Ann M. Smisek - Brochure


J.D. (With Distinction), University of Iowa, 2007

B.A., University of Iowa, 1999


Practice Groups

  • Board Governance
  • Collective Bargaining/Labor Law
  • Employee Benefits
  • Employment & Labor Law
  • Litigation


Ann works in the firm’s Government Law and Education Law Practice Areas, and currently leads the Collective Bargaining/Labor Law Practice Group. Ann counsels clients on various personnel matters regarding hiring, disciplining, and terminating employees, as well as how to conduct workplace investigations. She advises on compliance with applicable state and federal regulations, and reviews handbooks to provide recommendations on legal compliance and best practices. Ann also advises clients on labor issues, representing employers in collective bargaining agreement negotiations, in cases before the Public Employment Relations Board, and in grievance arbitrations.

Prior to Ahlers & Cooney, she served as an Administrative Law Judge for the Iowa Public Employment Relations Board (IPERB). She conducted prehearing conferences and presided at contested case hearings concerning labor and employment disputes. She performed legal research and issued proposed rulings on pre-hearing motions and on the merits of cases. She handled administrative appeals before the district court, Iowa Court of Appeals and Iowa Supreme Court regarding negotiability disputes. She also acted as a mediator to help settle cases and assist in the negotiation of collective bargaining agreements.

Prior to the IPERB and upon graduation from law school, she worked 3-1/2 years as a Judicial Law Clerk for former Chief Judge Rosemary Shaw Sackett at the Iowa Court of Appeals. Before law school, Ann started her career in scientific publishing where she oversaw and managed the editorial review and publication process of academic medical research articles.  Ann grew up in Mitchellville, Iowa and while at the University of Iowa College of Law, served on the Iowa Law Review.

Bar Admissions

Iowa, 2007

Court Admissions

All Iowa Courts

Representative Projects

  • Negotiated first year contract with newly formed bargaining unit on behalf of school district.
  • Performed workplace investigations and advised employer on issuing and carrying out discipline.
  • Advised employers through employee termination process and negotiated resignation and release agreements.
  • Represented employers in prohibited practice complaints and unit determination proceedings before the Public Employment Relations Board.
  • Provide trainings to employers on sexual harassment, discipline and discharge, workplace investigations, and open meetings law.
Prior work while serving as an Administrative Law Judge at the Iowa Public Employment Relations Board
  • Issued rulings on motions to dismiss and motions for summary judgment in prohibited practice and State employee grievance and discipline cases filed with the Iowa Public Employment Relations Board.
  • Issued proposed decisions and orders on merits of amendment of unit cases, prohibited practice cases, and State employee grievance and discipline cases filed with the Iowa Public Employment Relations Board.
  • Represented the Iowa Public Employment Relations Board in administrative appeals before the district court, Iowa Court of Appeals and Iowa Supreme Court regarding negotiability disputes.
    • AFSCME Iowa Council 61 & State of Iowa v. PERB, 846 N.W.2d 873 (Iowa 2014)    
    • State of Iowa, Board of Regents & UNI-United Faculty v. PERB, Court of Appeals No. 13-1669  (December 24, 2014)
  • Represented the Iowa Public Employment Relations Board in rulemaking proceedings before the Administrative Rules Review Committee.


American Bar Association

Iowa State Bar Association – Administrative Law Section Council

Polk County Bar Association

Iowa Organization of Women Attorneys

Polk County Women Attorneys

Blackstone Inn of Court, Barrister


Best Lawyers in America© (2021)

  • Litigation - Labor and Employment


Ann's most recent speaking engagements include:

Iowa Employment Conference, "Work from Home is Not Going Away: Telework Issues in the Age of the Coronavirus," with Alec LeSher, April 2021

Ahlers & Cooney, P.C., Employment Law Webinar Series, January - February 2021

  • "Working From Home: Telework Issues and the New Normal," with Alec LeSher
  • "Stump the Ahlers’ Attorneys – Panel Q&A Series Finale," with Drew Bracken, Rebecca Reif, Lindsay Vaught and Carrie Weber

IAPELRA, 2020 Fall Conference, “Teleworking in the Public Sector: The Pros, Cons & Legal Issues,” September 2020

Ahlers & Cooney, P.C., Title IX Virtual Training Workshop for Clients, June 2020

  • "Title IX Coordinator," with Miriam Van Heukelem
  • "Title IX Decision-Maker Training for Higher Education," with Rebecca Reif

Iowa State Association of Counties, Webinar, “Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) and Unemployment Insurance:  HR and Payroll Questions,” with Aaron Hilligas, April 2020

Iowa Association of School Boards, Recorded Video, "Collective Bargaining Tips and Best Practices," February 2020

Iowa League of Cities, Annual Conference, “Social Media, the Workplace, and Employee Speech,” with Aaron Hilligas, September 2019

Iowa State Assessor Association, ISAC Spring Conference, “Employment Law Update, March 2019

Iowa State Association of Counties, Spring Conference, “Employees cannot say that…or can they? – Off Duty Employee Speech” with Aaron Hilligas, March 2019

Iowa Association of Municipal Utilities, Muni Law 101 Workshop, "Open Meetings & Open Records" and "Collective Bargaining," with Aaron Hilligas, January 2019

Iowa Association of School Business Officials, Webinar, "Collective Bargaining and Negotiations" with Aaron Hilligas, November 2018 & December 2017

Ahlers & Cooney P.C., Employment Law Client Seminar, "Sexual Harassment in the #MeToo Era" with Miriam Van Heukelem, October 2018

Kossuth County Human Resources, "Sexual Harassment in the Workplace," June 2018

Published Articles & Books

Iowa Association of School Business Officials, Counsel’s Corner, "Current Issues in Collective Bargaining: Early Retirement Programs & Supplemental Pay," 2014

Professional, Community and Civic Leadership

Iowa Legal Aid, Volunteer Intake Attorney

Greater Des Moines Leadership Institute - Class of 2019-2020

Children & Families of Iowa, Tango Planning Committee, 2015 - present

Iowa Organization of Women Attorneys – Professional Action Chair, 2008-2010; President, 2010-2012; Newsletter Chair, 2013

Polk County Women Attorneys – Board Member, 2008-2010

Junior High Mock Trial, Volunteer Judge

Chrysalis Foundation, Grant Review Team 2014


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