Des Moines’ Sexiest People 201411/26/2014
We’ve learned from the last five years of Des Moines’ Sexiest People candidates that sexy is more than just a description of one’s appearance (although that certainly helps). This year’s nominees take sexy even further with their impressive resumes, outstanding skills and charming personalities.
Most of our nominees say their passion lies in their profession, and each of them is truly grateful to be doing what they love as a career. And while we don’t have any bad things to say about the exceptional lineups we’ve had in previous years of the competition, the 2014 group seems to be especially focused on helping others and giving back — and that’s the reason we do this.
Unlike previous years, this year’s contest will feature two winners. The winners of the Des Moines’ Sexiest Man and Des Moines’ Sexiest Woman will receive $750 each to help the charity of their own choosing, courtesy of our sponsor, Svedka Vodka. The Keg Stand will also participate by donating proceeds from appetizers purchased from their special tapas menu on the night of the party.
This year’s nominees were a fun group of diverse individuals, yet they still had striking commonalities. From athletes to artists, nurses to journalists, the men and women who were chosen by Cityview readers represent what sexy really means: confident, kind and passionate individuals.
A total of 75 people were nominated for the 2014 Des Moines’ Sexiest People and were ranked on a sexy scale of 1 to 10. After several weeks of online voting, the top 10 men and women with the highest ratings were chosen as finalists and invited to attend the final voting round.
“On the night of the event, we will crown two winners,” said Ashley Sohl, events coordinator. “Each person who comes to the event is given one ballot to vote for who they feel is Des Moines’ Sexiest Person, then the votes are counted and those individuals will win a donation for their charity.”
The celebration will be at the Keg Stand in West Des Moines (3530 Westown Parkway) on Friday, Dec. 5 at 6 p.m., so don’t miss the chance to support who you think deserves the titles of Des Moines’ Sexiest People!
As a former Simpson College baseball player and all-around athletic person, it is safe to say Aaron Roland has learned a thing or two about confidence in his life. And, being the director of group sales for the Iowa Cubs, he knows the important role confidence plays in selling tickets — and himself.
“You’ve got to sell yourself to other people, whether you are trying to sell something for work or just sell yourself in your beliefs and ideas,” he says.
Aaron has been with the Iowa Cubs for three years, but he hardly considers his job “work,” because he enjoys what he does so much.
“I love the people that I work with, the atmosphere, being around a ballpark every day and basically just talking about baseball every day,” he says. There must be something about those Iowa Cubs men — Nate Teut, vice president of the Iowa Cubs, was a former Des Moines’ Sexiest finalist.
Aaron’s love for physical fitness extends far beyond baseball. He also works out five to six days a week and cooks most of his own meals in order to have a healthy lifestyle. Are you swooning yet?
Wait, there’s more: He also likes to help motivate others to do the best they can as well. “I always leave a motivational quote (at the gym) hoping at least one or two people see it and it gives them the motivation to go work out as well or do something physically active.”
For Aaron, being sexy is much more than physical appearance — even though he has worked hard to make sure he’s got that part down, too — it is about having confidence and passion.
“If (people have) confidence in themselves and what they believe in, they’re going to be passionate about it, they’re going to care about it,” he says.
Aaron’s charity: Animal Rescue League of Iowa. The ARL is the largest nonprofit animal shelter in Iowa and cares for thousands of pets each year. Its services include pet adoption, humane education, pet behavior training and animal cruelty intervention, among others.
Cui Dong didn’t enter into a career with real estate just to pay the bills. She actually has big goals for herself, including making the 30 Under 30 list for rising stars in real estate across the U.S.
That’s a big task to take on, but for someone who loves her job as much as Cui, it’s just another motivator.
“I love what I do, so I’m very passionate about that,” she says. “I love helping people find their homes, but most importantly I just love real estate.”
At 25, Cui still has plenty of time to reach her goals, but she doesn’t let work take over the rest of her life. She also loves to dance.
“I salsa dance for fun,” says Cui. “Anytime there’s a live salsa band, I’m there.”
You can find her at the Lime Lounge nearly every Thursday night for salsa dancing, which she started doing with her friends about two years ago. And while some people might find dancing in public intimidating, Cui says she even goes out by herself sometimes.
