Anne Marie Brunko spends her time in the Prairiewoods kitchen assisting with meal preparation. She was a firefighter and paramedic for 27 years in Council Bluffs and also worked for a catering company for 21 years. Now retired from those jobs, she brings her love of helping people to Prairiewoods. Instead of sharing 911 moments with people, she shares the joy that a healthy breakfast, cooked by someone else, really can make the day start beautifully. Anne Marie also loves to cook at home and share food with family and friends. Bicycling and reading are her other hobbies.

BBetty Daugherty 1etty Daugherty, FSPA, is one of Prairiewoods’ foundresses. Two decades later, she continues to provide spiritual direction and retreats. Sister Betty has a master’s degree in English from the University of Notre Dame. Previously, she was a teacher, editor, FSPA communication director and FSPA regional administrator. She enjoys hiking and reading, especially books related to the Universe Story.

Marj English 1Marj English, OSF, Prairiewoods’ coordinator of spiritual services, provides spiritual direction, retreat services and outreach programs; facilitates several continuing programs; and interviews and orients new volunteers. She has been a teacher, formation and campus minister, member of the leadership team of her community, and presenter and supervisor in a spiritual direction internship. She has a bachelor’s degree in English from Marian College, a master’s degree in education from the University of Dayton, basic training as a spiritual director from the Jesuit Renewal Center and dream leader certification from the Haden Institute.

Laurie Erlacher 1Laurie Erlacher is on the culinary team at Prairiewoods. She has worked in the restaurant industry for 28 years. Laurie also cooked for 15 years at Loving Care Learning Center, making healthy and creative meals for children. She says, “I love using fresh vegetables and fruits to create healthy soups and salads that further our guests’ ecospiritual journey.”

Joann Gehling 1Joann Gehling, FSPA, is one of Prairiewoods’ foundresses and has been on staff since it opened in 1996. She is available for spiritual direction, counseling, hosting retreats and healing touch spiritual ministry. Sister Joann has a doctorate in ministry with a concentration in feminist theology and psychology.

Jenifer HansonJenifer Hanson, director, has over 25 years of professional experience in administration, including planning, supervision, training, crisis management and grants administration. Jenifer’s first experiences with Prairiewoods were as a retreatant and hosted group client, leading to personal growth and a deep sense of connection with the center. Delighted to be serving Prairiewoods’ mission and vision as director, Jenifer is especially interested in developing connections with individuals, groups and organizations whose missions and values are complimentary. With degrees in English and counselor education, Jenifer loves to write, cycle and explore.

Trace Harshman 1_squareTrace Harshman is Prairiewoods’ housekeeper, with nearly 20 years of experience in residential and commercial cleaning. She has a 25-year-old son and enjoys spending time with her family. Trace also likes to go out to eat and watch movies.

Nancy Hoffman 1Nancy Hoffman, FSPA, is one of six foundresses of Prairiewoods. She provides therapeutic massage, healing touch, Tai Chi, and a variety of programs on eco-spirituality and holistic energies. Sister Nancy has a bachelor’s degree in education, has a master’s degree in theology, is a trained spiritual director and is a licensed massage therapist. She is a life-time learner, treasuring all that the land (and its plants and animals), the Prairiewoods staff and our guests teach her.

Ann Jackson 1Ann Jackson, PBVM, is a coordinator of retreats and spiritual director at Prairiewoods; she also currently serves on the leadership team of her congregation, the Sisters of the Presentation. Sister Ann has a bachelor’s degree in English from Clarke College, a master’s degree in pastoral studies from Aquinas Instititute of Theology, certification in spiritual direction and related master’s coursework at Chicago Theological Institute and Drake University.

Tara King, Prairiewoods’ kitchen manager, grew up in Cedar Rapids. She attended Le Cordon Bleu in Scottsdale, Arizona, where she studied baking and patisserie. She spent her externship flipping fudge on Mackinac Island. Once Tara moved back to Cedar Rapids, she became involved with the Catherine McAuley Center, where she volunteered to teach a cooking class to the residents. Her main goal is simply to feed people good food. There is nothing better then when someone comes back for seconds or just smiles and says how much they enjoyed themselves!

Andi LewisAndi Lewis, the Prairiewoods marketing coordinator, has bachelor’s degrees in broadcast journalism and women’s studies from Northwestern University. She has worked as a TV reporter and producer, the operations director for a professional organizing service, and a textbook writer and editor. Andi and her husband, Steve, moved here from Chicago in 2011 so she could work at Prairiewoods and be closer to family. Andi and Steve enjoy good food and wine, reading, and playing with their dog, Phineas.

Erik Meggers, Prairiewoods’ maintenance coordinator, keeps the grounds and buildings in working order. Before coming to Prairiewoods, he was a mechanic, lawn-care technician and stay-at-home dad. He and his wife, Heather, have one son, Ian. Erik enjoys bicycling, gardening, fishing and hunting. He is a happy presence at Prairiewoods, always willing to handle any maintenance needs with a smile!

Angie Pierce Jennings is the hosted groups & hospitality coordinator for Prairiewoods. She holds bachelor’s degrees in psychology and speech communication from Graceland University and a master’s degree in industrial/organizational psychology from the University of Northern Iowa. Angie is a people person, a lover of nature, an outdoorswoman, and an advocate for education and environmental sustainability. Before coming on staff, Angie already had a special connection with Prairiewoods, having participated in several programs that supplied her with enjoyment and spiritual growth opportunities. She has a particular fondness for the Women of Interfaith Dialogue group, as this group compliments her own spiritual practice.

Emelia (Emy) Sautter is the ecospirituality coordinator at Prairiewoods. She has a bachelor’s degree in natural resources and environmental science from the University of Illinois. Emy has worked at Prairiewoods since 2007 and greatly enjoys working with the land through restoration efforts. She also is involved with programming, service groups and networking with community organizations. Emy has a deep love for Earth and all of its inhabitants—especially toads and snakes!

Rae Schrock, Prairiewoods’ morning cook, makes and serves the first meal of the day to our guests and retreatants. Even if you aren’t a morning person, you’ll likely find her to be a “Rae” of sunshine!

Nancy Schrimper, the Prairiewoods office supervisor, is the first friendly voice you hear at Prairiewoods. Nancy previously worked at Marion Christian Church and Aegon. She has more than 16 years of administrative assistant experience. In her spare moments, Nancy enjoys spending time with her family and friends.

Laura WeberLaura A. Weber, Ph.D. received her doctorate in philosophical theology from Marquette University in 1994 and spent more than 26 years in higher education as a professor of systematic theology, biblical and classical studies, eco-feminist philosophy, and eco-spirituality. She has been a writer and executive director of grants and programs focusing on educational leadership, theological exploration of vocation, women’s studies and LGBT studies, and she has served as a spiritual companion and a director of University Ministry. She moved to Cedar Rapids in 2013 to become the associate director and retreat coordinator of Prairiewoods, a natural evolution of her passion for the great work of renewing Earth and accompanying spiritual seekers as they deepen their relationships with the Source of Being, self and all creation.

Lucille Winnike 1Lucille Winnike, FSPA, ministers as a retreat director and spiritual director. Earlier ministries include teaching and administration in Catholic schools, as well as administration within her community. Sister Lucille has a master’s degree in mathematics from Notre Dame University, where she later did further studies in spirituality and interned as a spiritual director. Lucille says, “Many persons who come here experience the richness and healing powers of Prairiewoods itself, of Mother Earth, of God. It is my privilege to meet with some of those people.”