About Iowa Workforce Development

Iowa Workforce Development

IWD is a state agency committed to providing employment services for individual job seekers through our IowaWORKS partnership. Employers and businesses can post jobs, hire veterans and apply for qualifying federal tax credits. IWD continually strives to improve processes and align the organization in such a way to provide effective, demand-driven products and services. IWD staff in Des Moines consists of administrative, labor services, workers’ compensation, labor market information, and the unemployment insurance services staff. The agency also maintains a statewide delivery system of 15 regional, 4 satellite, and 8 expansion offices to provide services to Iowans in communities demonstrating need.


To create, enable and sustain the most future ready workforce in the nation.


We power Iowa’s possibilities by connecting workers to opportunities and employers to workforce solutions.

Leadership Team

Picture of Director Townsend

Director Beth Townsend

Director Townsend has general supervision over the various services IWD provides to Iowans. The director prepares, administers, and controls the budget of the department and its divisions along with Michael A. Mauro who is the Division of Labor Commissioner and Joseph S. Cortese II who is the Division of Workers’ Compensation Commissioner. She also serves as the chair of the National Association of State Workforce Agencies Veterans Affairs Committee. Director Townsend is a graduate of Kearney State College, Kearney, Nebraska, and the University of Nebraska Law School.  She is a member of the Nebraska and Iowa state bar.

Director Townsend was appointed by Gov. Branstad and confirmed by Iowa Senate unanimously March 24, 2015. She previously served as the Director of the Iowa Civil Rights Commission. Prior to that, Director Townsend was in private practice in West Des Moines, Iowa, in the area of civil rights and employment law. Director Townsend also served as a member of the Judge Advocate General, United States Air Force. She retired from the Air Force Reserve after 21 years of active and reserve duty.

Picture of Ryan West

Deputy Director Ryan West

Deputy Director Ryan West joined IWD in June 2009 serving in the Claims Bureau where he oversaw claims processing, training, adjudication and customer service. West is a member of the Integrity Center Steering Committee for the National Association of State Agencies. He worked as a Flight Deck Director on the aircraft carrier U.S.S. Abraham Lincoln, where he was responsible for more than 10,000 launch and recovery missions. He has his Bachelor of Arts in Business Management from Simpson College. 

Deputy Director West most recently served as the Administrator of the Unemployment Insurance and American Job Center divisions before being appointed to his to current role January 2, 2019, where he spearheads business engagement initiatives and serves as the agency legislative liaison.

Cathy Ross, Information Technology, Labor Market Information and Workforce Services Division Administrator

Information Technology, Labor Market Information and Workforce Services Division Administrator - Cathy Ross

Cathy Ross joined IWD in January 2016. Prior to working for IWD Ross worked as an IT consultant where she was responsible for IT strategic planning and project management services. Previously, Ross was the president and co-owner of an Iowa based technology company. She received her Bachelor of Arts in Marketing from Iowa State University.

Information Technology, Labor Market Information and Workforce Services Division 

Information Technology (IT) within IWD develops, manages and maintains IWD’s technology-related assets (hardware, software, systems, etc.), policies, procedures and systems. IT is transforming IWD’s technology environment by designing and delivering modernized systems throughout the agency’s entire technology environment. Additionally it manages large projects and currently is overseeing the overhaul and implementation of two large modernization projects in the Workforce Services and Unemployment Insurance Divisions.

Labor Market Information (LMI) gathers, analyzes and publishes information on the economy, workforce, and occupations. The information created by LMI is used by: businesses, economic developers, educators, job seekers, government planners, policy makers, grant writers, legislators and students who use the data to make informed data driven decisions. This information can be found on LMI’s website: www.iowalmi.gov. In addition to regularly produced publications, staff provides customized analyses of the information that is collected and develops products that meet specific customer needs.

Workforce Services Division administers the state and federally funded employment and training programs delivered by Workforce Services Bureau staff in the 15 one-stop, 4 satellite, and 14 expansion offices. Workforce Services is responsible for the establishment and oversight of the policies and procedures of the following programs:

  • Registered Apprenticeship
  • Title I
    • Adult Training
    • Dislocated Worker
    • Rapid Response
    • Youth Training
  • Title III
    • Foreign Labor Certification
    • State Monitor Advocate
    • Work Opportunity Tax Credit

Picture of Michael A. Mauro

Labor Commissioner - Michael A. Mauro

Michael A. Mauro was appointed by Gov. Branstad and confirmed by the Iowa Senate May of 2011. Mauro was the former Iowa Secretary of State and Polk County Auditor/Commissioner of Elections. During his service he received the "Distinguished Service Award" from the National Federation of the Blind of Iowa in 2008 for ensuring all blind Iowans have access to an accessible voting machine. Mauro received a teaching degree from Drake University and formerly taught high school government.

Division of Labor Services

The Labor Services Division is responsible for the administration of state and federal statutes related to public health, safety and workplace issues. Iowa’s Occupational Safety and Health Act administration is located within the division. With an emphasis on voluntary compliance through education and preventive services, the Labor Services Division continues to implement the vision of creating a “culture of safety” throughout Iowa’s labor force.

The office of the Labor Commissioner was created by the General Assembly in 1884. The Division of Labor provides a broad range of services to constituents and businesses of Iowa. The Labor Division is responsible for the enforcement of programs designed to protect the safety, health and economic security for all Iowans. The Labor Division strives to develop outreach to educate employers on all facets of the Labor Division. The following services are managed by the Labor Division:

  • Amusement Ride Inspections
  • Athletic Commission
  • Asbestos Permit & Licensing
  • Boiler Inspection
  • Bureau of Labor Statistics
  • Child Labor & Wage Enforcement
  • Contractor Registration
  • Elevator and Escalator Inspections
  • Iowa OSHA Consultation
  • Iowa OSHA Enforcement

This is a picture of Joseph S. Cortese II

Workers' Compensation Commissioner - Joseph S. Cortese II

Appointed by Gov. Branstad and confirmed by Iowa Senate April of 2015. Cortese brings to Iowa Workforce Development 34 years of private practice experience with Huber Law Firm where he specialized in workers' compensation and personal injury law. Cortese Received his law degree from Drake University and undergraduate degrees in journalism, history and political science from Indiana University.

Division of Workers' Compensation

The Workers’ Compensation Division performs three core functions: adjudicating disputed workers compensation claims, enforcing compliance standards, and educating Iowans about workers compensation law and procedures. The Workers’ Compensation Law was enacted by the General Assembly in 1913. The law provides medical services and wage replacement benefits to workers who sustain injuries arising out of and in the course of their employment. The Workers’ Compensation Law is administered by the Division of Workers’ Compensation under the direction of the Workers’ Compensation Commissioner. Iowa was one of the first states to provide such benefits for injuries, occupational diseases, and occupational hearing losses sustained by workers. Injuries resulting in death, permanent disability, or temporary disability must be reported to the Division of Workers’ Compensation. If a compensation agreement cannot be reached, the employee may file a Petition for a contested case and request a hearing before a Deputy Workers’ Compensation Commissioner. Deputy Commissioner decisions are first reviewed on appeal to the Commissioner, may be appealed beyond the Commissioner first to the district court and then to the Iowa Supreme Court.

    Equal Employment Opportunity/ Affirmative Action Policy Statement

    The Iowa Workforce Development (IWD) Equal Employment Opportunity/Affirmative Action Policy Statement is provided for review.