Emily Westergaard is the CEO of the By Degrees Foundation (formerly called the Des Moines I Have a Dream Foundation), which works to ensure more kids graduate from high school and pursue education after high school. As the chief professional officer of the organization, Emily has led the development of an innovative new model for program delivery expanding the organizations support for entire schools. Launched in 2014, By Degrees’ whole-school model is the first of its kind in the nation to partner with public schools and create long-term, sustainable, and proactive support for students in
under-served neighborhoods, and to pair that support with comprehensive financial capacity building and college savings accounts.
Emily has over 20 years of experience fundraising and managing programs within community organizations and higher education institutions. She has a master's in public administration from Drake University, her bachelor’s in international development from Grinnell College, and spent her first few years after college as a Fellow at the at the Desert Research Foundation in southern Africa.
Emily recently joined the Broadlawns Medical Center Foundation Board of Directors, is a past chair of the Polk County Early Childhood Board and serves as an appointed member of the City of Des Moines Housing Services Board.
She is a member of Releve, the Consortium, and Comment Club. Emily was recognized with the Inspiring Woman of Iowa Award in 2019, inducted into the North High School Hall of Family in 2018, and was a member of the 2015 40 Under Forty Class.