AIM’s Leadership Council
Brenda Arthur-Miller, West Liberty Community School District
Pam Collins, Musser Public Library
Clint Christopher, Muscatine Community School District
Jaimie Cruse, Trinity Muscatine New Horizons
Dr. Naomi DeWinter, Muscatine Community College
Rich Dwyer, Kent Corporation
Leslie Eichelberger, HNI
Heidi Hoffman, ISU Extension and Outreach Muscatine County
Bret Olson, Muscatine Community YMCA
Shane Orr, United Way of Muscatine
Tammy Place, Wilton Community School District
Christy Roby Williams, Trinity Muscatine Public Health
Nicholas Salazar, State Director, League of United Latin American Citizens of Iowa
Charla Schafer, Community Foundation of Greater Muscatine
Rebecca Paulsen, GMCCI
Kim Warren, AIM Director
What is your background? I grew up in Rockford, IL and attended Loras College for my Bachelors Degree in Sociology and Northern Illinois University for my Masters Degree in Public Administration. I’ve been working in local government and nonprofit jobs since I was 16 years old.
In my career I worked for the Rockford Park District and City of Geneva IL before moving to Muscatine. I started working at United of Muscatine doing marketing and fundraising in the summer of 2011 and transitioned into the role of AIM Director in 2016. I live in Muscatine with my husband, two children, and our dog.
What is the goofiest/oddest thing you have had to do in your role? I think that no matter what position you have in an organization, you always have to be willing to take the trash out. No one is too good to do any task. One day I noticed the hand soap dispenser in the breakroom was leaking into the cabinet under the sink. I decided to just take care of it before anyone else noticed. Next thing I knew I was on my hand and knees cleaning out the cabinet covered in soap. We all had a good laugh that day.
Favorite local place for takeout? This is a hard one. I can’t pick just one. If I am downtown then Avenue Subs, Guadalajara or Salvatores. If I am near Park Avenue then Yacky Shack or Osaka.
Where do you volunteer? Right now I am spending a lot of Saturday mornings volunteering with Public Health at vaccination PODS. I also volunteer at my church, Faith UCC, as a middle school Christian Education teacher.
One thing you’d like to learn? To speak Spanish and paint.
Favorite superhero/childhood toy: Transformers, Thunder Cats, Shera, and Heman.
“When I was little I wanted to grow up and be _______” An elementary school teacher.
Favorite music genre/movie/book: I love to read dystopian society books. My favorite series is Red Rising.
What is one thing you love that has nothing to do with work? Going to National Parks on vacation with my family.
What makes you excited to be a part of AIM? I can’t think of a more rewarding job than to work with all sectors of the community to improve outcomes for all students and families. I love living in Muscatine and raising my children here and am excited every day to have a job that I can help make an impact.
Claudia Artola, Student Success Facilitator
What is your background? I am a junior at the University of Iowa, double majoring in Social Work and Political Science. I moved to Muscatine four years ago, and enrolled and graduated from Muscatine Community College. While getting my degree, I was also working at Iowa State Extension
and Outreach as a Latino Outreach Assistant. I am very passionate about making a difference in our community.
What is the goofiest/oddest thing you have had to do in your role? Nothing so far, we will have to see!
Favorite local place for takeout? Salvatore’s or Monica’s Taqueria.
Where do you volunteer? I volunteer at my local church.
One thing you’d like to learn. I would love to learn how to sew dresses!
Favorite superhero/childhood toy: Scarlet Witch from Marvel Cinematic Universe.
“When I was little I wanted to grow up and be _______” A pediatrician.
Favorite music genre/movie/book: My favorite book is Carrie by Stephen King.
What is one thing you love that has nothing to do with work? I love to be in musicals!
What makes you excited to be a part of AIM? I love to be able to make positive change in my community.
Whitney Howell, Early Childhood Facilitator
What is your background? I received my BA in Psychology from the University of Northern Iowa and my MA in Human Services Marriage and Family from Liberty University. Following graduation I worked with Iowa State University Extension and Outreach Louisa County as their 4-H
and Youth Enrichment Coordinator. I currently am the Director for Early Childhood Iowa Muscatine County as well as the Early Childhood Facilitator for AIM.
What is the goofiest/oddest thing you have had to do in your role? I’m not sure about this one……….
Favorite local place for takeout? I am from Columbus Junction so it’s a tossup between Sal Vitales and Las Palmas!
Where do you volunteer? I spend my free time volunteering with my sons PTO and with the Louisa County 4-H and Clover Kids programs.
One thing you’d like to learn. I love to bake so I’m always up for trying a new recipe.
Favorite superhero/childhood toy: When I was young I had a stuffed Grover doll from Sesame Street that went everywhere with me. I still have him on a shelf in my house.
“When I was little I wanted to grow up and be _______” I have always loved animals and wanted to be a veterinarian.
Favorite music genre/movie/book: My book reading these days consists of children’s books with my kids. I am also a huge Zac Brown Band fan and love to attend Country Music concerts.
What is one thing you love that has nothing to do with work? Agriculture and raising livestock. We are a farming family. My husband and I started Iowa River Boers in 2017 and raise and sell Boer Goats for 4-H and FFA kids to show. I also spend a lot of time in the kitchen cooking or baking.
What makes you excited to be a part of AIM? I’m excited to foster new partnerships and collaborations between Muscainte organizations and School Districts. We all want what’s best for our kiddos and I believe the work AIM is doing definitely has that at the forefront.
