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IRIS Board of Directors

Jim Obradovich

Jim Obradovich - Chair

Jim is President of The Capitol Group, a government relations and public policy firm that represents trade associations, not-for-profit organizations and businesses at the Iowa State Capitol. Jim used his million-dollar voice to start his broadcasting career as a reporter for WVIK-FM, the NPRa affiliate in the Quad Cities and worked as a reporter and morning news anchor at WHBF-TV in Rock Island, IL. Today, Rev. Jim is also a Permanent Deacon at Holy Trinity Catholic Church and serves on the Board of Directors for Calvin Community. Jim, a Chicago native, and his wife Kathie cheer on the Chicago Cubs from their home in Beaverdale.


Gordy Allen - Vice Chair

When he’s not helping people (and he usually is), Gordy is inspiring the next generation to do their part. A former deputy Iowa attorney general, Gordy has taught classes at the Drake University Law School for many years. His resume also includes jobs as legal director for the Iowa ACLU and as city councilman in Johnston. He has been a frequent judge for history day presentations and mock trial competitions at local high schools and middle schools. In addition to his service to IRIS, Gordy is also an advocate for foster parenting, juvenile justice, a local food pantry and more.

See Rodari

See Rodari - Secretary/Treasurer

Surasee, better known as See, was just 17 when he left his home in Thailand to live with an uncle in Iowa. He moved from Bangkok, which is home to millions, to Victor, Iowa, which has fewer than 1,000 residents. He graduated from Hartwick-Ladora-Victor High School, then went on to earn a business degree at the University of Northern Iowa in 1978. A few months later, he landed a job at Bankers Trust in Des Moines. Today, he’s a vice president with a company. In addition to being an advocate for Iowa’s Asian-American community, See is a long-time board member for IRIS. “When I first heard about IRIS,” he said, “I thought it was a great organization. I’m glad to be part of it.”


Lori Blachford

Lori is a communication specialist and professional do-gooder in Des Moines. Her journalism career started at the Des Moines Register. She also worked for many years as a magazine editor for Meredith Corporation. Until summer of 2015, she was the Chair of Magazine Journalism at Drake University. Since then, Lori’s focus has been on helping non-profit organizations, including IRIS, reach and serve a larger audience through multimedia efforts. In the fall of 2010, Lori established a service-learning opportunity for Drake students to read the Council Bluffs Daily Nonpareil for IRIS. She grew up in the Dakotas (yes, both) and now lives in Beaverdale with her wife, Karen. They have two grown sons and a cantankerous cat named Pearl.


Norma Boge

Norma is a 20+ year member of the Iowa Council of the United Blind (ICUB), previously serving on the ICUB board of directors and as past president of the Des Moines chapter of the ICUB and is currently serving as vice-president of the chapter. Previous employment includes stints with the office of U.S. Senator Tom Harkin, the Governor’s Statewide Independent living Council and Iowa Legal Aid. Norma is a proud alum of the University of Iowa, Washington State University and Drake University. Norma and her husband, Eldon Conyers, are avid fans of college football and basketball and enjoy traveling, rock concerts attending sporting events, watching Jeopardy! and spending time with their basset hound, 2 cats and 6 guinea pigs.


Becky Cox

Becky has been serving IRIS since the beginning! Her signature can be found on our original articles of incorporation. Becky works in Patient Flow Operations at Mercy Medical Center and recently celebrated 35th with Mercy. She is also an very active member of the Pleasant Hill Lions Club.


Dennis Crabtree

Dennis was working on eye health and sight services long before IRIS was born. A Lions Club member for 53 years, he has done everything from raising awareness and funds to screening preschoolers to driving the Lions’ glaucoma testing truck all across the state. “Our major emphasis is eyesight and hearing, and that’s what got me involved with IRIS,” said Dennis, who belongs to the Altoona Lions Club. He has volunteered with IRIS for 15 years. But his first service to the community came after graduation from Simpson College in Indianola. He was a physical education, science and math teacher in Iowa for 11 years. After receiving his master’s degree from Northeast Missouri State , Dennis spent another 12 years as a principal. Today, he’s still dropping in at schools in central Iowa as the leader of the Altoona Lions Club eyesight screening team. In addition to serving on the board, Dennis is also a regular IRIS reader, bringing the Des Moines Register to our listeners every other Wednesday.


