Nicole earned her Bachelor’s Degrees in Psychology from Loras College and Elementary Education from Mount Mercy University, as well as a Master’s Degree in Marriage and Family Therapy from Mount Mercy University. Throughout her career, Nicole has dedicated her time and attention to supporting and advocating for children. Nicole taught in the Cedar Rapids community for seven years, and later provided school-based therapy services for three years prior to joining the Kids First team. In her role as a Youth Peace Project Facilitator with Kids First, Nicole works to help resolve conflicts between students at the elementary school level.
In her free time, Nicole enjoys spending time with her husband and three active children swimming, skiing, boating, biking, and traveling.
Tori graduated from Buena Vista University in 2016, where she earned her bachelor’s degree in Criminology and Criminal Justice with a Minor in Psychology. Tori is a Peace Facilitator, working with middle school students, using restorative practices to help resolve peer conflicts. She has worked in various social services settings and has a true passion for helping others.
In her free time, Tori enjoys trying to keep up with her toddler, reading, being active, and international travel.
Elizabeth received her bachelor’s degree in Political Science with Honors and Highest Distinction from the University of Iowa in 2011. She earned her Juris Doctor from the University of Iowa College of Law in 2014. She is a member of the Linn County Bar Association and the Iowa State Bar Association Family Law Section. During law school, Elizabeth clerked for the Cook County Public Guardian in the Juvenile Division in Chicago, Illinois. She represented abused and neglected children under a student practice license.
In her free time, Elizabeth loves training for triathlons, painting, and spending time with her five nieces and nephews.
Laura has been working at Kids First since 2007 when she was hired as the first staff attorney. Laura has advocated for hundreds of children in high-conflict family law disputes. In addition to her work representing children, Laura designed and created the Kids First Workshops for Children of Divorce. To date, the workshops have helped over 2,500 children in Linn County understand and cope with their parents’ divorce.
Laura is a member of the Iowa State Bar Association, the Linn County Bar Association and the Linn County Bar Family Law Committee. She has served on the Linn County Bar Association Board of Governors and as Past President of the Linn Law Club. She was the 2010 recipient of the Greater Cedar Rapids Community Foundation’s Minnie Rubek Award and 2012 recipient of the Iowa College of Law Recent Alumni Award.
When not at Kids First, Laura enjoys time with her family, cooking and reading.
Judy has served as a Kids First Peace Facilitator at McKinley and Wilson Middle schools since August of 2018. As a peace facilitator, Judy mediates disputes between students or between students and staff. Through her work, Judy has helped to resolve conflicts, improve students’ social-emotional skills, and improve school climate.
Immediately prior to joining Kids First, Judy spent three years investigating civil rights violations for the Cedar Rapids Civil Rights Commission. Following graduation from the University of Iowa College of Law 1992, Judy represented children and adults for twenty years as a family and juvenile law attorney. During this time, she also served on the Kids First Board of Directors from 2006-2009 and was elected to and served on the Cedar Rapids Community School Board from 2006-2009. Judy and her husband, Gordon Parker, have two grown children, Adam and Kylie.
In her free time, Judy enjoys running, biking, reading, baking, and adventures with friends and family.
Allison practiced family law in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, for more than 30 years prior to joining Kids First Law Center. Allison is a trained mediator and collaborative lawyer. She is a current member and past president of the Linn County Bar Association. She is also a member and past governor of the Iowa State Bar Association.
When she is not working, Allison looks for ways to spend time outside including gardening, cycling, snowshoeing and walking.
Jennifer graduated from Iowa State University with a bachelor’s degree in English and earned her Juris Doctor from the University of Iowa College of Law in 1997. She worked as an attorney with Iowa Legal Aid in Des Moines and Iowa City for several years on a project serving the homeless and mentally ill. For the next 10 years Jennifer worked from home as a full-time parent until she joined Kids First as a mediator. Currently she serves as the workshop coordinator for the Kids First Divorce Workshops.
When not at work, Jennifer enjoys time with her family, cooking and baking, and cheering for her boys at sporting events.
Laura joined the Kids First team in 2015 as a mediator. She is a Licensed Independent Social Worker (LISW). Laura earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Social Work from Mount Mercy University and a Master’s Degree in Social Work from St. Ambrose University. Prior to Kids First, Laura worked as a mental health therapist in the addiction field.
Laura uses transformative and problem solving approaches to mediation which encourages parents to change their interactions. She empowers parents to define their issues/topics and assists them in identifying possible resolutions. She is trained in and incorporates many different techniques in her mediations including crisis intervention, motivational interviewing, and cognitive behavioral therapy . These techniques help parents develop a long-term, family-specific plan that improves their coparenting relationship.
In addition to her role as a mediator, Laura serves on the Community Accountability Board and the Client Services Advisory Committee for the Department of Correctional Services.
In her free time, Laura enjoys spending time with her family, relaxing with a good book or movie, and cheering on the Iowa Hawkeyes and Denver Broncos.
Prior to joining Kids First, Cheri worked in different fields gaining extensive knowledge how companies do things differently and yet the same. A graduate of Waldorf University with a Bachelor’s degree in Organizational leadership; Cheri has experience in HR, project and change management, truck driving and canoeing. She has a strong sense of devotion for the nonprofit sector; working with good people and good teams.
Cheri is an enthusiastically positive person and wants you to be just as excited as she is about the work Kids First does in our community. When she is not working, Cheri enjoys time outdoors with family and friends, playing board games, going adventuring and creating. She lives in the area with her husband and two dogs.
Jenny is the executive director and founder of Kids First Law Center. Jenny has been practicing in the area of family law since she received her law degree from the University of Iowa College of Law in 1998. Jenny previously worked as an attorney at Bread for the City in Washington, DC and at Iowa Legal Aid in Cedar Rapids. In 2005, she opened Kids First to help make children’s voices heard.
Jenny is an active member of the Linn County Bar Association (LCBA) and the ISBA Family and Juvenile Law Section. She has served as a member of the Iowa Supreme Court’s Family Law Case Processing Reform Task Force Steering Committee and the Sixth Judicial District nominating commission.
In her free time, Jenny loves hiking and camping in the mountains, playing the piano, and swimming.
Negebe joined the Kids First team in September 2020. She serves as a Youth Peace Project Facilitator at elementary schools where she helps students resolve conflicts using restorative practices.
Negebe brings with her over 30 years of experience teaching children in the Cedar Rapids area. She earned her master’s degree from Graceland University and her bachelor’s degree from the University of Northern Iowa.
Outside of work, Negebe enjoys her 3 children, reading, and relaxing with friends.
Born and raised in Cedar Rapids, Sarah has a strong connection to the community. After graduating from the University of Iowa’s Adler School of Journalism & Mass Communication, she returned to her hometown to begin a career in community organizing. Sarah has cultivated strong relationships, advanced mission-driven initiatives, and is dedicated to helping create opportunity in the corridor.
In her free time, Sarah enjoys sharing a meal with friends and chasing around her charming English Bulldog Charlie. Sarah also serves on the Associate Board at Tanager Place.
Laura Martin, LISW is Kids First's in-house mediator who helps guide parents through child-related conversations via our Joint Parenting Program. Read Laura's recent profile by Mount Mercy University.…