Deidre DeJear grew up around small businesses. Her father was a car salesman before opening a home care agency with DeJear’s uncle, and DeJear spent her first job in the human resources department, learning the behind-the-scenes clockwork that makes small businesses tick. 

The lessons never left her: In 2008 DeJear launched Caleo Enterprises, and in both business and volunteer work, she is dedicated to helping other small businesses grow. To encourage that development, she advocates for personal finance education through the Financial Empowerment Center and the Financial Fix, a television show she created. 

DeJear’s passion to advocate for her communities also brought her into state politics: She joined President Barack Obama’s reelection campaign in 2012 and organized two successful school board campaigns for Teree Caldwell-Johnson and Dionna Langford before she stepped in as a candidate herself, this time in the 2016 campaign as the Iowa Democratic Party’s nominee for secretary of state. DeJear was not elected, but she said she’d consider a campaign again if she believed she could add value to the role. 

“If you want to change something, you need to be a part of it,” she said. “I care about voting, I care about people’s engagement with policy whether they’re on a board or they’re just simply going to cast their ballot.” 

DeJear is also a dedicated basketball fan, and was the assistant coach for girls’ basketball from 2008 to 2014 at East High School in Des Moines. 

“Basketball for so many of our girls is an outlet, and it’s also a gateway to college. I really enjoyed those experiences with them, watching them grow,” she said. “That’s just another way to love on our young girls. Sports hasn’t always been a thing that women were welcomed to do, and we want to make sure that women have access to be able to play sports like this.” 

In everything she does, DeJear’s first goal is to be an advocate for her community, she said. 

“Because this state and the people in this state poured so much into my life, helping me to identify a path in which I could add value, I want to definitely make sure that I’m taking the opportunity to use that pathway to continue to add value to my community,” DeJear said. 

DeJear's Areas of Influence:

Community program coordinator: DeJear started as a Drake University student by organizing the annual Back to School Bash with friends 13 years ago. In 2013, she developed the Financial Capability Network to build financial literacy skills among low-income individuals and families; since 2018, the organization has continued as the Financial Empowerment Center. In 2015, DeJear created the television show “The Financial Fix” to guide individuals through financial sustainability. 

Small-business owner and supporter: DeJear founded Caleo Enterprises in 2008, which specializes in marketing and project development for small business and nonprofit clients. 

Political organizer and candidate: DeJear took a leave of absence from Caleo in 2012 to work for Organizing for America, the campaign to reelect President Barack Obama. In 2013 and 2015, Deidre ran the campaign of Des Moines Public Schools school board incumbent Teree Caldwell-Johnson and first-time candidate Dionna Langford, both of whom won their elections. In 2016, DeJear became the first African American female to be the Iowa Democratic Party’s nominee for office of Iowa secretary of state, and garnered more than 575,000 votes against incumbent Secretary of State Paul Pate.