Blue Ribbon Foundation Staff

The Blue Ribbon Foundation team is made up of Fairgoers with backgrounds in agriculture, non-profit work, fundraising, politics and more. We are proud to support the Iowa State Fair and preserve the tradition that we all love! Learn more about your Blue Ribbon Foundation staff below.

Questions or suggestions about fundraising for the Iowa State Fair? Please email the Foundation staff.

Peter Cownie

Executive Director

Peter Cownie has worked as the Executive Director at the Blue Ribbon Foundation since August 2013. Prior to the Foundation, Peter served as the President of Junior Achievement of Central Iowa. He led the Des Moines nonprofit organization and its fundraising efforts for 5 1/2 years. In 2008, Peter was elected to his first term in the Iowa House of Representatives and has since won re-election to his fourth term representing District 42 which includes portions of Polk and Warren Counties. Peter currently serves as Chairman of the Iowa House Commerce Committee.

The graduate of Dowling High School in West Des Moines and the University of Virginia received his Masters in Public Administration from Drake University. Peter also volunteers and serves his community in numerous ways and chairs several foundations and boards. He and his wife Mary have two sons.

Robin Taylor

Assistant Director

Joining the four person Foundation staff in 1999, Robin oversees the Foundation's merchandise, volunteer and planned giving programs, works with the accounts and coordinates the auction for the Corndog Kickoff.

Raised in Perry, Robin graduated from Central College and has a Master's degree in Russian and East European Studies from the University of Kansas. Prior to joining the Foundation, she spent 6 years with Youth For Understanding International Exchange as an Outreach Coordinator.  Robin met her husband through her work at the Fair and they now have two active boys.  Outside the office, much of her time is spent involved in her kids’ activities in sports and volunteering at their school as well as at Living History Farms.  In her spare time, she relaxes with gardening and spending time with family and friends.

Gina Rooney

Sponsorship Director

Gina Rooney joined the Foundation in 2015 and is responsible for the procurement and coordination of all annual event sponsors for the Iowa State Fair. She coordinates the Foundation's water program and the Corndog Checkoff. Prior to joining the Foundation Gina served as the Grants Manager at Prairie Meadows Casino Racetrack Hotel for nine and half years where she had the privilege of working with numerous central Iowa non-profit organizations.
Gina lives in Ankeny and is an active volunteer board member for the Ankeny Community Foundation and IRIS. Gina studied Tourism and Communications at the University of Northern Iowa and is currently working on a master’s degree from William Penn University. Gina was raised on her parents' turkey farm just north of Jewell and has enjoyed serving on the marketing committee for the Iowa Turkey Federation. Gina enjoys gardening, being with her family and friends, crafting, and experiencing all of Iowa’s great attractions, including the Iowa State Fair.

Drew Norton

Communications Manager

Drew directs the Foundation's communication efforts, including the quarterly newsletter, press releases, social media and website. She also plans special events including the Corndog Kickoff and the Fairgrounds 5K. Drew manages the various giving programs, membership programs and the Iowan of the Day program.
A graduate of Iowa State University, Drew earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Journalism and Mass Communications. Prior to joining the Foundation in 2013, she worked as the Communications Coordinator for United Way of North Central Iowa. Drew spent several summers attending the Iowa State Fair and was an intern with the Foundation in the summer of 2011. Her favorite part of the job is working with volunteers and Foundation supporters that are passionate about making the Iowa State Fair the best that it can be. In her free time, she enjoys visiting her family and friends and cheering for the Cyclones.