Board of Directors

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Families Helping Families is proud to introduce our hardworking board of directors, all of whom serve as volunteers in the organization. Our team is proud to help support Iowa’s foster children and foster families.

If you’d like to join our team of volunteers, learn more and apply for available volunteer opportunities.

For information or to reach our Executive Board of directors, please contact us today.

Lisa Buckman, Executive Director
Lisa grew up on Lake Delhi, and attended Hawkeye Community College and UNI before moving to Atlanta in 1984. While there she worked as a Corporate Travel Counselor for American Express, and as a Beverage Manager and Catering Sales Associate for the Georgia Aquarium and Woodruff Arts Center. Lisa also was the Delta Sky Club Project Manager and managed a staff of 220 hospitality associates for 3 years before returning to Iowa in 2013 to care for her mother. She was the Owner/Operator of a catering business, A Whimsical Kitchen, and most recently was the Donor Relations Specialist for Regional Medical Center in Manchester. While there she managed the donor database, built and sustained donor relationships, coordinated fundraising efforts and events and helped set fund development strategy. Lisa is married to Mike Buckman, who’s worked as a Computer Programmer for Rockwell Collins in Cedar Rapids for over 30 years. Mike and Lisa are avid travelers, passionate about all kinds of music and attend Hawkeye sporting events. Lisa is a foodie who loves entertaining and adores her spoiled pit bull, Ruby. She is devoted to non-profit work and has spent years volunteering for several organizations. She coordinated food and hospitality efforts for Lazarus Ministries in Atlanta, was President of her neighbors association, and volunteered for Castle Theatre in Manchester.
Raymond Siddell, FHF Board President
Raymond is a foster and adoptive parent who began volunteering with Families Helping Families in early 2016. He is a life long citizen of Cedar Rapids. Growing up, his family resided on the Southwest side of Cedar Rapids. He is a Jefferson High School graduate - Class of 2008. He currently resides on the Northwest side of Cedar Rapids with his husband, Rob, their adopted son, and their 2 Chihuahuas - Beau and Chloe - and a Black Lab, Duke. Professionally he is an entrepreneur and licensed REALTOR with Keller Williams Legacy Group of Iowa.
Sandy Merritt, FHF Board Vice-President
Sandy retired in June 2014 after more than 40 years in education. She was a first grade teacher and high school drama director and later worked with Grant Wood AEA, College Community, Curriculum and West Elementary in Independence. She is currently works part time at the School Administrators of Iowa in addition to volunteering at her local school, library and Families Helping Families. Sandy is passionate about helping children to grow and learn. She has been part of Families Helping Families since March of 2015 and loves seeing the look in a child's face when he/she gets a new pair of shoes, a new shirt, or a toy! In her free time, she enjoys spending time with her grandchildren and grand-puppies, reading, crafts, traveling, spending time with friends, and shopping.
Lindsay Klith, Board Secretary
Lindsay began volunteering with Families Helping Families during the annual Christmas party in 2016. As a former foster child, the organization appealed to her and she wanted to give back to an organization to which she could relate. Lindsay has been an active member in the community assisting and volunteering with organizations such as the Linn County Auditor, her children’s daycare and schools, and the Olivet Clothing Closet. Lindsay was awarded Associate degrees in both Business Management and Interior Design at Kirkwood Community College in 2012. She became a licensed realtor in April 2018 for Coldwell Banker and continues to work as a full-time office manager for L&P Painting. She has a passion for helping others and is a Jane of all trades. She believes that you can do anything you put your mind to and lives by that motto. While she stays busy with her careers, she keeps a healthy work/life balance. During her free time, you can find Lindsay training for her next half marathon or spending quality time with her husband, Zachary, son LaKyle, age 12, daughter Zaidali, age 3, and Rottweiler, JoJo.
Maurice Davis, Board Treasurer
Maurice grew up in the Chicagoland area and moved to Iowa in 2013 for an entry level sales position with GEICO Auto Insurance. While at GEICO, Maurice co-founded and chaired the office Wellness committee who were responsible for all health-related events, both in the office and company-wide. While working in this capacity, he had the pleasure of organizing and directing many events with the goal of increasing donations to RMD of Iowa. He also facilitated fundraising efforts for the RMD Red Shoe Run. Maurice attended the University of Upper Iowa, earning a bachelor's degree in finance, graduating Cum Laude, and is currently pursuing a master's degree in finance. Maurice has since taken a position as a financial advisor with Merrill Lynch, which helped merge his passion for finance while educating and helping people into a wonderful career.  Maurice enjoys learning, listening to his favorite podcasts and meeting new people. During the summer months, Maurice enjoys coaching youth football and taking trips when time allows.
