John Norris is a Partner and Co-Owner of the State Public Policy Group + Essman Research (SPPG) based in Des Moines, Iowa. SPPG, founded in 1984, works with clients in the public, private and non-profit sectors providing issue management, research, advocacy, stakeholder outreach and facilitation, strategic planning and project management services.
Norris has over three decades of political, policy and administrative experience at the highest levels of state and federal government including extensive experience on energy and agricultural issues. Prior to joining SPPG Norris served as the Minister-Counselor for Agriculture for the United States Mission to the United Nations Agencies in Rome, Italy. He was appointed by President Obama and confirmed by the U.S. Senate in 2009 and again in 2012 to serve as a Commissioner on the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. In 1999, Iowa Governor Tom Vilsack asked Norris to Chair the Governor’s Working Group on Electric Restructuring. The legislation resulting from his work made Iowa a national leader in wind generation. Vilsack subsequently appointed Norris as Chairman of the Iowa Utilities Board (IUB).
In addition to his extensive policy and issue development work, Norris has served as Chief of Staff at the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Chief of Staff for Governor Tom Vilsack and Chief of Staff for U.S. Congressman Leonard Boswell.
As the State Director of the Iowa Farm Unity Coalition, Norris mobilized a statewide grassroots lobbying effort to pass legislation to help family farmers facing foreclosure during the Farm Crisis of the 1980’s.
Over this time period, Norris also managed to own a restaurant in rural Iowa, coordinate the 1993 Farm Aid Concert, graduate with distinction from the University of Iowa, College of Law in 1995, and work as an adjunct professor of American Government and Constitutional Law at Simpson College where he received his undergraduate degree in political science in 1981.
Norris lives in Des Moines with his wife Jackie, their three sons: Hunter, Cole & Sam; and dog, Boss.