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Julie Gammack, through the years.

There is a story in everyone. This is a belief I was taught by my father, Gordon Gammack, who wrote a daily column for the Des Moines Tribune and served as a war correspondent during World War II, Korea, and Vietnam. When asked how he could be so prolific, he answered: ‘There is a story in everyone.’

This means you, too, by the way.

With legacy newspapers in decline, I felt we were losing too much in Iowa. I was compelled to return to storytelling and commentary, only this time finding a way to connect more personally with readers via this platform.

I bring to the potluck table years of experience from being a newspaper copy kid at 16, a cocktail waitress at 21, a change agent in college, a provocative talk show host, a newspaper storyteller, a CEO coach, and today, the producer of the Okoboji Writers’ and Songwriters’ Retreat, founder of the Iowa Writers’ Collaborative, and author of this Substack column.

Nice to ‘meet’ you.

As a reader of Julie Gammack’s Potluck, you join current and former Iowans curious about what’s happening in Iowa.

You’ll be introduced to characters, troublemakers, creative artists, leaders, and exciting people. You’ll be invited to join a Zoom call on most Mondays, during which I interview provocateurs and shaker-uppers throughout Iowa. Those conversations are recorded and turned into podcasts.

I grew up in Iowa and have worked as a newspaper columnist and radio talk show host here. I’ve visited every county in Iowa and every neighborhood in Des Moines., so I can play Iowa Trivia with about anyone.

In 2001, I left my home state for Annapolis, Maryland, and then the Windy City of Chicago to be a business consultant through Vistage International. I heard expert speakers on all aspects of a leader’s personal and professional life. As all my life chapters have been, the years as a Vistage chair were rich and rewarding.

Twenty years later, my husband and I returned to the state we once called home and where my adult son lives.

Richard Gilbert and Julie Gammack at the Okoboji Writers’ Retreat, 2023.


In those two decades away, the state changed dramatically, some for the better, some for the worse. We explore those extremes through the eyes of decision-makers and those impacted.

Sh*t Richard Says

My husband and life partner also had a career in journalism, first as an ink-stained wretch (literally) to what I call a ‘suit’ where he was a media executive. He occasionally takes over the Potluck column with what we call ‘Sh*t Richard Says.’ Watch for it.


Oh, yeah, and I supervise the column ‘J. Dudley’s World,’ authored by our puppy, J. Dudley. I figured we’d lose a lot of Potluck subscribers if he took over writing in this space, so if you want to know what a dog thinks, check out what he has to say.

J. Dudley Gilbert, born July 26, 2024.

I guess I’m mission-driven at this stage of life. There are stories to tell and stories to be told. And they matter. Even if reported by a dog.


The wonderful (mostly) thing about a potluck is that everyone brings something to the table. I’ll provide the utensils (this substack format), and you or others I find of particular interest will fill the table.

Paid subscribers of this column support scholarships to the Okoboji Writers’ and Songwriters’ Retreat. This means emerging journalists, novelists, essayists, and songwriters can experience a life-changing experience. So, thank you in advance for your role in this effort.

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Julie is a veteran print and radio commentator who believes YOU bring a lot to the table—like a potluck. Independent, local features and commentary will be served from a variety of perspectives. You will be armed with lots of stuff to talk about.


Founder: The Iowa Writers' Collaborative includes highly regarded, popular, columnists from around the state. Produces the Okoboji Writers' Retreat. Writes Julie Gammack's Iowa Potluck. Having a blast.