“The salsa community is pretty tight,” she says, adding that she fell in love with salsa dancing after she tried it out for the very first time.
A girl who has the confidence to go out dancing by herself? It doesn’t get much sexier than that.
Cui, however, is too modest to agree. She says personality is key.
“They have to have an awesome personality and also an amazing heart,” Cui explains of what sexy means to her. “Those are like two No. 1 things that make someone very appealing.”
Cui’s Charity: St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. The mission of St. Jude’s is to advance cures and prevention for pediatric catastrophic diseases through treatment and research. No child is denied treatment based on race, religion or the ability to pay.
Titamus Howard is a man who doesn’t like to sit still. He has been an active duty soldier in the U.S. Army for 14 years, traveling often and attending several colleges along the way to his current station in Des Moines.
He comes from a family with high expectations, and it taught him to work hard in both work and school.
First, it was studying criminal justice and working as a disc jockey for a college radio station in Florida. Then it was California for acting and comedy, Hollywood for music engineering, North Carolina to teach at a college — all while serving various positions at different military stations.
Talk about wearing many different hats. Titamus has had dreams of performing, which he says is in his blood. His mom, brother and two uncles were all radio DJs, and he had another uncle who owned a nightclub.
“Eventually I want to be an entertainer,” he says. “Disc jockey, actor — whichever one that happens is fine.”
He has also taken up photography since moving to Iowa, but even with all those hobbies, he still keeps his priorities in check.
“While I’m wearing the uniform, I can only do so much. This comes first.”
And Titamus plans to keep the uniform a while longer.
He and his wife Allison are expecting their first child, and Titamus wants to stay in the military until his kids grow up.
“That’s the more economical decision,” he explains. “And I can still do what I like to do on the side.”
A man who puts his family and work before himself? Now that’s what being sexy is all about.
Titamus’ charity: Susan G. Komen Iowa. The Iowa Affiliate of Susan G. Komen for the Cure raises funds to support the goal of the organization, which is to eradicate breast cancer by advancing research, education, screening and treatment.
Though she describes herself as a “pretty boring 25-year-old,” Courtney Johns is anything but. Outside of dedicating 50 to 60 hours to her job as a reporter at WHO TV, Courtney spends her free time visiting the local libraries, catching up on her favorite TV shows, attending as many Des Moines events as possible and volunteering at Furry Friends Refuge.
It’s hard to believe she fits all of that into her schedule, but Courtney says it is her passion for her job that keeps her going.
“I love it here,” she says of working for Channel 13. “I love the atmosphere, I love knowing what’s going on at all times of the day. You know, every day I’m learning about new stuff, and I guess I’ve always been a really curious person, so it’s one of the few jobs where you’re allowed to be obnoxiously curious.”
Obnoxious or not, it takes guts to turn that curiosity into a real story for viewers, and even though she makes her living as a TV personality, Courtney says she still has anxiety.
“I’m always nervous,” she admits. “It’s still something I’m working on, but, you know, it’s part of the job, and I find that the easiest part to get rid of those nervous feelings is just to kind of focus on the story and those jitterbugs, I guess, kind of go away.”
So how does one go from being scared of public speaking to reporting live on TV? A little piece of advice her mom gave her when she was a kid:
“My mom told me, ‘You have to fake it till you make it,’ ” Courtney says. “But I think confidence comes from making goals and achieving them — whatever (they are).”
Courtney’s charity: Cops Against Cancer. The first priority of Cops Against Cancer is responding and reacting to the emergency calls from cancer patients in need of assistance while easing the financial pain of those clients.
Some people find it difficult to balance a job, education and social life. Dallas Norton, however, is an opera singer, a teacher and a member of a local band. She has four degrees and still wants to go back to school. And when she’s not doing any of those things, she is a server at Americana.
“I’m just always a non-stop person,” Dallas says of her lifestyle. “My parents have always been really hardworking, and I get it from them. I guess it sounds cheesy, but you have to seize the day.”
Dallas lives every day to the fullest and doesn’t let anything hold her back, because, does she really have the time?
“I enjoy a challenge; that’s one of the reasons I enjoy performing,” she says.
