Board Of Directors

Nathan Griffith - President

 AIA LEED AP - Neumann Monson Architects 

Nathan is an architect at Neumann Monson Architects, where he leads a broad range of project types in the Eastern-Iowa region. He first developed a curiosity for architecture in grade school while helping his dad create stained glass windows in the heart of Czech Village. Nathan grew his curiosity into a passion for creativity during his time at Iowa State University where he marched in the Cyclone Marching Band, drummed in a 7-piece jam band and earned a Bachelor of Architecture. 

When not studying buildings or talking shop with his colleagues, Nathan is nurturing the young people in eastern Iowa. He has served as teacher, coach and mentor while partnering with the National Czech and Slovak Museum and Library, Metro High School STEAM Academy and Iowa BIG. Currently, Nathan serves on the Board of Trustees for the Iowa Architectural Foundation and has taken on expanding the organization’s reach to eastern Iowa. 

On any given Saturday you might find Nathan renovating his turn-of-the-century home, hiking with his family, playing with watercolors, or learning songs on his kids’ Casio keyboard. 

Nathan brings to the Eastern Iowa Arts Academy his strong work ethic, serene demeanor and pragmatic sensibility. 

Jeni Head - Vice President

Internal Auditor - Linn Area Credit Union 

I have lived in eastern Iowa my entire life.  I was born and raised in Dubuque, graduated from the University of Northern Iowa with a degree in accounting and a minor in art, and have lived in Cedar Rapids since 2002.  My career has been in auditing - first with McGladrey and Pullen and currently with Linn Area Credit Union as their internal Auditor.  In the past, I have been involved in Viola Gibson's PTA and have served as a merit badge counselor and the treasurer for Boy Scout Troop 766 for a number of years.  I have also served on the Parish Council at St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Church and look forward to serving on the Eastern Iowa Arts Academy Board.

I was first introduced to the Eastern Iowa Arts Academy when my youngest son began participating in the rock band program at Harding Middle School.  The more I learned this organization and have seen its growth over the past 5 years, the more I love it!

My spare time is spent attending EIAA Rock Band performances, watching my son in the Kennedy Drum Line and in the Combo Band for their Show Choirs, spending time with my family, traveling, photography and taking the stained glass arts classes offered at EIAA.

Alexandra Harder - Secretary


Growing up in Cedar Rapids, Alexandra has always had a great deal of respect for her community. After graduating from the University of Iowa with a B.A. in Psychology, Alexandra accepted an offer to work for a startup social media platform in Southern California. After a few years of stretching her entrepreneurial wings, the honor of family tradition pulled Alexandra back to Iowa to work with her father managing her family farming operation. The time spent with “Big John” to learn about the five generations of Iowa landowners in her ancestry, has been irreplaceable. Farm management will continue to be a part of Alexandra’s life moving forward.

Farming, however, is not where she stops. Alexandra has a tremendous respect for young people and works with several non-profits elevating, recognizing and applauding our future leaders. Alexandra has been the Cochair for National Council on Youth Leadership (NCYL) for the past 8 years. NCYL is a non-profit scholarship program for local seniors in high school focusing on leadership. Ten years ago, along with her mentor and mother, Carole Harder, Alexandra helped to establish Global Leadership Connection, a sister program to NCYL held in California. Additionally, Alexandra is involved with the Kids First Law Center, where she has taught supportive, educational courses to all ages of students and taken her turn at not only being a part of the auction fundraising committee but co-chairing the annual fundraiser. Most recently, she was asked join the board of the Cedar Rapids Museum of Art and Co-chair their 2018 Gala fundraiser, a fantastic night in support of the arts! Alexandra also loves to travel, cook, play tennis and has been known to spread a little bit of sunshine wherever she goes, especially in support of her community.

