Decker Honored by Iowa Women’s Foundation

Decker Honored at 2019 Iowa Women’s Foundation Event

Barbara Q. Decker, executive director of Catholic Charities, Diocese of Des Moines, is featured in the 2019 Ovation: A Tribute to Iowa Women and Girls. Ovation is Iowa Women’s Foundation signature annual publication. The Iowa Women’s Foundation (IWF) is committed to improving the lives of Iowa’s women and girls through a diversified mix of action and funding, including research, grantmaking, advocacy, education, and collaboration. Barbara was sponsored by friends and colleagues for this honor. Congratulations Barbara!



Barbara Q. Decker is a testament to women with great perseverance and passion for people. While being the first woman was never her aspiration, as a woman leader, she achieved many “firsts.”

Barbara successfully invested her leadership skills and experiences in human resources, health care, and higher education. As President, Mercy College of Health Sciences, Barbara created endowment funds to support students in their education. Today, Barbara serves as Executive Director at Catholic Charities.

Growing up, Barbara was an avid reader focusing on women pioneers in business, social services, and education. Her Italian and Latino heritage instilled an appreciation for all cultures and honed her skills in diplomacy and dispute resolution. Her mother, Mary, was a role model for 7 children. At 91, she graduated with her high school diploma. Her father, Frank, was a farm laborer, migrating from Mexico and settling in Des Moines. Both were inspirational in her life.

Barbara graduated from Drake University earning a Juris Doctorate, Master of Public Administration, and Bachelor of Arts degrees. Barbara was awarded national academic honors as a member of Phi Beta Kappa and Pi Alpha Alpha. She was admitted to the Iowa State Bar Association upon graduation.

Among her many accomplishments, Barbara received Drake’s Distinguished Master of Public Administration Alumnus Award, Robert D. Ray Ambassador Award, Excellence in Human Resources Management Award, and the Papal Pro Ecclesia Award. She is a board member for various organizations, including Drake Law School Board of Counselors, Bankers Trust, and Iowa Catholic Conference.

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