Our beloved colleague Stephen Dykstra passed away on May 3. Stephen was our communication associate — his responsibilities included this website — so if it seems unusually drab, his absence is why.
Stephen was a consistently positive presence at Common Good Iowa — eager to pitch in on any task, try out a new program or test a new strategy. He played a key role rolling out our new brand following the merger of the Child and Family Policy Center and the Iowa Policy Project last year. Our website, social media, publications — Stephen's fingers were on all of them.
Did we mention positive? In any given meeting on any given issue, you could count on Stephen to ask, "Is there anything good we can say about this?" Alas, given the tenor of recent legislative sessions his colleagues sometimes struggled to come up with something, but he never stopped pushing us to try. We needed that.
Beyond all that, he anchored our shop's social connections. He and Natalie Veldhouse organized Common Good Iowa's March Madness tournament, and he hosted a series of activities (Choose your own Adventure PowerPoints and 1993 trivia contests among them) during our early-pandemic virtual happy hours.
At top right is the photo of Stephen his family has shared that just captures his beautiful and kind spirit. Below it is a selfie of Stephen, Anne Discher and Mary Nelle Trefz at Union Station in Washington, DC, in 2018. We had just finished visits to members of our congressional delegation to talk about early childhood brain development and adverse childhood experiences. We left members with a beautiful fact sheet Stephen had designed describing the science behind children's developing brains and how federal initiatives like Head Start, SNAP and the Earned Income Tax Credit help families support their children's healthy development.
Our hearts are broken.
You can read more about Stephen here. We send our love and healing thoughts to his parents Mike and Anna and his siblings, Leah, Julia and Thomas.