Meet Your 2017 School Board Candidates

Five (5) Waukee Community School District board positions are open for election this year on September 12, 2017.

Strong leadership in every school district is critical to moving education forward in this state. School board members play significant roles in their communities – members must have leadership, vision and dedication. School board members are locally elected public officials charged with accountability for student learning, determining educational goals, setting policy, overseeing school finances and other duties. Across Iowa, nearly 2,000 men and women serve on local school boards, guiding the education of more than 475,000 young people at an annual expenditure of more than $5.1 billion.

School board members are elected to serve four-year terms, with elections taking place in odd-numbered years. Those elected receive no pay. Experienced school board members say the rewards of service lie in meeting the needs of children and communities.

Four seats currently held by David Cunningham, Wendy Liskey, Patrick Nehls and Mary Scheve, are up for election for the full four-year term and the seat Jerry Ripperger was appointed to serve after the resignation of Scott Blum is up for election for the remaining two years of the term. Ethan Huisman and Susan Bunz have two years remaining before their seats will be up for election.

Polling Locations

You can vote at one of the following two locations between the hours of 7 a.m. and 8 p.m:

Waukee Community School District Administrative Office
560 SE University Avenue

St. Franciss of Assisi Catholic Church
7075 Ashworth Road
West Des Moines

About the Candidates

Dan Ahrens

DanAhrens Age: 50
Years in District:  22
About the Candidate: For the past 22 years, I have been a Waukee resident along with my wife, Barb. We have one son who graduated from the Waukee Schools. I attended Buena Vista University earning a degree in Management Information Systems. For the past 24 years, I have been employed by Compressor Controls Corporation as a Manager of Embedded Systems and Senior Software Design Engineer. For the past 16 years, my wife has been employed by Waukee Schools as an educator for business education at the high school. My decision to run for the Waukee School Board is based on my passion for excellence in education. I would like to provide families and educators of Waukee a voice, both individually and collectively. Being able to make a difference within our Waukee community, and give back to the Waukee school district that has provided so many opportunities for my family, drives my aspiration to serve on the Waukee School Board. I believe my involvement in the school board will influence changes that positively impact the future of our students, district, and community.

David Cunningham

Dave Cunningham  Age: 59
 Years in District: 25
About the Candidate: David and his wife Janice have lived in the Waukee school district for 25 years. They are the parents of three children, all who have attended and graduated from Waukee schools since kindergarten. David is a Certified Financial Planner and has worked as an investment professional for 28 years. David is a former teacher and has served on various boards including Band Booster President, Celebration in Brass, Original Iowa Executive Board of Certified Financial Planners. He volunteers at Hope Ministries. I am seeking re-election to the board. Every child deserves the opportunity to succeed in school. We can accomplish this by providing a world class education where each student has a chance to discover, and develop their passion for learning and success.

Christopher Disbro

Christopher Disbro Age: 32
Years in District: 32
About the Candidate: Dr. Disbro has lived in the Waukee area for most of his life, and even attended Waukee Elementary School when it was still just one building. He is a graduate of the University of Notre Dame, a physician, and a small business owner working mostly with special needs children. Dr. Disbro and his family returned to Waukee specifically for the schools. He has a step-son entering the third grade at Shuler Elementary and an 8-month-old with his wife, Meghan. Having been a beneficiary of the Waukee school system and someone who chose this district as the place to start a family, I have a vested interest in maintaining the achievements of past boards and ensuring the continued success of this district. As one of the fastest growing districts in the state, we must remain committed to long term planning, not only for the overall size of the school district but also for the scope of our students’ needs. Our rapidly changing world requires focusing our children’s education on the skills they will need in the future including primary source research, foreign languages, and programming.

 Jeanne Fung

Jeanne Fung  Age: 48
Years in District: 12
About the Candidate: My husband, Edward, and I have lived in the Waukee School District since 2005. I grew up in O’Neill, Nebraska, and attended Creighton University, receiving a BSOT in 1991. I currently work at Edgewater in West Des Moines in their skilled rehab unit and had previously worked as a traveling therapist in facilities around the Waukee area. My daughter graduated from Waukee in 2015 and is currently attending Creighton University in the Honors Program. I have two boys enrolled in Waukee, one is a senior and one is a freshman at Prairieview. I have thoroughly enjoyed my experience in the Waukee School District, collaborating with school administration, school board, faculty and parents on food safety issues and working to develop and implement formal school policy in addition to volunteering countless hours in support of my children’s teachers. I believe that the district is entering a challenging period with both growth and budget issues. To ensure continued success, it is essential that there be open collaboration from the students to the administration. I am confident that I would be able to represent the students, parents and teachers through this board position by giving them a voice in the administrative and educational decisions.

