Joseph Jones

The Harkin Institute for Public Policy and Citizen Engagement


A native of Shreveport, Louisiana, Joseph serves as executive director for The Harkin Institute. The Institute offers nonpartisan programming, experiences, research and connectivity focused on four areas that defined the career of Senator Tom Harkin (retired): people with disabilities, retirement security, wellness and nutrition, and labor and employment.

Before joining The Harkin Institute in 2016, Joseph was Senior Vice President of Government Relations and Public Policy for the Greater Des Moines Partnership.

Prior to moving back to Iowa to join the Partnership team, Joseph served as a legislative assistant to Senator Harkin in Washington, D.C. He was responsible for the Senator’s defense appropriations work as well as the full range of military and veterans issues. Additionally, he focused on the Senator’s other appropriations work and housing issues and advised the Senator on small business and trade. Prior to that, Joseph served as Director of Governmental Affairs for the Iowa Finance Authority; and was the Senior Communications Specialist for Governor Tom Vilsack’s administration. Before that, he was the Chief of Staff and Education Director for Creative Visions Human Development Institute, a non-profit organization targeting at-risk youth in Central Iowa.

In the area of politics, Joseph served as the Iowa Political Director for the 2008 Obama campaign for president and is a past Political Director for the Iowa Democratic Party. Joseph was elected to the Windsor Heights, Iowa City Council in 2017.

Joseph is a graduate of the United States Military Academy Preparatory School and earned his BBA in economics from Loyola University New Orleans. He earned a Master of Public Administration degree in public policy and a Certificate in Non-Profit Leadership and Administration from Drake University. In 2014, he was presented Drake’s Distinguished MPA Alumnus Award. He is a graduate of Air Command and Staff College and is also a Fellow of the Truman National Security Project. Currently, Joseph is a doctoral student at Drake University, pursing an EdD in Educational Leadership. In 2018, he was the Executive in Residence at the University of Iowa’s College of Public Health.