Founder, Owner | Caleo Enterprises
Deidre DeJear is a small business owner and voting rights advocate who is driven by her passion to create equitable, inclusive, and accessible opportunities for those who need it most.
Deidre DeJear started her business in 2008 during her senior year at Drake University to help other businesses grow and thrive. It was at the brink of the recession, and Deidre saw a need for better marketing services to support small businesses. Iowans were out of work and struggling, and as a result, many became entrepreneurs out of necessity. Deidre stepped in to help them market themselves and navigate the filing process through the Secretary of State’s Office.
For more than 12 years, Caleo Enterprises has helped over 1000 small businesses and nonprofits in Iowa. Deidre has dedicated her time and talents to helping grow small businesses through earn-and-learn programs, increasing the financial management skills of over 20,000 Iowans via the Financial Empowerment Center, and strengthening the financial capability and wealth attainment of the Iowa African American community through her work with One Economy. Deidre believes small business owners deserve on the job training just like other trades.
Deidre spearheaded the opening of Iowa’s first Financial Empowerment Center, a collaborative that targets low-income individuals and families, provides access to mainstream financial systems and products and increases their financial management knowledge and skills. She developed programmatic functions, such as financial bootcamps, which provide access to quality financial education.
Since 2015, Deidre has spent a considerable amount of time working on One Economy, a project dedicated to strengthening the financial capability and wealth attainment of African Americans in Iowa, and other financial empowerment efforts.
In the midst of the 2020 COVID-19 Pandemic Deidre brought a collective of community organizations together to raise private and public dollars in order to provide a level playing field for disadvantaged small business owners and in 2021 Deidre served as the Foundations Financial Coaching Certificate Program Lead which equipped trainees with credentials, training, tools, and resources needed to serve as professional financial coaches for individuals, families, and nonprofits nationwide. This program was one of the efforts to rebuild the Iowa economy by the people and for the people during our greatest time of need.
The other side of Deidre’s work leads her to enhance public participation in civic engagement. In 2018, Deidre ran as the Democratic nominee for the Iowa Secretary of State Office, making
her the first African American in Iowa to be nominated by a major political party. She ran to
restore Iowa’s progressive voting laws and fought for fair access to the ballot box.
Deidre attributes her passion for advocacy and civic engagement to her experience working on
her grandmother’s Mississippi campaign in the ‘90s and continues to use that as a foundation
for her work, which includes managing local school board races, championing voting rights in
Iowa, and working on presidential campaigns.
Deidre’s most recent efforts include the launch of 20/20 Vision Project, which equips
individuals with the necessary tools to facilitate change in their communities. On August 14, 2021, she launched a run for Iowa Governor and is currently learning about the concerns, successes, and hopes of Iowans through events, conversations, and research. DeJear is running because she knows that Iowa is worth the work.