Paula Land, Executive Director
Paula Land joined Catherine McAuley Center (CMC) early in 2011 as our Executive Director. Paula is a graduate of Mount Mercy University and most recently held the position of Vice President of Operations and Organizational Effectiveness for Trees Forever. Paula has three children and four grandchildren. In her spare time, Paula enjoys singing and volunteering in the community. She considers herself a lifelong learner. Passionate about nonprofits, Paula’s excited to be back in the education and human services fields.
Marissa Haas, Grants Manager
Marissa holds a BA in Sociology/Anthropology from Carleton College, and a MS in Nonprofit Management from Northeastern University. She joined CMC in 2014 after serving as a volunteer tutor and grant-writer. She is thrilled to have the opportunity to use her love of writing to support CMC’s life-changing programs. In her spare time, Marissa enjoys cooking, gardening, traveling, DIY-ing, and spending time with her husband and two children.
Krystin Mittan, Volunteer Coordinator
Krystin joined CMC in March 2018. She is a graduate of the University of Northern Iowa, earning a BA degree in Social Work, and has spent her career in non-profit work. She tries to live each day following the golden rule – treat others how you would like to be treated. Krystin enjoys spending time with her husband and 2 young children, as well as her ‘Little Sister’ of 8 years (Big Brothers Big Sisters). Her interests include spending time outside, watching Cubs baseball and Hawkeye football, and traveling to visit family and friends. Krystin is excited to work with the diverse group of staff, volunteers, and clients at CMC!
Kelsey Steines, Development & Communications Manager
Kelsey graduated from Olivet Nazarene University in Bourbonnais, IL, with a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration and a concentration in Not-for-Profit Management. She joined CMC in March 2015 after volunteering as a tutor since October 2014 and is excited to use her degree to support CMC’s mission. In her free time, Kelsey enjoys finding adventure through running, reading, and travel.
Sandy Weger, Systems & Facilities Manager
Sandy joined our staff in January 2015 as our Systems and Facilities Manager. She was a computer programmer for 16 years before resigning to stay at home with their three sons. At that time, she volunteered at church, school, and with their youth baseball program. She is thrilled to be able to serve the staff and community at the Catherine McAuley Center!
Jessica joined our staff in September 2017 as our Administrative and Development Assistant. She graduated from Coe College with a Bachelor of Arts in Business Administration and Public Relations. Her past experiences including working in real estate and most currently at Kirkwood Community College as the advisor for the Adult Accelerated Learning program. Jessica enjoys spending time outdoors, attending sporting events, and being with friends and family. She is excited to become part of the Catherine McAuley Center team and helping to support CMC’s mission.
Ny-Oka Sokol, Finance and Human Resources Manager
Ny-Oka earned her dual Bachelor’s degrees in Accounting and Finance from Mount Mercy University in 2005. She is currently four courses away from earning her MBA from the University of Iowa. Ny-Oka has worked in both the non-profit and for profit sectors, but feels fulfilled in a non-profit organization. She has two sons, one in the US Air Force and the other in the Solon Community School district. In her spare time, she enjoys spending time with family and friends and attending her youngest son’s sporting events. Ny-Oka is passionate about Hawkeye sports and the Green Bay Packers. She is excited to be a part of the CMC team and eager to support the CMC mission.
Adult Basic Education Staff
Anne Dugger, Education Program Manager
Anne graduated from Coe College with a BA in English and is pursuing a Master’s in Education Leadership at Mt. Mercy University. She worked in the healthcare industry for many years and taught job skills and medical anatomy in Barbados for two years before joining CMC. Working at the Catherine McAuley Center is a dream for Anne – the community here, and the motivation of students and volunteers to create that community means it’s a joy to come to work every day. In her spare time, Anne enjoys a very full social life and to balance that, spends a lot of time reading!
Mari Hunt Wassink, Education Program Coordinator
Mari holds a BA in Spanish and History from Coe College. After volunteering at CMC as a tutor, she joined the staff as the Education Program Coordinator in June 2017. While living abroad, she witnessed the power of education and language to cultivate supportive communities. She is delighted to work for an organization that respects the humanity of every individual while empowering people to greater opportunity and fulfillment. Outside of CMC, she can be found singing, gardening, and laughing with her large extended family.
