Mak Heddens began knocking on doors and attending political fundraisers at the age of 12. Her mother served as an Iowa State Representative and later County Supervisor for a combined 20 years, which opened the door to the world of politics. Mak has worked on presidential, state, and county level campaigns over the course of her career, and we still can’t pinpoint which way she leans politically!
In undergrad, she turned to journalism where she reported for the Iowa State Daily on the city council beat and worked in special events at Voice of America in Washington, D.C. After receiving her bachelor’s in public relations, she made the official move to D.C. to work for The Washington Center (TWC). A highlight of her time at TWC included providing fieldwork placement for roughly 250 college students to work at the 2012 Presidential Conventions in Tampa and Charlotte.
Mak later returned to Iowa where she served in the President’s Office at Iowa State University (ISU) with several roles in government relations, communications, events, and operations. Her primary focus was creating opportunities to increase ISU’s profile through grassroots advocacy and events that showcased the university’s statewide impact. On many occasions she hosted tours for dignitaries, which came with the responsibility of handling Freedom of Information Act (FOYA) requests. Mak was instrumental in building town and gown relationships through a fundraiser that raised $66K for local charities and launched an endowment for students with disabilities at ISU. She facilitated the passage of several capital projects by the Iowa legislature, including the Biosciences Facilities ($55M), Student Innovation Center ($40M), and Research Park ($12M).
After obtaining her Master’s in Business Administration at ISU, Mak joined Strategic Elements (SE) as Senior Account Manager and has held positions as Vice President of Client Relations, and now, Senior Director, Special Projects. During her time at SE, she has coordinated client partnerships with media outlets such as POLITICO and National Geographic as well as sponsorships for large-scale events such as state fairs and the Iowa Caucuses, many times serving as the spokesperson on behalf of clients. She has managed multi-state field team activities including outreach, developing communication materials, generating earned media, lobbying elected officials, coordinating tours, and hosting educational forums, town halls, roundtables, and panel discussions with top public officials and candidates. From renewable energy and agriculture to manufacturing and workforce development, Mak has cross-sector experience leading strategy and implementation of campaigns to elevate issues and cultivate advocacy at all levels of government for clients.