Central College News

Central’s Commencement Speaker Announced

Featured: Central’s Commencement Speaker Announced

February 23, 2023

Heather Burr Isaacson, a 1997 Central College graduate, will speak at the college’s Commencement ceremony at 2 p.m. Saturday, May 13, 2023, at Ron and Joyce Schipper Stadium. Isaacson’s passion to support students and help them attain a college education inspires all who hear her journey and successes.

Isaacson came to Central as a first-generation college student and now serves as the By Degrees Foundation director of programs. The By Degrees Foundation is closing the opportunity gap by fostering community partnerships to reduce barriers and incorporate postsecondary and career readiness activities, financial education and asset building for whole neighborhoods of students. She provides insight to foundation partners who directly work with whole schools to increase high school graduation and postsecondary readiness rates on Des Moines’ north side.

“Heather is an advocate for education and community. She’s a nonprofit leader and models the Central values,” says Mark Putnam, Central president. “As an Upward Bound and Central College alumna, she relates to our students and graduates on a personal level.”

Isaacson was quoted in a 2016 Civitas article, in which she expressed her passion to support students and it began with Upward Bound.

“I think Upward Bound was just as influential on me as my parents,” she says. “It showed me I had the potential to graduate from college, to be successful and have the life I wanted. That developing time in your life can be tough, and Upward Bound at Central gives you a place to feel loved, to feel believed in.”

While attending college, Isaacson completed the London study abroad program and was an Upward Bound tutor counselor. She graduated with a major in sociology and a minor in communication studies. After first meeting at Central, she is married to Charles “Chip” Isaacson and the couple lives in Des Moines, Iowa, with their daughter, Hazel.

For more information on Commencement, visit central.edu/commencement.