Emmaly Renshaw – Executive Director
Emmaly grew up in the rolling hills of rural northeast Iowa. She graduated from Iowa State University with a degree in Landscape Architecture with an emphasis in Midwest Ecology. These experiences laid the groundwork for her love of gardening/farming, community health, and local food systems. Emmaly is a Master Gardener and has completed the Iowa State Community Food Systems Certification.
Emmaly’s passion for growing local food systems and improving food access for all families in Linn County is paramount to Feed Iowa First’s mission. She serves as Vice-chair on the Linn County Food Systems Council, Linn County Extension Council, Linn County Diabetes Coalition, Cedar Rapids Wellbeing Advisory Committee, Iowa Land Access Working Group and Kennedy Orchestra Parent Council President.
Emmaly lives in Cedar Rapids with her spouse, four kids (high school -age to kindergarten), and their rescue dog Angus. In her few moments of free time, she enjoys biking, gardening, backpacking, and fixing things.
Kit Kirby – Program Manager
Kit planted roots in Cedar Rapids at the age of three and has considered it “home” ever since. She graduated from Kirkwood Community College with a degree in Culinary Arts and began working in various local restaurants. With a passion for food and a curiosity about where her food was coming from, she left the kitchen scene and started working as a farmhand at a local farm. There, her love of farming, service to others, and community became very apparent.
“I first heard of Feed Iowa First a few years ago while working with some friends of Sonia. The concept was simple yet one-of-a-kind — growing and distributing REAL food straight to those in need. What could be better?” she says. “I am so thrilled to be a part of this wonderful organization.”
In her free time, Kit enjoys spending time in the garden, doing yoga, cooking, and of course, snuggling her cats.
Kara Burrack – Farm Manager
Kara grew up on her family farm in Clayton County, Iowa. She attended Iowa State University earning a degree in Microbiology and a minor in Animal Science, following a certificate in Medical Laboratory Science. When Kara had an opportunity to dig at her first home in 2013, she immediately began growing green beans, cucumbers, and butternut squash. Because of her love to watch things grow and bloom, she became a Master Gardener within Jones County and supports the community through the Iowa State University Extension and Outreach. She is an active board member for the Friends of the Library at the Ross and Elizabeth Baty Monticello Public Library.
Prior to her role with Feed Iowa First, Kara worked in healthcare for many years, leveraging her skills to provide compassionate care and support to those in need. She is driven by a passion for making a positive impact on people’s lives and promoting health and wellness in the community through the production of locally raisedfood.
Kara lives near Monticello on an acreage with her spouse and 2 children. They raise chickens, and sheep and have a sizeable garden that they share with friends and family. In her free time, she enjoys gardening, biking, running, swimming, exploring, and most importantly, spending time with her family.
Lauren Luerkens – AmeriCorps VISTA
Lauren serves as the AmeriCorps VISTA program taking on the role of the Social Media, Marketing, and Donor Development Coordinator. Lauren currently attends the University of Iowa, studying Environmental Planning and Policy. She previously served a term with Green Iowa AmeriCorps as an environmental education and outreach coordinator for the Clear Creek Amana School District.
AJ Mortale – AmeriCorps VISTA
The Distribution and Food Safety Coordinator for Feed Iowa First. I volunteer through the Americorps VISTA program. I am finishing my second year at the University of Iowa, studying Environmental Policy and Planning.
Coming from a place of privilege, seeing the effects of food insecurity has helped me realize just how fortunate my position has been throughout my life. The inequality I see everywhere around me has inspired me to try to make a difference from my position of privilege. The work done by Feed Iowa First is truly incredible. The action from this group of people directly helps those in less fortunate positions by working to close the gaps inherent in the food system. I am grateful for Feed Iowa First for allowing me to work to help people and make positive changes in their community.
Board of Directors
Matt McGrane - Board Chair
Matt is a Cedar Rapids native who lived in Minneapolis and Chicago before returning to his hometown in 2019 with his husband, David Maier, and immediately began volunteering with Feed Iowa First prior to joining the Board of Directors. With a Bachelor of Architecture from Iowa State University and a Master of Interior Design from Harrington, Matt has a strong ability to project manage systems. The system he has grown to be particularly passionate about is food. He believes inequalities and exploitations in our food system are a source of many inequalities and exploitations in our social structure, and that incremental changes by any one person can have a profound effect on improving many peoples’ lives. Matt is chair of the Volunteer Committee, and is currently the ambassador for the Brucemore site.
Jane is a retired teacher and school counselor. Both positions gave her an opportunity to work closely with families with housing and food insecurity issues. She enjoyed assisting families to find resources in the school and community that would help their children to succeed. In addition to working on food insecurity issues, she has always maintained a garden and was an active Master Gardener for 15 years. Now grandchildren, traveling, community volunteering and working for Feed Iowa First fill her time. She feels strongly that no person should be without food when our nation has an overabundance. Feed Iowa First enables me to help the food insecure in Linn County in a way that is respectful and nutritious.
Dora Bopp has served on the Feed Iowa First board of directors since its inception. Dora’s educational background includes an AAS in Parks and Natural Resources, BAS in Management and a Master of Science degree in Holistic Nutrition. Dora’s professional work has included Project Management, Community Development and Program Management in the for-profit and non-profit sectors. She passionately believes in the power of nutritious, whole foods to best strengthen the health of our community.
