John Norris has carried through his career a passion for public service, spanning the realms of politics, policy, advocacy, and consulting.
A prominent figure in Iowa politics, John commenced his political journey with Congressman Tom Harkin’s staff during the 1980s. Originating from grassroots activism, John’s involvement expanded into community organizing, fundraising, and managing multiple campaigns. He played a pivotal role in addressing the Iowa Farm Crisis while working for the Iowa Farm Unity Coalition, fostering policy change and advocacy within the state legislature. In 1993, he coordinated the Farm Aid Concert in Ames, Iowa, featuring Willie Nelson and Neil Young.
John’s diverse career encompassed key positions such as chief of staff for Congressman Leonard Boswell, state chair of the Iowa Democratic Party, and chief of staff for Governor Tom Vilsack, later becoming the chief of staff for the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture. During Vilsack’s first term as governor, John was selected to chair the Governor’s Working Group on Electric Restructuring and was later appointed chairman of the Iowa Utilities Board.
Twice nominated by President Obama and confirmed by the Senate, John served as a commissioner on the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. His global service led him to Rome, Italy, as the U.S. Minister-Counselor for Agriculture to the United Nations Food and Agricultural Organization and the World Food Program.
Returning to Iowa with his family, John became a partner at SPPG (State Public Policy Group), now Horizon Group. Returning to public service, John became the Polk County administrator in 2020.
John lives in Des Moines with his wife, Jackie, and their sons Hunter, Cole, and Sam. Outside of work, John can be found actively engaging in community service or tending to his impressive backyard garden.
More about John
Bachelors in political science, Simpson College
Juris Doctorate, University of Iowa College of Law
Moments I Cherish:
Vacation trips with my family
Favorite Place in Iowa:
When I was six, I wanted to be…
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