Dallas has been performing opera ever since she can remember. She sings to make others happy and to create a world for them outside of their own. After graduating from Valley High School in 2007, Dallas went on to obtain three bachelor’s degrees in music from Millikin University and a master’s degree from University of Tennessee’s opera department.
Somehow, she has also found time to start on a sports nutrition certification from the International Sports Sciences Association, and she is considering going back to school for dietetics and nutrition. Dallas recently became a member of Lifetime gym and teaches music and acting to children.
Beauty, brains and a strong work ethic are often aspects of being sexy, but to Dallas, it’s also someone who can overcome a bad situation.
“I feel like when people think sexy they think physical — which obviously I’m not mad about somebody who looks good physically — but I think being…helpful and putting yourself out there and not being afraid to fail and being open to new situations (makes someone sexy),” she says.
Dallas’ charity: Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis Association. The ALS Association leads the way in global research for Lou Gehrig’s Disease. It provides assistants to ALS patients through a network of chapters, certified clinical care centers and government partnerships.
Ask Tim Negrete how he likes to spend his time most, and he would probably be torn between working and traveling. He manages two bars in Saylorville, including the seasonal Latitude 41 Bar and Grill and the brand-new Sand Bar, which will open soon for year-round service.
“I love my job,” Tim says. “Some of the friends that I’ve made out there are incredible. I love the service industry.”
And although he puts in a lot of hours, Tim still makes time to get out and travel with his friends often. He recently returned from a two-week trip to Honduras, which he says has been his favorite trip yet.
“We just did so much there: scuba diving and zip-lining and swimming with dolphins,” he says.
That’s the kind of adventurous, outgoing personality it takes to excel in the service industry. Well, that and a passion for people, which Tim says is what motivates him to work so hard.
“I love serving and interacting and helping people,” he says.
That also explains why his definition for sexy has more to do with kindness than looks.
“I am all for this not necessarily physical sexy, but intelligence and personality and a willingness to help someone or, you know, some morals I guess,” Tim explains.
That’s not to say he doesn’t have the attributes of being physically sexy as well, though.
“Tim is sexy both inside and out,” says his friend Kristin Jensen. “Not only is he stunningly handsome, but he is also very modest. He is devoted to his friends and family, passionate about his work and has the ability to spread smiles like wildfire.
“He helps make Des Moines a brighter, sexier place than it already is.”
Tim’s charity: Iowa Safe Schools. The fight against bullying, harassment and discrimination against Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgendered (LGBT) students is at the forefront of the Iowa Safe Schools mission.
Family might not be one of the words that come to mind when thinking about the attributes of a sexy person, but Dean Boell has a different opinion. When asked what he thinks is sexy, he said it is what is on the inside for sure, but also how a person acts around his or her family.
“Once again, I go back to family — you know, how a person will treat people how they want to be treated,” he says. “That’s sexy to me. Just how caring you are.”
Dean comes from a very close-knit family, which explains why it came up in his definition. In the fall, he likes to cheer on the Nebraska Cornhuskers in football, but in the offseason, he enjoys spending his summers in the boat and at his house on Lake Panorama with his parents, brother and sister, and his teenage daughter.
It is clear that family is Dean’s greatest passion, but not his only one. He also loves his job. And understandably so, because it sounds like a pretty cool gig. Dean is a national accounts manager for Anheuser Busch.
“I have been in that role for almost two years, but I’ve been with the company for 21 years,” he explains.
His favorite part is interacting with customers and meeting so many new and different personalities. Dean says his job is what he wakes up for every day — another example of this year’s theme of candidates loving their careers. But what motivates him to become so passionate about work?
“I guess, really, success,” he says. “I want to have a reputation as being the best national accounts manager out there.
“I’m passionate about my job, I’m passionate about my family.”
Dean’s Charity: The Guts Gear Foundation. This nonprofit organization raises public awareness for children suffering from renal disease and information on renal dialysis.
When we are young, our middle school and high school teachers constantly ask us what we want to be when we grow up. In adolescence, we are constantly trying to figure out what our goals and aspirations are for the future. But for Ashley Roush, she had those questions answered early on, thanks to the lifelong inspiration she found in her mother.