Michelle Hotchkiss, Director of Volunteer Coordination
Michelle grew up in Coggon and Center Point and was a 1989 grad. She earned her BA at UNI for Early Childhood and Elementary Education. She has been a teacher at Center Point Child Care Center, and a substitute teacher. Since 1996 Michelle has been an in-home daycare and preschool provider. She enjoys the little kids, planning lessons and crafts, and watching them grow and learn. Her love for volunteering and giving started as a young child. Her mom, Sandy, was her inspiration in giving help to those less fortunate. Sandy is the FHF Vice President who got Michelle involved in volunteering with this organization in 2015. Michelle’s teen daughter, Megan, is also a volunteer for FHF. Having 3 generations working together has been a very rewarding blessing! Michelle enjoys spending time with her husband Berne and kids Tyler, Megan and Bryce, and her 2 fur babies Molly and Bella. She enjoys traveling, bike riding, and spending time with family and friends. 
Maria Johnson, Director of Public Relations & Marketing
Maria was born and raised in Cedar Rapids, and is a Jefferson High School graduate. She went on to receive her Bachelors in Public Relations and Communications from the University of Northern Iowa, and her Masters of Business Administration at the University of Iowa. She has over 15 years experience in Marketing, Public Relations and Communications, working in both Chicago, IL and Cedar Rapids. She is currently the Communications Division Manager for the City of Cedar Rapids, and previously was Assistant Vice President of Marketing at Collins Community Credit Union. Maria began volunteering at Families Helping Families in 2017 because of her interest in providing much needed support for foster children and foster families in her community. In her free time she enjoys spending time with her husband Matt, and attending the many activities of her teenage twins, Abram and Shea.
Liz Neff, Director of Events
Liz grew up in the Cedar Rapids/Marion area and graduated from Linn Mar High School. She completed her undergraduate at Kirkwood and Mount Mercy University with a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration. Her career started in City Government administration, specifically Parks & Recreation in both Hiawatha and Lisbon, which provided her with an opportunity to learn about program and event planning and implementation. During that time, she played an active role in starting the 501(c)3 Friends of Hiawatha Parks and Recreation. After that, Liz spent four years as the Events & Marketing Director for the Cedar Rapids Freedom Festival. Upon the birth of her second child, Liz took a leap and launched her own company, Neff Event Services, an event consulting and planning firm specializing in large-scale and marketing events. Liz took an interest in Families Helping Families, as she, her husband, brother, and several cousins have been in the foster system or were adopted. She started volunteering in the summer of 2018, opening the door to sit on the board of this phenomenal organization. Her expertise in event planning and fundraising are a perfect fit for her role. Liz has been married to her husband John for seven years. They reside in Marion with their two children, Tyler (8), Isabelle (1) and a cocker spaniel, Maxwell. Liz enjoys meeting new people and is continually inspired by so many of the foster and adoptive parents she meets. In her spare time, she enjoys being outdoors and spending time with her family, friends, and dog.
Ashley Vanorny, At-Large
Ashley is a lifelong Cedar Rapidian who learned the value of hard work by helping on her family farm. She graduated from Kirkwood Community College with an AS in Criminal Justice, and also holds a BS in Psychology and a BA in Political Science from the University of Iowa. Currently, Ashley is completing her Master's Degree in Healthcare Administration from Des Moines University.  She work as an IT Analyst with the University of Iowa Hospitals & Clinics. Ashley takes enormous pride in her advocacy for foster children, low-income families, and celebrating and supporting diversity. She came to be involved with Families Helping Families through her membership with Junior League of Cedar Rapids and is very excited to be joining the board.
Brenda West, At-Large
Brenda has been volunteering with Families Helping Families since January 2015 and brings a wealth of experience in communications, office management and she has excellent organizational skills. She also brings public relations and marketing skills to the Families Helping Families team. Brenda very much enjoyed serving Waypoint Services as the Senior Executive Assistant to the Executive Board and the Board of Trustees for six years. Since 2007, Brenda has been serving customers at Toyota Financial Services.