Raising Readers in Story County

Our Board

2020-2021 Raising Readers in Story County

Executive Committee

President: Jerri Heid, Ames

I have worked in libraries since 1991 when I was hired as a library assistant and then became the Children’s Librarian at the Cherokee Public Library in Cherokee Iowa, my hometown. In 2000 I was hired at the Clive Public Library, Clive Iowa, to assist in the opening of brand new library with collection and programming as their youth representative.  I worked there until I was hired as the Youth Services Specialist and now as the Youth Services Manager at Ames Public Library.  With each chapter along the way I have consulted and presented on topics such as Toddle on Over: using music in your programming when you can’t sing, Using Baby sign in your Programming, How to Read Aloud, Early literacy Skills and Practices, Youth Department Design, and Teen Services. I have been an RRSC board member since 2015 when I began my position at Ames Public Library. I believe that RRSC mission for 0-8 years corresponds directly with the library’s mission for this age group, only with more freedom for targeted and broader outreach in the county. 

Past President: Shellie Orngard, Ames

As President of the Board of Directors, Shellie Orngard ensures that Board activities support and advance the mission of Raising Readers in Story County, and together with the other Board members monitors, assesses, and participates in the organization’s operations and programs. Having recognized the unique contributions nonprofits make to the community, Shellie earned a Certificate in Nonprofit Management from the Nonprofit Management Academy of Iowa State University and United Way. For eight years, Shellie served as Executive Director of the Volunteer Center of Story County and has served on numerous Boards and commissions. She recently retired as a Lecturer from the Department of English at Iowa State University.

Vice President: Lynne Carey, Nevada

Lynne recently retired from the Ames Public Library after 36 years of service. At APL, Lynne developed a strong passion for community building through collaboration. She has experience with strategic planning, human resource management, budgeting, fundraising, and policy development. While literacy efforts of every stripe are important to Lynne, she believes that a focus on early literacy and parent education is vital. Lynne received a BS from ISU in psychology and women’s studies. She is one of the rare Story County natives who stayed put.  She and her spouse, Navid Emami, live in Nevada in Lynne’s childhood home and appreciate the small-town living that Iowa offers.

Treasurer: Crystal Johnson, Nevada

As Board Treasurer, Crystal Johnson is responsible for organizing, preparing, and presenting Raising Readers in Story County financial information to the Board of Directors, staff, and committee members.  Crystal holds a bachelor’s degree in Finance and a Master of Business Administration with a specialization in Family Financial Planning from Iowa State University.  Crystal began volunteering as a tutor for the Harrison Barnes Reading Academy Summer Reading Buddies program in 2016 when her oldest son joined the program.  She experienced first-hand the value of programs offered to the youth of Story County by Raising Readers and is excited to continue supporting the vision for young children to get a solid foundation in reading, communication, and learning.

Secretary: Ellen Malven, Nevada

Ellen Malven works as a research coordinator at Iowa State University where she specializes in research with children, families, and schools. Ellen has a Ph.D. in Childhood Studies from Rutgers University, a Master’s in English, and a Master’s of Fine Arts in Children’s Literature. She has been a strong supporter of youth literacy and education for fifteen years. She has also volunteered with a variety of programs at Raising Readers of Story County, including Story Pals and Harrison Barnes Reading Buddies. Ellen hopes to continue working as an advocate for youth literacy for years to come.

Board of Directors

Carolyn Jons, Ames

My dream is a future in which all children grow up healthy, with loving relationships, and with a strong foundation in literacy and learning in order to maximize their potentials.  This passion has guided me as a parent and grandparent, a school board member, a member of Raising Readers in Story County and Story County Reads, a Rotarian, a neighbor, and a philanthropist. Every day I look forward to working with dedicated partners to contribute a little more toward this vision. 

