Hugs, chills, tears: A Recap of the 2022 DEI Awards

The DEI Workplace Excellence Awards is a special one, and the second year was certainly one to remember.

Live music from Guitarras ATM filled the air along with delicious scents from the multicultural cuisine. Hands were shaken and hugs were exchanged as community members met and connected with one another.

The room was full of 300 leaders from across Central Iowa who came from a variety backgrounds, yet all share one goal of making our region more diverse, more equitable, and more inclusive.


As the program began and each recipient spoke on stage, eyes filled with tears and the energy in the room grew exponentially. After a video was played that summarized the work the judges based their selection on (view those here), award recipients gave an acceptance speech that ended with a challenge. The challenges are actionable ways others can continue to move the needle forward.

After one month has passed since the DEI Awards, we encourage you to reflect on what you have been able to put into motion so far and what you plan to do next.

The following is a summary of the challenges shared throughout the evening:

1) Find your brothers & sisters and help build a diverse community with them.

2) Rethink the false narratives of immigrants who are hurting from violence and starvation.

3) Get outside of your comfort zone. Connect with others who you don’t know and who don’t look like you.

4) Get to know other cultures.

5) Do something, big or small, for advancing DEI. Our community will be better for it.

6) Listen to the voice that you have and get involved.

7) We are better together. It takes many of us to advance positive change.

8) Uplift humanity.

9) Support ending poverty and support social justice.

10) Get comfortable being uncomfortable. Sit next to someone you don’t know.

11) Focus on impact over transaction.

12) Study history of those who have been marginalized.

13) Draw closer with what you don’t understand.

14) Be someone that is not afraid to speak up.

Start with even just one of these things. Small steps in the right direction add up to make a big difference. As you take next steps on your personal and organization’s DEI journey, be sure to share your story and uplift others through the new statewide hashtag: #DEIowa.

Photos from the DEI Awards can be found here, as well as a highlight video here. Videos of the recipients’ speeches can be found here. Be sure to connect with the below sponsors and partner organizations doing important work. Read the full post-event press release here, including details about the two scholarships thanks to American Equity. Reach out to the WDM Chamber if you’re interested in joining the DEI Committee.

Just as Katherine ended the DEI Awards saying “cheers” in multiple languages, we want to extend a big thank you in some of the languages found across West Des Moines: gracias, danke, kyay zuu tin bar tal, shukran, hvala ti, asante, cảm ơn, yinca leec, merci, xiè xie.

Thank you to MC Audrey Kennis, Video Partner Known Labs, award provider Triplett Office Solutions, below sponsors and partners, judges, volunteers, and of course attendees.

Thank you ALL for your support and dedication to DEI work. Together, we will make Central Iowa the best place to live, work, and raise a family—for everyone.

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DEI Workplace Excellence Awards Logo










Show Support for DEI

Want to show your support of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion by sponsoring these Workplace Excellence Awards in 2023? Contact Kara Matheson, VP of Workforce Development & Culture.  

Our vision is to make West Des Moines the best suburban city in America to live, work and play—for everyone. Now is the time to show pride in our vibrant, diverse community. We look forward to you being involved in the Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion Workplace Excellence Awards. 

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