Stephen McTier, Tutor Student Liaison
Stephen’s passion for teaching language led him to teach ESL in Mexico, Russia, Turkey, and the exotic land of Minnesota. Through his church, he learned about volunteering at CMC then came on staff as Tutor Student Liaison because “CMC gives people the means to a stable, good life. Who wouldn’t support that?” He has made friends in five countries he had never been to before and has written an unpublished novel. In his free time, he reads, walks, goes birding, watches old and new movies, and cooks.
Achissa Mushimiyimana, Assistant Education Coordinator
Achissa received her BA in accounting at AUCA (Adventist University of Central Africa) in Rwanda in 2000. She came to CMC in March 2015 as a student. She is delighted to be part of the education staff as an Assistant Education Coordinator because it gives women and men the opportunity to expand confidence and empowers them to be who they want to be regardless of where they are from. Achissa enjoys swimming, cooking, and spending time with her family in her free time.
Lindsey Norman, Tutor Student Liaison
Lindsey recently earned her BA in Health Promotion with emphases in Global Health and Health Disparities, and Fitness and Wellness from University of Northern Iowa. Before graduating, she had the opportunity to do an internship at CMC and loved the people and mission so much that she didn’t want to leave! In her free time, she enjoys spending time with friends and family, being outdoors, and drinking coffee. She is extremely excited to be joining the team at CMC!
Katie Rosenberger, Learning and Curriculum Specialist
While studying for a BA in music at the University of Iowa, Katie accepted an Honors Fellowship in the Writing Center, where she discovered a love for tutoring. That led to teaching English Language Acquisition at Kirkwood Community College. Katie joined CMC in January 2016 and is excited to be part of an organization that empowers students by building their knowledge and skills. In her free time, Katie plays bass guitar, sings, and volunteers as a sound tech at Legion Arts’ CSPS Hall.
Refugee Services Staff
Shana Kargbo, Refugee and Immigrant Services Coordinator
Shana joined our staff in September 2016 as our Program Coordinator. She holds a BA in Communication Studies from Iowa State University. She has a great passion for empowering and equipping people of all ages, from all nations and backgrounds. She has enjoyed living around the world including Turkey, Sierra Leone, Nigeria, and Minneapolis, and is happy to now serve people from many nations in her hometown of Cedar Rapids at CMC! Shana and her husband Moses, have two daughters and one grandson. In her spare time, she enjoys traveling, especially to her husband’s native country of Sierra Leone, spending time with her family, worshipping Jesus, leading Bible studies, teaching children’s church, and taking Zumba classes.
Luke Kabuya, Refugee and Immigrant Services Coordinator
Luke was born in DRC Congo, Africa. After he finished school, he went to work at Central Bank of Congo. In 1998, he fled the country to escape the government’s threat of violence, becoming a refugee. Once arriving in the U.S., Luke attended school in Utah. Luke has previously worked as a case manager for Ecumenical Immigration Refugee Services and supported CMC resettlement efforts as a volunteer interpreter before joining the staff.
Leya Neema, Employment Specialist/Case Manager
Leya is working on receiving her BA in psychology from the University of Northern Iowa. She came to work at the Catherine McAuley Center through the RefugeeRISE, Americorps Program. She enjoys singing and volunteering in the community. Her parents took English classes at CMC when they first came to the United States. She is excited to get to impact people in the same way that her family was impacted.
Caleb Gates, Refugee Case Manager and Advocacy
In February 2018, Caleb came to CMC to work with and advocate for refugees and immigrants. Caleb began working with refugees in 2011 and previously worked with refugees under Catholic Charities here in Cedar Rapids and in Louisville, KY. Caleb graduated from Faith Baptist Bible College with a BA in Biblical Studies/Spanish and from Southern Baptist Theological Seminary with his Masters of Divinity. Caleb studied abroad in Peru, Ecuador, and Japan. He enjoys time with his wife and keeping up with his 3 children. Caleb’s interests are eclectic – ranging from languages and cultures, history, politics, literature, science, ethics, and philosophy. He applauds CMC’s mission to welcome and empower our society’s most vulnerable. At CMC, Caleb works with new refugee families, gives refugees and immigrants a platform to speak, and brings people of disparate backgrounds together.
