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


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.


Michelle Beisker, Senior Vice President of Development


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 $83 million in contributions in 7 years. She is 21/64 Certified Advisor – Next Generation Philanthropy. Michelle was recognized as 2020 Outstanding Fundraising Professional by the Association of Fundraising Professionals Eastern Iowa Chapter and 2021 Women of Influence by the Corridor Business Journal.

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. Previously, she worked for nine years in development at the Milwaukee Public Museum and the National Czech & Slovak Museum & Library. Josie has a BA from the University of Iowa and a Certificate in Nonprofit Management from Iowa State University.

Laura Booth, CFRE, Director of Family Philanthropy


Laura leads the Family Philanthropy Team and serves as the primary planned giving resource for the Community Foundation. She cultivates relationships with financial advisors, attorneys, accountants, insurance agents and other estate planning professionals regarding gift opportunities for fund holders and prospects.

Arthur Kim, MA, Development Officer


Arthur provides support for fund holders, 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, MAcc, Development Services Manager


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 also serves as the primary contact for the Endow Iowa Tax Credit Program. She graduated from Kansas State University with her Bachelors and Masters in Accounting. After completing her education, Christi worked in Public and Corporate Accounting. In 2001, Christi and her husband moved to Cedar Rapids, Iowa. Before starting at the Community Foundation in 2014 Christi spent time 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.

Elizabeth Cwik, Senior Development Officer


Elizabeth joined the Development Team in 2023 after 14 years with the Community Foundation’s Program Team. Elizabeth assists corporate donor-advisors and families with their philanthropy, helping them make informed and impactful gifts.

Claire English, Donor Relations Associate


Claire provides a wide range of supports for the Development Team, including gift processing and management of the donor database. Claire started her career with the Community Foundation after graduating from the University of Iowa in December 2022.  She received a BA in Political Science, a minor in Public Policy, a certificate in Nonprofit Leadership & Philanthropy, and a certificate in Event Management.


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


Karla is responsible for the programmatic activities of the Greater Cedar Rapids Community Foundation, leading the team that implements grantmaking, nonprofit capacity building, and community leadership initiatives. Karla spends much of her time helping the Community Foundation address important community issues where philanthropy can play a key role. She is energized by opportunities to address challenging community issues through partnerships and collaborations, which currently includes disaster resiliency work and a community violence intervention initiative.

Rochelle Naylor, MPP, Senior Program Officer


Rochelle manages grant strategy and policies and supports community initiatives involving philanthropy. She also provides support for Endowment Challenge Grants.

Sanjana Raghavan, MHA, Program Officer


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

Casey Baustian, MSW, Program Officer


Casey manages a portfolio of grant funds, including the Organizational Support Grants and Rapid Response Grants. Casey previously managed the Creating Safe, Equitable & Thriving Communities (SET) Fund and oversaw the implementation of the Group Violence Intervention strategies to reduce gun violence.

Bernadette Gladish, Grants and Programs Manager


Bernadette provides administrative grants and scholarship management support to the program team. She is also available to assist grant and scholarship applicants with any problems they may have.

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

Carrie Walker, Director of Learning


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 accounting and reporting; review and analysis of financial records, budgets and projections; fund administration; investment management practices; audit and tax compliance; human resources management; and building maintenance. Jean graduated from the University of Iowa with a BBA in Accounting. She has been with the Community Foundation since 2007. Prior to that, Jean worked as a CPA at RSM.

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.

Shirley Amthauer, Accountant


Shirley assists in the maintenance and control of the financial transactions of the Community Foundation, including analysis and review of financial records. Additionally, Shirley assists with benefits administration and risk management. Shirley graduated from Mount Mercy University and has been in the accounting field since 1998.  

America Manjarrez, Office Manager


America is responsible for the management of the Community Foundation offices. She cultivates relationships with vendors and facility service providers to maintain the historic Torch Press Building. As acting safety manager, she is responsible for monitoring security systems, inventory control, and providing administrative support to multiple teams. She is the principal liaison to the Board of Directors and manages the National Standards process.


Corinne Ramler, Vice President of Marketing and Communications

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 for competitive donor-advised funds and other grant activities.