Editor’s Note: Welcome to “Ruby Slippers,” a new dsm blog by Susan Hatten that will explore being a young professional in Greater Des Moines. In this post, she introduces herself to readers and explains how she ended up living in, and loving, Des Moines.
Written by Susan Hatten
My Midwestern roots began in Omaha in the summer of 1982. I fondly recall the days as a toddler when I would pretend that I was Shirley Temple, sitting contentedly on the velvet seat in front of my grandmother’s makeup table. The lights that surrounded her mirror reminded me of a Hollywood dressing room, and I dreamt that one day, I might have sparkling lights surrounding me, too.
In 1986, my family moved to Des Moines to follow my father’s career. At the time, he wrote policies for the Hartford Insurance Company, and I’ll never forget him sharing with me his predictions for the evolution of downtown Des Moines. If only he could see it today.
Another career shift in 1989 took my family to the small town of Ida Grove in Northwest Iowa. Those who know Ida Grove will likely agree: There’s something blissful and charming about the community. We lived in a neighborhood that embraced a 7-year-old’s creative spirit, as I would walk door to door, trying to sell paper shoes that I had made. Never mind that my mother made me walk back around to every doorstep and return the $1.75 I had so earnestly gathered from each sale.
In Ida Grove, I fell in love with being active, something that I continued to nurture while in college. At Iowa State, I was very involved in campus life and sorority and fraternity activities and also held three part-time jobs. In 2004, I graduated with a double degree in marketing and apparel merchandishing.
At this juncture, I felt that I had two options: stay in the Midwest and sow my enthusiastic seeds, or move to New York City to work in the publishing industry. Something within my soul told me to stay in the Midwest, and I am so glad I did.
I moved to Des Moines in 2006 ready to explore and expand. In June of that year, I faced what would become one of the most devastating periods of my life: My father was diagnosed with Stage III lung cancer and died in January of 2007.
I threw myself into the Des Moines professional, social and philanthropic community scene at full throttle, feeling a certain energy and inertia as I became more involved. I began to uncover more of my strengths, both professionally and personally, with each layer of engagement.
Fast forward to 2013. I’m 31 and loving each moment of my career in business development and relationship management and of my community involvement in fundraising, advocacy and volunteering. Along with these two commitments, I enjoy good friends, good wine and a really great view.
I plan on being in Des Moines for a while, and my stories to follow will offer you a glimpse into why I feel so strongly about this community, and how I’m striving to follow my dreams through hard work, a voracious curiosity, great wine—and a pair of red ruby slippers.