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, Vice President of Development

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Michelle Beisker is 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 $40 million in contributions in 3 years. She is 21/64 Certified Advisor – Next Generation Philanthropy.

Josie Velles, 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, 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 tax, business and estate planning groups. She also worked at McGladrey in the National Tax Group for 23 years and was on the Senate Finance Committee of Senator Grassley’s Tax Council prior to that. Susan was the chair of the Tax Section of the Iowa State Bar Association 2015-2016.

Laura Booth, Donor Relations 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.

Christi Smeed, Development Assistant


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, Senior Vice President, Programs and Community Investment

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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.

Jenny Becker, Director of Grant Programs


Jenny comes to the Community Foundation with 15 years of experience in corporate philanthropy through her years at Rockwell Collins. A Minnesota native, Jenny and her husband moved to Cedar Rapids 1993. While they intended for it to be a short stay, they decided to raise their family here, in part because of the “authentic generosity of the people.”

She is an avid traveler, regularly making trips to visit her two adult daughters and son-in-law. She also enjoys spending  days at home reading and gardening.

Elizabeth Cwik, Program Officer

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Elizabeth manages all aspects of grants made from the Program Fund as well as nine corporate and family donor-advised funds. She also provides technical support for the online grant application process.

Rochelle Naylor, Program Officer

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Rochelle manages several grant programs at the Community Foundation including the Organizational Development Fund, Endowment Challenge Fund, Linn County Fund, and President’s Fund, in addition to the education and scholarship programs. She enjoys being part of the Community Foundation’s work to strengthen nonprofit organizations in our community.

Bernadette Gladish, Program Assistant

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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 coordinates the activities of the Nonprofit Network, which provides resources for local nonprofit organizations including peer groups, professional development opportunities, and information. Carrie grew up in La Porte City, Iowa and then attended the University of Northern Iowa where she received her Bachelor of Arts in Communications/Public Relations. Carrie was the Development Director at Big Brothers Big Sisters for five years and worked at Henry Russell Bruce, a local advertising agency, prior to that. For the past 10 years, Carrie has been raising her kids while maintaining substantial volunteer work and running a small crafting business.


Jean Brenneman, Chief Financial Officer


Jean is responsible for planning and directing the financial and accounting operations of the Community Foundation. This includes fund administration, investment oversight, financial reporting, budget preparation and human resource management. 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 Latonja to provide accurate and timely financial information to our donors and agencies.

Emmylou Ball, Controller


Emmy is responsible for the maintenance of all Community Foundation financial records. She manages the accounts payable, grants payable, payroll, cash and fund management, and preparation of financial reports. She is also the primary liaison with the Community Foundation’s database provider. Emmy graduated from the University of Iowa with a business degree in Economics.

Latonja Scott, Accountant


Latonja is responsible for the maintenance and control of the general ledger and financial transactions of the Community Foundation. This includes analysis and thorough review of financial records. In addition, the Accountant assists the CFO in benefits administration and risk management.



Corinne Ramler, Director 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.

Amber Waring, Marketing Associate

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Amber assists with the development of marketing and communications projects and materials. She also coordinates Community Foundation events and assists with donor stewardship. Amber grew up on a small farm in Walker, Iowa. She earned her bachelor of arts at Wartburg College in Communication Arts/Public Relations. She previously worked as the Marketing Specialist at Farmers State Bank in Marion, Iowa.