Dylan Mullenix, AICP | Interim Executive Director
Dylan Mullenix joined the MPO in 2006, progressed through roles such as Senior Planner, Principal Planner, and Assistant Director, and currently holds the position of Interim Executive Director. Dylan manages the MPO staff, providing guidance and leadership to ensure the efficient and timely completion of the organization’s projects and programs. He leads the development and implementation of the MPO’s budget, work program, and strategic plan. He also coordinates with partner agencies to leverage transportation and infrastructure to advance regional goals. Dylan earned a bachelor’s degree in anthropology with a minor in geography, as well as a master’s degree in urban and regional planning with a focus in transportation planning, from the University of Iowa. He is a member of the American Institute of Certified Planners, a board member of the American Planning Association’s Iowa Chapter, a graduate of LeadDSM’s Community Leadership Program, and a 2017 Des Moines Business Record Forty Under 40 honoree.
Tracey Deckard | Office Manager
Tracey Deckard provides the overall administrative management and front office support necessary to keep the organization running smoothly. With an extensive legal background and broad experience in both legal and administrative functions, Tracey oversees the facilities, equipment, and general day-to-day operations that enable the MPO to function effectively and efficiently. Tracey attended both Des Moines Area Community College and Northeast Missouri State University and has a paralegal degree.
Zach Young, AICP, MRTPI, CNU-A | Planning Manager
Zach Young has more than 12 years of experience in planning, with focus in the areas of land use, urban planning, environmental planning and transit-oriented development. He is knowledgeable in the areas of form-based codes, street design standards, and taxation and economic development. At the MPO, he manages the Long-Range Transportation Planning process and the Surface Transportation Block Grant Program. He earned a bachelor’s degree in city planning from Missouri State University and a master’s degree in city planning and regeneration from the University of Glasgow, Scotland. Zach is a Chartered Member of the Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI). He is also certified in the areas of new urbanism and form-based code.
Rhonda Miller | Accountant
Rhonda Miller joined the Des Moines Area MPO in 2022 as the Accountant bringing more than 25 years of experience in budgeting and finance. She has a diversity of experiences, having worked with businesses both large and small, new and established. She has assisted two small companies launch their businesses, and she has helped a large corporation through a period of growth. She also spent 19 years at the business manager of a locally owned company. She attended the Des Moines Area Community College.
Gunnar Olson | Public Affairs Manager
Gunnar Olson has more than 20 years of experience in journalism and public affairs. As Public Affairs Manager, he oversees the MPO’s communications strategy and execution; serves as a liaison to partner organizations; and serves as project manager for strategic public policy initiatives. He has earned a reputation as an engaging spokesperson for regional causes and is known for being well organized, collaborative, and persistent in implementing projects of regional significance. He was a driving force behind the establishment of the Mid-Iowa Planning Alliance for Community Development, and he was the primary author of the $25 million BUILD grant for water trails. His work has received numerous professional recognitions, including the Des Moines Business Record’s Forty Under 40 in 2015. Previously, he was the public affairs manager for the Des Moines Area Regional Transit Authority (DART) and a staff writer with The Des Moines Register. He is an alumnus of Minnesota State University, Mankato, where he graduated magna cum laude in 2013.
Andrew Collings, AICP | Principal Planner
Andrew Collings is the primary staff person for the Central Iowa Regional Transportation Planning Alliance (CIRTPA). He also manages the MPO’s Transportation Improvement Program (TIP). Before joining the MPO, he worked at the Southern Iowa Council of Governments, where he wrote grants applications for and provided technical assistance to member communities. He administered grants primarily through the State’s Community Development Block Program, managed the organization’s GIS, and developed comprehensive plans and hazard mitigation plans. He earned a master’s degree in urban and regional planning and a bachelor’s degree in geography, both from the University of Iowa.
Zhi Chen, AICP | Senior Planner
Zhi Chen is interested in leveraging technologies to improve the connection between transportation planning and land-use planning, specifically with regards to spatial justice, public health, and the environment. At the Des Moines Area MPO, he works on the Iowa Data Bike project, data collection and analyses, GIS mapping, travel demand modeling, and performance measures and reports. He earned a bachelor’s degree in computer science and history from Grinnell College and a master’s degree in urban and regional planning from the University of Iowa.
Carl Saxon | Senior Planner
Carl Saxon has more than 13 years of experience in transit planning and operations, bringing a wealth of knowledge and passion for creating comprehensive and integrated transportation solutions to make the region more livable for all. He earned a Bachelor of Science degree in geography from The University of Iowa.