Tyler Higgs

Tyler Higgs Age: 31
Years in District: 2.5
About the Candidate: I am an AEA school psychologist who has dedicated his life to child development, education, and behavior. I care passionately about special education, kids who are talented and gifted, improving mental health supports, and making sure every child succeeds to the best of their ability. I know the challenges facing Iowa’s children because I work to solve them every day, but I want to do more. I want to advocate for policies that improve our system of academic and behavioral supports so that every child feels safe, supported, and ready to learn at school. We have a mental health crisis in Iowa. Statistics indicate 20% of children will face mental illness next year, and 80% of them will not receive adequate support. Suicide is the second leading cause of death for adolescents 14-24 and the third leading cause of death for children 10-14. I can’t possibly describe all the issues I care about and solutions I have in 4 sentences.

Kimberly Hupp

Kimberly Hupp Age: 38
Years in District: 13
About the Candidate: I am a single parent to a 12th-grade son. I grew up in the Des Moines area and graduated from Urbandale Senior High School. I am a graduate of the University of Northern Iowa, Art & Marketing. I do PR/Communications work for the Iowa State Education Association and I have a part-time job at Gusto Pizza Company. I feel passionately about volunteering and giving back to the community. I have 2 dachshunds and when I’m not busy I enjoy reading, playing games & coloring. I am running for school board to be a voice for Waukee parents who believe that quality public education is the foundation of a strong community. My past of volunteerism has lead me to a point of wanting to get more involved in making sure the students and families of Waukee have quality public education and a strong community. My passion for students & public education is a big part of my life and I wish to continue that by serving on the WCSD Board of Education. I have been volunteering for WCSD since my son was in Kindergarten. I served on the Waukee District Parent Calendar Committee in 2011-12 and have been involved in the following WCSD organizations: Waukee Band Parent Organization, Waukee Vocal Music Boosters, Waukee Athletic Boosters, Brookview PTO, as well as volunteering & chaperoning at many class parties & school events.

Katie Johnson

Katie Johnson Age: 35
Years in District: 12
About the Candidate: I grew up in the West Des Moines area and graduated from Valley High School. I earned my bachelor’s degree in Journalism and Mass Communication and Public Relations from Drake University. My husband Jessie teaches fifth grade in Johnston. We have three children: Carter (9), Grace (5), and Claire (5). I have worked at DuPont Pioneer for the last 13 years in the sales operations department. I want to join the Waukee school board because I have three young children in school. I want what is best for them, their friends, and all of the kids in our community. I appreciate the teachers who work in the Waukee Community School District and I want to advocate on their behalf, modeling the respect they deserve for the challenging job they do. I want to ensure students are provided the opportunities to continue to learn and grow in a place where success and strong results are valued and Waukee continues to be rated highly for its academic standards. It takes parents, teachers, and community members to ensure our programs are successful and making myself available to serve on our school board makes me proud and excited.

Wendy Liskey

Wendy Liskey Age: 46
Years in District: 15
About the Candidate: I have lived in the Waukee School District for 15 years with my husband, Eric, and two daughters – one at Timberline, one at the High School. I feel blessed that we are part of the Waukee school community, which is why I’ve been so involved since 2006, when my oldest entered Kindergarten at Brookview Elementary. Prior to serving on the Board, I served on two District committees: the 2012-13 Boundary Committee and the 2013 Secondary Study Committee. I also served at Brookview Elementary as PTO Vice-President and Staff Appreciation Chair; and I was a member of the District PTO for four years, serving as Secretary. I work at Lutheran Church of Hope Waukee and my faith is an essential part of who I am. I’ve had the privilege of serving on the Waukee School Board since 2013. I’ve had the privilege of working alongside six great Board members and numerous skilled and knowledgeable Administrators. I’ve had the honor of representing my own daughters and the 10,000+ students in our district. I’ve had a duty to protect and applaud our teachers and staff. I would like to continue to do all of that for another four years.

Lori Lyon

Lyon - Lori Lyon Age: 52
Years in District: 21
About the Candidate: Together, my husband Larry and our three sons have made the Waukee community our home for the past 21 years. I have been an educator for over 25 years, with a BA from the University of Northern Iowa, MA from Viterbo University, and Certificate in Reading Recovery Teacher Training from the University of Northern Iowa. I enjoy kids, gardening, and mowing. We are members at Lutheran Church of Hope. I have dedicated most of my professional career to education and believe in working together to meet the diverse social, emotional, and programming needs of our students. As a board, we must advocate to ensure that cuts in state funding don’t negatively affect those needs, while remaining fiscally responsible to taxpayers for a world-class education. It is vital to continue to retain, recruit, and prepare great educators, make schools safe places for students, and work in collaboration with the community to embrace change with the addition of our new high school. I enjoy challenge and am confident that our community will embrace our joint efforts to lead these changes.

