Easterseals Iowa is a leader in supporting individuals with disabilities and dedicated to providing exceptional services to the clients, families and community we serve. A strong staff and board of directors guides our work.
Executive Leadership Team
Sherri Nielsen, President & CEO
Margaret Ingram, Chief Financial Officer
Allison Piazza, Chief Development Officer
Krable Mentzer, Chief Communications Officer
Michelle Van Oort, Chief Administrative Officer
Board of Directors
Derek Trobaugh, Chair
Chris Costa, Vice Chair
Erik Bonstrom, Treasurer
Wade Anderson, Hydro-Klean, LLC
Rochelle Burnett, Keller Williams
Ellie Burns, Community Foundation of Greater Des Moines
Diana E. Collins, Farm Bureau Financial Services
Marianne Coppock, The Stelter Company
Steve Despotovich, Wilson Deege Despotovich Riemenschneider & Rittgers PLC
Andrea Dose, Affinity Credit Union
Lisa M. Dwight, Bankers Trust
Scott Gojkovich, NCMIC Group, Inc.
Patty Housby, Housby and Housby Glass
Chris Jorgensen, Iowa State University Athletics
Colleen Ladd, Hubbell Realty Company
Patrick McConnell, RSM US LLP
Michael Miano, Krause Group
Lucas Nelson, Bud & Mary's
Kim Pfiffner, Principal
Alex Sandvig, Holmes Murphy & Associates
Jennifer Schumann, BH Management
Denis Scott, John Deere Des Moines Works
Norm Sterzenbach, GPS Impact
Chris Tigges, US Bank
Carl Vieregger, Drake University
Dr. Joyce Vista-Wayne, MercyOne Medical Group
Foundation Board of Trustees
Don Coffin, Chair Bankers Trust
Rochelle Burnett, Keller Williams Realty Becky Gibson, Wells Fargo Bank, NA David Lester, City State Bank Steve Niebuhr Eric Taylor, Central Bank Derek Trobaugh, Thrivent Financial
Over the past 5 years Easterseals Iowa has made tremendous strides thanks to the support of our comm…
Over the past 5 years Easterseals Iowa has made tremendous strides thanks to the support of our community, our dedicated team members and our generous donors. We’ve made large updates to our facilities- renovating our pool, lodge, sun porch and opening early February a brand new collaborative office space. Our food truck: The Sunnyside Express hit the streets with a unique and delicious menu. We are continuing to evaluate our community needs and meet them with appropriate and innovative programming. We have exciting things coming up in 2020, and look forward to a year full of inclusion and empowerment.
The best way to find out if you like something is to try it! When you’re in high school and explorin…
The best way to find out if you like something is to try it! When you’re in high school and exploring what you like that could lead to employment, hands-on experience is crucial. This summer Easterseals Iowa clients were able to participate in Iowa Vocational Rehabilitation Services Summer program. This annual Summer Career Camp provides students with the opportunity to explore careers, build work readiness skills, interact with employers and tour local companies. It gives employers an opportunity to discuss their employment needs, what skills are needed to do these jobs, and ways to prepare to work in a related field.
During the week focused on the automotive industry, Easterseals Iowa had the perfect pair-up with supporter Tom Gilbert and his shop CHR Tire and Auto in Des Moines (5485 NE 17th Street). The shop is close to Camp Sunnyside and Tom put the business’s core values right in the name—Cheap, Humble, Reliable (CHR).
Tom made time during the morning visit to have his mechanics work directly with the students. They were greeted with orange juice and Daylight Donuts, which made for a great start!
They had serious experience and got their hands dirty changing oil, replacing tires and working on an air conditioning unit.
Tom said, “It’s great to get these young guys in here and excited about working on cars and the industry. We need this next generation of talented mechanics. If they can find out they like this now, they can quickly move to a career like this in the future after high school.”
The Easterseals Iowa mission is important to Tom, especially supporting children and young adults.
Easterseals Iowa program leader Anna Engler said this was the most interactive experience the students had and was a favorite from the summer programming. They learned what it takes to repair a car and the years of training needed.
Finally the students had some time to check out the restoration projects CHR works on, including this 1927 one ton Chevy truck. This is the fun part of the job according to Tom.
Before the group departed the shop they had opportunity to ask questions. One student said he wanted to bring in his car that needs new brakes, and asked if he could help with the replacement. Tom happily agreed.
Keturah’s mom, Kathy, is incredibly proud of all that Keturah has been able to accomplish. Keturah h…
Keturah’s mom, Kathy, is incredibly proud of all that Keturah has been able to accomplish. Keturah has experience as a page at the Iowa State Capitol, has volunteered extensive hours at the VA Hospital, and now works in the Dean’s Office for Health and Public Services at Des Moines Area Community College (DMACC).
