Diana Lang, Executive Director
Dr. Diana Lang (formerly Baltimore) earned her B.S., M.S., and Ph.D. from Iowa State University. Adopted at birth, Diana is in reunion with her birth family members. Her birth father and many members of her birth and adoptive families are also adopted. She is a proud mom of two children—Blake and Danielle. Blake is biologically related to Diana and Danielle’s adoption was finalized six months after her birth. Dr. Lang’s passion for adoption stems from her experiences as an adoptee, an adoptive parent, former licensed foster parent, and an adoption researcher. In fact, most participants in her research studies expressed a need to educate others about adoption as a positive parenting option, which led to the creation of Iowans for Adoption (IFA). She received the Governor’s Volunteer Award in 2021 for her 12+ years of volunteerism with IFA and other community organizations. Diana and the board are extremely grateful for IFA’s many successes, which includes helping families finalize adoptions, hosting community events to promote the positive well-being of families and children and providing educational materials and presentations throughout Iowa.
Bill Pearce, Vice President
Bill Pearce is a lifelong public servant who passionately advocates for Iowa’s children and families. Adopted by his stepfather at the age of 17, Pearce began to support adoption at a young age. He held numerous professional seminars on child development, juvenile justice, family dynamics and adoption issues. Pearce earned his B.A. and M.A. in sociology at Drake University. He has been married for more than 60 years and has two children, three grandchildren and two great-grandsons. Pearce worked in Juvenile Court for 25 years and served as the Iowa Court System unofficial lobbyist. He freelanced as a writer, investigated contested custody cases, managed a psychiatric clinic and co-operates a secular, adoption agency. He is the co-author of Scruffy Shares a Secret, an illustrated storybook about young children of alcoholics and the co-author of Tough-Minded Parenting. Pearce has an understanding of individuals with problems, families as systems, formal organizations, budgets, policy and law. He is the primary author and editor of The Infant Adoption Process in Iowa and author of most IFA PowerPoint and CEU presentation materials.
Jerry Foxhoven, Board President
Jerry Foxhoven is the legal director of 1000 Kids for Iowa, a nonprofit providing immigration services to youth (minors). He also has a private law practice. He served as the interim CEO at a Youth Emergency Shelter in Des Moines. He is the former director of the Iowa Department of Human Services, the former executive director of the Neal and Bea Smith Legal Clinic and the former director of the Joan and Lyle Middleton Center for Children’s Rights. Jerry is well-renowned for his child protection and advocacy efforts. He was also an administrator for the Iowa Child Advocacy Board, director of the Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) and Iowa Citizen Foster Care Review Board programs.
Natalie Mahoney, Marketing & Technology Coordinator
As the marketing and technology coordinator for Iowans for Adoption, Natalie is responsible for writing about adoption, orchestrating social media, handling communications and public relations, updating the IFA website and managing adoption-related events for the organization. She is a graduate of Iowa State University and earned her B.S. in public relations and B.A. in Spanish. She is currently a public affairs manager at PolicyWorks, where she plays an active role in helping clients achieve their public policy objectives. Although Natalie has not been adopted, she enjoys working with birth families, adopted individuals and families and sharing their stories throughout Iowa.
Dr. Cathy Hockaday, Project Coordinator
Dr. Cathy Hockaday is the program leader for the globally recognized Strengthening Families Program: For Parents and Youth 10-14, housed at Iowa State University. She earned her Ph.D. in Human Development and Family Studies at Iowa State University in 1998. Cathy has dedicated her career to working with youth and families who have experienced challenges throughout the life cycle. Her areas of focus have included adolescent pregnancy, risk taking behaviors, and substance abuse prevention during the adolescent years. Cathy was a Fulbright Specialist in 2018, where she worked with the Malaysian National Anti-Drug Agency evaluating their substance abuse prevention programs. Her passion to help families around the world is only topped by her passion for her own three adult sons, daughter-in-law, and grandson. Cathy loves traveling around the world, spending time with friends and family, and impacting everyone she comes in contact with.
Zachary Rus is the Engagement Director at Ellipsis, Inc. Rus’ career trajectory is comprised of successful relationship-building and fundraising initiatives. Rus is passionate about creating changes that positively impact the health and well-being of children and families. He earned his B.A. in corporate communications from Simpson College and has subsequently earned numerous accolades and recognitions for his fundraising, community engagement and philanthropic leadership successes. Prior to working in the human services field, Rus served as the Assistant Vice President of University Development and Alumni Engagement at Buena Vista University, the Director of Alumni Engagement and Giving Programs Associate Director at Illinois Tech, and the Associate Director of Regional Programs at the University of Chicago. Rus’ decades-long experience in community partnerships will add meaningful changes to Iowa’s foster care and adoption processes and procedures via his work with IFA.
Erin Kiernan, Honorary Board Member
Erin is a co-anchor of WHO-TV Channel 13 news team and an advocate for adoption and adoptive parents’ rights. Kiernan became pregnant at age 16 and chose adoption for her son, who is now in his twenties and remains an important part of her life. She and her husband, Michael, made public their eight-year struggle to start a family of their own, a process that involved multiple rounds of artificial insemination and in vitro fertilization. The experience prompted her to help spearhead a bill in the Iowa legislature that would guarantee an adoptive parent the same maternity leave as a birth mother. Today, Erin and Michael are the proud parents of their two children.
Rusty Johnson, PR Coordinator
Raised in Oskaloosa, Iowa, Rusty Johnson defied the odds of the foster care system. Beginning in the fourth grade, Johnson moved into several temporary foster homes. By the sixth grade, elementary music teacher, Ms. Carolyn Brickley, agreed to take Johnson as a foster child. During supervised visits, he connected with his biological mother and during one of these visits, she gave him a saxophone. After his mother’s death in 1994, Johnson used his saxophone to ease his struggles. After graduating from Central College, he pursued graduate studies and became a professional saxophonist touring the country and world while residing in Texas and L.A. For 20 years, Johnson has worked professionally in child welfare and has received national recognition and awards. In 2017, Johnson moved back to Iowa with his husband, Paul Denbow, and on his 37th birthday, Ms. Carolyn Brickley adopted him. Johnson currently works as the agency training manager for the child
welfare non-profit, Ellipsis.
Paul Denbow, Volunteer & Outreach
Paul Denbow moved to Des Moines from Long Beach, California with his husband, Rusty Johnson. Paul is a longtime Starbucks partner and manager. Paul's goals as a board member are to dispel the myths and stigmas surrounding adoption, especially those concerning adoption from foster care. Paul has experience reaching the LGBTIQ+ community through education and community involvement. He enjoys camping, cooking and music (singing and percussion).
Danielle Baltimore, Secretary
As the board secretary of Iowans for Adoption, Danielle attends all meetings, records and distributes all meeting minutes, and serves as an editor and a proofreader for written content. Danielle joined her family 23 hours after her birth and her adoption was finalized six months later. Danielle graduated from the University of Iowa Tippie College of Business with honors in economics and minors in philosophy and public policy. Danielle currently works at the Iowa Division of Banking as a bank examiner. Danielle’s interest in adoption stems from her own lived experience and the desire for all children to be part of a loving home.