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Board of Directors

Helene FeinHelene Fein
Executive Director

Dr. Helene Fein has had a long career in education including teaching on all levels from preschool to adults. Most of her work has been dedicated to educating newcomers to the U.S. and supporting their transition to a new life and community. Helene’s work experience has included serving as the State Director for Adult Literacy for the Iowa Department of Education and the Community Impact Services Director for United Way of Central Iowa.

For 22 years, Helene was the Conference Coordinator for the Iowa Culture and Language Conference (ICLC). Helene has graduate degrees from Drake University and Iowa State University; her most recent degree is a PhD in Educational Leadership and Policy. Helene has published a book titled Necessary Conversations About English Language Learners, combining her two career passions - communication and ELL. She has three adult children and five grandchildren, all amazing.

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Juan Garcia

Juan Garcia serves as Vice President, Equity Solutions for Midas Education. In this capacity, Juan partners with education and business leaders to address equity issues to better serve ALL students, with emphasis in low income, first generation, English language learners and minority serving education systems.

At ACT, Inc. he was responsible for Strategic Partnerships, working with existing and creating new partnerships fulfilling ACT’s non-profit mission of helping people achieve education and workplace success.

Before joining ACT, Mr. Garcia served as a champion of college access and readiness for the Iowa College Access Network (ICAN). As the Executive Director of ICAN, Mr. Garcia established relationships with school, district administration, state and local leaders, as well as other nonprofits to reach at-risk students, ensuring that these students were aware of the support that was available to them for pursuit of higher education.

In 2015, he received the award for Diversity and Inclusion from ACT, Inc. nominated and selected among all company employees.

In November 2016, Mr. Garcia graduated from the Harvard Business School, Executive Education program of Leadership Best Practices.

Contact Juan at:


Gisella Aitken-Shadle, M.P.A
Vice President

Originally from Lima, Peru, Gisella is District Adult Education and Literacy Development Director for Northeast Iowa Community College. She has more than twelve years of experience in adult education. She has a Master’s in Public Administration and a Bachelor of Arts in International Studies with a focus in Human Rights and minor in Political Science, both from the University of Dayton; and is currently pursuing her EdD in Leadership for Organizations from the same institution. She has presented on Adult Education and ESOL at conferences in Iowa, Washington DC, Florida, South Carolina, Peru, and Bolivia. Gisella also serves on various committees in her community. Besides English, she speaks Spanish, French, and Italian, and has studied abroad at the Université Catholique de Lyon in Annecy, France. She also has a certificate in Educating Immigrant Studies from Harvard University’s Graduate School of Education. Outside of work, Gisella enjoys traveling, studying foreign languages, and volunteering to work with the immigrant population.

Contact Gisella at:


Eric SundermeyerEric Sundermeyer

Eric Sundermeyer’s is the Associate Director, Adult Education & Literacy at Des Moines Area Community College. He is the former superintendent of schools at the Interstate 35 Community School District and associate superintendent at the Ottumwa community Schools. Eric has a Specialist in Education from Drake University.

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Tara TedrowTara Tedrow

Tara Tedrow has a demonstrated history of working in the community college and primary/secondary education industry. She started her educational career as a special education and ESL teacher in the Iowa public K-12 system. In 2018 she transitioned to higher education to become the ESL Coordinator/Instructor for Kirkwood Community College where she also serves as an adjunct instructing rising educators. She has been a presenter at the Iowa Adult Education Literacy conference for two years. In addition, she is self-employed as an Independent Education Consultant.

Tara is a dedicated education professional with a Master of Arts in Teaching focused in Special Education and English as a Second Language, with additional endorsements in Government and Sociology. She will start her doctoral work in neuroscience and education in the Fall semester at the University of Iowa.

Tara serves as a volunteer for many local and state organizations including acting as the Education Coordinator for Gateways of Growth. An avid grant worker, she strives to serve vulnerable populations. Tara utilizes her skills in classroom management, professional development, curriculum development, educational technology, and differentiated instruction to serve her passion for educating under served students. In her personal life, Tara uses her certification as personal trainer to educate community members on personal health development. She spends her free time with her blended family of five daughters, one son, and four grandsons.

Contact Tara


Amber Ramirez

Amber Ramirez is the Central Iowa Works Director at the United Way of Central Iowa. Central Iowa Works is a workforce intermediary, convening partners to build solutions that help businesses, families and our community thrive by connecting employers with talented workers in jobs that provide career growth and financial stability. She also participates in the Greater Des Moines Partnership Inclusion Council and co-leads the OpportUNITY Reentry Task Force. Previously, Amber worked as the New Iowan Center Coordinator in Des Moines at Iowa Workforce Development. Amber has worked in the workforce development field for the past 10 years working to increase economic opportunities in our community.

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Megan Linzy

Megan Linzy works with Eastern Iowa Community Colleges (EICC) in Davenport, Iowa, in the Adult Basic Education and Literacy program at the West Davenport Center, where she graduated in 2013 with her General Education Diploma. Since 2013, Megan has gone on to earn her Associates’ Degree in Education and is enrolled at Bellevue University to earn her Bachelors Degree in Adult Basic Education. Megan also volunteers her time advocating for the needs of Adult Basic Education students as one of Iowa’s Adult Basic Education Ambassadors and a member of the Students as Leaders Taskforce through COABE (Coalition on Adult Basic Education).

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Non-Voting Board Members

Alex Harris

Elizabeth Johnson