Meet Our Dedicated Board of Directors

Our Board of Directors are the fiduciaries who ensure our mission is advanced by adopting sound, ethical, and legal governance. By providing foresight, oversight, and insight, our Board of Directors protects Able Up Iowa’s origins and paves the path to our thriving future!

President
Wellmark Blue Cross Blue Shield

Brian Smith

Vice President
GNB Bank

Nicole Larson

Secretary
Midwest Family Lending

Kyle Guldenpfennig

Treasurer
Premier Credit Union

Chelsea Steele

Director
Bankers Trust

Lisa Baker

Director
Amyx–Iowa National Guard

John Mikelson

Director
Easterseals Iowa

Tracy Keninger

Director
Amerigroup

John McCalley

Director
Iowa Vocational Rehabilitation Services

Vienna Hoang

Director
Through It All Marketing + Consulting

Gina David

Director
Iowa Developmental Disabilities Counsel

Bill Kallestad

Director
Veridian Credit Union

LeKeisha Veasley

Director
Retirement Income Solutions
Principal Financial Group

Shelley Garrington

President
Wellmark Blue Cross Blue Shield

Brian Smith

Brian received his Juris Doctor, with distinction, from the University Of Iowa College Of Law in May 1987.  He received his Bachelor of Science in Agriculture (Resource Economics) from the University Of Wisconsin-Madison in December 1983.  He is a proud letter winner of University of Wisconsin football and member of the National W Club.  Brian is a Professional, as designated by the Academy of Healthcare Management, and completed the Harvard Law School’s Program on Negotiation, “Dealing with Difficult People and Problems”.

Brian currently serves as an assistant general counsel at Wellmark. He focuses his practice in the areas of Employment Law, Commercial Transactions, Privacy and Cybersecurity Law.  He advises the Chief Human Resources Officer and her team on a wide variety of employee relations matters and employee benefits. He has led a team that drafted Wellmark’s original corporate records information management (RIM) policy and assists in the preparation and delivery of training to HR and management staff on Equal Employment Opportunity and other Employment Laws.

Brian manages outside counsel on employment-related litigation matters and is lead counsel for HIPAA Privacy, Security, Transactions, and Code Sets Rules – advising the Chief Information Security Officer and the Compliance and Privacy Officer and their teams. He has significant experience drafting and negotiating complex commercial contracts and transactional documents. He also mentors and advises new attorneys and the Chief Procurement Officer and his staff at Wellmark. Prior to Wellmark, Brian served as Assistant General Counsel at the Federal Home Loan Bank of Des Moines. 

Brian has been a member of the Iowa Bar and the Iowa State Bar Association since 1987.  He has been an active member of the Association of Corporate Counsel for many years, previously serving as president and a board member of the Iowa Chapter.

Vice President
GNB Bank

Nicole Larson

“I was excited for the opportunity to become involved in an organization that’s mission was to help others become independent by providing financial solutions and empowering them to achieve their financial goals.”

Nicole grew up in Hampton, IA. After graduating from high school she attended UNI and graduated with her Bachelor of Arts in Business Management with an emphasis in Human Resource Management. She worked as an HR Manager in the healthcare industry for 10 years and then entered the financial services industry. She is currently the Director of Human Resources for GNB Bank. Her husband, Corey, and she have two beautiful children, Owen and Ruby. When they aren’t attending a sporting event, they enjoy camping and spending time outside on their acreage gardening or playing with their animals. Nicole is also an EMT and work for the Iowa Falls Ambulance Service.

She became familiar with Able Up Iowa about 8 years ago when the Executive Director at the time reached out to her to ask if she would be interested in joining the Board. After learning about the mission and vision of the organization, she felt compelled to join. Nicole’s mom was a special education teacher and she has many fond memories of helping her in her classroom, volunteering at the Special Olympics and spending time with many of her students and families.

Secretary
Midwest Family Lending

Kyle Guldenpfennig

“I have seen the hardships that many with disabilities face and I am eager to help give back in any way I can”

Kyle grew up in South Eastern Iowa on a family farm. He grew up in a small community where he participated in many sports and extracurricular activities. He attended and played basketball at Clarke University (formerly Clarke College) and went on to graduate with a Bachelor of Arts in both Marketing and Finance.  He moved to Des Moines where he married Kendra. They have two little boys, Kalvin & Kaden.

Kyle experimented in a few different industries from digital publishing to advertising before finding that finances, and more specifically lending, is where his heart lives. He worked for Wells Fargo for 5 years, learning the ins and outs of mortgages. He moved on to a small bank before taking his current role at Midwest Family Lending. It is there he adopted the hashtag #TallMoneyMan, a fun yet easy way for people to remember him, since his last name is a challenge. Kyle’s experience in advertising and banking have helped shape his passion for being a mortgage lender. He loves to work with first time homebuyers as he has the opportunity to educate and help others understand a complex loan that has many benefits.

Kyle is passionate about Able Up Iowa because of the experiences he had growing up. In the small community of Letts, Iowa, Kyle made close friends with students in the special education classrooms. To this day, he still keeping in touch with many. His aunt was an Early Childhood Special Education teacher at Muscatine Community School District for 32 years before she that passed away in March, 2019. Kyle values these relationships and is eager to give back by being on Able Up Iowa’s Loan Committee and finding ways to give financial opportunities to those Able Up Iowa serves.

