Rob Dillard

Correspondent

Rob Dillard is a Des Moines based correspondent for Iowa Public Radio. He joined IPR in 2001 as host of Morning Edition and moved to reporting in 2007.  He has been on special assignment for IPR since early 2011 reporting the ongoing series “Being in Iowa.” It has taken him around the state shining light on small segments of the population, including Muslims, military veterans, Latinos and the physically disabled. The series has won awards from the Radio Television Digital News Association (RTDNA) and Northwest Broadcast News Association (NBNA).

Rob has extensive experience in radio, newspaper and media relations dating back more than 30 years. He has also taught news writing at Central College in Pella. Rob earned his bachelor’s degree in mass communications at the University of Iowa.

Rob’s favorite public radio program is Morning Edition.

Ways To Connect

Rob Dillard

Clemen Wilcox counts how long she’s lived in the Midwest by the number of winters, not years. This is her 13th.

Rob Dillard

Sarai Tillinghast is encouraging minority students to become teachers in Des Moines. She shares moments from her own meaningful career to convince them to join the ranks. Here's the story of the project known as Dream to Teach.

Rob Dillard

It’s time for Arabic class at Central Academy on the west edge of downtown Des Moines. Today’s lesson: naming the seasons of the year.

Rob Dillard

Two young Central Iowans have been helping to fund schools in Kenya since they were teenagers. Hopeful Africa started as an after-school club is now a serious nonprofit.

Rob Dillard

The cardio equipment and weight machines are in place for the opening of the new Des Moines YMCA on New Year’s Day. It’s being billed as the largest downtown YMCA in the country. 

Rob Dillard

An Ankeny couple is making two major gifts to support projects in their hometown. The money from Dennis and Susan Albaugh will be split between Des Moines Area Community College and the Ankeny School District.

Rob Dillard

A newly redesigned building sits on a heavily traveled stretch of road in Windsor Heights, a Des Moines suburb.  GiGi's Playhouse is a lively spot where people with Down syndrome gain self-confidence.


Ngwah-Mbo Nana Nkweti

Writer Ngwah-Mbo Nana Nkweti injects her Cameroonian heritage into stories about people who share her same multicultural background.

Amy Mayer

The Iowa Board of Regents is freezing tuition for in-state undergraduate students for the third year in a row.

Regents President Bruce Rastetter says it’s the first time in state history resident tuition has remained the same over this long a period.

Rastetter deflects concerns the freeze will mean much higher tuition in the future.

“The critical component to avoid that is the universities becoming more efficient, which they are, and then legislative state support,” he says.

University of Northern Iowa

Two Waterloo-area residents are in the midst of producing a series of five documentaries that chronicle the history of the city. The filmmakers are focusing their camera on a few locations that are key to Waterloo’s past.

Iowa Department of Public Health

A doctor on loan to the Iowa Department of Public Health is back in the state after a stint in Sierra Leone. The native of Nepal was there to track the ebola outbreak in West Africa. 

Rob Dillard

When the Iowa Department for the Blind threw a party to celebrate the 50th anniversary of White Cane Day, it called on a former client to provide entertainment. 

Photo extracted from a Dove Program poster circulated on the White Earth Indian Reservation.

The recipient of the Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation’s highest honor is being recognized for her environmental work while serving on the Jasper County Conservation Board and elsewhere. The Newton woman credits her Native American heritage for instilling a love of Mother Earth.

Credit: Grinnell College

Grinnell College President Dr. Raynard Kington leads one of the nation’s most selective, academically challenging institutions of higher learning. He uses his family’s oppressed past to introduce social justice issues to students.

Jim Mowrer for Congress Facebook Page

Democratic congressional candidate Jim Mowrer says he will not apologize for or remove television ads his campaign is running against Republican Congressman Steve King.

Rob Dillard

  Midwest-based hybrid seed giant Dupont-Pioneer, which has offices worldwide, employs someone called

   an Organizational Vibrancy Champion. In other words, she’s in charge of diversity.

“An organization becomes more vibrant when you have diversity inclusion, when you have employee engagement.”

Claudia Schabel

  holds the job on the sprawling campus of Dupont-Pioneer in Johnston. She’s nearly ideal for the job. Half of her character was shaped next to her twin sister in South America.

“I grew up in Capinas, Sao Paolo in Brazil,” she said

Rob Dillard

Li Zhao Mandelbaum comes from a nation of more than one-point-three-billion people. So the concept of small is relative.

“I often introduce myself, I’m from Nanning, a small city in China, and people will say OK tell me the population, and I will say well, we have about six million population,” she said.

