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Personal experience drives Amy Adams. Former C.R. teacher in Iowa Democratic Hall of Fame
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Personal experience drives Amy Adams. Former C.R. teacher in Iowa Democratic Hall of Fame

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Amy Adams was inducted into the Iowa Democratic Party Hall of Fame in early June.

CEDAR RAPIDS — Political activism is both a vocation and an avocation for Amy Adams.

The former Cedar Rapids teacher works by day as an organizer for Progress Iowa, a multi-issue advocacy group, and Iowa Citizen Action Network. She also was a co-founder of the Indivisible Iowa group in Cedar Rapids.

Adams’ activism is driven by personal experience and the challenges she’s witnessed others facing, including relocating to her hometown of Saint Lucas — about 85 miles north of Cedar Rapids — to care for her late father.

Her goal is “to make the world a more just place for the folks that I see impacted by some of these bad pieces of legislation and just some of the red tape issues that don't make sense to seniors and hardworking Iowans,” Adams says. “The system is sometimes harder than what it needs to be.”

Adams’ leadership in the Democratic Party and in allied organizations “is a great model of what activism really is and putting your heart and your voice into action,” 1st District Democratic Central Committee Chairwoman Catherine Crist of Cedar Rapids said.

For her efforts, Adams was inducted into the Iowa Democratic Party Hall of Fame earlier this month. Other inductees were retired 2nd District U.S. Rep. Dave Loebsack, former state Sen. Tom Courtney, party leaders and activists Paula Martinez, DiAnne Lerud-Chubba and Athena Gilbraith and “rising star” Alma Puga.

Adams, 46, who taught overseas for five years and then high school English for 15 years in Cedar Rapids, said the 2016 election and the Republican-controlled Iowa Legislature’s gutting of Chapter 20, the state public employee collective bargaining law, was the catalyst for kicking her activism into high gear.

As a member of the Iowa State Education Association and the local negotiating team, she understood the importance of bargaining rights to the unions and what the loss of topics to be negotiated meant to the members.

“It was just very personal to me because I saw how that would impact myself, obviously, but also my colleagues, my co-workers,” Adams said. “So I think at the heart of what got me organizing or involved was just seeing the impact that some of this concerning legislation would have on my job and the folks that I cared about.”

Another contributing factor was her experience providing palliative care for her father. Although he had private insurance, the high cost of health care presented challenges. He died two months before he would have been eligible for Medicare and Social Security, Adams says. It troubled her that someone could work his entire life and not be able to access those benefits when he needed them.

Much of her work is “just reaching out to folks and helping them be advocates for themselves, to give them a platform to be able to tell their story,” Adams said.

Adams has remained active in Democratic Party politics as secretary of the Fayette Democratic Party and a delegate to the 1st Congressional District Democratic Central Committee. She’s also a volunteer board member for Indivisible Iowa, representing the 1st District.

She and her husband, Ben Hanson, a nurse, live on an acreage at Saint Lucas where they are raising their three children while “dabbling” in beekeeping and restoring a natural prairie habitat.

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