Luke Elzinga is the policy & advocacy manager at the Des Moines Area Religious Council (DMARC) Food Pantry Network, which last year assisted over 58,000 people facing food insecurity in Greater Des Moines. Luke works to advocate for policies that strike at the intersecting root causes of poverty and food insecurity.
In addition to serving on the board of the Iowa Hunger Coalition, Luke serves on the Iowa Food System Coalition’s Local Food Policy Network priority team, the Iowa Department of Health and Human Services’ Healthy Iowans Healthy Eating and Active Living (HEAL) Work Group, and the national leadership team for Closing the Hunger Gap. He recently completed his Master of Public Policy through the University of Northern Iowa. Luke lives in Des Moines with his partner, child, two cats, and dog.
Nicole McAlexander is the Executive Director at Southeast Linn Community Center, a rural human services non-profit. The organization’s largest program is a weekly client-choice, no limit food pantry which is used by 11% of the community. For the last 6 years, Nicole has managed a volunteer-run garden to grow fresh produce for the pantry. Nicole also serves as a Board member for the Housing Fund for Linn County, and is passionate about addressing the intersecting issues of housing challenges and food insecurity.
John Boller is a resident of Iowa City and is passionate about economic and food justice. For the last 8 years, John has served as Executive Director of the Coralville Community Food Pantry, a nonprofit organization providing access to vital food and personal care items for more than 3,300 Coralville and Tiffin residents every year. John is also the founder of Grow: Johnson County, a hunger-relief and educational farm program located in Iowa City, and served as its director from 2014-2018. Under his leadership, Grow: Johnson County utilized a 2.5 acre farm to grow and donate more than 60,000 pounds of fresh produce to benefit local food assistance agencies.
Dan Nickey received a Bachelor of Science degree in Environmental Science from Wesley College and a Master’s degree in Public Administration from Drake University. He is also a Certified Energy Engineer, LEED Accredited Professional, and Certified Hazardous Material Manager. In his career, he has been the Chairman of the National Steering Committee of State Small Business Environmental Assistance Programs and has been a member of multiple states and regional policy committees.
Tara Kramer is a Jewish disabled queer community advocate, volunteer and organizer living in Des Moines, Iowa. She has gone from experiencing homelessness to living independently to helping others who’ve experienced similar struggles. She lives with a rarely diagnosed connective tissue disorder called Hypermobile Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome. She finds gratification and purpose in connecting those in marginalized communities with resources that enable them to live a better quality of life. Tara also serves on the Board of Directors at DMARC as well as the Des Moines Roller Derby.
Larry Linnenbrink worked at the Scott County Health Department for 44 years as an environmental health specialist and environmental health coordinator before retiring in 2015. He became interested in the Food Rescue Partnership after attending an Iowa Environmental Health Conference where there was a session he attended on Food Rescue Initiatives at the University of Northern Iowa. He has been involved with the Food Rescue Partnership since then, and now serves as a community member. His interest is in seeing food rescued and delivered to those individuals who are food insecure.
Kaila Rome is the Executive Director at the North Liberty Community Pantry, located in Northern Johnson County. Her work in food insecurity over the past seven years has prepared her for a role on the Iowa Hunger Coalition Board of Directors. She operates a full-service, client-choice food pantry along with several community outreach programs including the pantry’s Growing Together Garden, partners in summer lunch feeding programs, community meals, and a collaborative Veggie RX program. Working directly with families in need, her unique perspective brings a welcomed level of advocacy to IHC.
Natalie Veldhouse is a policy advocate with Common Good Iowa. She works to advance policy that secures food and income assistance for Iowans through a combination of community engagement, policy analysis and advocacy strategies.
Natalie received her Master’s in Social Work and B.A. in Ethics and Public Policy from the University of Iowa. She has experience working in food pantries, school social work, health and education policy analysis and social science research.