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Meet the Board of Directors

Chairman (Officer) – John Schroeder

John is Director of IT Governance, Risk, & Compliance at Integrated DNA Technologies in Coralville. John and his team are responsible for cybersecurity operations, global end user support services, service management, IT regulatory compliance and audit support, and disaster recovery planning.  John has a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration degree from the University of Central Florida and an MBA from Mt. Mercy University, and he is a Certified Information Systems Security Professional. John has over 25 years of experience in IT operations and security. Married with three children he lives in the Mount Vernon area.

Vice Chairman (Officer) – Jesse Truax

In 2008, Jesse received his Bachelor of Science degree from Iowa State University in Kinesiology and Health with an emphasis in Community and Public Health.  During his course of study, Jesse completed an internship with Safeguard Iowa Partnership and worked directly with Iowa Homeland Security and Emergency Management where he was later employed. 

After a stint as an orthopedic sales representative and a health coach, Jesse returned to Safeguard Iowa Partnership as a full-time employee, holding positions of Program Coordinator and Program Manager. While at Safeguard Iowa, he developed a passion for coordination and collaboration with business professionals both in the public and private sectors to turn concepts into actionable outcomes for disaster preparedness, business continuity, exercising, crisis management, incident response and overall recovery.

Currently, Jesse is the senior business continuity specialist for Wellmark Blue Cross and Blue Shield based in Des Moines, Iowa.  Jesse is a member of the Iowa Contingency Planners and has earned his Certified Business Continuity Professional certification through DRI International.

Treasurer (Officer) – Denny Hodge

Denny is an Internal BCM Consultant with Aegon Global Technology, the IT Infrastructure business unit of the Aegon Group of Companies.  With nearly 40 years of project management experience, half of that in Business Continuity, he has had the opportunity to implement a variety of technologies and applications in multiple industries, ranging from Telecommunications, to Public Transit, to Financial Services.

Secretary (Officer) – Christina Wermager

BIO under construction.

Public Information Officer (Director) – Russ Saffell

Mr. Saffell currently serves as the Director of Member Security and Critical Infrastructure Protection at the Iowa Association of Municipal Utilities (IAMU), covering 754 municipally owned utilities (electric, gas, water/wastewater, broadband/telecommunications). He has nearly 20 years of experience in the physical and cyber-security operations and governance, counterterrorism, continuity of operations, continuity of government,  business resilience, disaster recovery and emergency management fields; whereby he has served in multiple leadership and executive positions in the both the private and public sector, at all levels of government (Local, State and Federal). Mr. Saffell also served in the United States Navy as a Senior Fleet Marine Force (FMF) Corpsman from 1999 to 2004 serving in both Reconnaissance (STA Plt. [Scout Sniper Platoon]), and Security Elements, as part of a Maritime Special Purpose Force (MSPF), attached to a Marine Expeditionary Unit – Special Operations Capable (MEU-SOC). Mr. Saffell is an OEF, OIF I & II Veteran and has received more than 15 awards including the Combat Action Ribbon, Navy Expeditionary Medal, and Presidential Unit Citation.

Academically, Mr. Saffell holds a Master of Professional Studies (MPS) in Security and Safety Leadership (Counterterrorism) from The George Washington University, Washington, D.C, a Bachelor of Science (BS) [Summa Cum Laude] in Emergency and Disaster Management from Upper Iowa University; he also holds numerous certifications and training certificates in the fields of homeland security, emergency management, and cybersecurity.

Mr. Saffell currently sits on several teams, boards and committees related to homeland security, cybersecurity, critical infrastructure protection and emergency management. He is also a contributing member of several professional organizations related to the same.

Membership (Director) – Dennis Connolly

Dennis Connolly is the Business Continuity Coordinator for Wellmark, Inc. supporting Blue Cross Blue Shield of Iowa and Blue Cross Blue Shield of South Dakota. Dennis has been with Wellmark since 1995 holding positions as Computer Operations Team Leader, ITS Special Projects Team Leader and Business Continuity Coordinator.  He has also filled the role of the Enterprise Data Security Architect. Dennis currently holds an Associate Business Continuity Planner (ABCP) from DRII.

Training (Director) – Sarah Smith

Sarah joined Bankers Trust in 2011 and has worked in the Financial Intelligence Department since 2016.  Becoming involved with the Iowa InfraGard Chapter, Iowa Contingency Planners, and Safeguard Iowa Partnership has proven to Sarah the importance of having a sound Business Continuity Plan and robust Emergency Evacuation Program. While we cannot eliminate all risks, we can learn and prepare to mitigate risks.  Sarah’s tasks in the Financial Intelligence Department are split between fraud and business continuity planning.         

Sarah graduated from Iowa State University in 2010 with a Bachelor of Science degree in History and earned her Associate Business Continuity Professional designation in 2018.  Sarah is currently enrolled at Drake University working on a master’s degree.  In her spare time, Sarah enjoys spending time with her husband Nathan and their dog, Piper, going to her family’s cabin in Okoboji, and flying around Iowa in a Piper Cherokee 180.

Nomination Committee (Director) – Dennis Connolly

Dennis Connolly is the Business Continuity Coordinator for Wellmark, Inc. supporting Blue Cross Blue Shield of Iowa and Blue Cross Blue Shield of South Dakota. Dennis has been with Wellmark since 1995 holding positions as Computer Operations Team Leader, ITS Special Projects Team Leader and Business Continuity Coordinator.  He has also filled the role of the Enterprise Data Security Architect. Dennis currently holds an Associate Business Continuity Planner (ABCP) from DRII.

Website Chair (Director) – Mark Taylor

Mark has been involved in Information Technology for Wells Fargo for 20 years, 16 of which have been in BCP/DR. Mark received his CBCP certification from DRII in 2012. He has worked in and supported various areas of the company including Financial, Card Services, Mortgage, and Brokerage. In his current role he is responsible for planning and conducting exercises for applications supporting the Mortgage Servicing Line of Business. During Mark’s time in the Brokerage support role he was also responsible for Vendor Management, Records Management, and Asset Management, giving him a broad Risk Management perspective.

Sponsorship Liaison (Director) – John Lins

John is the Utility Incident Manager for the Des Moines Water Works as well as the co-chair for IOWARN (Iowa Water/Wastewater Agency Response Network. He is responsible for the areas of Incident Management, General Liability, Cross Connection Control, Distribution Water Quality and manages the 24/7 Communications Center.

John is a CBCP and has a B.S. and M.S. from Drake University in Business & Leadership.  He is an Iowa Grade IV Water Operator, USC C.C.C. Specialist and has completed numerous NIMS & ICS Emergency Management courses from the Department of Homeland Security.

Board Member - Kristin Koop

Miss Koop is a Certified Business Continuity Professional with 19 years of expertise in developing, implementing and maintaining business continuity and incident management programs. 

She began her business continuity career in 2000 at Wells Fargo where she worked in the Corporate Business Continuity department. In 2007 Kristen accepted a position to work as a Lead Business Continuity Analyst at Aviva where she led a team to build a Business Continuity program. In 2014 Miss Koop was tapped to build a new US based Business Continuity program for INTL FCStone; where she started with nothing currently standing to use as a framework - no plans, no documents, no business support and being monitored by regulatory bodies. Within 3 years she had implemented a fully functional and completely business integrated program that not only passed audits, but also had the business fully vested and involved in exercises.  With several offices in hurricane prone locations, relocations are a given every year; Kristen devised a program that allows for this to happen smoothly.  The program that she developed has gained global recognition, and she is now currently performing a full global program rollout to all of international office locations across multiple continents worldwide.

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