Gabby Guerra is a proud immigrant from Santa Ana, El Salvador. In 2002, she and her family were forced to immigrate to Iowa due to the violent and impoverished conditions in El Salvador. Gabby grew up in Des Moines and faced many challenges in learning a new language and navigating a different culture. Gabby found support in family, friends, and teachers who believed in her potential. She is a proud graduate of the public school system and an alumna of North High School. She attended the University of Iowa as a first-generation student and graduated with a Bachelor’s in Ethics and Public policy, a minor in Latinx Studies, and a certificate in Nonprofit Management. Previously, she was the Director of Youth Engagement at Please Pass the Love, and she currently serves as Program Director at Al Éxito.
Gabby enjoys giving her time to her community. She was a co-founder and tri-chair for a new community organization, Iowa Queer Communities of Color Coalition. Gabby completed a fellowship with the Des Moines Chapter of the New Leaders Council and served as Recruitment Director on the Board of Directors. She joined the Iowa Safe Schools Board of Directors in 2021. Currently, she is a HealthConnect Fellow with the Mid-Iowa Health Foundation. She is a proud small business owner of the residential cleaning business, L & Co. Cleaning LLC. She is passionate about amplifying youth voices and creating a more inclusive Iowa for immigrants and BIPOC and LGBTQIA+ communities.
“Have you ever made someone else’s dream come true? Who helped you make a dream come true?” Gabby revisits her biggest dreams with her readers and how those dreams came to life with support of those who have always loved her and the people she met at the right time. She shares how she has experienced her dreams through the lens of a queer, immigrant Latina woman in Iowa.
Stefanie Kaylor is a Des Moines native who now works as a librarian. She attended Luther College in Decorah, Iowa, where she earned a BA in English and Education. She went on to UNI to earn an MA in School Library Studies. She is an avid reader and writer and publishes her own zine. She lives with her husband, her five-year-old child, a dog, and a cat. As a reader, writer, and librarian, Stefanie knows that reading and hearing stories allows us to experience lives both similar to and different from our own, see worlds we’ve never seen, and witness the world we know in a new light.
“I am autistic and I am queer. This is a story about how I came to recognize these traits in myself and live more fully in those identities. It’s a story weaving the barriers to self-acceptance with the joy in finding strengths growing out of weaknesses.”