Dan Franklin, Ames

Dan Franklin has been a member of the Board of Directors since August 2018 and focused on the Little Free Library program.  He grew up in northwest Iowa and attended the University of Northern Iowa while planning for a teaching career.   After 1 ½ years at UNI, transferred to Iowa State University and graduated with minors in three areas of interest – Education, Math, and History.  Dan retired after 43 years with Iowa Highway Commission/Iowa Department of Transportation in June 2016 and immediately began volunteering with Raising Readers in Story County.

Diana Claus, Ames

As a Raising Readers Board Member for ten years, Diana Claus is committed to supporting literacy achievement initiatives for children in Story County, with a special emphasis on working with the underserved population.  Diana has a B. S. in Elementary Education from Drake, an M. S. in Curriculum and Instruction from Drake, and Literacy Coaching Certification from ISU.  She taught elementary school for thirty-four years, supervised the administration of the National Assessment of Educational Progress for seven years, and served at ISU in the School of Education as a lecturer and coordinator of the Duffelmeyer Reading Clinic. Interacting with families while working with students from preschool through college ages has provided a broad perspective of literacy development.  Diana enjoys designing literacy programs that focus on interventions for struggling readers by examining best practices, incorporating instructional strategies, and using assessment to inform instruction.  Being a part of the collaboration between Raising Readers and community partners has been a rewarding, synergistic experience. 

Lynn Engen, Ames

I worked as an RN in my first career, serving in a variety of disciplines (pediatrics, pediatrician’s office, public health and mental health nursing) that contributed to my life work. Along the way, I initiated a community-wide effort to establish a family Resource Center focused on parent education, support groups and parent-child activities. As it began to take form, and with a board of directors in place, I was hired as director of People Place. In the early years of its existence, I obtained my BA degree concentrating on courses related to parent-child relations; and (as special topics coursework), I developed a program for parents using children's literature as a vehicle to understand children’s behaviors and how parents can communicate effectively. I take great pleasure in having served on the RR Board in several capacities ─ Governance Committee, leader of the Eastwood Team, leader of the Team for the “Underserved”, did some grant writing and editing, etc. The skills I nurtured as an RN and at People Place (overseeing/developing programs, marketing, working with staff, volunteers, the Board and community organizations) have served me well, as I contribute to the purposes of Raising Readers in Story County.

Margie Oldehoeft, Ames

Bio forthcoming.

Neil Rowe, Ames

Neil serves as a board member of Raising Readers in Story County. Neil is an Associate Researcher with the University of Kansas Center for Public Partnerships and Research, working to optimize the well-being of children, youth and families through research and evaluation of initiatives in the state of Iowa and Kansas. He holds a Ph.D. in Human Development and Family Studies from Iowa State University. Neil was the coordinator for Small Talk, an early literacy and language development program for parents of children under 30 months.

Jen Brekke 

Student teaching on the Navajo Indian Reservation fueled my desire to work with underserved populations. I started my teaching career in California working in a dual immersion English/Spanish elementary school in California that had a large migrant population. During the summers, I worked on Crystal Cruise Line teaching technology classes.  

Starting a family inspired us to move back to my hometown, Ames. I love working to develop the literacy skills of our students and families.  I have a Bachelor's degree in ESL Education and a Master’s Degree and Reading Endorsement. I currently work as a reading intervention teacher. I have been an educator for 24 years and I continue to be passionate about working with students and families who struggle to develop early literacy skills.

Travis Landhuis

Travis Landhuis is the Youth Services Librarian at the Nevada Public Library, and it is his lifelong mission to help readers discover stories that light a fire inside them and keep them coming back to the book stacks for more. Reading has been his first love and steady companion since he was a child, where he was fortunate to grow up in a home filled with books and the infinite adventures waiting within those pages. Travis received B.A. and M.A. Degrees in Literature from the University of Northern Iowa, where he also minored in Creative Writing. After graduation, Travis taught writing and speech classes at the University of Northern Iowa and Hawkeye Community College, before transitioning to his current work at the library. He currently volunteers with StoryPals, and as of yet, has still not found anything quite as fun and rewarding as reading a good book with another human.


*Photos by Brittany Barlow Photography  
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