Abby Zegers Named DMACC Executive Director of Higher Education in Prison & Adult Education and Literacy

Posted 7/7/2022

​​Zegers will oversee Adult Education Programming and Correctional Academic Services in Central Iowa

  • Zegers will be based out of the DMACC Urban Campus in Des Moines, and travel to both the Iowa Correctional Institution for Women (ICIW) in Mitchellville and the Newton Correctional Facility.

  • DMACC was recently awarded a spot in the Second Chance Pell Experimental Site Program; Zegers said this program will allow DMACC to offer Pell funding in prisons beginning in Fall 2022.

  • The ICIW recently had its first Associate of Arts Degree Graduation Ceremony, which recognized nine women who completed their AA Degree from DMACC while inside the correctional institution. All nine also graduated with honors.

Abby Zegers of Indianola has been named DM​ACC Executive Director of Higher Education in Prison & Adult Education and Literacy. In this role, she will oversee HiSET (High School Equivalency Test) programming, Department of Corrections Adult Basic Education and Post-Secondary Education, English Language Learners (ELL) and the Adult Literacy Center at DMACC.

Zegers has been an adjunct instructor at DMACC, spending 10 years with the DMACC Human Services Department and the past three years in the DMACC Criminal Justice Department. She has also served as a Correctional Counselor at the Iowa Correctional Institution for Women (ICIW) and as the Education Coordinator/Life Skills Instructor at the Newton Correctional Facility.

“Working in the prison’s educational system has its rewards and challenges; however, it is truly a different experience inside the walls of a correctional facility,” Zegers said. “There are so many other aspects to teaching and managing a classroom that have to be considered, and the students are some of the most invested I’ve ever taught.”

Zegers said recent federal action will result in new and expanded opportunities for DMACC in the education of those incarcerated at the Mitchellville and Newton correctional facilities.

DMACC was awarded a spot in the Second Chance Pell Experimental Site Program, which was announced in April. Zegers said this allows DMACC to start offering Pell Programs in the prisons this year while regular Pell will be available to all beginning in July of 2023.

A Pell Grant is a federal subsidy awarded to qualifying students who are pursuing a post-secondary education.

Zegers said DMACC has a plan to start classes utilizing Pell funding this Fall.

“The impact this will have on both correctional facilities that DMACC partners with will be an incredible opportunity for many students who previously did not have the option to take post-secondary classes while they were incarcerated,” Zegers said. “I foresee an increase in the next year as more and more students become informed and educated on the opportunities that DMACC can provide that will assist them in their future outside of incarceration.”

She said she sees major growth and collaboration between DMACC and the Iowa Department of Corrections. In addition, she said DMACC has partnerships with the Evelyn K. Davis Center for Working Families, Iowa Workforce Development, and the Iowa Department of Education, who all have a stake in correctional education.

“A majority of those incarcerated individuals will be released,” Zegers said. “Access to these Pell funds and an education will help those Iowans turns their life around for themselves and their families.”

The Iowa Correctional Institution for Women recently had its first Associate of Arts (A.A.) Degree graduation ceremony. Nine women completed their AA degree from DMACC while inside the correctional institution, and all nine women graduated with honors.

“This was an incredible day and a great foreshadowing into the future of education in prison programs,” Zegers said. “This event proved what can be done prior to Pell being implemented so the possibilities of the programming and students we can serve with Pell funds will be extraordinary.”

Zegers said she will have an office at the DMACC Urban Campus in Des Moines, but will travel to both the ICIW in Mitchellville and the Newton Correctional Facility, as well as to DMACC locations across district to serve all Adult Education and Literacy sites.


For more information, contact: Abby Zegers, (515) 248-7256, adzegers@dmacc.edu​

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