Remarkable Women: Christine Hensley

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Christine Hensley has left her mark on downtown Des Moines. For her remarkable contributions, she was inducted into the Iowa Women’s Hall of Fame and holds her place in Des Moines history as the longest-serving member of the City Council.

“The view is spectacular.  You’re not going to find a better view of the city,” said Hensley about the view from MacRae Park.


As one of the leading architects of the city’s changing skyline, Hensley takes pride in what she sees. 

“Downtown is what it is because of what Christine Hensely has done,” said Des Moines City Councilwoman Linda Westergaard.

The view downtown looked a lot different in 1994, when Hensley was first elected to the council.

“Downtown was so different.  I mean it was not, it had absolutely no draw.  There were a lot of old buildings, vacant buildings,” she described,

Countless ground breakings and ribbon cuttings later, those old and vacant buildings were replaced with high-rise landmarks, the eye-catching Pappajohn Sculpture park and Gray’s Lake what she calls the “crown jewel for the city of Des Moines”.  Hensley stepped down after 24 years on the council.  When it was all said and done, she had her hand in $2.5 billion in development.

“Anyone who knows her, knows she’s a remarkable woman.  But she is the epitome of a servant leader.  She spent her entire year, her entire life trying to help people and trying to improve the city of Des Moines,” said Steve McCullough, President and CEO at Iowa Student Loan.

McCullough nominated Hensley for our Remarkable Woman Contest.  He says as chairperson of the Iowa Student Loan board, Hensley has a passion to help parents and students get the information they need to make wise choices about college and have good outcomes.

“She takes great pride in the people she’s had an opportunity to mentor.  I’m very fortunate to be one of those,” he said.

“Christine was an icon.  She’s what every council member hopes to be,” said Westergaard. 

“I love being busy because you can have an impact,” said Hensley.

Staying busy in a community she’s always called home and never dreamed of leaving..

“No.  Never.  Love Des Moines.”

Christine Hensley has left her mark in Des Moines in a truly remarkable way.

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