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DMACC announces schedule for 2023 Celebrate! Innovation series

DMACC has announced the event schedule for the 14th annual Celebrate! Innovation (ciLive! 14) Speaker Series, which will take place March 9, 2023, at the DMACC West Campus in West Des Moines.

This year’s ciLive! theme is “Be Your Own Superhero,” and will celebrate the many ways we can all achieve superhero status through creative thinking and collaboration.  All ciLive! speaker events are free and open to the public, and free livestreaming is available via e360tv.

“We’re excited to continue ciLive! at DMACC with another fascinating and diverse group of speakers this Spring,” said ciLive! founder and DMACC West Campus Provost Dr. Anthony Paustian. “This series has grown tremendously over the past 14 years, and it continues to evolve and inspire.

Event schedule

ciLive! 14 will feature the following schedule of speakers:

  • 10 a.m.Mitch Matthews, the host of the top-ranked “DREAM THINK DO” podcast. Matthews’ goal is to help people to push through their fear to DREAM bigger, THINK better and DO more of what they were put on the planet to do. A native of Newton, Iowa, he now resides in Des Moines.
  • 11 a.m.,Dr. Shawna Pandya, a physician, aquanaut, scientist-astronaut, martial artist and advanced underwater diver. With backgrounds in neuroscience, space, entrepreneurship and medicine, Dr. Pandya has led a life devoted to technology, innovation, social development and adventure.
  • 12:30 p.m., Alex Weber, an author, international keynote speaker on leadership and peak performance, and the only person to both host and compete on NBC’s Emmy-nominated series “American Ninja Warrior.”
  • 1:30 p.m.Molly Bloom, the best-selling author of “Molly’s Game,” a memoir that chronicles her journey from a college student and Los Angeles waitress to founder and operator of the largest and most notorious private poker game in the world. An award-winning film adaptation of her book, starring actress Jessica Chastain and directed by Aaron Sorkin, was released in 2017.
  • 2:30 p.m.John Ratzenberger, an actor and director who is best known for playing Cliff on the beloved TV sitcom “Cheers” throughout the show’s entire 11-year run. Ratzenberger has also voiced a variety of PIXAR characters; in fact, he is the only actor to voice a character in every PIXAR film released to date.
  • 3:30 p.m., screening of the new feature documentary film “Kinnick: The Documentary” (92 minutes), which tells the story of Iowa native Nile Kinnick as a child of the Depression, winner of the Heisman Trophy and pilot during World War II. Scott Siepker, also known as the “Iowa Nice Guy,” is the film’s executive producer.
  • 5 p.m., After Party featuring a Kenny & Friends concert with Grammy Award-winning drummer Kenny Aronoff, who was named one of the “100 Greatest Drummers of All Time” by Rolling Stone magazine. Aronoff has recorded and toured with some of the biggest stars in every genre of music, including John Mellencamp, John Fogerty, Bob Seger, Ringo Starr, Willie Nelson, Johnny Cash, Melissa Etheridge, Gregg Allman, Alanis Morissette, Goo Goo Dolls, Joe Cocker, Sting and many others.
DMACC announces schedule for 2023 Celebrate! Innovation series | Clay & Milk
A central Iowa ag-tech accelerator has secured more backers and finally has a name. The Greater Des Moines Partnership first announced the accelerator last year, naming four initial investors. On Monday, the Partnership said the program will be called the "Iowa AgriTech Accelerator" and named three new investors. The new investors include Grinnell Mutual, Kent Corp. and Sukup Manufacturing, all Iowa companies. They join investors Deere & Co., Peoples Co., Farmers Mutual Hail Insurance Co. and DuPont Pioneer. Each investor has agreed to put up $100,000 for the first year of the accelerator. Startups entering the program will receive $40,000 in seed funding in exchange for 6 percent equity. Tej Dhawan, an angel investor and local startup mentor, is serving as interim director until the AgriTech Accelerator names a permanent leader. Dhawan held a similar role with the GIA before Brian Hemesath was named as managing director. As interim director, Dhawan said his main job includes hiring the accelerator's executive director, establishing a business structure and initial recruiting for the first cohort. The accelerator will place few filters, such as location and product, on the applicant pool, Dhawan said. "When you’re seeking innovation, innovation can come from every corner of the world so why restrict ourselves," he said. One area the the AgriTech Accelerator won't recruit from is biotech. For its first cohort, the AgriTech Accelerator will work out of the GIA's space in Des Moines' East Village, Dhawan said. A future, permanent home is still to be decided. The accelerator's program will host startups from mid-July through mid-October, ending with an event connected to the annual World Food Prize. The GIA, which the AgriTech Accelerator is based on, also ends with presentations at an industry event. The accelerator has also started lining up a mentor pool. The Iowa Corn Growers Association, Iowa Soybean Association and the Iowa Pork Producers Association have agreed to provide mentors, as has Iowa State University. While the AgriTech Accelerator is loosely based off of the GIA, it will differ in its business structure, Dhawan said. The GIA runs through a for-profit model for both operations and its investment fund. The AgriTech Accelerator will have a nonprofit model for its operations and a for-profit setup for its fund. Dhawan said the nonprofit model is being used so the accelerator can better work with other nonprofit partners, such as trade associations. "These are all organizations that are nonprofits and can be amazing stakeholders without ever having to be investors in the accelerator," he said. "It becomes easier to work with trade associations in their nonprofit role when we are also a nonprofit." When it's up and running, the AgriTech Accelerator would be one of a handful of ag-focused startup development programs in Iowa. Others include the Ag Startup Engine out of Iowa State University and the Rural Ventures Alliance from Iowa MicroLoan. Matthew Patane is the managing editor and co-founder of Clay & Milk. Send him an email at
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