Treasurer
Premier Credit Union

Chelsea Steele

“Able Up Iowa has such a great cause behind it when it comes to people helping people. It hits close to home for me because I have a brother with autism. I am inspired knowing there is an organization that helps my community and people impacted with disabilities.”

Chelsea Steele graduated high school in 2003 and went on to get an associate degree in Criminal Justice. Chelsea worked as a restaurant manager for almost 10 years before starting down the path of finances.  In 2012, she started to work at Wells Fargo in Des Moines as a teller and then moved into a Personal Banker role. In 2015, Chelsea moved to a Personal Banker II at Community State Bank where she was promoted to a Teller Supervisor and then to a Personal Banker II Administrator. In 2019, Chelsea made a move to Premier Credit Union where she is currently the Branch Manager at their Ames location.   

Chelsea was born and raised in Nebraska. She grew up in Elkhorn with her parents and siblings. In 2012, Chelsea moved to Ankeny with her husband, Brian, where they have established their home.  In 2013, they added a fur baby to their family. A fun loving full of energy Doberman named Riddick. In her spare time, Chelsea loves to go camping, kayaking, and hanging out with her friends and family.

Director
Bankers Trust

Lisa Baker

“I joined the Able Up Iowa board because I believe financial independence is important and meaningful. It was an opportunity to align my professional experience in banking and lending with an organization that is doing good work and making a difference in people’s lives.”

Lisa Baker serves as Senior Vice President, Consumer Services Senior Manager at Bankers Trust, a position she assumed in March 2018. She manages the Consumer Division and oversees 15 branch locations, Cash Vault Services, Residential Real Estate Operations, Consumer Lending, Consumer Operations and the Call Center.

Lisa joined Bankers Trust in 1983 and has spent her entire career within the Consumer Division. She first joined the Bank as a teller and later assumed a relationship banker position. She has also held a variety of management positions throughout her tenure. Some of these positions include Assistant Branch Manager, Branch Manager, Consumer Operations Manager and Vice President of Branch Administration.

Lisa graduated from the Wisconsin Graduate School of Banking in 1994. She has been married for more than 40 years and has three boys and seven grandchildren who all live in the Des Moines area. She loves to golf and travel, but most of her free time is spent with family.  She feels blessed to have her children and grandchildren nearby and cherishes the opportunities she has to attend their sporting events and special moments

Director
Amyx–Iowa National Guard

John Mikelson

“My wife was one of the earliest board members for Able Up Iowa. I joined the board due to my work with disabled veterans returning to higher education and the workforce as well as wanting to promote disability rights in general.”

SFC John D. Mikelson retired from the United States Army after 25 years of service (1978-2004) and returned to the University of Iowa in 2005. He graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in History and his Masters in Higher Education in December 2008. John helped to form the University of Iowa Veterans Association and established their Veterans Transition Center while there he served on the UI Council for Disability Awareness, NAMI of Johnson County, and was a co-founder of Student Veterans of America.

John currently is employed by Amyx as the Iowa National Guard Employment Support Program Specialist

Director
Easterseals Iowa

Tracy Keninger

“I am honored to play a part in Iowans overcoming barriers so they can live, learn, work, and play in the community.  Able Up Iowa provides a one-of-a-kind quality service of which I am proud to participate.”

Tracy is currently a director at Easterseals Iowa where she is involved with overseeing services for farm family members with disabilities, veterans, and various statewide assistive technology services for children and adults with disabilities and persons with special needs.

She holds a Master’s Degree in Rehabilitation Counseling from Minnesota State University. Additionally, she is a certified Assistive Technology Practitioner through the RESNA.

Director
Amerigroup

John McCalley

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Director
Iowa Vocational Rehabilitation Services

Vienna Hoang

“I recognize the gaps in services and the needs of Iowans with disabilities. Able Up Iowa is a very important partner in bridging those gaps.”

Vienna is the Resource Manager for Iowa Vocational Rehabilitation Services (IVRS). She is responsible for relationships with various agencies and individuals. She works to develop programs that will support the Employment 1st philosophy – believing that with the right supports and services, everyone can be active participants of integrated, competitive employment. Prior to this role, Vienna was the Assistive Technology Specialist and a Voc Rehab Counselor for IVRS.

Vienna studied mechanical engineering, psychology, journalism and mass communication and received her BS degrees from the University of Iowa. She received her Master’s in Vocational Rehabilitation Counseling from Drake University and a Doctorate of Education from Northwestern University.

Vienna is a refugee from Laos. She and her family sought asylum from the United States to escape a war torn country affected by the Vietnam War. Growing up in South Central Iowa, Vienna learned the customs and generosity of hard working Iowans. At the same time, she watched her father help other refugees gain political asylum through Governor Robert D. Ray's employment program. This program not only benefited Iowa's labor market, but also enriched the cultural diversity of the state. All of Vienna's life, she invested herself in improving the health of Iowans who gave so much to her and her family. She has been serving Iowans with disabilities for almost 30 years and has been the recipient of the Bill Donahue Job Placement Award.

