Our staff is happy to assist you with information about the Greater Cedar Rapids Community Foundation. If you have additional questions, please call 319.366.2862. Our office hours are Monday thru Friday 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.


Dr. Les Garner, Jr., President & CEO

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Les joined the Greater Cedar Rapids Community Foundation as President & CEO in 2010. He works closely with the board to carry out the vision, mission and strategies of the Community Foundation. He provides leadership for charitable giving, community opportunities and administrative activities of the Community Foundation. Les enjoys working with donors to help them discover ways to meet their philanthropic goals.

Dahlia Latif, Executive Assistant and Donor Relations Officer


Dahlia provides a variety of support to the Community Foundation teams.  As the Executive Assistant / Donor Relations Officer, she serves as assistant to the President & CEO. She also provides executive support to members of the Development Team, coordinates donor stewardship for corporate and family fund holders, and is the principal liaison to the Board of Directors and Council of Foundations for National Standards.


Michelle Beisker, Senior Vice President of Development

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Michelle Beisker is Senior Vice President of Development at the Greater Cedar Rapids Community Foundation. She provides guidance and support to donors to help them achieve their charitable giving goals. She is responsible for the asset development activities for the Community Foundation – overseeing donor service, stewardship, communication, as well as the administrative database and systems that support those activities. Since joining the Community Foundation in June 2014, Michelle developed an asset development strategic plan resulting in over $62 million in contributions in 5 years. She is 21/64 Certified Advisor – Next Generation Philanthropy.

Josie Velles, Senior Director of Development Services


Josie provides assistance to donors to help them with their philanthropic goals. She develops and oversees processes for donor services, including the online donor portal, Donor View. She likes being able to work with donors and agencies who are passionate about their commitment to building a strong community. Josie began at the Community Foundation in 2005, her current position is her fourth promotion within in the Community Foundation. Josie earned her Bachelor of Arts at the University of Iowa in Anthropology. Previously, Josie worked for nine years in development at the Milwaukee Public Museum and the National Czech & Slovak Museum & Library.

DSC_0065mcrSusan Willey, JD, Director of Planned Giving


Susan is responsible for meeting with current fund holders and identifying, cultivating and soliciting planned gifts from potential donors.  She cultivates relationships with financial advisors, attorneys, accountants, insurance agents and other estate planning professionals regarding gift opportunities for fund holders and prospects.  Susan attended UCLA where she studied Political Science and Economics. She went on to get her Law Degree at the University of California Hastings College of the Law and her Masters in Tax Law from Georgetown University. Susan was a lawyer at Simmons Perrine Moyer Bergman for the tax, business and estate planning groups. She also worked for RSM US in the National Tax Group for 23 years. She served as Senator Grassley’s Tax Counsel for the Senate Finance Committee before moving to the private sector. Susan was the chair of the Tax Section of the Iowa State Bar Association during 2015-2016.

Laura Booth, CFRE, Development Officer

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Laura coordinates stewardship for nonprofit and affiliate fund holders, serves as the primary contact for the Endow Iowa Tax Credit Program, and is the principal liaison to the Board of Directors and the Council of Foundations for National Standards. She enjoys partnering with our area nonprofits who provide such invaluable services to our community. Laura is a Cedar Rapids native and graduate of Jefferson High School. She earned her Bachelor of Arts in Political Communication at the University of Northern Iowa. After graduation, Laura stayed in Cedar Falls, where she lived for 12 years. Her family, including her husband Joe and their two children, Nathan and Ashlyn, relocated to Cedar Rapids to be closer to family.

Arthur Kim, MA, Development Officer


Arthur provides support for fundholders, including consultations and advising on philanthropic best practices. With a background in fundraising and community engagement, Arthur helps build relationships with Community Foundation donors. He also assists donors in identifying philanthropic goals and finding paths to success.

Christi Smeed, Development Associate


Christi provides support within the development team at the Community Foundation by assisting with administrative operations including gift processing, donor acknowledgement, and donor database management. She graduated from Kansas State University with her Bachelors and Masters in Accounting. After completing her education, Christi and her husband Bill moved to Arizona where she worked in Public and Corporate Accounting for six years. In 2001, Christi and her husband moved to Cedar Rapids, Iowa. For the last 15 years, Christi stayed home to care for her three children, Thomas, Christopher and Bethany, while actively volunteering in the community. She served as Girl Scout leader; volunteered at school, including serving as PTA president; and is actively involved as a volunteer at church. In her free time, Christi enjoys watching her children participate in their activities, such as swimming, tennis, orchestra, football and Discovery Chorus.