Lynette Richards - Treasurer
Lynette Richards has spent her life engaging in a wide range of humanitarian endeavors. She has been a Food Activist for over 30 years; long before the term ‘Food Activist’ existed. Lynette founded and directed the Candle Project that operated in New York City and Iowa City from 1990 to 2005. The Candle Project provided good paying jobs for homeless families and had a simple structure; people in economic crisis were hired to make beautiful candles that were sold to national retailers including the Body Shop, Urban Outfitters and scores of other retailers. The Candle Project was featured on the Oprah Show, Good Morning America and People Magazine. Lynette’s innovative work was recognized during an invitation to The White House where this effort was recognized by the US Small Business Administration award as “National Business of the Year for Welfare to Work Initiatives”. Vice President Al Gore presented the award to Lynette. Lynette has volunteered with Feed Iowa First since 2011 and has served on the Board of Directors since 2013. Lynette’s favorite role is that of Distribution Director as she enjoys hearing the stories of the difference Feed Iowa First produce makes in the lives of Linn County residents that struggle with food insecurity. Lynette was a counselor at Metro High School in Cedar Rapids from 1999 to 2014 where she often took a personal interest in her students making sure they were fed and helped to remove obstacles that allowed students to flourish. Lynette also volunteered with Table to Table, an Iowa City nonprofit that redirects wholesome food to serve the hungry, from 1994 to 1999 and served on its Board of Directors from 1998 to 1999. She also currently serves as President of the Oakhill Jackson Neighborhood Association.
Joe Clark - Secretary
A senior systems engineer at Rockwell Collins, Joe became involved with Feed Iowa First in 2012 when he heard Sonia talk about her vision for the organization and noticed Rockwell Collins was surrounded by lots of unused land. Under Joe’s leadership, Rockwell Collins started its first garden the next spring. The garden now includes fifty 100-foot rows that are managed by approximately 100 volunteers. Joe also started a garden at Hillside Wesleyan Church and is an active member of the Feed Iowa First board. Joe encourages Iowa organizations and volunteers to get involved in Feed Iowa First. He says that being outside and tending to the garden provides a great balance to his busy schedule, and it has introduced him to many members of the community. Plus, it’s such a great cause. “When I think of the phrase ‘What Would Jesus Do?’ the first thing that comes to mind is that Jesus said to feed the hungry. How much more direct can you get?”
Anne Langebartels recently graduated from the University of Northern Iowa with a degree in Interactive Digital Studies and Nonprofit Management and a minor in History. She has done marketing and design work for several organizations, including the Northeast Iowa Food Bank and the Center for Energy and Environmental Education, and has a strong interest in marketing, fundraising, and organizational planning for nonprofits, which led her to Feed Iowa First.
Bio to come
Sabrina grew up in Cedar Rapids and is a former small business owner. After 10 years in the pet care industry, she sold her business and moved on to working in education. She is currently working in two roles at Four Oaks, as a youth development associate for Jane Boyd Community House and a program navigator for the Entrepreneur Edge program. She loves living in Cedar Rapids with her boyfriend and three cats and traveling the country. She wants to continue her work with nonprofits in the area and is excited to begin her Feed Iowa First journey!
Erin is the Clinical Services Manager at Eastern Iowa Health Center (EIHC) and was previously a Nurse Care Manager at EIHC in the five years before that. It was in that role that she began working with Feed Iowa First and seeing the positive impact the organization brings to both individuals and the community. Her background is in nursing and public health, with a passion for health equity. She believes creating equitable access for nutritious foods is one of the primary ways to support patients and community health. She is excited and honored to be able to serve on the Feed Iowa First board and continue to help grow that community impact. Erin grew up in Cedar Rapids, lived in Iowa City for 10 years and moved back in 2013. She and her family value and support our local businesses and organizations and want to continue to make an impact on the community while encouraging their kids to as well.
Annie Wells is a Registered Dietitian and Nutritionist. She grew up in the Rocky Mountains and has relocated to Marion with her husband and four children. She has a master’s degree in Nutritional Science with experience in clinical nutrition as well as community nutrition counseling and is currently working as a dietitian at Mercy Iowa City Hospital. Annie feels passionate about environmental nutrition, alleviating hunger, and increasing access to healthy and sustainable food. She is excited to work with Feed Iowa First because of their commitment to addressing food insecurity by providing nutritious food to the community.
Bio to come
Past AmeriCorps VISTA Service Members
Logan LeTellier - Farm Coordinator (AmeriCorps VISTA)
Logan began his service in August of 2019 and has helped the organization to build its capacity in the area of food production. He participates in all aspects of program building; seed starting, soil blocking, tilling, transplanting, harvesting, distribution and creating the master plan.
August Stolba - Farm Coordinator (AmeriCorps VISTA)
August Stolba is participating in his second year of AmeriCorps service, previously serving in Green Iowa AmeriCorps focusing on energy efficiency and sustainability outreach and education initiatives. August studied Design Ecology at The Evergreen State College, focusing on the anthropogenic factors that affect climate change and concluding that food systems are the foundation of creating economically, socially and environmentally sustainable communities.
August Stolba and Anne Langebartels with the AmeriCorps VISTA program visiting our Grow Don’t Mow program at The Accel Group.
Feed Iowa First welcomed two new members from AmeriCorps to our team of talented volunteers in August 2018. AmeriCorps VISTA Service Members are awarded to organizations to help provide direct service and capacity building. The Center for Energy and Environmental Education at the University of Northern Iowa has partnered with the Northeast Iowa Food Bank and Feed Iowa First to utilize AmeriCorps VISTA Members to improve food security in Iowa. Feed Iowa First is so grateful for their talents and the contributions they make on a daily basis.