and we have been extraordinarily fortunate to have him at the helm of The Partnership for over 11 years,” Mike McCoy, Partnership board chair, said in a news release. “He has helped transform our community, helping put DSM on the map, while also fostering a culture of collaboration and innovation.”

Simpson will formally announce Byers on Wednesday in the Kent Campus Center on Simpson’s campus.

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Jay Waagmeester
Jay Waagmeester

Jay is an intern based in Ames and is currently a senior majoring in journalism and marketing at Iowa State University. He has interned at New Century Press and contributed to the Iowa State Daily.