Steering Committee


Allison Kerndt

I grew up in Pella, and I have experienced firsthand the extraordinary support our community extends to its families, both as a child, and now as a parent. I am honored to be a part of that support system while serving as director of Families First!

My husband, Cory, and I have three children…Calla, Colin, and Emme. Our family has truly enjoyed the many family-bonding events and parenting classes that Families First offers.

I am very grateful for all of the businesses, organizations, and volunteers who support Families First with their time and finances! I believe that children thrive when their families are strong, and families are stronger when they live in communities that help them succeed.


Financial Coordinator/Grant Writer

Trixanna Wang

As busy parents of two little ones, my husband and I are grateful to live in a community that supports us as we try to be the best parents possible!


Pella Churches Representative

Alecia Jablonski

alecia-jablonski-familyMy name is Alecia Jablonski and I work at Trinity Reformed Church as the Director of Children’s Ministries. My husband Jesse works in the IT Dept. for the Pella Community School District and coaches Pella High baseball. We have two boys that keep our home life busy and happy! I serve on the Families First Steering Committee because I believe that parents are the number one influencers in a child’s life. They influence faith, behavior, decision-making, learning, really every part of a child’s life! It is so important that parents have resources available to encourage them and to help them feel better equipped to raise responsible children. Families First provides those resources and is committed to making our families socially healthier. 


Pella Community & Pella Christian Schools Staff

Lowell Ernst

I have been a member of the Families First Steering Committee since arriving in Pella as the Director of K–12 Instruction for the Pella Community Schools in 1998. My wife Heidi and I feel blessed to have raised our two daughters in a community where families are a priority and parents support each other in the development of their children. The partnership between the schools and the community is an essential component of any healthy community. The work of Families First is a key part of this vibrant partnership.

Sheryl Hanthorn

sheryl-hanthorn-familySheryl Hanthorn has been part of the advisory team for Families First since its beginning in 1994.  She grew up in this area and has served many years as the K–8 school counselor with the area Christian Schools of Pella, Sully, Oskaloosa, Newton, and Peoria.  In that role she sees the need and benefit provided when we actively encourage and educate families about parent/child relationships.   She and her husband live in Pella and enjoy spending their free time with their 3 married children, spouses and 8 grandkids. Her husband works in the IT industry as a project consultant with Cloud technology.

Jessie Manning

jessie-manning-familyMy name is Jessica Manning. My husband, Josh, and I have three boys—Michael, Sam, and Emmett. Both Josh and I work in the Pella Community School District; he is the middle school principal, and I am a high school counselor. In our profession, we see daily evidence of the need for strong families. I love being a part of Families First because it is such a great opportunity to contribute to the cause of strengthening family relationships in our community.

Elizabeth Epperly

liz-epperly-familyThe family system is the most important system in our culture.   Many qualities and values grow in our children from this unit and development does not stop with any age. It is the responsibility of the adults to help nurture this development and Families First provides resources for this to take place in a positive and successful way. I am proud to be a part of this program.

My husband and I have 2 adult daughters and 4 grandchildren. We delight in these 2 families and stay as active as we can by functioning in the role of grandparents. Every stage has been a joy. I also function as the elementary professional school counselor in the Pella Community  Schools, serving the Lincoln Elementary School. Needless to say this is a great joy as I watch our young members of society grow and develop.

Julia Tjeerdsma

My name is Julia Tjeerdsma and I am the school counselor at Madison Elementary. My husband Scott also works for Pella Schools, and we have three children. Strong family connections are essential to a child’s development and I am thankful for a community partner like Families First that exists to support this goal. When we work together as families, schools, and community partners, we can support family development in our whole community. 

Anne Pentico
John Carey




 Teri Vos


Natasha Vos

natasha-vos-familyI am happy to serve with the steering committee because I love having the opportunity to help strengthen families! Families are such a building block in our community and world.


Central College

Mark Mills

mark-mills-familyMy wife, Ann, and I first got acquainted with Families First when we took a Love and Logic class that Jodi offered 8+ years ago. Since then, we have attended the Meet and Eat off-and-on when we’ve needed a Love and Logic refresher. We greatly value the family activities that Families First sponsors, especially the Father-Daughter Dance and the Mother-Son Fun Day. I’m happy to have a part in supporting this organization as it continues its valuable work here in Pella.