Board of Directors


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!

John Carey


Ali Cranmer

My name is Ali Cranmer, I have the honor of being the Next Gen Pastor at Third Church. I am married to an incredible man named Mike and we have two daughters. We heard about Families First through our girls elementary school. We love the values of Families First. We love that Families First promotes family learning opportunities and family bonding opportunities.

Derek De Haan

Derek De Haan is a Pella native and a 2003 Pella Christian High School graduate. He and his wife Lindsey live in Pella with their four beautiful daughters: Bella, Grace, Lillian, and Evelyn. Derek started Brand Appeal, a creative agency specializing in branding, print, web, interactive, and video in 2010. He loves spending time with his family, being involved in his church, and playing, coaching, or watching sports. He enjoys being part of the Pella community and is passionate about seeing it flourish from one generation to the next.

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.

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.

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.

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. 

Sarah Treft

My name is Sarah Treft and I am a Pella native! I have always enjoyed the close-knit community and the chance to be involved. Families First drew me in with the Love and Logic parenting classes and my children really enjoy the book bashes as well as the Father/Daughter Dance. I am honored to be a part of the steering committee and continue to provide opportunities to help families thrive. I work for the Pella Area Community and Economic Alliance as the Office and Events Coordinator. My husband, Scott teaches 3rd grade at Madison Elementary. We have 3 girls, McKyndree, Lillian and Taytum. We love to volunteer, attend sporting events or festivals as a family.

Carissa Vander Linden

My name is Carissa Vander Linden, and I work full-time from home as a CART Provider/Broadcast Closed Captioner. My husband, Zach, owns VL Farms Inc., and we have 3 children that keep us very busy! I love being a part of the Families First Steering Committee and greatly support and encourage the work they do here in our community.

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.

Teri Vos

Teri Vos is an advocate for children and families in a number of ways, first and foremost as wife and mother to three teenage/young adult children.  Her career pathway has led her to membership on the Iowa Governor’s STEM Advisory Council, Co-Chair of Million Women Mentors – Iowa, Pella Area Community and Economic Alliance Workforce Development Chair and others.  These roles, along with serving on the board for Families First of Pella, has deepened her commitment to and interest in advancing the well-being of young people, by helping them discover their own passions and skills, role models and opportunities, right here in Iowa.  Teri feels blessed to be in a community with a rich history that revolves around family, and a Families First organization that continues to encourage and enhance those family relationships today.