Robert Denson

President, Des Moines Area Community College


Rob Denson was chosen to receive this inaugural award for his outspoken support of school counselors and the Iowa School Counselor Association to community college advisors, college presidents, board of trustees, business and industry leaders, legislators, and Governor Reynolds. Rob’s nominators state that “no one else of Rob’s institutional stature or political connection has been so personally involved and invested in the advancement of ISCA and the School Counselors it supports, advocating always for better rations and training so that they can support the postsecondary goals our state needs to attain.” Through Rob’s advocacy, school counselors have gained access and leadership positions is groups and committees directly impacting their daily work, such as the Governor’s STEM Council, Go Alliance and Work Teams for the Future Ready Iowa initiative, meetings with Iowa Department of Education Director Ryan Wise, and several listening conversations with Governor Reynolds.

In November 2015, Rob joined an ISCA-led delegation to the White House Convening on Strengthening School Counseling and College Advising devoting time to engaging in a national conversation about school counselors and college readiness, and was featured as a keynote speaker. Iowa was the only state delegation invited to present to the national audience and Rob was a highlight of that presentation, advocating for the need for school counselors to spend more direct time with students, the need for more and better data on careers and opportunities available in their geographic areas, lower counselor-to-student ratios, and advocated for superintendents and principals to learn how to effectively utilize school counselors in their administrative preparation.

Through Rob’s work with the Governor’s STEM Council, he was able to assist ISCA in commissioning a comprehensive review of the functions, use and duties of school counselors in Iowa and make recommendations as to how they can more effectively promote postsecondary education and careers. The results of the study, “Iowa School Counselors and Career Readiness: A study of school counselors’ roles, responsibilities, and proctices to prepare Iowa students for their future as reported by school counselors and administrators”, has been shared with key stakeholders throughout the state.

His nominators concluded their application for Rob stating:

“Simply put, Rob’s message doesn’t change – whenever he has the floor on any topic involving K-12 education preparing students for the future, he strongly promotes how important school counselors are to the work and how key ISCA is as an organization to positive student outcomes.”

ISCA is proud to award the inaugural Advocate of the Year Award to Rob Denson.


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