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United Way of Central Iowa Board of Directors Welcomes Nine New Members

August 27, 2019

Des Moines, IA (August 27, 2019) – United Way of Central Iowa’s board of directors has approved the addition of nine members for a two-year term that started July 2019. Nora Everett, retired president of Retirement and Income Solutions at Principal, stepped into the role of board chair and will serve a two-year term.

“United Way of Central Iowa is leading the charge for the health, education, and financial stability of all central Iowans. With a committed and talented team serving on our board, committees, and cabinets, we’re working together to enable more high school graduates, more financially self-sufficient neighbors, and a healthier community for all of us,” said Everett. “I am extremely privileged to be working alongside so many others on this life-changing journey.”

The following board members were elected to the board:

Rob Barron, Special Assistant, Government and Community Relations, Grand View University
As the special assistant to Grand View University President, Rob represents Grand View before elected officials and bureaucrats and works to build relationships with the community on behalf of students, faculty, and staff. He was the first Latino in Polk County history to win elected office and is currently serving his second term on the Des Moines School Board.He founded the Latino Political Network, a non-partisan organization that educates and empowers Latinos to serve at all levels of elected office throughout Iowa. He previously worked thirteen years for U.S. Senator Tom Harkin in Washington and Des Moines.

Jem Gong-Browne, Director of Enterprise Strategy, Principal

Jem joined Principal in 2014 and has led various cross business unit, risk reduction, and controls initiatives. In 2016 she joined Corporate Strategy as a director. In this role, she coordinates the development and execution of strategic plans for the company and its business units. Previously, Jem was manager of financial controls at Aviva USA and senior manager of business risk consulting at Protiviti, Inc.She earned her bachelor’s degree of science in economics from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania.

Janice Lane-Schroeder, CEO, Children & Families of Iowa

Janice leads one of the largest private non-profit human services organization in Iowa, which provides services in all 99 counties. A graduate of the University of Iowa, Janice is a licensed master social worker. As CEO, Janice leads over 240 staff, 17 programs, and a $16 million operating budget. She serves on several community and state committees, including the National Association of Social Workers – Iowa Chapter Diversity Committee and the Iowa Children’s Justice Advisory Board, and is co-chair of the DHS Cultural and Equity Alliance Committee. Janice has been recognized by the Young Women’s Resource Center’s Breaking Barriers as the First African American Female CEO of Children & Families of Iowa, and by the Des Moines Business Record as a Runner-Up Best Minority Business Leader 2017 and 2018.

Heidi Mason, Community Volunteer

Heidi previously served as a member of the Wells Fargo management committee and the Legal Department’s executive leadership team. In her most recent role, she led the legal support for all of Wells Fargo’s consumer businesses. Heidi also led the legal support for company-wide consumer protection and the company’s rebuilding trust initiatives. Prior to joining Wells Fargo in 2002, Heidi was a litigator and government enforcement defense attorney in private practice. She received her J.D. from Georgetown University and is a member of the D.C., California, and Iowa Bars.

Joel Nelson, President and CEO, LCS

Joel is responsible for leading the business strategy across all business lines in the LCS Family of Companies consisting of 550 employees who serve more than 35,000 residents in 135 communities nationwide. Joel provides leadership and direction for business growth, service excellence, and enhancing the company’s stability and value among financial partners, property owners, and other stakeholders in the senior living field. Joel assumed the chief executive position at LCS in 2018. He joined LCS in 1986 and has served in various executive positions prior to becoming CEO. Joel is past chair and current board trustee of ChildServe, Inc. and serves on several national senior living board of directors. Joel holds a bachelor’s degree in business management and health care administration from Simpson College.

Renee Schaaf, President, Retirement and Income Solutions, Principal

Renee leads the company’s U.S. retirement business serving retirement savings and income needs of several thousand employers and millions of individual customers. Collaborating across the company, she works to design real-world solutions to meet customer needs. Prior to her current role, Renee was chief operating officer for Principal International, where she led global business development, strategy, and operations in Latin America and Asia. Throughout her career, she’s held numerous leadership roles covering business strategy, product development, technology, marketing, distribution and customer experience. Renee holds a degree from Iowa State University and an MBA from Drake University.

Jeremy Staun, Regional Vice President – Midwest Regional Operations, Nationwide

Jeremy has been in his current role since October 2016, after serving as Vice President for Independent Channel Sales since 2014. Over his 22-year career with Nationwide, Jeremy has held roles in Claims, Personal Lines, Commercial Lines, and Sales Leadership as part of five different regional operations. Jeremy graduated with his bachelor's degree from the University of Northern Colorado. He achieved his MBA from Keller Graduate School of Management and holds his AIC and CIC designations. Jeremy recently sat on the Community Advisory Board of the Iowa Homeless Youth Center.

Brent Vander Waal, President and COO, ITA Group, Inc.

Brent began his career with ITA Group, Inc. as a controller in 1998. Brent has earned steady promotions within the organization, accepting the additional responsibilities of Vice President of Finance in 2010 and Vice President, Chief Financial Officer in 2013. In 2015, Brent was named Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer. Brent enjoys strategic thinking and how it can move people toward a common goal. Brent is also a member of the Central Iowa Fellowship of Christian Athletes Board of Directors. In September 2019, Brent will become the president and CEO of ITA Group.

Sean Vicente, Office Managing Partner, KPMG LLP

Sean Vicente has more than 25 years of audit and accounting experience serving various public and private clients.During his tenure, Sean has worked internationally in KPMG’s Sydney, Australia office, served as a national technical instructor, been active in campus recruiting, and led office wide initiatives.Sean started his career in St. Louis where he first became active with the United Way and has served on United Way of Central Iowa’s board. Sean also serves on the executive committees of Bravo Greater Des Moines and Des Moines Golf & Country Club, as well as service on the Junior Achievement board.

At its June board meeting, United Way of Central Iowa also honored several board members whose term on the board has expired: Tom Ahart with Des Moines Public Schools, Marta Codina with Wells Fargo, Claudia Henning with the Youth Justice Initiative, Ed Kenny with Life Care Services, Tom Mahoney with ITA Group, Joyce Pingel with Kum & Go, and Maria Volante with Dardis Communications.

The 2019 Book of Lists ranked United Way as one of the most influential boards in central Iowa.

About United Way of Central Iowa

United Way of Central Iowa fights for the health, education, and financial stability of all central Iowans. For over 100 years United Way of Central Iowa has brought together nonprofits, businesses, government, community leaders, volunteers, and more to identify and tackle central Iowa’s toughest challenges. Focusing on issues such as early grade reading, poverty, mental and social health, high school graduation, and career training, United Way of Central Iowa inspires central Iowans to give, advocate, and volunteer to improve lives and empower all in our community. For more information about United Way of Central Iowa, visit www.unitedwaydm.org.

Media Contact:

Sarah Welch
515-246-6520 (o)
515-314-7966 (c)