Elaine Eisfelder Szymoniak


"She is a woman who has done it all — she has been a wonderful, successful mother; has had a career; has been a dedicated volunteer and public servant; and has been a mentor and a role model. She is a woman who has truly made a difference."
—Connie Wimer, 1991

Elaine Eisfelder Szymoniak of Des Moines was born in Boscobel, Wisconsin in 1920. Her parents were deaf and an older brother had cerebral palsy. She graduated from the University of Wisconsin with a B.S. degree and a major in Education and Speech Pathology. Before becoming an Iowa resident she worked in public schools in Wisconsin, New York, and Kansas and at Army Hospital Aural Rehabilitation Center in Oklahoma and the Wisconsin General Hospital and Medical School. In Iowa, she devoted almost 30 years to assisting persons with disabilities through the state Vocational Rehabilitation Agency. During this period, Szymoniak obtained an M.S. degree at Iowa State University. From 1978-89, she was a member of the Des Moines City Council and worked to meet the needs of her constituents with a special emphasis in economic development, equality and justice. From 1989 to the present she has served as an Iowa State Senator where she has been recognized as a leader in Health and Human Services. She has served in leadership positions in many legislative committees. She has also served on numerous committees of the National Conference of State Legislatures and made presentations to annual meetings on ethics, welfare reform, and child protection. Szymoniak has been an active participant in many professional and civil boards, commissions, and foundations. In 1943, she married Casimir Szymoniak; together they raised five children and have five grandchildren. She was inducted into the Iowa Women's Hall of Fame in 1999.