Working Hero Iowa is a statewide campaign to raise awareness about the state and federal Earned Income Tax Credits, connect Iowans with free tax preparation services, and ensure that every eligible Iowan receives the cash refund they’ve earned, while also advocating for policies that will help all Americans afford their basic needs.
Working Hero Iowa will follow the model pioneered by founder Joe Sanberg in his home state of California, where his community organizing campaign CalEITC4Me has connected working families with more than $4 billion of tax credits. California’s EITC has been so successful that Governor Gavin Newsom recently made doubling the size of the program to $1 billion a key policy priority of his first term.
Joe Sanberg, Founder
Joe Sanberg is a progressive entrepreneur who is working through both the public and private sectors to end poverty and make people’s lives better. Joe believes that everyone who works – and everyone who wants to but can’t – should be able to afford life’s basic needs and live with financial security.
Joe has been one of the nation’s leading advocates for the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) for low-income families. In 2015, he successfully lobbied legislators in his home state of California to create the state’s first EITC. Then-California Gov. Jerry Brown’s top adviser Nancy McFadden called Sanberg the “spark” behind the state’s efforts to pass and implement the new program. When the state didn’t allocate enough money for outreach, Joe created CalEITC4Me. This community organizing program has connected working California families with more than $4 billion of state and federal Earned Income Tax Credits.
In 2018, Joe founded Working Hero PAC, a people-powered political organization to support elected leaders and candidates who champion policies that will help end poverty. Working Hero endorsed 17 candidates around the country, holding community events to with them to elevate the issue of poverty in Iowa, New Hampshire, Ohio, Arkansas, California and Missouri. In 2019, Joe also created Working Hero Action to expand his successful model of EITC outreach beyond California, and advocate for policies that will help all Americans afford their basic needs.
Joe is Co-Founder of Aspiration.com, an online financial company built for everyone. Aspiration serves people at the heart of their financial lives – their banking account – in a trust-based model that empowers people to choose whatever fee they think is fair (even zero) and enables them to bank, invest, and spend in accordance with their values. Aspiration’s approach has made it the fastest-growing and most beloved consumer financial company in America.
Joe also serves on the board of the Economic Innovation Group, as well as the Jefferson Awards Foundation, which engages over 1 million young people each year in volunteerism and public service. He serves on Board of Trustees of the University of California, Riverside School of Public Policy. Joe also volunteers at Casa Teresa, a homeless shelter for pregnant women in Orange, California.
A native of Southern California, Joe is a graduate of Servite High School in Anaheim and Harvard University. He lives in Los Angeles with his rescue dog Bruce.
Sandra Lowe, Executive Director
A veteran California political strategist and union organizer, Sandra served as the Senior Strategist for the California Democratic Party for the successful 2018 election cycle. As Senior Strategist, she devised the CDP's campaign programs including overseeing ballot measures, Statewide Candidates and the field efforts in the legislative and Congressional campaigns.
Prior to joining the CDP staff, she was the Assistant Manager for Governmental Relations at the California Teachers Association. In her 20 years with CTA, she coordinated the member to member campaigns, organized the field efforts on ballot measures, and was the liaison to the Democratic Party, Labor Caucus and other coalitions.
She is a leader in her town of Sonoma, where she was elected twice to the Board of Trustees of the Sonoma Valley Unified School district, where all four of her children graduated from Sonoma Valley High School.
Sandra graduated with honors from the University of California at Berkeley and holds teaching credentials in Mathematics and Social Science.
A lifelong Democrat, Sandra was elected to the Democratic National Committee.
Lanae Norwood, Director of Campaigns & Organizing
Lanae Norwood is an activist, organizer, consultant and blooming social entrepreneur who is passionate about supporting youth and overlooked communities. Norwood is also the founder and CEO of the Institute Developing Equity, Advocacy, and Leadership (iDEAL). Lanae is an expert in leadership development, team building, civic engagement, organizing and mobilizing youth and communities. The challenges she experienced early in life, have shaped her commitment to improving society, pursuing justice and creating opportunities for the people who need a fair chance. Her guiding principle and belief in a universal bond of sharing that connects all humanity is Ubuntu, a Nguni Bantu term from South Africa, meaning "humanity", is often translated as "I am because we are."
Norwood is a visionary that has successfully developed and implemented strategies for 100s businesses and nonprofits.
She is also an expert in community and electoral organizing, youth programs, and social justice. Lanae has also consulted and helped develop several high profile campaigns such as #schoolsnotprisons, #riseupasone, #letuslive, Alliance of Boys and Men of Color, Ban the Box, Make it Fair, Voting While Black, Rethink Public Safety, Meet Your DA, AB 392 and Amendment 4 (the Florida Second Chances Campaign).
Lanae Norwood has been recognized by Congress, the State of California and multiple other organizations for her accomplishments, programs, and community service. She is a proud mother of two and an outdoor adventure seeker.
Now she is leading the Working Hero Action team in our National organizing and digital strategy.
J.D. Scholten, State Director
J.D. Scholten is a 5th generation Iowan. He was born in Ames and grew up in Sioux City. He graduated from East High School, and went on to play baseball for Morningside College and Nebraska University, where he made academic all-conference.
After graduation he played professional baseball in 7 different countries. After baseball, he worked as a paralegal, where he specialized in eDiscovery and intellectual property law.
In 2017, he moved back to Sioux City, where he currently resides. He was the Democratic nominee for the U.S. House of Representatives, challenging Steve King in Iowa’s 4th District. Scholten's campaign visited all 39 counties in the district three times, and took a Matthew 25 pledge to protect and defend the most vulnerable among us. Though he came up just short of pulling off one of the biggest upsets of 2018, his campaign outperformed the Democratic candidate for governor by 17 points.