Joshua V Barr
Des Moines Civil & Human Rights Director
Joshua V. Barr is a native of Sumter, SC. He earned his Bachelor’s of Business Administration in the area of Management from Francis Marion University in Florence, SC in 2003. Upon obtaining his B.S. degree, Joshua went on to pursue his Juris Doctorate at the University of South Carolina School of Law. While in law school his area of concentration was business & corporate law. Joshua graduated from the University of South Carolina School of Law in May of 2007. Upon graduating and becoming a member of the South Carolina Bar Association, Joshua became a general practice attorney at the Barr Law Firm.
In 2008, Joshua decided to further his education and business knowledge by studying at the Smeal College of Business MBA Program at Pennsylvania State University. After graduating in 2010, Joshua moved to Colombia, South America to conduct research on institutional corruption at Pontificia Universidad Javeriana Cali (Javeriana University), publishing the articles: A Legal Perspective on Corruption Models and The Evolution of Business Law in Colombia: Is it Possible to End Colombia’s Legal Dependency? Joshua later became a professor at Javeriana University teaching International Business and Law courses. He also served as the International Legal Consultant for Corn Products International Andina (now known as Ingredion) and the Director of Education for the foundation GSC Ingles Para Todos (GSC English for Everyone). After two fantastic and thought-stimulating years in Colombia, Joshua returned to the United States to address social issues in his native state of South Carolina.
From 2013 to 2015, Joshua worked as a civil rights attorney and the State Fair Housing Director at the South Carolina Human Affairs Commission. Joshua presently works as the Director of the Civil & Human Rights Department for the City of Des Moines. With the Civil & Human Rights Commission, Joshua works to eliminate and prevent discrimination in the areas of employment, housing, municipal practices, and public accommodations in order to make Des Moines a model city.
Emily A Cohen
Human Rights Specialist
Mrs. Emily A Cohen was born in Des Moines, IA. She attended Chariton Schools from kindergarten to graduation. Emily graduated as the President of National Honor Society and in the top 10% of her class. She continued her education at the University of Northern Iowa, where she was an active member of CIPSS (The Center for International Peace and Security Studies), the ACS (The Student Affiliates of the American Chemistry Society and also the PSS (The Political Science Society). She graduated from U.N.I. with a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and a minor in Chemistry. Emily graduated from Drake University Law School in May 2015 as a Doctor of Jurisprudence with certificates in Legislative Practice and Public Service, and passed the July 2015 Iowa Bar Exam.
While attending Drake Law School, she was selected to be one of three Iowa Supreme Court Interns for the alimony reform project and was elected Justice of the Cole Chapter of Phi Alpha Delta, the largest co-ed professional law fraternity in the United States. She was honored to sing the National Anthem and Alma Mater with her (then) fiancée for the Drake University Law School Graduation Ceremony of 2015. In her free time (what little there was…) she coached one of the Merrill Middle School Mock Trial Teams for two years, and continues to judge Junior High Mock Trial annual competitions.
Along with her Iowa Supreme Court Internship, Emily had internships with Iowa House of Representatives John Forbes and Jo Oldson, and an internship with the Iowa House of Representatives Democratic Caucus Staff.
Emily is a member of the State Bar of Iowa, and also a member of the Iowa State Bar Association, Young Lawyers Division. She is also certificated in Collaborative Law.
Emily married her wife, Rachel, in 2015 and together they live in West Des Moines and have an adorable miniature American Eskimo.
Human Rights Specialist
Matthew Hoeg comes to Des Moines, Iowa from Albuquerque, New Mexico. While attending Temple University in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Matthew worked in the Educational Leadership department. He also studied abroad in Cordoba, Argentina at the Universidad Nacional de Cordoba (National Universidad de Cordoba). He graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Organizational Leadership and Communication degree and a minor in Spanish in the Spring of 2013. After graduation, Matthew worked as a Project Manager at a law firm in Albuquerque, New Mexico helping individuals involved in personal injury litigations.
Most recently, Matthew returned to New Mexico to pursue a master’s degree in intercultural communication where he spent time investigating the lack of self-reflexivity training in study and volunteer abroad curriculum. He worked as a Graduate Assistant both teaching communication courses in the Communication and Journalism department and developing skills in mediation and conflict resolution in the Office of Dispute Resolution. Pursuing his passion of facilitating intercultural interactions, Matthew has volunteered in Panama, Argentina, and Morocco focusing on youth leadership and community engagement efforts for organizations such as Amigos de Las Americas, Interaction English, Institute of Leadership and Communication, and the Foundation Occident-Orient.
Joining the Civil and Human Rights Department for the City of Des Moines means Matthew can continue working towards his commitment of ensuring equity of voice in the efforts of the community to develop socio-economic and educational opportunities across the city of Des Moines.
A native of Nepal, Manisha also lived in Canada prior to moving to the United States. As a teenager, Manisha co-founded a youth magazine, Shabda, to provide a platform for first generation Canadian youth in the Greater Toronto Area to voice their concerns. As a passionate human rights defender, Manisha re-established Amnesty International college chapter while attending Drake University, and has taken volunteer leadership roles with the organization ever since. With an initial goal of becoming a civil rights attorney, Manisha later decided to pursue a graduate degree in Public Service Management from DePaul University.
As a believer of “learn from experience, not just text”, Manisha has learned from her professional experience in Canada, East Timor, Eritrea, Indonesia, Kenya, Nepal, and the U.S. She has held positions in UNICEF, local non-profit, local and federal government, and private sectors. From child labor issues to environmental justice, Manisha is dedicated to focus her efforts on creating a just and equitable society for all. In her spare time, she likes to cook, eat at locally-owned restaurants, enjoy outdoors, watch documentaries, spend time with family, and explore the idea of belonging.
A poet and activist from Los Angeles, CA, Monserrat received what she calls her "post-secondary education" at the Labor/Community Strategy Center, a think tank/act tank for regional, national, and international movement building. At the Center, she learned grassroots transformative community organizing while participating in protests, rallies, hunger strikes, and organizing drives in support of low-income, working class communities of color.
In 2011, she attended the Maharishi University of Management in Fairfield, IA in pursuit of a BS in Sustainable Living. Finding academic institutions antithetical to her desire for experience-based learning, she dropped out in 2012, became an apprentice letterpress printer, and regularly taught sessions in the University's Sustainable Living MA program. In 2013, she created Soapbox Speakeasy, a community-driven platform for language arts expression and education founded on the belief that communities are empowered when they are able to speak for themselves.
In 2015, Monserrat relocated to Des Moines and served as the School District Equity Specialist for Des Moines Public Schools via the Public Allies AmeriCorps program, where she developed the District's Cultural Proficiency implementation and training process. Monserrat joined the Commission in 2016 with the goal to create culturally-relevant sustainable solutions.