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OUR TEAM

IRIS CONNECTS IOWA TO INDIVIDUALS AND COMMUNITIES WORLDWIDE

FOUNDER & EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR

OUR TEAM

Bob Anderson

Bob Anderson

FOUNDER & PRESIDENT EMERITUS

Bob Anderson is the founder of IRIS, Inc. and a former Iowa Lieutenant Governor, legislator, and high school journalism teacher. He was a founding board member and first executive director of the Iowa Peace Institute. He has managed numerous U.S. State Department and the United States Information Agency programs in countries around the world. 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

Del Christensen

EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR

Del Christensen is the Executive Director of IRIS, Inc. He has been involved with IRIS programs since 2002, serving as Executive Director since 2006. During that time, he has coordinated more than 100 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. He has traveled to countries on the African continent more than 70 times to develop and coordinate other Africa-based programs for IRIS and other organizations. He served as the lead IRIS staff person working with Iowa State University and the University of Juba to develop a peace education curriculum program in Southern Sudan. He has been involved in the development, review, and pilot testing of more than 10 different educational curricula. In addition, he has helped to develop and implement Rotary International-sponsored programs in Nigeria, Tanzania, and South Sudan. Del has also been involved with Iowa Sister State Committee activities with Yamanashi, Japan; Terengganu, Malaysia; and Kosovo.

BOARD OF DIRECTORS

OUR TEAM

Susan Anderson

Susan Anderson

BOONE, IOWA

Susan is the current chairperson. Anderson 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." 

Chris Fultz

Chris Fultz

DES MOINES, IOWA

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."

 

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Dromi Etsey

IOWA CITY, IOWA

Born and raised in Ghana, West Africa, 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 in 2014.  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 as  a contract manager at Collins Aerospace

Mike Coverdale

Mike Coverdale

NEVADA, IOWA

Mike Coverdale is the current Treasurer/Secretary of the IRIS Board of Directors. Mike is also 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."

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Vani Meher Bojia

AMES, IOWA

Bojia was born in India and came to Ames, Iowa in 2008. Holding three Master degrees, MA(English), MCA(Computers), and MS(Computers), Bojja has previously worked as a teacher in India and now works as an analyst in information technology at Renewable Energy Group. Bojja was active with YWCA of Ames-ISU, including two terms as co-president. She volunteered for IRIS before serving on the IRIS Board of Directors until 2020, when she moved to Texas. She wanted to continue her commitment to IRIS and has agreed to serve our board from her new home. 

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Ursula Ruedenberg

AMES, IOWA

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. In 2011, she led the construction of KHOI Community Radio in Ames, Iowa as Chair of the Board, and is currently KHOI’s station manager.

Nicole Gassman

Nicole Gassman

WATERLOO, IOWA

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.

Kwesi Atta-Krah

Kwesi Atta-Krah

ANKENY, IA

Kwesi Atta-Krah is a compliance consultant at Delta Dental of Iowa where he helps provide reasonable assurance of compliance with, among other areas, applicable federal and state healthcare related laws and standards. 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. In his last post in audit, he supervised and managed risk assessments, internal controls testing and implementation, and audits involving corporate governance, corporate finance and accounting, and consumer credit solutions. 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.”

OUR AWESOME CONSULTANTS

OUR TEAM

Christelle Enega

Christelle Enega

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. She is on the board for the Volunteer Center of Story County.

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Lena Gryn

With over fifteen years of progressive professional experience managing multilingual environments, Lena Gryn is responsible for overall operational excellence at IRIS. Trilingual and bicultural, Lena holds an MBA Degree from Drake University and believes in transformational leadership concepts and simplifying operational work processes. Her past professional experience includes coordination of a language study program at Drake University, performing demanding administrative roles at WHO, USAID and Peace Corps in Ukraine, and running her own translation services company.

Emerald Johnson

Emerald Johnson

Emerald Johnson is IRIS Youth Program Manager and local coordinator in Eastern Iowa and Western Illinois. Her responsibilities include supporting students and host families while on-program. Emerald has a BA in Spanish from Truman State University and currently works as a realtor in Davenport, Iowa. Emerald has hosted many international guests since 2012, including seven YES students through IRIS.

LOCAL COORDINATORS

OUR TEAM

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Mike and Sarah Jackson

EMAILS: MIKE@IRIS-CENTER.ORG 
SARAH@IRIS-CENTER.ORG

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

Alexis Vosburg

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.

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Marissa Fichter

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.

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Aimee Schutte

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Yolanda Pralle

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Krys and Jim 
Plate

EMAIL: KRYS@IRIS-CENTER.ORG
JIM@IRIS-CENTER.ORG

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.

INTERNATIONAL COORDINATORS

OUR TEAM

Dr. Saidu Yakubu
Grace Foya
Mohamed Dau

Dr. Saidu Yakubu

NIGERIA

Dr. Saidu Yakubu is the IRIS Program Country Director in Nigeria. He has served as Country Director of IRIS programs in Nigeria since 2002.

Grace Foya

TANZANIA - MAINLAND

Grace Foya is the IRIS Country Director in Tanzania. She is a lifetime educator who has served as the Country Director for IRIS programs in Tanzania since 2006.

Mohamed Dau

TANZANIA - ZANZIBAR

Mohamed Dau is a YES Program Coordinator in Zanzibar. He has been working with IRIS since 2007.

OUR INTERNS & VOLUNTEERS

OUR TEAM

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Ricki Grover