Young Professionals Liz Lidgett, 28, owner of Liz Lidgett Fine Art photographed at the Des Moines Art Center.

Liz Lidgett, 28, owner of Liz Lidgett Fine Art photographed at the Des Moines Art Center.

Liz Lidgett named 2013 YP of the Year

Published on January 30th, 2014 | by Josh Hafner

Juice Magazine awarded its 2013 YP of the Year award Thursday night to Liz Lidgett, an entrepreneur and community advocate for the arts.

The annual award, now in its fifth year, honors central Iowans for their social, charitable, civic or artistic contributions to the quality of life in the Des Moines area. An independent panel of community leaders selected Lidgett among five finalists.

“An award like this gives you something to aspire towards,” Lidgett said after the award announcement. “It was in my mind: I wanted to be good enough for it. I feel honored and humbled.”

Many know the 28-year-old in central Iowa’s corporate, cultural and philanthropic scenes. A former art manager for Kum & Go, she staked out on her own in late 2012 to form Liz Lidgett Fine Art, a one-woman art advisory firm.

Her business’ clients last year varied from small startups needing a single painting to vast private collections. Particularly exciting to Lidgett is an assignment she took on to place art work in Malo, Orchestrate Hospitality’s new restaurant at the Des Moines Social Club. Lidgett kept volunteer involvements in 2013 with several organizations and events, including Art Noir, Ballet Des Moines, the Department of Cultural Affairs Gala and Winefest Grand Cru.

Her volunteer roles last year included: co-founder, 100 Chicks for Charity; board director, Junior League of Des Moines; Board member, Kappa Alpha Theta National Young Alumnae; mentee, Community Connect.

“I was just starting out at the end of 2012. Now I’ve been a year into this job and have my own business,” she said. “It’s an incredible intersection of where my passions lie and being constantly able to do new things and work with amazing people. I have no complaints.”

The Des Moines native returned in 2009 after earning her masters in public art at the University of Southern California. Sure, L.A. has more museums and deeper pockets in need of art expertise, but Lidgett knew she could make a bigger impact sooner in Des Moines.

“She’s got the undefinable ‘it’. You know that immediately,” said Des Moines Art Center Director Jeff Fleming, who said the center’s Art Noir group doubled in membership during Lidgett’s presidency in 2012 and 2013.

As with Art Noir, most of Lidgett’s involvements have a cultural bent. That’s intentional, she said.

“I am who I am because I attended art classes at age 5 at the Art Center. I am who I am because of the University of Missouri and so I help with their alumni organization,” Lidgett said. “I want to help organizations take the next step and give what I can so the next 5-year-old girl can fall in love with art at the Art Center.”

Picking the right involvements and saying “no” to the rest proved key for Lidgett last year as she learned the ins and outs of running a full-time business on her own. Lidget knew she was passionate about art and art history and wanted to work with corporate collections. What she didn’t know was how to handle businesses’ books, acquire health insurance and other administrative work. Building the right team around her — including a good accountant and the right lawyer — proved key, she said.

After winning Thursday night’s award, Lidgett thanked and acknowledged past winners Lauren Burt (2012), Tiffany Tauscheck (2011), Chris Diebel (2010) and Andrew Allen (2009). Burt and Lidgett are cousins.

“To be named along with these people who have won in the past — and the fact that they are such dear friends and family — it means that much more to me,” Lidgett said.

Lidgett was Juice’s youngest finalist this year, but she’s already thinking about the lasting impact she wants to leave on Des Moines. Part of that is thanks to her involvement in the current class of the Greater Des Moines Leadership Institute, a twice-per-month meeting of up-and-comers from all different backgrounds in Des Moines. As a project co-chair for her class, Lidgett is leading a group to acquire a high-tech play center for the nonprofit Courage League Sports, an area athletics facility for challenged youth.

One of the instutute’s sessions asked attendees to think about their legacy, Lidgett said. What did they want to be known for at the end of their time in Des Moines?

“It’s forced me to think about things that maybe I didn’t have to as a 28 year old,” Lidgett said. “I want to be someone who can change and grow the arts and culture scene in Des Moines. That’s why it’s important for me to focus.”


Mary Cownie
Director, Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs

Age: 32
Lives in: West Des Moines
Hometown: Des Moines
Education: University of North Carolina (2003)
Community involvement in 2013: board member, Character Counts in Iowa; board member, Des Moines “I Have a Dream” Foundation; board member, Mercy Foundation; member, West Des Moines Plan and Zoning Commission; co-chair, Capital Crossroads; co-chair, Healthiest State Initiative for Lifelong Learning

Gabriel Glynn
Chief Marketing Officer, Slash Web Development

Age: 31
Lives in: Ankeny
Hometown: Cedar Falls
Education: University of Northern Iowa (2004)
Community involvement in 2013: board member, Ankeny Young Professionals; participant, Leadership Iowa; participant, Ankeny Leadership Institute; founder, Art for Ankeny; board member, Greater Des Moines Integrity Network; member, Rotary Club of Ankeny; member, Uptown Ankeny Association; selection board member, Boy Scouts of America

Lincoln Dix
Area Sales Manager, Staples

Age: 34
Lives in: West Des Moines
Hometown: Daegu, South Korea
College: University of Iowa (2000)
Community involvement: Committee member, Staples North America Community Relations Council; charitable chairman, Young Professionals Connection; mentor, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Iowa; committee member, Bowl for Kids Sake; volunteer, Community Youth Concepts; member, Habitat Young Professionals; volunteer, Animal Rescue League; coordinator, Korean Cultural Center of Iowa

Sunni Swarbrick
Corporate and Donor Relations Specialist, Simpson College

Age: 29
Lives in: Des Moines
Hometown: Cedar Falls
Education: University of Northern Iowa (2009), Drake University (2013)
Community involvement in 2013: Co-chairwoman, Des Moines Sweethearts Charity Date Auction; mentee, Community Connect; Board member; Young Variety; board member Des Moines “I Have a Dream” Foundation; co-founder, Lead Like a Lady; executive board member, Young Nonprofit Professionals Network Des Moines; volunteer coordinator, Devour Des Moines; co-chair, YP Leaders Symposium

Past winners:

Liz Lidgett joins previous award recipients Lauren Burt (2012), Tiffany Tauscheck (2011), Chris Diebel (2010) and Andrew Allen (2009) and will be on the cover of the Feb. 5 issue of Juice Magazine.


About the Author

covers young professionals for The Des Moines Register. Josh can be reached at or on Twitter via @joshhafner.

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