Under Oath: Dustin Miller
August 12, 2021
A native of Lacona, Iowa, Dustin Miller has journeyed from childhood performances at the Iowa State Fair to influencing public policy at all levels of government. Along the way, he’s dodged political assassinations in the Middle East, sailed the English Channel, and created policy that’s had a significant impact on tribal businesses. But at heart this shareholder in our Government Affairs department is still just a kid from small town Iowa.
Q: Why did you decide to practice law?
DM: In 2003, I volunteered at the Athens Refugee Center in Greece and became close with a Sudanese refugee named Jack. He showed me the impact of policy changes. I was serving a meal to Jack once a day while he was attempting to help other Sudanese leave his home country. That’s when I realized that I wanted to impact policy in a positive way.
Q: What is one thing about Nyemaster that everyone should know?
DM: Our government affairs practice -- not only has the firm been around for over 100 years, but we have also lobbied at the state level for nearly 100 years. The depth of experience and relationships we have is incredible.
Q: Why do clients come to you?
DM: I typically can be pretty creative when faced with a challenge.
Q: What achievement in your legal career makes you the proudest?
DM: When I arrived at U.S. Department of Agriculture, there had only been one value-added producer grant awarded to a federally recognized American Indian tribe. This was due to a limited understanding by USDA staff on how tribes structure business entities. We developed guidance on these structures, working with the USDA Office of General Counsel, and now tribes access the program with regularity.
Q: What’s the most important thing you’ve learned since becoming a lawyer?
DM: Working with federal, state and local governments can be extremely frustrating. Understanding the process and the ability to change policy is important in serving clients.
Q: What’s the hardest thing you’ve ever done?
DM: I sailed across the English Channel from Brighton to Alderney, but we had no wind on the way over so had to motorsail at just a few knots overnight for over 10 hours. Made me realize I’m not a sailor.
Q: Tell us one detail or story most people don’t know about you?
DM: I was less than a quarter mile from the Rafik Hariri assassination in Beirut in 2005 and was supposed to be in the restaurant directly next to the explosion. This is one of a list of cheating death experiences I can claim: I’ve also experienced fire and engine failure on a plane leaving an Alaskan Native village, had my life threatened on a train in Greece by a member of the Greek Revolutionary Organization 17 November, and been ushered out of a coffee shop by riot police while a protest against Americans was raging outside.
Q: Tell us about something outside of work that brings you joy?
DM: I golf a few holes with my two kids most Saturday mornings. It makes me laugh every time.
Q: What are some of the things you love being involved with in your community?
DM: I’m from a small town with large extended families on both sides so I’m still pretty engaged in my hometown. I actually represent Lacona as city attorney, which can be fun.
Q: You also serve as Executive Director of the Iowa Chamber Alliance. Tell us a little bit about that organization and the role you play as Executive Director.
DM: The Iowa Chamber Alliance is the umbrella organization that represents the 16 largest chambers of commerce across the state. Our primarily focus is on state policy. We work with policy makers to ensure that there are policies and initiatives in place to promote economic growth in Iowa.