Director
Through It All Marketing + Consulting

Gina David

“I joined the Able Up Iowa Board of Directors to share their mission to ensure their resources are made available to each Iowan and family that needs it.”

Gina Schmidt David is a brand strategist, marketing consultant, and certified health coach with over 20 years’ experience producing and executing plans for national, regional and local brands and helping individuals reach their goals.

She’s produced work for companies such as McDonald’s & Wendy’s, Lennox Heating + Cooling + Trane Commerical, Nationwide Insurance & Lufkin Benefit Solutions, McGowen Hurst Clark Smith & Community State Bank, Stanley Black & Decker, Acadia Hearth, Des Moines Jiu-Jitsu Academy, Optimal Life Services + Mission Cancer + Blood,, West End Architectural Salvage, Syverson Strege + Company, Sherpa Investment Management, Transition Point Business Advisors, Charitable Giving Resource Center, Moeckl Realty and Revelton Distillery Company.

As an independent business owner, visionary problem-solver, and creative lion, Gina loves to be outside biking, camping, walking, hiking, swimming or taking a drive. Next time you see her, ask her how many Great Lakes she has adventured to with her son and daughter, her favorite spot off the PCH, or how many miles she biked for The Children Cancer Research Foundation. It wouldn’t be a good day if Gina didn’t hit the pavement with her husky hound, Dakota, helped a charity, and jammed out to the song of her day!

Gina is originally from Dubuque, Iowa, lives in West Des Moines, Iowa, and works with clients throughout the United States. You can work with her privately in person consultation or bring her into you company to work with your teams.

Director
Iowa Developmental Disabilities Counsel

Bill Kallestad

“True independence is often elusive to people living with disabilities, even in their own home and community. The greatest hurdle is commonly financial, I am excited to be part of the team that offers real solutions that affords further independence.”

As public policy manager for the Iowa Developmental Disabilities Council, Bill represents Iowans with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Through the Iowa DD Council and the Iowans with Disabilities in Action program, Bill leads outreach and shapes policy to improve the lives of those he serves. Bill’s career includes more than 20 years working in the nonprofit sector. Prior to his role with the Iowa DD Council, Bill was the vice president of programs and services for Lutheran Services in Iowa. He lobbied at the state and federal levels to achieve agency priorities and advocate for policy. Bill holds a master’s degree in public administration from Drake University.

Director
Veridian Credit Union

LeKeisha Veasley

Lekeisha is the Community Inclusion Strategist for Veridian Credit Union. Prior to taking the Community Inclusion Strategist position, she was employed with Operation Threshold Community Action Agency. During her time of employment she served in various position such as, Agency Data Manager, Director of Campaign for Grade Level Reading, and Housing and Fair Lending Program Manager.

Lekeisha received her Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and International Relations from Wartburg College and a Masters of Public Policy from the University of Northern Iowa. She is also a Certified Community Action Professional (CCAP) for demonstrating mastery in 21st century leadership, management, and addressing the causes of poverty. Lekeisha has a Housing Development Finance Professional Certification from the National Development Council as well as a Community Lending & Homeownership Professional Certification from NeighborWorks Training Institute. Additionally, she earned a certification as a Results Oriented Management Accountability (ROMA) Trainer.

In addition to being a board member for Able Up Iowa, Lekeisha is currently the board secretary for Iowa Habitat for Humanity. Previously, she served on the advisory council for the Federal Home Loan Bank of Des Moines, was the Board President of the Iowa Homeownership Education Project, and a board member of the Highway 63 Community Development Corporation. She was selected for the Iowa Credit Union League (ICUL) 2020 Iowa Innovation Group and was chosen for Veridian Credit Union‘s Emerging Leaders Group in 2020.

Director
Retirement Income Solutions
Principal Financial Group

Shelley Garrington

“In my family we have many disabilities. I care full-time for two of them and am the god parent to two others. The mission of Able Up Iowa matches my personal mission (transforming and making a difference in other’s lives) and allows me to pay it forward.”

Shelley Garrington is the Director of Retirement Income Solutions at Principal Financial Group, leading the Learning & Development Solutions division.

Shelly has been with the Principal Financial Group for 30 years in various positions including Administration, Operations, Consulting, Document Services, Client Services, Project Management and now Learning & Development. She has also worked as a Health, Wellness & Retirement Benefits Counselor at AmerUs in 2001.

Shelley graduated with a BA Degree in Finance with an emphasis in Accounting from the University of Northern Iowa. She lives in Waukee, IA (suburb of Des Moines) and grew up in Mason City, Iowa where her mom still resides, and where she will always consider to be home.

Shelley and her husband of 30 years have three sons. She enjoys watching her youngest in all his sporting events and traveling to see her two oldest boys whenever possible. Some of her other favorite activities include volleyball, softball, dodgeball, teaching fitness classes, going to concerts, volunteering and hanging with family & friends!

Join our Board of Directors!

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Please note we have recently changed our name from Iowa Able Foundation to Able Up Iowa.