“My mom made me want to be a nurse,” Ashley explains of her future nursing goals. “She pushes me to be a better person, and she’s always on my case about doing the right thing.”
Ashley is a first-year nursing student at Des Moines Area Community College, and she has dreams to travel the world and explore other cultures. She likes Des Moines, but it’s not where she wants to live forever.
“I want to see the world,” she says, “and I want to get out of the country. I want to live everywhere at least once.”
Ashley wants to take her degree and go everywhere. With success as her driving force forward and her mother for her motivation, she is doing everything she can to become a traveling nurse.
Ashley works hard to pursue her dreams, but that doesn’t mean she has given up a life outside of work. She loves to be around friends and see people smiling. A good personality is high on Ashley’s list of defining “sexy” traits, but not as high as happiness.
“If they can make me laugh, I think that’s sexy,” she says.
Ashley’s charity: Wounded Warrior Project. The WWP uses a holistic approach in serving veterans, service members and the families of those who incurred physical or mental injury, illness or wound on or after Sept. 11, 2001.
Life insurance is not typically in the front of the mind for many single 27-year-olds, but for Nathan Wallace, it’s just another daily conversation. Nathan is an agent with New York Life, so his job involves bridging the gap from his clients’ current financial states and where they want to be in retirement.
“I help people plan out or map out their retirement, estate planning, anything from life insurance, health insurance and benefits — everything,” he explains.
While he grew up, Nathan’s parents were missionaries, and watching them help others made him want to do the same. It is part of why he loves his job, and it’s also why he became a yoga instructor at Power Life Yoga.
“When I got out of the Marine Corps, I was introduced to yoga by a friend, and I fell in love with it,” says Nathan. “It helped me change my attitude and perception of everything.”
All that yoga, not to mention the Cross Fit workouts he does, helps Nathan stay in great shape — and no doubt helped him make it into the final round of voting. But despite his physique, Nathan says the fact that he doesn’t let his surroundings affect his attitude is what makes him sexy.
“Well, because of my experiences and things that I’ve gone through — growing up in Venezuela and living in Hawaii and having gone through basically being homeless and building the career that I have today — I’d say that dictates…to me, it shows that I let my inner beauty outshine everything else.”
Born in California, Nathan has spent much of his life traveling, and throughout every stage of his life, he has managed to keep that inner sexiness alive and strong.
Nathan’s Charity: Hannah Geneser Foundation. In order to promote childhood safety, the Hannah Geneser Foundation aims to stop the hidden, but still prevalent, life-threatening circumstances that may lead to the unintended deaths of all children.
As an owner of the Anytime Fitness 24-hour gym in Beaverdale and a stay-at-home mom with a 15-month-old baby girl, you could say Elizabeth Thompson knows a thing or two about juggling. The 35-year-old keeps herself busy, whether it is something work-related or fun — although she says both of her jobs are fun and fulfilling.
Starting as a personal trainer at the Anytime Fitness in Altoona, Elizabeth and her husband decided to take over ownership of the Anytime in Beaverdale because of their interest in working out and helping others.
“You get close to the people when you’re in this business because they rely on you so much,” says Elizabeth. “And it can be stressful sometimes. Sometimes they’re not even hiring you to get in shape; they’re hiring you because they don’t have anyone else to talk to.
“And it can make you grow a lot as a person.”
She is a generous person when it comes to helping other people reach their goals, but Elizabeth says she became more selfless when her daughter was born. Being a mother, especially a stay-at-home mom, is a 24-hour job. And even though it cut out a lot of the social time she used to spend with her friends, Elizabeth wouldn’t dream of giving it up.
“It’s just awesome; you get to see all the new things that they do, and you get to learn with them, too,” she says. “It’s kind of like being a kid again and reliving what you did as a child with your child.”
If you are wondering whether it is still possible to be sexy after having a baby, Elizabeth says people actually become sexier after having kids.
“I think so, because you put in so much work and time (to having a baby),” she says. “Having a kid definitely changes your attitude and your outlook on life.”
And what a sexy attitude it is.
Elizabeth’s charity: Furry Friends Refuge. FFR has adopted a no-kill equation to fight animal cruelty. It looks to invest in the most effective and efficient solutions to provide all animals with loving, responsible homes. CV