Board of Directors
Nathan Thompson - Chair
Nate serves as CEO of Story County Medical Center in Nevada, a Critical Access Hospital affiliate of UnityPoint Health. Prior to joining Story Medical in 2015, Nate held roles at UnityPoint Health System Services in value-based contracting, growth and strategy. Nate has a business degree from Iowa State University and completed his graduate work at the University of Iowa, earning his Masters of Health Administration and Masters of Business Administration in 2009. Nate and his wife, Ashley, live in Ames with their puppy, Banjo. They enjoy a shared passion for their careers in healthcare, following Cyclone athletics, traveling, playing golf, boating and spending time with friends and family.
Chris Nelson - Vice Chair
Chris Nelson previously served on the Mainstream Living Board of Directors from 2009 - 2015, and is a past Board Chair. Chris is the President of Nelson electric in Ames, a family-owned company that has been in operation for over 100 years. He and his family are very active in the Ames community. Chris served two terms on the Ames City Council representing Ward 4 and currently serves on the Executive Committee for the Ames Economic Development Commission. Chris is a graduate of Ames High School and Iowa State University. He is married to Anne Nelson (Cheville). Anne's parents were part of the four families who founded Mainstream Living in 1975. Chris and Anne have three sons and live in Ames.
Jacqueline Venner Senske - Board Secretary
Jacqueline has worked in nonprofits for over 10 years, most recently at Reiman Gardens, where she has the pleasure of interacting with Mainstream Living clients as both volunteers and guests. After earning a BS in Horticulture from Iowa State, Jacqueline went on to earn an MS in Public Horticulture Administration from the prestigious Longwood Graduate Program at the University of Delaware, which included academic work and practice in nonprofit management and Museum Studies. Her professional career has been diverse, including specialty food retail, working to build local and sustainable agriculture, helping to manage a community gardening organization, leading a school gardening program, and serving as Director of Education at North Carolina’s Daniel Stowe Botanical Garden. Jacqueline lives in Roland with her husband, who teaches Architecture at Iowa State, and their two children, Oscar and Helena.
Laura Iles, Iowa State University
Laura Iles serves is an entomologist and serves as Director of the Plant & Insect Diagnostic Clinic at Iowa State University where she enjoys helping people solve their insect “problems” and educating them about all of the good (and sometimes bad) things insects bring to our lives. She spent her early years in Iowa City, but saw the light and is now a proud and involved member of the Ames/Cyclone community. Laura’s husband Jeff is a “tree expert” who also works at Iowa State University. Laura’s son Grant attends Ames High School. Laura’s interests include insect photography, cycling, and walking on the beach whenever possible. Jeff is a former member of the board and Laura looks forward to continuing the family’s support of Mainstream Living.
Patrick Goldsmith, Fareway Foods, Inc.
Pat is the Director of Facilities and Projects for Fareway Foods, Inc. He and his wife Alison are the parents of Erin Goldsmith who lives with Friendship Arc, and is also served at Mainstream Living's Center. Alison is also a past board member for the organization and served as Chair of the Nominations Committee. Pat has long been an excellent advocate for persons with disabilities. He has served in volunteer roles with Habitat for Humanity, Octagon Center for the Arts, and the ISU Alumni Association. The Goldsmiths enjoy remaining involved and active with Mainstream Living as one of the many ways they give back to the community.
Steve Luett, John Deere Financial
Steve works as a Project Manager in Marketing at John Deere Financial, and has previously held roles in account management, underwriting,collections, and commercial lending. He grew up on a farm in eastern Iowa, where his parents are still active.
His wife, Heidi, is active in the Gigi’s Playhouse organization. She’s an awesome mom to their children Theron,Hudson, and Rowan. Theron is a wonderful young lady that finds motivation in helping others. She recently completed training to start a club at school dedicated to empowering school communities to embrace and sustain mental health and wellness support for their students. She also likes to participate in 4-H archery with dad as the coach. Hudson is a wonderful young man with Down Syndrome who loves to bowl (two time state champ through Special Olympics), shoot baskets, be active outside, and dance. Everyone in the Luett house knows how to dab, floss, and do the sizzlin’ bacon as a result! Rowan brings up the tail-end of the family but thinks she’s in charge of everyone! She is full of energy and loves to play outside, go to dance class and multiple other sports. In his spare time, Steve's hobbies include hunting, fishing, traveling, woodworking, and archery. Go Cyclones!
Peter Orazem, Iowa State University
Dr. Orazem is an Economics Professor at Iowa State University. His research focus has been on child labor, transition economies, information technologies, economic development, and entrepreneurship with his work published in American Economic Review, World Bank Economic Review, Journal of Political Economy, Review of Economics and Statistics, International Economic Review, and Economic Development and Cultural Change. In addition to his teaching and research duties, Peter has been active in the Ames community. He served on the Ames City Council from 2010-2018. Peter also spends time performing stand up comedy and is an advisor to the ISU Comedy Club.
Richard has a long history of community service, having been a member of the Aurora, Iowa City Council for eight years and mayor for 28 years. He has also volunteered for a number of organizations including, board member for East Buchanan Dollars for Scholars, St. Paul Lutheran Church, Aurora Historical Society, local and state PTA boards and various county boards. After living and owning a business in Aurora for 43 years, he and his wife Barb moved to Ames in 2018. They have four adult children, Gretchen (Mike) Mosher of Ames, Joanne (Beany) Bode of Algona, David and Heidi of Ames, Stephanie and Eric Schares of Ames, and nine grandchildren, Avery, Mosher, Hollis, Violet, Henry, Rose, Ruby, June, and Aurora Louise.
Karen is a psychology teaching professor at Iowa State University. She is a Midwest native who received her Ph.D. in counseling psychology from the University of Iowa. Before joining ISU in 2007, she served as an associate professor and co-director of training in counseling psychology at the University of Akron. As a specialty area, counseling psychology promotes well-being through building on strengths, celebrating differences, and advocating for opportunity. Karen loves infusing these perspectives into her work as a professor and involvement as a community member. She trains counseling graduate students, teaches undergraduate courses, leads a freshman seminar on the psychology of happiness and well-being, coordinates the Psychology Freshman Learning Community, and serves on student dissertation and university committees. Karen has one child, Indy, who is studying computer engineering at ISU. In her free time, Karen enjoys time with Indy and her family and friends, traveling, backyard bird watching, and reading with a cat in her lap.
Jill is retired from her career with the Professional Licensing Bureau as the Executive Officer for the Landscape Architectural Licensing Board and the Real Estate Education Director. She is married to Carroll Simbro who is also retired from his career with Product Development Partners in Newton. The Simbros live in Newton and have two adult children. Their son Sam lives in Newton and works at Product Development Partners. Their daughter Madalyn receives services from Mainstream Living and is a resident of Baker House in Des Moines. Jill's a strong advocate for persons with disabilities and Direct Support Professionals and brings her unique insight as a parent to the board of directors.