110. Deborah Dunkhase: Relationships Are Everything

Today we speak with Deb Dunkhase, a champion for children, service, and community building.  This power-house of a woman totally blew us away with her perspectives, vitality, and deep heart for giving to others.

“Change in the world happens one small act of kindness at a time”


Today we discuss:

  • Deb grew up on a farm, the oldest of 5 children, with plenty of adventures, responsibilities, and time with her father who taught her that anything was possible.
  • While Deb views her childhood as idyllic, she also experienced trauma which cemented her dedication to the well-being of children. She sees how focusing on the healing of others helped her own healing process.
  • Deb’s role as director of the Iowa Children’s museum which she saw as some of the favorite years of her life.
  • How upon retiring, it was only a few months until Deb and a colleague wanted to get back to playing with children and realized a need for supporting immigrant families and children.  They started Open Heartland, a non-profit that is 100% volunteer driven.
  • Deb shares her leadership style at Open Heartland which includes having immigrants as part of the board.  Although meetings take longer because 2 languages are spoken, it allows for those who are being served to actually have a voice.
  • Deb’s commitment to building relationships, and the ripple effects that happen when we empower others.


Deb Dunkhase has dedicated herself to education within the state for over thirty years.  Her work has involved direct teaching and leadership roles working with parent and teacher groups to bridge the gap between formal and informal education.  Deb now teaches non-profit management at the University of Iowa.  In March of 2019 she co-founded Open Heartland, a non-profit organization that is 100% volunteer driven, currently serving over 400 local immigrant families as they navigate poverty, housing and the daily threat of deportation and separation from their children.

Mentioned today:

StrengthsFinder 2.0



Open Heartland

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We’d love to hear from you:

In season two we’d love to hear from you, our community.  What are your thoughts on re-wilding and living your authentic life?  Please call or e-mail us with your story, questions, topics you’d like to explore, guests you’d like us to reach out to….

We’ll even play or read your question live on our show.

E-mail: tendherwild@gmail.com

Or call: 319-354-4062

If you like this episode, check out previous similar episodes:

Marlen Mendoza: A Visionary Force

 The Power of Healing in Community

Women Finding Their Voice

Amanda Litman: Run for Something

Angie Chaplin: Mindful Sober Leader

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* On behalf of Open Heartland

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