Bonnie Gesell, Executive Director
Bonnie’s interest in working with individuals with disabilities began when she started volunteering with Special Olympics in high school. While a student at the University of Northern Iowa, she coached a track team for persons with brain injuries and cerebral palsy that travelled throughout the United States, providing opportunities for athletes to qualify for the Paralympics. After graduating from UNI, she began working with agencies that provided services for persons with disabilities and started with The Larrabee Center in 1994. Bonnie’s roles with the agency have changed and expanded leading her to wear many hats in the support of our mission. Bonnie served as Associate Director for a number of years, overseeing the agency’s accounting, insurance billing, human resources, quality assurance activities, HIPAA requirements, and served as Director over all in-home services. In January 2021, Bonnie became the agency’s Executive Director, maintaining many of her duties and adding additional responsibility to lead our agency. Throughout all of her duties, Bonnie has remained focused on our mission. “I feel it is very important that everyone is allowed to work towards the things they want in life. The Larrabee Center provides each client the unique support needed to improve their quality of life.” Bonnie lives in Cedar Falls with her family and in her spare time enjoys traveling and playing indoor and sand volleyball.
Jessica Gulick, Associate Director
A graduate of the University of Northern Iowa, Jessica found her passion for nonprofit and disability services working part-time at The Larrabee Center while completing her degree in elementary education, starting in 2001. Jessica’s enthusiasm for helping others turned into a career as she transitioned from TLC’s in-home community support services to employment services. Jessica served as Employment Services Program Manager for a number of years, overseeing services designed to assist individuals with disabilities on their path to meaningful careers. Her knack for social media and ability to communicate her pride in our agency’s mission has also led her to oversee TLC’s development and community relations as well as social media for the agency and Trinkets & Togs thrift stores. In February 2021, Jessica became Associate Director, maintaining duties related to Employment Services and Development & Community Relations while adding additional duties to support the mission of the agency. Jessica truly enjoys helping spread the word about The Larrabee Center’s mission with the community members and donors who share our vision for enriching lives and enriching the community. In 2015, Jessica was awarded the Nonprofit Staff Leader of the Year from the Nonprofit Leadership Alliance. Jessica lives in Waverly with her family, and enjoys reading and volunteers with her church in her spare time.
Stephanie Brooks, Administrative/CSS Program Manager
Stephanie joined The Larrabee Center in 2006, shortly after graduating from the University of Northern Iowa with a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology. She started working with individuals in their home and the community, spent time as Services Assistant in vocational services, and then transitioned to SCL/Habilitation Program Manager. In February 2021, Stephanie’s role expanded to her current position of Administrative/CSS Program Manager. Stephanie manages the in-home services for adults with mental illness living in the community. She also assists the Associate Director in accounting and quality assurance duties. Stephanie believes it’s important for persons with disabilities and the elderly to have the support they need to remain living in their own homes and be part of the community. The mission of The Larrabee Center is near and dear to Stephanie as her grandfather received similar services to help him live independently until the age of 90 before having to move to assisted living. Stephanie lives in Waterloo with her family and in her spare time enjoys being outside gardening and swimming, and spending time with friends and family.
John Lord, CSS and Property Program Manager
After completing his degree in Social Work from the University of Northern Iowa, John began a career in human services with at-risk youth and persons with brain injuries almost 15 years before joining TLC in 2004. John serves as the CSS and Property Program Manager, a position that manages the in-home and community support services for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities, brain injuries, and the elderly. He also oversees the maintenance of TLC’s rental properties. John also helped to initiate and continues to manage TLC’s free transportation route that helps fill the gap of transportation needs in Waverly and surrounding communities on Saturdays. With his roots in the Cedar Valley and his background in social work from UNI, John has always found nonprofit and disability services to be important to our community. John finds TLC’s mission to be critical in ensuring people with disabilities and the elderly get to have choices in their lives and become or remain valued members of the community, which ultimately leads to a quality of life we all want and deserve. John lives in Waverly with his family and in his spare time enjoys boating and catching up on his favorite TV shows.
Darleen Lindahl, Retail Manager
Darleen began her career with The Larrabee Center as a clerk at Trinkets & Togs in Waverly. It wasn’t long before Darleen found her way to client services in the vocational program. Darleen’s passion for the mission led her to spend some time also working in the Community Support Services program with clients with mental illness. She made her way back to the thrift store when she transitioned to the Retail Services Assistant and in 2020, into her current role as Retail Manager at the Waverly thrift store. The combination of her passion for our mission and her extensive retail experience, make Darleen a great fit for her role. Innovative and creative, Darleen has an eye for displays and helps keep the store fresh and inviting for customers. Darleen lives in Charles City with her family and in her spare time she enjoys outdoor activities including kayaking as well as spending time with her kids and granddaughter.
Karla Brickhouse, Retail Manager
Born and raised in Cedar Falls, Karla and her husband now call Grundy Center home. With her BA degree in Elementary Education from the University of Northern Iowa, Karla worked as a substitute teacher for a couple years before changing lanes and working for various companies heading up training programs. While Karla didn’t have professional experience working with people with disabilities, she learned a lot from her uncle who had cerebral palsy. The way he didn’t let his disability affect his ability to live life to the fullest had a big impact on her. After working in the for-profit world, Karla realized she wanted to do something more meaningful and her search for work in non-profits led her to Trinkets & Togs and The Larrabee Center. Karla served as Retail Services Assistant for a period of time before moving into her current role in 2020 as Retail Manager for the Grundy Center and Cedar Falls thrift store locations. Karla loves the daily challenges that working at a thrift store brings and especially enjoys the team she works with each day. In her spare time, Karla enjoys spending time with her husband and family, watching movies, gardening and cooking.
The Larrabee Center’s 2021 Board of Directors:
- Ryan Rasmussen – President
- Ty Burke – Vice President
- Steve Willemssen – Secretary/Treasurer
- Jerry Elsamiller
- Donita Dettmer
- Jeff Kolb
- Mike Byl