Posted by: Academy of Achievement | 09/20/2011

David A. Yepsen, Class of 1968

Director, Paul Simon Public Policy Institute, Southern Illinois University, Carbondale

David A. Yepsen is director of the Paul Simon Public Policy Institute at Southern Illinois University, Carbondale.

Before assuming that position in 2009, he had a 34-year career with the Des Moines Register, serving as the paper’s chief political writer, political editor and political columnist. In addition to his thrice-weekly column, he also blogged about politics for the paper’s website DesMoinesRegister.com. He was also a regular panelist on Iowa Public Television’s weekly “Iowa Press” news interview program for over 30 years. Mr. Yepsen has also appeared on a variety of national radio and television programs commenting on Iowa politics and the presidential caucus campaigns in the state.

In November, 1994, the American Political Hotline named Mr. Yepsen one of “America’s best political reporters outside the Beltway.” In 1997, Washingtonian Magazine named him one of the “best Washington reporters who doesn’t live in Washington,” and in 2000 Brill’s Content magazine named him to their list of “all-star” political writers.

In 1999, veteran political reporter Jack Germond wrote Mr. Yepsen “is one of the premier political writers in the country.” Mr. Yepsen served on the national advisory board for the start of “stateline.org,” an Internet publication started by the Pew Foundation to improve coverage of state governments.

In his book about his 1988 presidential race, the late Illinois Senator Paul Simon praised Yepsen’s objectivity. “Every four years the chief political reporter for the Des Moines Register becomes the most important reporter in the nation,” he said. “It is a position that could cause vanity and abuse. To his credit, David Yepsen handled this position with sensitivity and balance. And he worked hard.”

A native of Jefferson, Iowa Yepsen is a 1972 graduate of the University of Iowa. He has also done graduate work in journalism and mass communication at Iowa State University and in 1985 earned a Masters in Public Administration (MPA) degree from Drake University. In 1989 he was a fellow at the Shorenstein Center on the Press, Politics and Public Policy at the Harvard Kennedy School. In 2008, he was a fellow at the Institute of Politics at Harvard where he led a study group on the nation’s presidential selection processes.

Yepsen recalls his experience attending the Academy of Achievement’s 1968 program as a student delegate. “That event was a big deal to a kid from small town Iowa. I felt very special. I remember riding on an elevator alone with Senator Daniel Inouye. It was just a few minutes of small talk, but he seemed genuinely interested in me, and I was inspired by his personal story and courage. He remains an inspiration today.”

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