OUR IRIS TEAM
FOUNDER & PRESIDENT EMERITUS
Bob Anderson is the founder of IRIS and a former Iowa Lieutenant Governor. He was a founding board member and first executive director of the Iowa Peace Institute. For more than 25 years, he directed nonprofit organizations devoted to international understanding. Bob is the President Emeritus of the IRIS Board of Directors.
Del Christensen is the Executive Director of IRIS, Inc. He has been involved with IRIS programs since 2002, serving as Executive Director since 2006. He has coordinated more than 130 programs involving groups from more than 50 different countries. He has led groups of Americans to Armenia, Georgia, Nigeria and Tanzania. He was involved in the establishment of the IRIS component of the Youth Exchange and Study program. In addition, he has helped to develop and implement Rotary International-sponsored programs in Nigeria, Tanzania, South Sudan, and Ukraine. Del has also been involved with Iowa Sister State Committee activities with Yamanashi, Japan; Terengganu, Malaysia; and Kosovo. He serves on the board of Japan-America Society of Iowa, the Abdelkader Education Project, and others.
BOARD OF DIRECTORS
Chris is a real estate agent and development partner, and has worked with Iowa Realty for 4 years. He is also the current vice chairperson for IRIS. His team is active in Des Moines’ industrial but transforming Market District. Chris previously worked in brand/product management and business plan writing. He has been active in planning of the Human Rights Symposium and with an organization that assists the homeless in Polk County.
Why IRIS?: "It is inspiring to hear IRIS students express their optimism for the future and their gratitude for the new friendships they make while in Iowa."
Kwesi Atta-Krah is a compliance consultant at Delta Dental of Iowa. Prior to joining Delta Dental, Kwesi practiced as an attorney in the business litigation practice group at Faegre Drinker, and before that, as an attorney in the corporate litigation group at Potter Anderson, in Wilmington, Delaware. Prior to his transition into law, Kwesi held senior-level positions in auditing. Kwesi came to the United States in 2000 as an international student from Ghana and experienced first-hand the support of host parents. Outside of work, Kwesi enjoys spending time with his 3 boys, listening to music, and watching and playing soccer.
Why IRIS?: “I became an IRIS Board Member because as a prior international student, I have firsthand experience of the positive impact a welcoming Iowa community had on my educational and professional career. I want other international students with different backgrounds and cultures to experience the same.”
Mike is the former President of Block Party Studios, Inc., located in Nevada, Iowa, which produces quilting products sold through retail stores in 23 countries.
Why IRIS?: "It provides demonstrated leadership with promoting understanding, development and peace by connecting Iowans to communities worldwide."
Born raised in Ghana, Dromi obtained her law degree and was later called to the Ghana Bar in 2011. Upon moving to the U.S., she graduated from the University of Iowa College of Law. She practiced as an attorney in the Cedar Rapids community before joining the College of Law in January 2017, as the Director for Global Community Engagement. Her role at Iowa Law allowed her to help international students transition from one system into another and integrate without losing their own cultural identity. Dromi currently works with Collins Aerospace
Ronelle Langley’s career as an academician and practitioner spans over 30 years and three continents where she obtained graduate degrees in Psychology (M. Science from Australian National University; Ph.D. from University of Johannesburg) and Business (Executive MBA from University of Iowa).
Ronelle has led several student groups to South Africa. She is involved with leadership development in companies with a
global vision. She has worked on long and short term projects,
presented at international conferences, and gave guest lectures in Australia, Israel, USA, Portugal, Spain,
England, Japan, China, Poland, Czech Republic, Egypt, South Africa, and Brazil.
Nicole is originally from Ames, Iowa. From early childhood she has enjoyed meeting and making friends with people from around the globe. While attending ISU, she lived abroad in Germany for 8 months. For over 10 years, she has worked as an engineer for John Deere. She has travelled to Cambodia to see how Human Trafficking is being combated there. Outside of work, she likes to spend time with family, friends, home improvements, and reading.
Vani Meher Bojia
Bojia was born in India and came to Iowa in 2008. Holding three Master degrees, MA(English), MCA(Computers), and MS(Computers), Bojja has previously worked as a teacher in India and as an analyst in information technology at Renewable Energy Group. Bojja volunteered for IRIS before serving on the IRIS Board of Directors. She now lives in Texas, but continues her commitment to serve our board.
Ursula Ruedenberg grew up in Ames, Iowa, but lived in New York City for 30 years. She spent much of her life as a professional mural artist and directed a community mural program for the City of New York for 20 years. She has an MFA from Sarah Lawrence College and the New York Academy of Art. Ursula has been Pacifica’s Affiliate Network Manager since 2002, keeping relations with over 200 network member stations. In her work for Pacifica, she produces “Sprouts, Radio From the Grassroots“, she was a founding member of the Radio For People Coalition and she helped with the application and construction of numerous new community radio stations.
Susan is the office manager and an optician at Boone Vision Center. Anderson traveled with IRIS and IRIS board member Mike Coverdale to Nigeria in 2004 and also hosted a YES student through IRIS that same year.
Why IRIS?: ""Our family has had numerous students and visitors from around the world stay with us through the years, and I believe that opening your home and your hearts to visitors can help make the world a better, more peaceful place by increasing global awareness, fostering greater cultural understanding, and creating lasting friendships. It is a life changing experience."
OUR AWESOME STAFF
Christelle Enega is the YES Recruitment/Alumni Program Coordinator, originally from Cameroon, Africa. Enega graduated from Iowa State University with a bachelor’s degree in Political Science.
With over fifteen years of progressive professional experience managing multilingual environments, Lena Gryn serves as Operations Manager at IRIS. Trilingual and bicultural, Lena holds an MBA Degree from Drake University.
Emerald Johnson is the IRIS Youth Program Manager, supporting students and host families while on-program. Emerald has a BA in Spanish from Truman State University. Emerald has hosted many international guests since 2012, including many YES students through IRIS.
Mike and Sarah Jackson
Hi, we are Mike and Sarah Jackson! We've hosted 5 IRIS students over the last 12 and continue to stay in touch with them all. We are blessed to have this extended family all over the world. We're excited to expand our role to local coordinator where we can support other families and enrich these awesome students. By day, Mike works in software development and Sarah is a virtual administrative assistant. We have 3 grown children (besides our exchange children) and one in high school.
Alexis Vosburg is a Youth Programs Local Coordinator in Northeast Iowa. Vosburg has a degree in Elementary Education and earned her Masters Degree in teaching with an emphasis in special education. Vosburg now works as an Instructional Collaborator and Alternative Program Coordinator for Hampton-Dumont-CAL Community School District. Vosburg and her family have hosted five YES students through IRIS, which has ignited her passion for the international community.
Hello! I am Marissa. My husband, two daughters and I currently live in Ames and have joyfully hosted four students in the past. Each one of them has been so special to us, as has been our local coordinator. I am so excited to be a part of this team. Together, I hope we can encourage the students and families, making sure they both see purpose in this year and build some great relationships along the way. These brave, curious, and hilarious students bring such a light to each home, school, and community they get to be a part of and it is a privilege to work with them.
Krys and Jim
Yolanda Pralle is a Youth Programs Local Coordinator in North Central and Northeast Iowa. A native of Australia and an import to the USA, she has a unique perspective on cultural shock and acclimation and brings that to her guidance of the families and exchanges students under her care. She and her family live in Sheffield and have hosted 5 different exchange students with IRIS themselves which introduced her to the program and made her want to extend her involvement to be a key component of this life-changing experience.