Lisa Geisler, Resource Navigator
Lisa earned her BA in Social Work from Luther College and is currently completing coursework for her MSW through the University of Northern Iowa. She has 14 years of social service experience working with people around housing and mental health issues. Lisa came to CMC as an Intern through her master’s program and joined the CMC staff in December 2017. She is inspired by the passion of the CMC staff and the success clients find as they are supported and empowered by the intentional community environment at CMC. Outside of CMC, Lisa enjoys spending time with her family, exploring the outdoors and learning!
Gloire Kakuru, RefugeeRISE AmeriCorps Member
Gloire is a high school graduate of West High School in Iowa City. He then attended Kirkwood Community College for two years before transferring to the University of Iowa. He will be a 2019 graduate, majoring in Entrepreneurship. Gloire previously worked with Catholic Charities. He is proud of the services he is offering now to those who need it. He’s always wanted to work at an agency that helps immigrants and right now he’s proud to say that’s exactly what he’s doing. In his free time, he likes to spend time having fun with his friends. Gloire believes in cherishing the moments you have in your free time.
Eddie graduated from Washington High School in 2007. He then went on to Iowa Central Community College for his Associate of Arts degree with a minor in coaching in 2009. He received his BS degree in Physical Education from the University of South Dakota in 2012. Eddie says completing high school was a great accomplishment not only for him, but also for his entire family due to their past. He enjoys writing songs, playing instruments, and playing basketball in his free time, as well as spending time with his wife and two boys.
Ever since Katie got her first taste of international travel in high school, she has been very passionate about encountering and learning about all cultures and lifestyles. She majored in Business Management and German at Luther College, but took a detour to teach English in South Korea for two years. It was then she decided non-profit management was the career she wanted to pursue. Working with immigrants and refugees is particularly exciting for her because she enjoys learning about and working with various cultures. She herself has benefited from a helping hand in a foreign land and is looking forward to the opportunity to pay it forward.
Becca received a BA in International Studies: Global Resources & the Environment from the University of Iowa. After graduation, Becca completed an on-farm apprenticeship with Women, Food, & Ag Network’s Harvest Our Potential program. She also completed a mentor-ship program at Wild Woods Farm in Solon. She has completed a yearlong AmeriCorps term at the North Liberty Community pantry and spent a season as an Assistant Urban Farmer for Feed Iowa First. Becca currently serves as a Greenhouse Assistant Grower in addition to now being a quarter AmeriCorps member here at CMC. She is very excited to be here and help!
Transitional Housing Staff
Tracy Ekstrom, Support Services Coordinator
Tracy graduated from Kirkwood Community College with an AA in Law Enforcement and a BA in Sociology and has a minor in Spanish from the University of Iowa. She is in her final semester at St. Ambrose University, working toward her MSW. Tracy returned to work at CMC because working in a gender-responsive program is a passion of hers, as is helping empower people who face adversity. She loves to read, cuddle with her two dogs, and spend time with her boyfriend, Will.
Amanda Green, Support Services Assistant
Amanda joined our Transitional Housing Program staff in March 2018. She studied Floral Careers at Kirkwood, as well as Spanish at the University of Iowa where she traveled abroad to Venezuela and the Dominican Republic and loved it! Amanda has worked in social services with people with disabilities multiple times throughout her life. She is also currently a literacy tutor here at CMC. Amanda says the community has supported her in the past and she enjoys paying it forward at the Catherine McAuley Center. In her free time she loves gardening, reading historical fiction, and making crafts.
Ashley Keller, Support Services Assistant
Ashley is a CMC alumna who joined the CMC staff because she’s passionate about helping women change their lives. Ashley uses her experience developing partnerships with community groups and businesses as a former gymnastics coach to plan pro-social activities for residents. “I want to make the little things possible. I want to give women a little bit of hope and the opportunity to try things they never have before.” Outside of the Center, Ashley spends time with her four children and advocates for families as a Parent Partner.
Jennifer Tibbetts, Housing Program Manager
Jennifer joined the Catherine McAuley Center as Housing Program Manager in 2008, and has used her 18 years of experience in social services to implement Female-Responsive programming in CMC housing services. Jennifer is proud to be a part of a mission-driven organization like the Catherine McAuley Center and feels privileged to be in a role in which she can help create a safe and supportive environment that allows women to realize their own potential. In her free time Jennifer finds creative ways to be an advocate for women throughout the state, and organizes community groups and female-led initiatives that allow women to connect and find their voice.