Karena Marshek, Office Manager
What is your background? I grew up in Muscatine, have lived & worked in NYC, Los Angeles, San Francisco, and returned again to Muscatine to raise my Son. My family has very strong ties to the National Button Museum in Muscatine: my great Grandfather was Johann “John” Weber,
the founder of Weber & Sons Button. I grew up going to the factory, watching the process, learning the history. My parents had an enormous pearl and pearl button collection of 50+ years. It was donated to the Museum just before my Mom passed.
My schooling was in fine and performing arts. As the art world goes more digital, I am still doing pieces the old school way: by hand. I still believe that subtle nuances in a work can only be achieved by the human hand. I designed stationery for the Clark House and programs for MHS back in the 80’s while in high school. As a musical performer I sing professionally at weddings, events and funerals, and have sung with several bands in the midwest. My claim to fame: I auditioned and toured with the Inaugural Iowa State Fair Singers the first two years and later also sang at the 1984 World’s Fair in New Orleans.
I have many years under my belt in retail management, supervising up to 120 employees, and also as a medical insurance claims & billing specialist. I love problem solving, details, motivating people, teaching/learning and being creative.
What is the goofiest/oddest thing you have had to do in your role? Hot gluing tiny University Pennants to toothpicks for college signing day cupcakes!
Favorite local place for takeout? It’s a tie: A Guy and a Grill (Ribeye sandwich) and Peking (Mongolian Beef). I see a theme.
Where do you volunteer? (…..soon…..)
One thing you’d like to learn. There are so many!! How can I narrow it down?…..I would love to go back to school. Learning is something that I truly miss. Can I say that I really miss homework?! (I do!) Back in the day all we had were books, paper, pens, etc. Do they still have penmanship class (a favorite class)?
I would also love to attend a Sommelier course. Not enough to take the Master Exam, but to gain a better understanding of wines- their origins, history, complexity. Environment and weather have a big impact on wine flavor.
Favorite superhero/childhood toy: My Dad’s metal Erector Set from the 1940’s. It was a huge set and even though the box didn’t survive, you could tell it was a well-loved toy. Even the motor worked. That and my Dad spurred my love for architecture, building design and historical preservation, I think.
“When I was little I wanted to grow up and be _______” A Jockey. This was before women were even in the sport of racing. Dad said I could be the first! Next choice was Architect and then Veterinarian, depending on the week.
Favorite music genre/movie/book: Music- Big Bands of the 30-40’s. Glenn Miller was from Iowa. Movie- A Tree Grows in Brooklyn. Book- “My Inventions: The Autobiography of Nikola Tesla,” by Nikola Tesla
What is one thing you love that has nothing to do with work? History/Trivia. They kind of go hand-in-hand. I know the strangest things about the most common of items and make a point to learn something new every day. My parents were great teachers in this way. I have so many trivia books….. What makes you excited to be a part of AIM? Giving back to our community that has helped me in the past. More poignantly, seeing the next generations shape their future, like a tiny seedling emerging from the cold, dark ground and watching it grow into a beautiful and strong, thriving plant: ready to take on anything.
Meghan Oster, Data Manager
What is your background? My background is in higher education research and policy. I hold a Ph.D in higher education public policy from the University of Michigan.
Favorite local place for takeout? I really like Open
Sesame in the East Village
One thing you’d like to learn. I would like to do macrame.
Favorite superhero/childhood toy: Favorite superhero is Iron Man
“When I was little I wanted to grow up and be _______”
I wanted to grow up to be a paleontologist
Favorite music genre/movie/book: Favorite music is EDM (electric dance music)
What is one thing you love that has nothing to do with work? I love to do yoga.
What makes you excited to be a part of AIM? I am excited about the work that AIM is doing to increase college-going and college attainment.
Michele Rhoades, Communications Manager
What is your background? I grew up in Blue Grass and after high school I spent 10 years being a mom and following my husband’s Air Force career around. We settled back into the area and after all my kids were in school, I went back to school for my Bachelors in Accounting. I worked in a
shared accounting position at United Way of Muscatine, Senior Resources, and MCSA. I eventually was hired into the accounting, marketing, & resource development role at United Way and transitioned into marketing and communications for United Way and Aligned Impact Muscatine. I live in Durant with my husband, daughter and son (during college breaks) and our other son, fiance, and our adorable granddaughter live a few blocks away.
Favorite local place for takeout? I love Butcher’s for a quick lunch to-go. Living in Durant, we don’t get delivery. During COVID, Arty’s (Wilton) would deliver to Durant and we quickly grew to love it!
Where do you volunteer? I currently volunteer with the Athletic Boosters at my kid’s school. In past years I’ve volunteered with the Cub Scouts, Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, and Durant Community Chest. I will find a new adventure after my youngest heads off to college next year!
“When I was little I wanted to grow up and be _______” A Kindergarten teacher
Favorite music genre/movie/book: I love a good scary movie.
What is one thing you love that has nothing to do with work? We love to camp and kayak. I’m also a big crafter. I sew, scrapbook, bead, macrame, and whatever else I feel the need to create!
What makes you excited to be a part of AIM? I’m really excited to dig deeper into learning more about what all AIM does. I have always had an overview of what AIM is, but behind the scenes, there’s a lot more to it!