Karla Twedt-Ball, MPP, Senior Vice President, Programs and Community Investment


Karla leads the program initiatives of the Community Foundation. She guides policy and strategy for grant making, nonprofit capacity building and community leadership, and helps guide the Community Foundation’s efforts to assist donors in meeting their philanthropic intent. Karla loves learning about the impressive work of local nonprofit organizations, and enjoys working with donors to help them accomplish their philanthropic goals.


Elizabeth Cwik, Senior Program Officer

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Elizabeth is part of the grants leadership team. She staffs the Linn County grant program and the competitive donor-advised funds, and she is part of the Family Philanthropy team.

Rochelle Naylor, MPP, Senior Program Officer

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Rochelle is part of the grants leadership team.  She staffs the Organization Support, Endowment Challenge, and President’s grant programs, and she also supports community leadership initiatives.

Sanjana Raghavan, MHA, Program Officer


Sanjana manages the Community Foundation’s scholarship programs and the Program Support grant program, providing technical assistance for applicants and support for review committees.

Rachel Rockwell, Program Officer


Rachel started as Program Officer in February 2019. Her role is to facilitate a grant process to accomplish the Safe Equitable & Thriving Communities (SET) goals as outlined in the SET task force final report.

Rachel works to engage nonprofit organizations, governmental bodies and community groups in identifying and implementing appropriate projects; assists with convening interested partners; assists with project development and proposal submission; leads the application review process; provides analysis and support to the grant committee; and monitors funded projects.

Bernadette Gladish, Program Associate

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Bernadette provides administrative and grants management support to the program team.

Bernadette is originally from Manila, Philippines but moved to California with her family after college. She received a Bachelor of Arts degree from St. Joseph’s College in Mass Communication and worked at the Paley Center for Media in Visitor Services Department for 13 years. Bernadette and her husband Daniel moved to Cedar Rapids to raise their children, Jullian and Claire.

Carrie Walker, Nonprofit Network Manager


Carrie manages the activities of the Nonprofit Network, which provides resources for local nonprofit organizations including peer groups, professional development opportunities, and information. Carrie is proud to be part of an organization that supports the initiatives of local nonprofit organizations. She enjoys working with nonprofit professionals and sharing in their successes and challenges; as well as helping them connect with resources for support.


Jean Brenneman, CFO


Jean is responsible for the management and oversight of the Community Foundation’s financial and administrative functions.  This includes financial management, fund administration, investment management, audit and tax compliance, human resources management, and building maintenance. Jean graduated from the University of Iowa with a BBA in Accounting and passed the CPA exam. Before the Community Foundation, she worked at McGladrey and Orchestra Iowa. Jean has been with the Community Foundation since 2007. She enjoys learning about the diversified pool of investments held by the Community Foundation and working with Emmy and Paula to provide accurate and timely financial information to our donors and agencies.

Emmylou Ball, Systems Analyst


Emmy is responsible for providing information and producing reports that enhance the processes and overall performance of the Community Foundation. She administers iPhiCore, the integrated information system used by the Community Foundation, designs and implements reports and does data analysis. She is also responsible for data and process management. Emmy graduated from the University of Iowa with a business degree in Economics.

Paula Lange, CPA, Controller


Paula is responsible for the management of the financial operations of the Community Foundation. She manages the financial accounting, reporting, and data analysis; audit and tax. Paula graduated from Northern Michigan University with a BS in accounting and is a CPA. Prior to joining the Greater Cedar Rapids Community Foundation, Paula worked at the Austin Community Foundation for 17 years, most recently in the Controller position.




Corinne Ramler, Vice President of Marketing and Communications

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Corinne is responsible for leading the marketing and communications activities for the Community Foundation. She guides the strategy and educates the public about the Community Foundation’s role in philanthropy, grantmaking, and community initiatives.

Drew Morton, Multimedia Design Specialist


Drew is responsible for creating visual and digital aspects of marketing materials, website, and other media at the Community Foundation. As designer and videographer, he elevates stories about donors and nonprofits in our community while also promoting philanthropy and impactful grantmaking for the Community Foundation.

Dylan Cooley, MFA, Content and Information Officer


Dylan is the primary writer and editor at the Community Foundation, serving on the marketing and grant teams. He is responsible for writing informative and inspiring stories and content to promote philanthropy and impactful grantmaking in our community. In addition, he provides writing, research and analytical support regarding grant applications and programs.