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For nearly fifteen years, Jen Carruthers has been at the forefront of building a more progressive, inclusive, and engaging capital city. Jen's inspiring leadership led her to co-found Dapper DSM, Des Moines' only lesbian-owned barbershop, and help shape organizations like Capital City Pride (CCP), where she recently served as board president and sponsorship director. During her years leading the board, Jen co-led CCP's Pride Fest from a modest local event attracting 2,500 attendees in 2017 to the largest LGBTQ+ cultural gathering in the state of Iowa, welcoming over 50,000 attendees in June of 2023. In just two and half years, Jen created and executed CCP's most robust fundraising strategy since its inception in 1978, working alongside board colleagues to raise a record-breaking $1.2 million.


Her vision for spaces that celebrate Queer culture brought shows like Lez Talk to the Des Moines Social Club, and Drag King DSM, Jen's brainchild and the country's largest all-drag king show, showcasing incredible artists from multiple states to Wooly's for thirteen years (and counting!). Jen is an avid social connector and respected change maker within local business and nonprofit communities, particularly those serving the interests of LGBTQ+ Iowans and the arts. She is a Forty under 40 award recipient, Inspiring Women finalist by Girls Scouts of Greater Iowa, Amadeo Rossi Innovator of the Year award winner from the Des Moines Music Coalition and a graduate of Lead DSM. A seasoned relationship builder and exceptional leader with a stalwart sense of purpose, Jen believes embracing innovation and diversity is essential to a thriving community.


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