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.
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 is a Licensed Independent Social Worker (LISW) with experience working with people in crisis and conflict situations. She previously worked in the mental health and addiction field.
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. In addition to offering joint parenting sessions at Kids First, she serves on several community boards, including holding the positions of Vice Chair of the Family Violence Prevention Coalition and the Secretary/Treasurer of the RC RAIL Coalition.
In her free time, Laura loves to cook, spend time with her family, and cheer on the Iowa Hawkeyes and Denver Broncos.
Kandy graduated from Iowa State University with a degree in English Education, and after two years of teaching she decided she would enjoy helping kids outside of a classroom setting even better. Kandy has been with Kids First since 2007, helping behind the scenes and making everything run smoothly. She is a 2014 recipient of the Minnie Rubek Award from the Greater Cedar Rapids Community Foundation.
Outside of work Kandy enjoys doing hands-on projects, cooking, reading, co-leading a 4-H club, and being active outdoors with family and friends.
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 with High Distinction 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 currently serves as a member of Iowa’s Family Law Case Processing Reform Task Force Steering Committee, the Sixth Judicial District nominating commission, and the Nonprofit Network Advisory Committee of the Greater Cedar Rapids Community Foundation.
In her free time, Jenny loves hiking and camping in the mountains, playing the piano, and swimming.
Libby joined the staff as Kids First Law Center’s first Development Director. A professional fundraiser for more than three decades, Libby brings experience in annual fund, capital and endowment fundraising, in addition to being a seasoned grant writer. She is a graduate of Coe College in Cedar Rapids.
Libby serves on the boards of the Anna Purna Ghosh Foundation and the Friends of the Cedar Rapids Public Library. She is active with the League of Women Voters and Christ Episcopal Church. She and her husband, Charles, have one adult son and “the most beautiful granddaughter in the world.”
In her free time Libby enjoys cooking, reading, and dishing about Iowa politics.
Kendra received her bachelor’s degree in Political Science and Spanish with Honors from Central College in 2012. She earned her law degree from the University of Nebraska College of Law in 2016.
Kendra is a member of the Iowa State Bar Association, the Linn County Bar Association, and the Linn County Bar Family Law Committee. Prior to law school, Kendra served a year in AmeriCorps and helped provide underrepresented students with access to higher education. During law school, Kendra participated in the Immigration Clinic where she represented families in both immigration and county court.
In her free time, Kendra loves spending time with her family, running with her dog, and visiting antique stores.
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.
Judy joined the Kids First team in August 2018 and serves as a Youth Peace Project facilitator, working to help resolve conflicts at McKinley Middle School.
After graduating from Kansas State University in 1987, Judy worked as a newspaper reporter at the Hawk Eye in Burlington, Iowa. She then attended the University of Iowa College of Law where she graduated with distinction in 1992. While raising a family with her husband, Gordon Parker, 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. Immediately prior to joining Kids First, Judy worked for three years as a civil rights investigator for the Cedar Rapids Civil Rights Commission.
In her free time, Judy enjoys running, biking, reading, baking, and giggling with friends and family.
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 twin boys swimming, skiing, boating, biking, and traveling.
Layne received her Bachelor's Degree in Sociology from Coe College in 2007 and a Master's Degree in Management and Leadership from Webster University's Walker School of Business in 2014. She began with Kids First in 2009 as a workshop volunteer and remained a friend of Kids First serving on the Des Moines Visionary Committee.
Prior to working at Kids First, Layne's career was dedicated to the Higher Education field in both student affairs and enrollment management.
Outside of work, Layne enjoys exploring all that Des Moines has to offer for toddlers, dogs, and young professionals!
Diane is a Minnesota native. She attended Gustavus Adolphus College and received her Juris Doctor from The University of Michigan Law School in 1976. Diane represented low income persons in Ann Arbor, Muscatine and Des Moines for over 25 years, most of that time supervising the family law unit at the Legal Aid Society of Polk County. She was most recently an associate at Carney & Appleby, representing parents and children in divorce, custody, domestic violence and all other types of family law cases. She is a mediator and parenting coordinator.
Diane is the legislative chair for the Family & Juvenile Law Section of the Iowa State Bar Association and a member of the Polk County Bar Association Family Law Committee, Central Iowa Academy of Collaborative Professionals, and Association of Family and Conciliation Courts.
She is a speaker at many continuing legal education programs and authored the Drake Discourse Law Review article, Parenting Coordination: A Positive Alternative for High-Conflict Families, November, 2017.
She is a stepparent, adoptive parent, grandparent, foster parent, and guardian. Her family has been featured in The Iowa Lawyer in April 2016 and December 2008.
Kjersten grew up in Centerville, graduated from Central College in Pella, and has recently returned to the state after a bi-coastal 25-year hiatus from Iowa. Kjersten received her Ph.D. from Emory University and her law degree from Duke University. She has worked in health care law for a law firm, a non-profit insurance company, and a biotech company.
Kjersten enjoys exploring her new city of Des Moines with her family, attending all possible fine arts and sporting events, and meeting new people.
Rachel received her bachelor’s degree in Sociology and Ethics and Public Policy with a minor in Spanish from the University of Iowa in 2016. She earned her Juris Doctor from the University of Iowa College of Law in 2019. During law school, Rachel represented abused and neglected children under a student practice license at the Office of the Cook County Public Guardian in Chicago and served as an extern in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Iowa. Rachel began with Kids First in 2017 as an intern and then became a divorce workshop leader.
In her free time, Rachel enjoys traveling, walking her dog, spending time with friends and family, and kickboxing.