Karla Twedt-Ball’s tenure as the President & CEO of the Greater Cedar Rapids Community Foundation began on June 1, 2023, but this was by no means the beginning of her service to Linn County. With a wealth of experience and a commitment to our community, Karla is poised to lead the Community Foundation into the next chapter.
Karla grew up in Ankeny, Iowa and earned her bachelor’s degree from the University of Iowa. She holds a Master of Public Policy from the Humphrey School of Public Affairs at the University of Minnesota, and previously spent time in Chicago working at Northwestern University’s Institute for Policy Research on a community policing evaluation project. Karla eventually moved to Cedar Rapids and served as Executive Director of Churches United before joining the Community Foundation as Program Director in 2007.
Since then, Karla has led the Community Foundation’s grantmaking and community impact work, growing the grants team and its ability to support local nonprofits. Because she already has such a thorough understanding of the local nonprofit sector—as well as what it takes to support those organizations—Karla is well positioned to focus on the future.
“We are fortunate to have a very mission-aligned staff and board who are committed to strengthening the community through philanthropy,” Karla said. “As an endowed community foundation, we have the opportunity to focus on the future. Our work today helps create a sense of optimism, community, and connectedness, and it also helps create a community foundation of the future, that will be here to address the challenges that the next generations will face.”
That work is often collaborative in nature, occupying the space where donors, nonprofits, and community members converge to find a common path forward. It’s a good fit for someone who enjoys learning, building relationships, and creative problem-solving.
“I want to find ways that we can tap into what can hold us together as one community and care for each other and this place,” Karla said. “The Community Foundation excels at convening people and ideas to make good things happen, and I want to continue the practice of learning from our donors, nonprofits, board, and staff.”
The desire to bring the community together and learn from one another is not surprising for those who are familiar with Karla—or the Community Foundation, for that matter. The organization aims to create a vibrant community now, while simultaneously holding onto a futuristic perspective and helping donors achieve their philanthropic goals; it has long looked to the broader community for inspiration in pursuing that work.
But Karla’s perspective and vision don’t just align with those nearby, and she’s not afraid to look farther afield for new ideas and inspiration. Karla is just finishing board service to the Iowa Council of Foundations, an organization committed to growing philanthropy in Iowa, and serves on the board of The Funders Network, an organization that aims to improve outcomes in a range of categories in communities across the U.S. and Canada. Karla firmly believes that staying connected to trends in the field will help the Community Foundation stay on the cutting edge of using philanthropy as a tool for community development.
Of course, it helps to be in a community where so many are willing to give.
“As I step into this role, I feel so fortunate to inherit a legacy of support for our work—in good times and in bad,” Karla said. “The people of Linn County continually demonstrate resilience and generosity, and they value the ability to respond to whatever may lie ahead. I’m grateful to be serving such a selfless community.”