A U.S. senator, two former presidential advisors, and Iowa's presiding governor are among the Iowa alumni who have become active in politics.
- Former U.S. Rep. David Bonior, member of the U.S. House of Representatives from 1976 to 2002—Upon retirement from Congress, he was the second-ranking Democrat in the House. BA, Political Science, 1967.
- U.S. Sen. Norm Coleman, R-Minn., who represented Minnesota in the U.S. Senate from 2003-2009—He also served as Minnesota attorney general and as mayor of St. Paul, Minn. JD, 1976.
- Brian H. Hook, former special assistant to U.S. President George W. Bush—He also was a senior advisor to the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations from 2006-08, Hook was the ambassador's lead negotiator on U.N. Security Council resolutions imposing multilateral sanctions on Iran, Sudan, Al-Qaeda, and the Taliban. JD, 1999.
- Alan Larson, Undersecretary of State for Economic, Business, and Agricultural Affairs—A senior economic advisor to two U.S. presidents, Bill Clinton and George W. Bush. His responsibilities include the entire range of international economic policy. BA, Political Science, 1971; MA, 1978; PhD, 1982.
- Susan Neely, former Assistant Secretary of Public Affairs in the U.S. Department of Homeland Security—She was a top-tier advisor to President George W. Bush before taking the reigns of American Beverage Association in 2005. BA in Communication, Theatre Arts, and French, 1978.
- Terry A. Nelson, consultant for the Bush-Cheney 2004 campaign—Considered one of the top political operatives in the Republican Party, Nelson was the national political director of the Bush-Cheney campaign in 2004. BS, Political Science, 1994.
- Mary Louise Epperson Smith, first woman to chair the Republican National Committee—Smith was also a former vice chair of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights. BA, Business Administration, 1935. She died in 1997.
- Susan C. Winckler, acting chief of staff at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration—Winckler has also served as vice president for policy and communications and staff counsel for the American Pharmacists Association (APhA). As such, she was the primary spokesperson for the association and its senior lobbyist on Capitol Hill. BSPh, 1992.
- Horace G. Dawson, Jr.—One of the first African-American Foreign Service Officers, Dawson rose through the ranks with positions in Uganda, Nigeria, Liberia, and the Philippines. In 1973, he became the U.S. Information Agency’s cultural director in Africa, and, in 1979, President Carter appointed him U.S. Ambassador to the Republic of Botswana. PhD, Journalism & Mass Communication, 1961.
- James C.I. Dooge—Former minister of foreign affairs for Ireland, 1981-82. Dooge also received the Bowie medal of the American Geophysical Union for his contributions to geophysics research. MS, Mechanics and Hydraulics, 1956. He died in 2010.
- Lilja Mósesdóttir, member of Iceland Parliamant—Mósesdóttir was elected to Iceland's parliament in 2009. She also is a professor of labour market studies at Bifrost School of Business in Iceland. BBA, Economics, 1984.
- Marjorie "Mo" Mowlam—Britain's Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, has earned worldwide respect for her distinctive contribution to the landmark 1998 peace agreement between the Irish Republic and the province of Northern Ireland. MA, 1974; PhD, 1977.
- Mary E. Kramer—Former president of the Iowa Senate and U.S. Ambassador to Barbados and the Eastern Caribbean, 2004 to 2006. She served in the Iowa legislature for 14 years. BA, 1957; MA, 1972.Jin Wu
- Jin Wu—Former minister of education for the Republic of China (Taiwan), 1996-98. His major field of interest is in environmental and geophysical fluid dynamics. He teaches at the National Cheng Kung University. MS, 1961; PhD, Mechanics and Hydraulics, 1964.
- Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad—Governor from 1983 to 1999; re-elected in 2010. BA, Political Science, 1969.
Iowa Supreme Court Justices
- James H. Andreasen—Served on the court from 1987 to 1998. BS, 1953; JD, 1958.
- James H. Carter—Appointed to the bench in 1982. BA, 1956; JD, 1960.
- Theodore Garfield—Chief justice from 1961 to 1969; appointed to the bench in 1941. BA, 1915; LLB in Law, 1917.
- K. David Harris—Served on the court from 1972 to 1999. BA, 1949; JD, 1951.
- Jerry L. Larson—Appointed to the bench in 1978. JD, 1960.
- Arthur McGiverin—A former chief justice, he served from 1987 to 2000. BSC, 1951; JD, 1956.
- W. Ward Reynoldson—Appointed to the bench in 1971, he was chief justice from 1978-1987. JD, 1948.
- Michael J. Streit—Appointed to the bench in 2001. BA, 1972.
- Bruce M. Snell Jr.—Served on the court from 1987 to 2001. JD, 1956.
- Marsha Ternus—Appointed to the court in 1993. BA, 1972.