Prior to her work full-time with the state, EJ Philby Burton served as a freelance production assistant in the local Iowa film industry for six years. Projects included digital series, national commercials, documentaries, and traveling reality series and she worked with companies such as US Cellular, Hy-Vee, Bank of America, and Casey's General Store. In 2016, EJ graduated from the University of Iowa in the top 5% of her class, earning a BA in Cinematic Arts and a place in Phi Beta Kappa. She also minored in French and spent a year abroad, studying the intricacies of French cinema. 

EJ Philby Burton 


Nichole Parker is president and co-founder of Parker Philips, Inc., a nationally recognized consulting firm in the field of economic impact research. Nichole is a recognized expert in the field of economic impact, having personally completed more than 600 economic impact assessments in the past 25 years. Prior to founding Parker Philips, Parker was a principal at a Pittsburgh-based consulting firm for 16 years and established them as a national leader in economic impact studies for academic health centers, colleges and universities, corporations, major tourist events and nonprofit entities.

Nichole Parker


Dr. Richard Deming is a radiation oncologist and the medical director of the Mercy Cancer Center. In 2011 Dr. Deming led a group of 23 cancer survivors and caregivers on a transformational journey to Mount Everest Basecamp, and later that year launched Above + Beyond Cancer, a cancer survivorship nonprofit which elevates the lives of those touched by cancer to create a healthier word.

Since 2011 Dr. Deming has led thousands of cancer survivors on transformational journeys. His incredible stories of cancer survivors summiting mountaintops and racing across America have inspired audiences large and small for years.

Dr. Richard Deming


Ryan Dohrn is a top motivational speaker that won an Emmy for marketing excellence while working for ABC TV/Walt Disney Co. and was recognized by with the “Best of the Web” award for his business strategies. Dohrn's focus is leadership training and team performance development. His passion for sales and marketing has given him the unique opportunity to touch half a billion dollars in revenue for companies in seven countries. His management insights have been featured in USA Today and on CNN. 

Ryan Dohrn


Zack Kucharski is Executive Editor of The Gazette in Cedar Rapids, where he has worked since 2000. Kucharski leads content strategies for the organization. He has worn many hats within the organization, starting as a freelancer and moving up to reporter, news, and database editor. He is a University of Iowa graduate.

Zack Kucharski


Trevis Mayfield is the owner and publisher of eastern Iowa-based Sycamore Media. He has worked as an editor at metro dailies and small-town weeklies and has always believed holding government officials publicly accountable should be every newspaper’s core mission.

Trevis Mayfield


Sarah Muller is the social media lead for Forbes Media. Formerly, she served as the digital editor at KCCI TV in Des Moines. Sarah’s a dedicated Cyclone fan, receiving her bachelor’s and master’s at Iowa State with a focus on digital journalism. She specializes in web analytics, social media trends and digital branding. As a native Iowan, Sarah seeks to bring pivotal digital education and creative storytelling to community media outlets. 

Sarah Muller


Ty Rushing is senior editor at Iowa Starting Line, a member of the Courier Newsroom network. He joined Iowa Starting Line in 2022, where his work is part of the organization’s mission is to protect and strengthen American democracy through credible, fact-based journalism that seeks to create a more informed, engaged, and representative America. Rushing also has worked for the the N’West Iowa Review, Sheldon Mail-Sun, Sioux City Journal, Newton Daily News. He also has worked in communications for Ho-Chunk, Inc., and the American Jazz Museum in his hometown of Kansas City, Mo 

Ty Rushing

russell_viers headshot

Russell Viers is an Adobe Certified Instructor in InDesign, Photoshop and Illustrator. He specializes in print production and started his career in 1981 as a reporter/photographer for a small daily newspaper. Through the years, he has been involved in most aspects of publishing. Since 1997, Viers has presented in 23 countries for publishing events including AdobeMAX, where he was honored as an AdobeMAX Master. In addition to speaking, he has helped many major publications and designers learn techniques to work faster and improve quality including Better Homes and Gardens, Ladies Home Journal, American Greetings, and many others!  

Russell Viers

Registration & Hotel Accommodations


*use discount code 2023CONV to be invoiced


*use discount code 2023ICMA to be invoiced

Des Moines Marriott Downtown
700 Grand Avenue • Des Moines, Iowa 50309

Room Rate: $122.00
Wi-Fi is included with room rate!

Make reservations by booking online or by calling 1-800-514-4681
*Ask for “NEW” or “Iowa Newspaper” rate

Hotel reservations accepted at the discounted rate until Wednesday, January 25, 2023.


The annual Better Newspaper Contests foster excellence through competition among like-sized newspapers. Member newspaper submit thousands of entries in news, writing, advertising and digital categories. Judging is performed by other state newspaper associations, with winners announced during the annual convention. Points awarded to the winners of select categories are used to determine the newspaper awarded the coveted title of Newspaper of the Year.