The Iowa Center for Public Affairs Journalism, or IowaWatch, has hired Suzanne Behnke to be its new executive director. Behnke, who starts in August, succeeds Lyle Muller, who will retire in September after leading IowaWatch since 2012.

“Journalism and its future are my professional passions, and IowaWatch will allow me to work in both areas,” Behnke said. “There’s tremendous potential for IowaWatch to grow in depth and breadth so it can serve readers for years to come.”

Behnke comes to IowaWatch from the Des Moines Business Record, where she has been an editor and contributor since May 2017. She also is a journalism and communications instructor at Simpson College in Indianola. Behnke, a native Iowan, has a long and rich news reporting and editing history in Iowa. She was a reporter, copy editor and page designer at The Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier from 1997 to 2000 before joining The Des Moines Register staff. In two stints, from 2000 to 2008 and again from 2012 to 2017, Behnke served The Register in vital management roles, including as front page editor, state editor and an online editor.

Behnke earned a bachelor’s degree in communications from Wartburg College in 1997 and a master’s degree in public administration from Drake University in 2010.

IowaWatch is the state’s leading collaborative investigative nonprofit news organization. Founded in 2010, IowaWatch trains future journalists to write high-quality investigative and explanatory news stories offered for free to Iowa news outlets. IowaWatch publishes stories at, produces the IowaWatch Connection radio program and hosts public forums on topics including methamphetamine addiction and free speech on college campuses.

“Leading in-depth journalism as a nonprofit organization is a labor of love and Suzanne has a lot of enthusiasm and great ideas for taking this on,” Muller said. “Suzanne’s background equips her to meet the challenges of investigative reporting and ensure the work is supported financially.”

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