Fawkes-Lee and Ryan are inspired by the banner photo spanning the top of each page on this site, “Shattering Silence” by Des Moines artist James Ellwanger. It is in recognition of the first Iowa Supreme Court ruling – In Re: Ralph, decided in 1839.
Ralph was a Missouri slave who bought his freedom from his owner in 1834 for the price of $550 plus interest. Ralph left Missouri and headed to Dubuque where he planned to make enough money working in lead mines to repay his former owner for his freedom over the next five years. But he didn’t make enough to settle the loan and a couple of bounty hunters, with the assistance of the Dubuque County Sheriff, attempted to bring Ralph back to his former Missouri owner.
The habeas corpus appeal was heard by the newly created Iowa Supreme Court. The Court ruled that Ralph must repay his debt, but “rejected slavery in a decision that found that a slave named Ralph became free when he stepped on Iowa soil, 26 years before the end of the Civil War.”
Iowa has been a leader in civil rights cases throughout this nation’s history. The Iowa courts have been ahead of other states and the U.S. Supreme Court in deciding historic matters, such as banning miscegenation statutes more than 100 years before the U.S. Supreme Court would outlaw them nationwide, determining that “equal but separate” had no place in Iowa schools, a century before Brown v. Board of Education was decided, and Iowa courts were the first in the nation to allow women to practice law (1869). There are more examples too numerous to mention in a short blog. Fawkes-Lee and Ryan are excited to be a part of Iowa’s progress and history.
To foster an environment that strengthens efforts to uphold Constitutional Freedoms and related social issues by empowering both individuals and groups using technology, legislative advocacy and targeted communication.
Who we are
Fawkes-Lee & Ryan is a web-based, service-oriented, grassroots small business specifically structured to address the growing need to strengthen specific Constitutional Freedoms and related social issues. The company is divided into three divisions:
- legislative advocacy
- organizational advocacy &
- substance abuse reform advocacy.
It is the belief of FL&R that this three-pronged approach will:
- Develop and organize a responsive customer base to lobby for needed change
- Offer services to strengthen nonprofits and other organizations both financially and politically &
- Empower the citizenry by developing and working towards meaningful strategies to address the significant substance abuse problem.
The consequences of creating a large government are that ordinary citizens and small organizations and businesses lose their political voice. FL&R is dedicated to organizing and strengthening that voice, so that public policy will support the public needs.
Marty Ryan is a native west-central Iowan. Born in Carroll, he was raised in the small community of Vail, a town founded in 1867 by his great-grandfather, Thomas Ryan. The elder Ryan emigrated from Tipperary County, Ireland, and became a section boss for the Chicago Northwestern Railroad.
Like most Irish-Catholics from western Iowa, Marty spent 12 years in private parochial school. He first questioned authority when an old-fashioned priest insisted that he cut his hair or he couldn’t be an altar boy. Marty realized he had a choice and opted for the latter. A cadre of altar boys that numbered close to 40 soon diminished to less than 20. Not only did he learn that he could question Catholic dogma (altar boys must have short hair), he discovered that he had the ability to lead. Fortunately, Marty was not excommunicated and graduated from Kuemper Catholic High School in Carroll with a thirst for social justice.
During the years of the Vietnam War, Marty won the lottery and was drafted into the U.S. Army. He served as a mess hall clerk in Fort Lee, Virginia, bringing air conditioning to the mess hall and steak once a week to the enlisted men. He found he had a talent for negotiating.
Marty has been a heavy equipment operator, a land surveyor’s assistant, retail and wholesale meat cutter, dislocated worker grant administrator, a union business agent and official. The 19th Century German Empire “Iron Chancellor”, Otto Von Bismarck said: “Laws are like sausages: It is better not to see them being made.” Marty was a sausage maker for 8 years. He was the Legislative Director for the ACLU of Iowa for 18 years. Marty is a legal assistant who transformed his skills as a former Labor negotiator & organizer (UFCW Locals 440 & 271) into defending constitutional rights of all Iowans.
He has received a 1989 Governor’s Volunteer Service Award. In 2007 he was honored with the South Central Iowa Federation of Labor’s Political Activist Award, and in 2009 he was presented the Harrison “Skip” Weber Friend of the First Amendment Award by the Iowa Freedom of Information Council. In 2012, he was presented with the Iowans Against the Death Penalty’s Governor Harold E. Hughes Award in recognition of his many years of advocacy to prevent reinstatement of the death penalty in Iowa.
Stephanie Fawkes-Lee is a tireless champion of individual rights. Originally from Minnesota, Stephanie has had more television exposure than many professional actors. As a child, she was filmed crossing the street with Mary Tyler Moore one day when walking home from Kenwood Elementary School.
Stephanie moved to Iowa in 1997 to earn her B.A in Journalism from Drake University and her M.P.A., also from Drake. The focus of her studies was substance abuse prevention feasibility. While attending college, Stephanie was a single parent to three children. She views child rearing as a profession and home-educated all three of her children during different parts of their educational careers.
In addition to attending college and home-educating her children, Stephanie values volunteerism and tends to rise quickly to leadership positions. She co-chaired the Sentencing Committee for the League of Women Voters of Iowa; was president for the League of Women Voters of Metro Des Moines; and co-chaired the Substance Abuse Prevention Community Council in West Des Moines. Other volunteer work she enjoyed included: Girl Scout Leader for six years; a soccer coach to her son’s team; historical interpreter at Living History Farms; small group facilitator and lecturer for young adults struggling with addiction; and home room parent at her children’s public school.
Stephanie’s parents played a pivotal role in her life. Her father was a WWII B-17 bomber pilot with more than 25 missions over Germany. He instilled a strong love of country. Her mother was a feminist before feminism became popular.
Stephanie also comes from a long line of entrepreneurs. The Fawkes Building, dubbed an historical building, overlooks Loring Park in Minneapolis and housed one of the first automobile dealerships. Her great grandfather, Leslie Fawkes, was the owner and a descendent of Guy Fawkes. Stephanie’s ancestors include merchants, bakery owners, inventors, etc. She feels that supporting small business interests is vital to our country’s growth and stability.
Now that her children are adults, Stephanie is launching her own company with her husband, Marty Ryan. Together they are dedicated to giving support and a political voice to both individuals and small groups that struggle to be heard.