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Yena Balekyani

Yena Balekyani is a former refugee from the Democratic Republic of the Congo. She received her bachelor’s degree in Political Science and Sociology (‘17) and a master’s Degree in International Relations with expertise in foreign policy from University of Kent-Brussels School of International Studies where she also worked at the European Commission’s Supporting Democracy-A Citizen Organizations Programme (SOFRECO) as an intern. Yena has been politically organizing (campaigns and social movements) and advocating for policy and systematic changes for almost a decade on the issues of immigration, education, social justice and economic equity, climate change, universal health care and voting rights for folks with previous convictions. After living in Belgium for 2 years while earning her Masters, Yena returned to Iowa and in 2019, she organized for Cory Booker in Scott County Iowa and Organized rural Pennsylvania with Organizing Together 2020 before join Iowa Democrats as a Constituency Engagement Director focusing on grassroots organizing, voter and constituency engagement and outreach and coalition building. Outside the political sphere, Yena is Executive Director for Congolese Youth Connect, a nonprofit organization that works to empower Congolese refugee and immigrant youths through mentorship. Yena manages a municipal race in Des Moines and is also a Board member of The Iowa Black Liberation Collective which was founded after the murder of George Floyd and her work within the work is focused on issue advocacy and strategic planning for awareness and education campaigns around legislative issues and community needs.

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