Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement

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Template:TOCnestleft Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement is based in Des Moines Iowa.


The vision of Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement was born, in the rectory of St. Joseph’s Catholic Church in Waterloo. Iowa CCI was conceived by a handful of clergy who believed that ordinary people, when given the chance, can be a powerful force for justice.

Today that spirit of justice marches on through the work of thousands of Iowa CCI members like you, across the state, who continue to tackle tough issues and get things done.

The 1970s – Localized Action

CCI in 1977 We got our start in Waterloo in 1975. We quickly grew to include Cedar Rapids, Council Bluffs, Des Moines, Dubuque and Sioux City. We began to build our people power by showing what was possible largely through organizing around local and neighborhood issues – we put people first on issues of abandoned housing, use of city funds and slum landlords.

The 1980s – Rural and Urban United

Iowa CCI in the 80's Becoming truly statewide, our organizing branched out to include farmers and rural residents in addition to Iowa’s metropolitan cities. We began looking for organizing issues that cut across the state and focused on larger targets. We put people first on issues of high utility rates and farm foreclosures.

The 1990s – Here to Stay Iowa CCI in the 90's We made two of the “best decisions we’ve ever made” – we became a dues-paying membership organization and we bought our own office building. Both moves signaled that Iowa CCI will be putting people first in Iowa for the long haul. We helped urban residents reclaim their neighborhoods from drug dealers and rural residents fight corporate-backed factory farms.

The 2000s – Winning National Accolades

CCI in the 2000's We began to bring people together around a common vision – still about issues that hit home, but we began articulating a broad economic, environmental and political justice vision for the state. We reached out to immigrants in our community; we took on predatory mortgage lenders; and we put our work squarely on the national level by hosting the Heartland Presidential Forum in 2007.[1]

Cathy Glasson endorsement


Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement endorsed Cathy Glasson for Governor in September.

HUGE NEWS — Citizens for Community Improvement (CCI) Action Fund endorsed Cathy Glasson this morning! With 4000 people now committed to knock doors and make calls, this is BIG!

CCI PAC for Glasson

Hugh Espey, executive director of Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement has been doing social justice work in Iowa since the 1970s. He pounds the table as he talks about how the Democrats have talked a great game for decades, but done little. “I am sick and tired,” he says, “of being sick and tired of being fucked over by bullshit promises on the campaign trail.”

This election cycle, Espey thinks things will be different. “That right there,” he says, jabbing a finger toward a photograph in a photocopied article on the wall of CCI’s offices. “That right there is a movement candidate.”

The candidate is Cathy Glasson, an intensive care nurse and Service Employees International Union (SEIU) local president who’s running for the Democratic nomination for governor.

The GOP’s aggressively antilabor agenda has inspired CCI to set up a PAC and take its first plunge into state-level politics, working on behalf of Glasson. She fits the 43-year-old community organizing group’s vision of movement politics: Her candidacy emerged from her role as president of SEIU Local 199, which represents healthcare and education workers in 20 bargaining units across the state. And she foregrounds issues that her six Democratic opponents shy away from: Big Ag’s role in Iowa’s water pollution problems, for example, and the need for single-payer, universal healthcare.[2]

Board of Direcors

2014 – 2015 Iowa CCI Board



  • Stopped 100+ factory farms from building or expanding.
  • Forced Iowa to comply with the Clean Water Act!
  • Recovered more than $170,000 in stolen wages for workers in the past three years.
  • And, won strong ordinances to curb the growth of predatory payday lenders in Cedar Rapids, Windsor Heights, Des Moines, West Des Moines, Clive, Ames, Waterloo, Iowa City and Dubuque.