Kathy describes Keturah as “very helpful, responsible and respectful.” Kathy is grateful for Easterseals Iowa and all of the support that she has received for Keturah. At one point during Keturah’s time with Easterseals Iowa, Kathy became sick and was hospitalized for a period of time. Kathy knew that she could rely on Easterseals Iowa to support her and her family during this difficult time, and received help with her entire family.
Keturah first became involved with Easterseals Iowa in the Supported Community Living (SCL) program. The SCL program is a goal-focused program that maintains the independence clients currently have while working toward greater independence. Clients access the community in varying ways to increase their own independence such as by utilizing public transportation, grocery shopping, working out and forming meaningful relationships with peers.
After several years of being involved in this program, Keturah joined Project SEARCH. Project SEARCH is an internship program that places young adults with special needs in a real working environment, giving them skills to prepare for the workforce. The goal of the program is community-based employment for clients. Through total workplace immersion, clients experience a seamless combination of classroom instruction, career exploration, and relevant job-skills training obtained through strategically designed internships.
Keturah is currently working at the DMACC Dean’s Office for Health and Public Services. Keturah has the responsibilities of administrative support, clerical work and she supervises other interns. While working in this internship, Keturah has been able to adapt to changes quickly, and works on her problem-solving skills. Keturah took the initiative to create a map showing the location of all plants in the building, to ensure interns water each one. Through the Project SEARCH program with Easterseals Iowa, Keturah has been able to learn how to text, improved her grammar and has also received assistance in putting together her resume for employment.
Art and reading books are two of Keturah’s favorite hobbies. Kathy says that she is always reading and is constantly curious about the world around her. Keturah loves to create art, and hopes to sell her artwork someday.
Chelsea Stapleton has been an Easterseals Iowa team member for nine years and in three different dep…
Chelsea Stapleton has been an Easterseals Iowa team member for nine years and in three different departments. She currently is the case manager at Easterseals Iowa.
Easterseals Iowa Case Management promotes independence by partnering with individuals and their families. From achieving employment to securing housing, accessing healthcare to building a support system, we leverage individual and team strengths to reach each person’s goals. The Easterseals Iowa Case Management program welcomes a wide variety of children and adults with complex, multi-occurring needs.
When asked about the most fulfilling part of her job, Chelsea talks about the importance of relationships. “Relationship development is how to approach achieving goals each individual wants to complete. I have learned how every person with a disability is unique. There is a best way to approach each individual, but that approach looks different for each client I work with.”
Chelsea describes how she loves building relationships with the individuals she works with that go beyond a case manager-client relationship. “I love when my clients are excited to tell me about something new they are doing, or a place they are going. It makes me happy to know that my clients don’t think of me as just their case manager, but can sit and think, ‘this is a support person in my life’. My role as a case manager often is to help determine who the people are that will help my clients get to where they need to be, and barriers that may be holding them back,” Chelsea says.
She talks about how she collaborates with different people her clients can rely on in order to figure out the best way to support each client she works with.
When Chelsea is not visiting with her clients, she is taking phone calls or filling out paperwork pertaining to her clients. “There are days when I don’t get as much done as I plan to, because things happen that I wasn’t expecting. Somedays I plan to get a certain amount of paperwork done, but a client stops by or calls me and I spend time talking to them. This job is all about balancing priorities; completing the behind-the-scenes work that needs to get done, but also making sure I am there to support each individual 100% of the time.”
The Easterseals Iowa Assistive Technology Program has many assistive technology devices that may ass…
The Easterseals Iowa Assistive Technology Program has many assistive technology devices that may assist individuals with sensory feedback. Here are some items that Easterseals Iowa has in our Assistive Technology Lending Library that may assist individuals:
Silishapes Sensory Circles are a set of 10 textured circular discs made from ultra-soft flexible silicon; 5 large and 5 small. On the surface of each circle is a pattern which is distinctive and different from the rest of the set. Children may feel these textures and discover the differences. By placing the small circles into the feely bag provided, they may see if they can describe or predict the pattern they are feeling. Using their feet, they can walk over the large sensory circles to see if they can tell them apart. Linking the small and the large sensory circles via touch is great fun too, with or without a blindfold. (AT4ALL #166677)
Touchy Feely Flashcards are a pack of tactile word cards that may help develop sensory awareness and picture-word recognition. Each of the twelve cards shows a picture with a tactile patch to feel, with the same picture on the other side with its label. The cards are extra large for small fingers. (AT4ALL #161815)
For more information or to schedule an onsite visit, contact the Easterseals Iowa Assistive Technology Program by calling 1-866-866-8782 (Toll Free), or 515-289-4069 (TTY) or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.