Executive Board Members
Board President & Founder ~ Leanne Loehr
I was born and raised in Illinois. I moved to Iowa in 1987 and married my husband Ed in September 1989. My husband and I own JHK Construction which does Siding, Window, Gutters and Roofing. I have been married for 23 years. We have three biological children and seven adopted children with ages ranging from 7- 23-years-old. We have a busy house full! I started Families Helping Families Of Iowa Inc. after finishing the 40 Days of Purpose through our church and it talked about giving back to our community. The seven kiddos we adopted are from the foster care system here in Iowa.
After being a foster parent I seen areas where I thought I could make a impact of helping foster families. It is truly unbelievable the children we have helped and the wonderful people that have touched my life in our path to make a difference in these children's lives. And I must add WE ARE JUST GETTING STARTED! I want every child to feel they are special and give them the necessities that we take for granted! In my spare time I volunteer at my children's schools! This year at Pierce Elementary school I will be PTA President. I was honored to represent the state of Iowa for Mom Congress in 2011 and Volunteer of the year for my children's school as well for the district. I always say," Together we can do so much."
Vice President ~ Ann Lawrence
I was born in Cedar Rapids, IA, raised here and in Lock Haven, PA until age 12. My family then moved back to CR for junior high and high school, where I met my husband, David. We then lived in Illinois, Iowa City, IA and Pennsylvania, where our son, Sam, now 11 years old, was born. We moved back to CR six years ago, into a home right across the street from Leanne Loehr, the founder and president of Families Helping Families of Iowa, and super mom of ten children (biological, foster and adopted). It was a God thing! David and I didn't know much about the foster care system, but we have been learning and a passion for helping these vulnerable children and the courageous families that open up their hearts and homes to care for them has been growing in us over the past few years. I have been a stay-at-home Mom for eleven years and a homeschooler the past five years. Sharing our family's time, talent and treasure with an organization like Families Helping Families of Iowa has been a blessing and a privilege. We really are families helping families!
Secretary ~ Molly Gansen
I am originally from the Dubuque area, but have lived in Cedar Rapids for more than eight years. My husband, Chris, and I have been foster and adoptive parents since moving to Cedar Rapids in 2005, when we were a family of three. Just eight years later our family has blossomed to ten members, including five amazing boys (ages 7,8,8,10 and 14) and three incredible girls (ages 2, 12 and 15). We have fostered 17 children over the years and enjoy fostering many family connections for our children. We love our family pets, spending time playing and eating together with our families, spending time with friends, and camping when we get the chance. As a family, we love to volunteer for the Families Helping Families Clothing Closet and for other important FHF programs and events. We believe in making sure that kids in foster care have quality clothing and the essentials they need so they feel important and cared for while they are away from their homes.
Treasurer ~ Luann Gilman
I have lived in the Cedar Rapids area for nearly 20 years, and in Iowa almost my entire life. My husband, Pete, and I have been married 26 years, and have three amazing daughters. They will all be attending Iowa State University this fall; the oldest will finish up her degrees in journalism and graphic design in December, the middle will be a junior studying journalism, and the youngest will be a freshman studying biology and psychology. We are thrilled that they are all Cyclones just like mom and dad were many years ago! We are very big ISU fans and love attending as many home football and basketball games each year as we possibly can. I have a degree in accounting and currently own Club Z! In-Home Tutoring Service here in the Cedar Rapids area. In addition, I play a lot of tennis, love to read and travel, and am also on the board at The Ceramics Center (where I take ongoing pottery classes in the hopes of one day throwing the perfect bowl J). I joined the Families Helping Families Board in July as their treasurer. They are making such a positive difference in the lives of so many children in foster care and I am so happy to be a part of this great organization!
Unlike a few of the other board members, I have not been a foster or adoptive parent. But the convictions of the people I knew on the board convinced me that this was a worthy cause to give my time. I am in charge of the Shoe Voucher program. In this program, we partner with the local Kiwanis and both parties contribute equal amounts to an account. From this account we are able to present vouchers to kids for new shoes. It sounds like such a simple thing, and admittedly I once felt the same way. But now that I'm involved and see the situation from the other side, I'm developing my own fire and passion for helping these children in need.
David Lawrence, MD
My name is Jesse Martinez. I have been a resident of Cedar Rapids for nearly forty years, originally born in Texas. I have been employed at Yellowbook for six years, and I am a widower of my wife of nearly 30 years, Genia, who passed away in 2011 of Breast Cancer. We have three sons between us, Patrick, Trence and Tony and I am a proud grandfather, and adopted grandfather, of 10 beautiful grandkids. My wife and I were Foster Parents. Throughout the years I have held many positions with community organizations; currently I hold board positions with the New Bohemia Group, New Bo Neighborhood Radio, K9COLA, Willis Dady Emergency Shelter, Streamline Kids, and a volunteer ESL tutor, interpreter and translator, to name a few.
I am interested in joining the Families Helping Families Board because of its mission, “…dedicated to helping children in foster care, relative placement and suitable other placement, and the families that care for them.” I have a passion for people and for being empathetic to their situation, which I believe fits the FHF mission. I hope to serve the FHF team to keep the mission moving forward until all foster kids have a safe place to call home.
I have been on board with Families Helping Families for 4 years. I have been a teacher for 15 years and I am currently teaching 2nd grade in the Cedar Rapids School District. I am married to Larry and have two beautiful girls, Myah and Chloe who are 6 and 4. We have also been blessed with a precious 4-month-old child from foster care and a 2 1/2 year old boy. My favorite activity is spending time with my family. We especially love going to the park, camping, and playing games. I also love scrapbooking. I am so excited about the events that happen within FHF and I enjoy the opportunity to take part in those life changing moments.
This is my second year on the Families Helping Families board. I’ve worked for Physicians Clinic of Iowa for six years. In the past, I managed the Shoe Voucher program and served on the Gala Committee. My husband Matt and I have been married for almost eight years. We’ve adopted the two most amazing children I could have ever asked for out of Iowa’s Foster Care System after completing our PS-Mapp classes last year. Outside of my work with FHF, I enjoy going camping, love going to concerts, scrapbooking and spending quality time with my family and friends. I feel so blessed to be a part of this amazing organization where I can really see everyday people giving back to our community!