Party on the Patio 2023

September 19, 2023 - Features

On Thursday, August 31, the Dole Institute Student Advisory Board hosted its annual kick-off event, “Party on the Patio.” This event, which occurs at the beginning of each academic year, is an opportunity for new and returning SAB students to enjoy dinner, meet new people, learn about the Dole Institute, and hear from young, successful professionals, including journalists, public servants, and political operatives.

The event this year was titled “All Eyes on Iowa.” With the primary season for the 2024 presidential election just months away, presidential hopefuls are out in full force across Iowa. As, historically, the first major contest in the nominating process, candidates travel to Iowa to try and win over voters and use their early successes as a springboard to the presidency giving the small midwestern state a lot of political power.


Brianne Pfannenstiel of the Des Monies Register speaks at the 2023 Party on the Patio event at the Dole Institute of Politics on August 31, 2023.


This year’s guest was award-winning journalist Brianne Pfannenstiel, the Chief Politics Reporter at the Des Moines Register. She covers local and state politics as well as the chaos surrounding presidential nominations during the Iowa caucuses. In 2020, she co-moderated the Democratic presidential debate in Des Moines alongside CNN’s Wolf Blitzer and Abby Phillip. Pfannenstiel is also a graduate of the University of Kansas.

Students enjoyed a taco dinner on the Dole Institute lawn while SAB Coordinator Allie Haggar interviewed Pfannenstiel for the main interview portion of the program. Haggar asked Pfannenstiel questions about her career, what she has seen on the ground in Iowa, how that can relate to the broader 2024 election, and advice she would give to students interested in getting involved in politics or journalism.


Audience members listen as Student Advisory Board Coordinator Allie Haggar interviews Brianne Pfannenstiel on the Dole Institute’s West Lawn.


One notable moment was when Pfannenstiel talked about how prominent Iowa elected officials usually don’t endorse candidates before the Iowa caucus out of respect to the caucus. One exception to this was in 1996, when Iowa Sen. Chuck Grassley endorsed Bob Dole because of their close relationship. This year, Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds, who is extremely popular among Iowans, has not endorsed a candidate and is instead offering to host all of the Republican candidates at various rallies and events in the state.

“It was wonderful to plan and attend my first event as the Student Events Assistant,” Ana-Sofia Lahovary, a junior Political Science, Global and International Studies, and German major and the new Student Events Assistant, said. “I loved seeing new faces and gaining new insights on the 2024 election from a KU grad.”


A student asks Brianna Pfannenstiel a question during the Question and Answers portion of the night’s program.


Around 60 people were in attendance, and many of them asked their own questions to the guest as well.

“It was really cool to see so many people at the institute after summer break,” Sam Sieben,  a senior Strategic Communications major and the Marketing and Communications Intern, said.


Students pose for a picture after receiving a cup of Dole Whip for dessert after the program.


Students in attendance received free swag, such as sunglasses and newly printed SAB stickers. The evening ended with everyone enjoying a cup of Dole Whip.

If you are interested in getting involved with the Student Advisory Board, please email and learn more online at


Miss the program? Watch the program below, or on our YouTube channel.

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