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UI graduate appointed Branstad's Communication Director

BY DANIEL SEIDL | DECEMBER 10, 2013 5:00 AM

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Former University of Iowa student Jimmy Centers has risen through the ranks of Iowa politics through a combination of passion and education.

Jimmy Centers, 26, was appointed Dec. 6 to the position of director of communications for Gov. Terry Branstad. Centers will replace the old director, Tim Albrecht, who has said he will take an opportunity in the private sector.

Centers said he is honored to have the position; he will start on Friday.

“I have been extremely fortunate,” he said. “It’s just really humbling and an honor.”

Centers graduated from the UI with a degree in political science in 2009. He said his experience and education while in school was crucial for his new position.

“I had a wonderful experience at the University of Iowa,” he said. “I really caught the political bug.”

As a student, Centers said, he had gained valuable experience in the political arena. In addition to being involved in the Hawkeye Poll, Centers took his experience beyond the UI; in 2008, he worked on Rudy Giuliani’s presidential campaign. The experience was important for him, he said, because he learned how to apply his education directly.

A UI professor who was influential for him was political-science Associate Professor Timothy Hagle. Centers said that though he didn’t take any classes from Hagle, they worked with each other while Centers was working on campaigns. Hagle said this experience helped Centers adapt his learning into a job.

“Having had some of that background in coursework helps you understand [politics] at the fundamental [level],” Hagle said.

After graduating, Centers began working as the northeast Iowa field director for Branstad’s 2010 campaign. Centers said the governor’s ideals drew him to the campaign.

“It pained me to see where Iowa was headed under the … previous administration,” he said. “Gov. Branstad's vision … really appealed to me.”

After the 2010 campaign, Centers was hired as the deputy communications director for Branstad’s.

While some students choose not to go into the political field, Hagle said, Centers’ rise to an influential position at a relatively young age wasn’t entirely unexpected. Political-science education can give students a valuable opportunity, he said.

“When anybody’s starting out … you’re never sure where it’s going to lead,” he said. “There are usually some students who find they really enjoy that political environment. In the case of Centers, it looks like he … stayed on.”

Albrecht said he is confident in Centers’ ability to perform the job, and he is sure he will make a good fit.

“Jimmy Centers is a talented professional, and he is going to excel in this new position,” Albrecht said a statement. “We will ensure that a smooth transition takes place.”

Though Centers’ age could make some look at him differently, it can also give the new commutations director a valuable understanding of the younger constituents, Hagle said.

“The county organizations will look on the younger folks...with a bit of skepticism,” Hagle said. “Having someone who’s younger, who’s more familiar with the ins and outs of Twitter [and] Facebook [can help] reach out to those younger voters.”

Centers feels he will be able to make good change in the state with his position.

“I just feel privileged and look forward to the challenge,” he said. “I hope to continue to the best of my abilities spreading [Branstad’s] message … and really restoring Iowa’s leadership in education.”


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