Phone: 319.363.3707 ext 200
Chad Simmons is the Executive Director for Diversity Focus. Prior to his appointment, he held the position of Interim Executive Director, after stepping down from the Diversity Focus Board of Directors. His 22 year professional experience includes management posts with the Quaker Oats Company in Cedar Rapids, IA, Amoco Corporation in Chicago, IL and Whiting, IN, the Ameritech Corporation in Chicago, IL, Citicorp Diners Club in Chicago, IL and Denver, CO, Nabisco Brands in East Hanover, NJ, Kraft Foods in Northfield, IL, University of Iowa Health Care in Iowa City, and consulting firm, The PenDennis Group. Chad graduated from Morehouse College with a Bachelor of Art degree in Business and holds a Master of Business Administration degree from the University of Iowa. Chad has also received his SPHR and GPHR certifications from the Human Resource Certification Institute.
Phone: 319.363.3707 ext 205
Brenda Markwardt is the Office Manager/Executive Assistant for Diversity Focus. She works closely with the Executive Director regarding office communications, staff, events and meetings. Brenda is the go to person for all event venues and food. Prior to joining Diversity Focus, Brenda operated her own travel agency. She also has a background as a sales executive for the Clarion Hotel & Convention Center, as well as a Human Resources Recruiter Coordinator and a Human Resource Information Systems Coordinator. Brenda earned an Associate of Arts degree in business administration from Kirkwood Community College and has completed coursework in business management at Mount Mercy University.
Phone: 319.363.3707 ext 204
Anthony is Diversity Focus’s Community Engagement and Development Manager. He works closely with various Mission Partners of Diversity Focus to develop and implement sustainable infrastructure programs serving Communities throughout the Creative Corridor. He also has developed and maintained the Community Councils for Diversity Focus. Born in Kansas, he moved to Cedar Rapids in ’99 and has been a “Wanna Be Native” of Iowa ever since. Over the years, he has served on various Boards and Committees for Non-Profits across the Creative Corridor in some type of Leadership or Community Engagement Outreach role. He believes that successful communities and organizations are engaged, aware and proactive and are not afraid to ask questions.
Phone: 319.363.3707 ext. 201
Becky Lutgen Gardner is Sr. Director Communications & Media Affairs with Diversity Focus. In her role, Becky provides leadership while building and implementing a communication strategy for our organization. Prior to joining Diversity Focus, Becky was Director of News Operations for SourceMedia Group in Cedar Rapids where she ensured accurate and credible news was collected, managed, verified and reported on multiple platforms including broadcast, print, digital and social media. Becky served as News Director at KCRG-TV9 from 2001-2009 where she led the news organization through the devastating 2008 floods. Prior to coming to Iowa in 2001, Becky was News Director for WLNS-TV in Lansing, Michigan and Assistant News Director at WBAY-TV in Green Bay, Wisconsin. Becky earned a Master of Arts degree from the University of Missouri School of Journalism in Columbia, Missouri and a Bachelor of Arts degree in Communication and English from Carroll University in Waukesha, Wisconsin.