Name: Ernestine Blango
Hometown: Washington D.C.
Education: BA in political science from Trinity College
Job: Senior operations administrator, AARP
What do you do? I manage all of the business operations for the AARP Iowa State office. I oversee the annual state budget, office operations, and events of varying size and budgets. AARP is a non-profit, non-partisan organization with a membership that is committed to helping people age 50 and over have independence, choice and control in their lives.
How are you involved in the community? Since relocating to Iowa two and half years ago, I have been involved in a variety of community activities. I volunteered for the Power Lunch program with Everyone Wins Iowa reading books to elementary students; I helped older Iowans prepare for winter by weatherizing their homes with Rebuilding Together; I packed lunch packs for students in need with Iowa Food Bank; and recently, I joined the Des Moines Young Professionals and have been part of the Civic committee. I look forward to attending more YPC events and meeting other young professionals.
What are your favorite things to do in Des Moines? One of my favorite things to do in Iowa is to participate in all the cultural festivals that take place in the summer. Coming from an urban city, I appreciate the many opportunities in Des Moines to celebrate diversity. From CelebrAsian to World Food Prize, there are so many options to learn about different cultures and meet diverse groups of people that are part of the Des Moines community. I also enjoy the great food and music.
What's something people don't know about you? My family immigrated to the United States from Sierra Leone, Africa, when I was six years old. I grew up mostly on the East Coast in Philadelphia & the D.C. metro area. As a naturalized citizen of the U.S., I am proud of my African heritage and I am very blessed and privilege to have had the opportunity to grow up in America.
Anything else we should know? I moved to Iowa with no family, friends or any connections. Initially, I was afraid that it would be difficult for me to adjust due to the vast difference between DC and Des Moines. However, I am glad that I relocated to Iowa - especially Des Moines. This city has a lot more than I expected to offer to young professionals. Although I miss my family and friends in DC, I am looking forward to getting more involved in the Des Moines community and meeting new people.