Sue Hudson

Sue currently serves as Assistant Director - Principal Advisor Network Operations at Principal Financial.


Susan Kimelman

Susie’s understanding of blindness started at home with her aging father’s macular degeneration. “I watched him slowly lose his sight,” she said. Her introduction to IRIS came from one of the organization’s founders: Dorothy Kirsner. “I grew up in Des Moines, so I called her Mrs. Kirsner,” Susie said. “She knew about my dad and thought I should learn about IRIS.” Susie has been involved ever since, including as a long-time board member. Caregiving is in her bones. She graduated with a degree in elementary education from the University of Missouri and taught kindergarten. She and her husband raised three children of their own, and now have five grandchildren to spoil.


Gina Rooney

Gina is a resident of Ankeny where she lives with her husband Steve and son Jack. She is the Sponsorship Director for the Iowa State Fair and serves on the Boards of the Ankeny Community Foundation and Beat Cancer Today. She loves being a part of the 11-day event that welcomes over 1 million Fairgoers each year. Prior to working for the Iowa State Fair Gina served as the Grants Manager for Prairie Meadows Casino Racetrack Hotel for ten years. She is passionate about the services that IRIS provides as both she and her son Jack are both survivors of Retinoblastoma. Retinoblastoma is cancer of the retina that is found in children and can be present at birth. Both Gina and Jack live full lives even with their limited eye sight.


Maureen Roushar

Born and raised in Des Moines, Maureen teed up her professional career as an Assistant Golf Pro at Glen Oaks Country Club. She received a B.S. degree from Iowa State University and MBA from Ashford University and has been in marketing and communications for over 20 years. Her resume includes Kemin Industries, Wild Rose Casino & Resort, Kum & Go and Enterprise Rent A Car. She is currently a marketing rockstar for Allegra Marketing in Urbandale. Maureen has served on multiple Boards including Women’s Health Services, Convention and Visitors Bureau, and The Sawmill Museum. She serves as a a Stephens Minister at St. Francis Parish in West Des Moines. When she isn't cheering for The Cyclones or New Orleans Saints, Maureen enjoys sharing her West Des Moines home with her dogs Mojo and Marley.


Ray Walton

Ray is a graduate of Simpson College and a U.S. Army veteran of the Vietnam War. His work experience includes leadership roles in state and national government. He and his wife of 46 years, Joanne, live in Indianola. They have six children; five adopted. The youngest, a son, is blind after being born with congenital glaucoma. “I’ve tried hard to find economic opportunities for the blind,” Ray says. Following a career in real estate and management enterprises, Ray became a member Senator Tom Harkin’s staff. In 2008, Ray was named Director of the Department of Administrative Services (DAS) General Services Enterprise in Iowa. Outside of work, Ray enjoys golf and travel. “Joanne and I have fiddled around with politics since 1972, but we’re trying to quit,” Ray joked.


Bonnie Whitson

Bonnie worked for more than 30 years as the visual impairment services coordinator for the Central Iowa Department of Veterans Affairs. Through that work with veterans, she connected with IRIS. “In my career, I had the opportunity of hearing many veterans tell their stories of how much they enjoy IRIS.” Bonnie and her husband, Mike, have been married almost 40 years. They have three children and three granddaughters. Bonnie enjoys spending time with family and friends, including her dog Floyd, a 12-year-old Vizsla. Her latest volunteer efforts for IRIS have been with the audio description team. She even provided the service for a group of IRIS listeners who rode a party bus through the Jolly Holiday Lights display in Des Moines. “That was really fun,” Bonnie said.

Contact IRIS

Office: 515.243.6833

Toll Free: 877.404.4747

Fax: 515.883.1906

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