Her hometown is about an hour’s flight west of Hong Kong near China’s border with Vietnam. It’s known for its lush greenery and hilly terrain. But despite its beauty, it wasn’t enough for the adventurous, young Li Zhao.

Rob Dillard

A few dozen of Central Iowa’s high-tech brain trust are pouring beers and munching tacos on the fifth floor of a downtown Des Moines office building.

They’ve come together a few days before the lights go out on a business incubator that became the centerpiece for an area known as Silicon Sixth.

They exchange pleasantries with the two men at the heart of Startup City Des Moines – Christian Renaud and Tej Dhawan.

Before the party began, Dhawan sat in a remote conference room and reflected on what he was looking to accomplish for high-tech firms in Central Iowa.

Rob Dillard

The marching band’s drum-line sets the tone for the first day of classes at Marshalltown High School.

Sixteen-hundred students fill the football-field bleachers as the school’s principal – Aiddy Phomvisay  – grabs a mike.

“If I could have your attention for less than five minutes," he announced. "I know that’s amazing that Mr. Phomvisay is only going to take five minutes to address the student body.”

Rob Dillard

Her name is Salome Nengean – born in the northwest Iowa town of Sioux Center – raised in Nigeria. She’s 29 now and, with her husband, frequently travels to the place of her youth where her mother still lives. She says during one of these trips in 2011.

“We happened to meet two kids, who were living with an elderly woman, and somehow they just caught our attention," she said. "There was just something cute about them, there were other kids, but they would just separate from the rest of the group and sit together.”

Read this candidate profile of 3rd District Candidate David Young. He was interviewed as part of IPR's 2014 Primary Voter Guide series.

Iowa Public Radio will be asking the Board of Regents next week to return its funding level for fiscal year 2015 to the amount it received in 2013: $944,800. 

That would be  $236,200 more than it was scheduled to receive under a strategic plan approved by the Regents three years ago, which gradually reduces Regents funding over a 6-year period.

A key part of the IPR plan is to become independent from university funding by 2017, replacing it with large donor contributions.

2013 has been a busy year for Iowa Public Radio's news team. Today on River to River, host Ben Kieffer talks with reporters and correspondents about some of the most meaningful and challenging stories they covered. It's a "reporter's notebook" edition of the show.

Here is a list of the full features heard on today's show:

January 10 - Undocumented Immigrants at University

Stephen Matthew Milligan / Wikimedia Commons

$81-million Bond Referendum approved for court services in Polk County

Iowa City bars will remain 21-only after 10 p.m. 

Cedar Rapids approves Local Option Sales Tax for road repair

The Board of Directors of Iowa Public Radio has named Myrna Johnson as its Executive Director effective January 27, 2014.

“After an extensive search process that began in April we are pleased Myrna has agreed to join us on January 27, 2014.  Her impressive resume, exceptional references, adept interview and public presentation skills give us great confidence in her leadership and her fundraising capabilities.  I’m confident our staff, board, donors, underwriters and listeners will enjoy working with her” said Douglas West, Chair of the search committee. 

Filmmakers and movie lovers are descending on Tipton this weekend for the Hardacre Film Festival. But as Iowa Public Radio’s Rob Dillard  reports, when the festival goes dark tomorrow (Saturday) night, so too will the theater in which it plays.

The Board of Directors of Iowa Public Radio has reached a financial settlement with former Chief Executive Officer Mary Grace Herrington.

Herrington was fired from the top job at Iowa Public Radio in late February.

According to the agreement signed by Herrington and Board Chair Kay Runge, the board will make two payments totaling 197-thousand dollars to Herrington.

The settlement says the money is for “emotional distress and other compensatory damages, and attorneys’ fees and expenses.”

In exchange, Herrington agrees to “release all claims against IPR.”

We’ve spent the week with people who perform some of the toughest work there is – the professionals and families who care for the sick and dying.  We conclude with a road trip to the south side of Des Moines. Correspondent Rob Dillard rides along with a home health nurse as she makes one of her 20 or so weekly patient visits. She delivers a style of health care reminiscent of bygone days when medical personnel often arrived at their patients’ doors to provide services. This kind of direct care is still in demand for those who are unable to venture far from home.

Iowa Public Radio has been bringing attention to the families and professionals who tend to the health needs of Iowans. It can be stressful and emotional work, perhaps never more so than when the person in need of care nears the end of life. Correspondent Rob Dillard takes us to a comfortable, peaceful place set on the edge of woods in Des Moines. It’s a hospice, a home where many people move to spend their final days.

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