Lara Plaisance

 Lara Plaisance Age: 37
Years in District: 4.5
About the Candidate: Lara and her husband, John, have two children in elementary school at Eason Elementary, Ben and Theo. Lara is a partner at the Des Moines law firm, Hopkins &Huebner,P.C.. She serves as the President of the Waukee-based nonprofit organization, Drew’s Crew for Kids that she and her husband founded in honor of their late son to serve children in need within the Waukee Community School District. Lara is on the Board of Directors for Eat Greater Des Moines and the Hunger Free Dallas County leadership team. Lara grew up in Storm Lake, graduated from Storm Lake High School in 1998, obtained her B.A. in English and Journalism & Mass Communication from the University of Iowa in 2002 and her J.D. from the University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Law in 2008.It is an exciting and challenging time for public schools and Waukee CSD is no exception. Issues from maximizing limited financial resources while maintaining educational excellence, caring for and improving the academic/physical/emotional health of our students, working within the framework and implementation of the Every Student Succeeds Act, managing and embracing the continued exponential growth of our district, and addressing the needs of the diverse populations within our district, are at the forefront of my mind as I pursue joining the WCSD Board of Education. In a rapidly changing world the Board needs a diversity of ideas, members with a passion for collaboration, and representation from every end of the academic spectrum. My children are just beginning their academic careers in Waukee CSD and I am ready to serve to prepare their futures and the futures of their peers.

 Jerry Ripperger

 Jerry Rippeger Age: 52
Years in District: 23
About the Candidate: I am Vice President of Consulting at Principal. I am married to Karen and we have two daughters that are proud graduates of Waukee schools. Megan went on to get a masters degree in clinical nutrition and is a lieutenant in the US Army. Sarah is a senior at Iowa State majoring in chemical engineering. I have had the privilege of serving on the school board for the past twelve years. During that time the district has had to manage unprecedented growth while facing state funding limitations. Yet we managed to increase programming and opportunities for students. As we prepare for a second high school we have an opportunity to do even more great things.

Mary Thomas Scheve

 Mary Scheve Age: 56
Years in District: 49
About the Candidate: I have been employed as Chief Financial Officer at August Home Publishing for 17 years as well as having my MBA and CPA. My husband Ray and I have three recent Waukee graduates: Zoe, Tim and Max. I’m a third generation Waukee High School graduate and third generation school board member. I have served on the Waukee Foundation Auction/Dinner as co-chair, Waukee Foundation Scholarships, School Improvement, Career and Technical Advisory, along with committee roles at St. Boniface Catholic Church, Des Moines CycloneClub , WaukeeRagbrai and ISU Alumni Audit. Waukee School District is at a critical stage with the financial uncertainty from state funding, a second high school and 9th elementary opening up, projected growth of 500+ students each year, increasing advanced programming needs of all our students and a continued underfunding by the state for our schools’ special needs population. As a Board member with 8 years of Board experience and extensive financial background, I can provide continuity in using my skills to give every Waukee student a robust individualized education from innovative teachers and staff in a socially responsible and financially efficient manner.

Evan VanWyk

 Information about this candidate was not available at the time of this posting.

Ingrid Williams

 Ingrid Williams  Age: 51
 Years in District: 17
About the Candidate: Over the last 17 years, I have had 5 children go through the Waukee School system (the last one is a senior) my first grandchild will be attending this year, and I worked for the school district as a health associate in numerous buildings for 5+ years during that time as well. Since 2009 I have been a successful realtor, focusing on families within Waukee and the surrounding communities. During my time as a district employee, I saw a great need and so in2016 I spearheaded the effort to launch Waukee Community Closet, a non-profit organization that gives away free clothing in Dallas County to children and families in need. That organization has flourished and helped thousands of people and hundreds of families in our area. A strong community starts with strong families and a strong school system. The school is truly the heart of the community. I am passionate about bringing people together and to work towards solutions that will strengthen our school’s and improve learning opportunities for all students. Our community’s well being depends on a health school system. I would like to be part of the future and help generations to come.
560 Southeast University Avenue
Waukee, Iowa 50263
Phone 515.987.5161
Fax 515.987.2701