Vince Geis

Attorney - Shuttleworth & Ingersoll

Vince Geis is an attorney at Shuttleworth & Ingersoll, where his practice focuses on litigation, health law and medical malpractice.  He graduated from the University of Iowa College of Law with high distinction.  During law school, he served as the Trial Advocacy Board Director and as Administrative Editor for the Iowa Law Review.  Prior to law school, Vince taught high school English and Spanish through Teach for America in St. Louis.  He enjoyed teaching creative writing in his senior English classes and teaching at a Visual and Performing Arts magnet school.  Vince continues working with students at Cornell College as an Assistant Coach for the mock trial team.  He also serves on the Board of Directors for the Willis Dady Emergency Shelter.

Heather Hayes - EIAA Board Member

Heather Hayes

Pastor - First Presbyterian Church, Cedar Rapids

Pastor Heather Hayes grew up in the Cedar Rapids community and fondly remembers participating in many community opportunities for children and youth - from summer parks programs at the schools to arts programs offered through the symphony and art museum. A graduate in religious studies from Iowa State, she then received her Masters of Divinity from McCormick Theological School in Chicago. At seminary her special interest was in urban ministry and the church’s place in community revitalization.

Following seminary and a short stint in rural Iowa, Heather returned to Cedar Rapids and has served several Presbyterian churches in the area. Currently she is serving as the pastor at First Presbyterian Church in downtown Cedar Rapids, a position she has held since 2009. Heather has been a part of a number of organizations in the community, including the boards of Family Promise and Matthew 25 and believes in the mission of the Eastern Iowa Arts Academy as they seek to create safe, creative space for the children, youth, and even adults of Cedar Rapids.  She sees this as an essential resource for our community, a resource that she enjoyed in her own childhood, valued for her three daughters, and supports for upcoming generations.

Louis Ruggio

Rinderknecht Associates Inc

I am originally from the northwest suburbs of Chicago (Hoffman Estates/Schaumburg) but have been in the CR area full time since 2013, when I started with Rinderknecht.  I studied Construction Management at Purdue and ended up getting my BS in Industrial Management and Applied Engineering from SIU.  My construction focuses are healthcare, mission critical and (recently) warehousing, but I have completed projects in all sectors.  I am actively involved with Master Builders of Iowa, on education and technology committees, and serve on the board of ACE Mentors of Eastern Iowa.  My wife, Lauren, and I currently live in Marion with our two daughters (4-years old and 1-year old). 

Louis Ruggio - Board Member at EIAA

Shawnacy Kiker Perez

Professor - Kirkwood Community College

Shawnacy Kiker Perez is a California-born writer, artist, and teacher. She holds a BA in Spanish language and literature from California State University at Fullerton, and an MFA in Creative Writing with a specialization in fiction and poetry from the University of California, Riverside. She is a full-time professor in the Communications, English, and Media Department at Kirkwood Community College, teaching courses in composition and literature via various modalities. 

In addition to Kirkwood, Shawnacy has taught writing classes with the University of Iowa's International Writing Program, California Marymount University, Black Hawk College, Upward Bound, and 826LA. Her short fiction and poetry have been published in numerous online and print journals, and her chapbook of poetry Untitled States was recently published by Dancing Girl Press. 

Shawnacy further supports the literary and visual arts as the founding and managing editor of  CHARGE Magazine), an online journal of embodied conversation. She has contributed to numerous literary readings, workshops, and groups including The Table Reading Series, 90X90, Rockwell's Camera Phone, and The Hook. 

As a visual artist, Shawnacy enjoys working with multimedia and has taught art journaling classes through the Garden Grove Library, Make Space, and the Eastern Iowa Arts Academy. Her current passion is altered-book and altered-canvas art. 

Additionally, Shawnacy has served as manager to the Laguna Beach-based artist and musician, Marius Manea, and has assisted in the production of art shows such as the Chocolate and Art Show in Los Angeles, Awake and Dreaming at the Benko Art Gallery in Lake Tahoe, and is scheduled to participate in the Bombay Beach Literary and Art festival in Bombay Beach California, early next year. 

Shawnacy is a fierce ally and advocate for the LGBTQ community with particular emphasis on protecting trans youth, and is passionate about diversity, equity and inclusion on all levels. Serving the community is a priority for Shawnacy and she currently serves on the Education board at the Catherine McAuley Center, and works as a volunteer English tutor for Immigrant and refugee students.