About Us

The Executive Board of IAAE is made up of volunteers from across the state. Those volunteers include specialists in arts education, community organization, and non-profit development.

Executive Board Officers

Executive Director

Leon Kuehner has been a music educator for 42 years. He received both his Bachelor and Master degrees in Music Education from the University of Northern Iowa. He was employed by Britt Community Schools from 1975-1978, Hampton/Hampton-Dumont Community Schools from 1978-2009, and North Iowa Area Community College from 2010-2016. 

He has been president of the Iowa Bandmasters Association, state chair of the American School Band Directors Association, and state chair of the Iowa Alliance for Arts Education. He has served on the boards of the Iowa Music Educators Association and is a past-president of the Executive Board of the Iowa High School Music Association. He has served on the Iowa Core Curriculum Fine Arts and Professional Development Committee. He has been Co-Administrator of the IAAE Model of Excellence Mentorship Program since 2006.  In July of 2013, he assumed the position of Executive Director of the Iowa Alliance for Arts Education.


David Law is a retired band director and music teacher, Marion, Iowa. He is a National Board Certified Teacher and a member of the Music Educator’s National Conference, Iowa Music Educator’s Conference serving as President, Iowa Bandmasters Association – Past President, Northeast Iowa Bandmasters Past President, Association for School Curriculum Development, National Education Association, Iowa State Education Association, and Marion Education Association – Treasurer, and the Iowa Alliance for Arts Education – Chair.

David has taught instrumental music grades 5-12 in all sizes of schools in Iowa. He received his BA in Music Education from William Penn College and his MA in Conducting from Truman State University. In 2003 David received his National Board Certification in Music.

Chair Elect

Sarah Schaefer currently teaches and directs at Waukee Middle School where she has taught 6-8 Speech/Theatre courses for the last 23 years. She started her teaching career teaching 7th-12 grade Language Arts, Speech and English at Ventura Community Schools in northern Iowa. A graduate of Loras College, with a masters in Theatre from the University of Northern Iowa, Sarah has been involved in theatre since she was putting on plays in the back yard with her sister in Bellevue, Iowa. In addition to serving on the IAAE Board, she is a member of the Iowa Fine Arts Leadership Team and a curriculum facilitator for Speech/Theatre at Waukee Schools. 


Shanise Brockshus is from Northwest Iowa.  She is the 7th-12th grade visual arts educator at Pocahontas Area Community School District in Pocahontas. Prior to PAC, she taught 5-12 visual arts at Sibley-Ocheyedan Community School where she also served as the TLC Fine Arts Leader and National Art Honor Society supervisor.  Shanise began her teaching career at Harris-Lake Park Community Schools where she taught 1st-12th grade visual art. 

Shanise is an active member of her professional organizations, the National Art Education Association and the Art Educators of Iowa.  She has served these organizations as Iowa delegate at Western Region and NAEA Leadership Conference.   She has presented numerous workshops and presentations and has served on various committees for AEI programs throughout her career.   Her leadership roles include Past President, President, President Elect, and Northwest Iowa Representative for AEI.  During her Presidency, she was instrumental in the restructure of the AEI board and the implementation of the AEI Board Leadership Retreat.  Most notable was being a contributing member of the Iowa Core Curriculum Fine Arts and Professional Development Committee, providing guidance, exemplars, and leading presentations to fine arts educators across the state.


Martha Kroese is a retired elementary music specialist and lead music teacher at Lou Henry Elementary School in Waterloo Iowa.  She instructed 560 students in grades K-5.  Martha is in her 36th year as a music educator in Iowa.  She is a graduate of William Penn College, and has a Master’s degree in Music Education from the University of Northern Iowa.

She is the Immediate Past President of the Iowa Music Educators Association, and is also a member of Iowa Choral Directors Association, NATS, and ISEA.  She serves as the current president of the Friends of the Gallagher-Bluedorn Performing Arts Center in Cedar Falls, and is Director of Music at First United Methodist Church, also in Cedar Falls.

An advocate of quality, sequential music education for all, Martha was on the writing team for Iowa Core Curriculum, co-writing a sample unit, as well as contributing to the Essential Concepts and Skills document for elementary music.

At-Large Members

Dan Black (IAAE Communications Chair) currently serves as an orchestra and guitar teacher in the Council Bluffs Community School District and as a member of the Iowa Department of Education Fine Arts Leadership Team.  Before coming to Council Bluffs, he served on the Iowa Fine Arts Standards Adoption Team, taught middle and high school bands in Red Oak, Iowa; Nebraska City, Nebraska; and Springville, Iowa.  While teaching, Dan Black also served as Secondary Technology Coordinator in Springville, then as a PreK-5 Instructional Technology Coach and as a Secondary Lead Teacher in Red Oak. 

As an innovator in curriculum and instruction, he began guitar and world drumming ensembles, incorporated new music technologies, and expanded and enhanced traditional ensemble experiences through personalized learning in music composition, leadership, literacy, and performance.  Dan Black holds degrees in music education (B.M.) and school leadership (M.A.E.) from the University of Northern Iowa.

Jennifer Gaesser is currently the Director of Vocal Music at Pella Community High School. She is graduate of Wayne State College (Wayne, NE), where she received her degree in K-12 Music Education. At Wayne, Gaesser was a member of the WSC Madrigal Singers , Concert Choir, and Wind Ensemble. In 2004 she won the Cherokee Symphony Young Artist Competition and was the recipient of the Outstanding Applied Major Award. After graduating from college, she accepted her first job at Winterset Middle/Junior High where she taught 6th grade general music, 6th-8th grade choirs, and a few band lessons. In 2012 Jennifer accepted the position of High School Choir Director for Atlantic High School. During her time at Atlantic she directed three concert choirs, two show choirs, madrigals, and the annual musical. In 2019 came to Pella Community High School where she now teaches two HS choirs, Bravo Show Choir, and the Fall Musical.

Outside of school Jennifer is an active member of the Iowa Choral Directors and an executive board member on the Iowa Alliance for Arts Education. In her free time she enjoys reading books, golfing, kayaking, and singing.

Jayson Gerth is currently band director and a teacher leader at Southeast Polk High School in Pleasant Hill, IA where he leads the award winning jazz program, conducts the SEP Concert Band, and shares the directorship of the Marching Rams. He holds a Bachelor of Music Education degree from Drake University and a Master of Music degree from the University of Wyoming.

Mr. Gerth is former principal tubist of the Wyoming Symphony Orchestra. Since 2005, over twenty students from his low brass studio have been accepted into the Iowa All State Bands and Orchestras. He received the 2000 Casper (WY) Star-Tribune “Star Teacher” Award, and was recognized by the Natrona County (WY) School District as an “Outstanding Educator” in 2002 and 2004. Further, Mr. Gerth was head marching instructor for the Wyoming All-State Marching Band during their appearance in the 2004 Rose Parade.

Mr. Gerth serves on the Executive Boards of the Iowa Alliance for Arts Education and the Iowa Bandmasters Association. He was the 2019-20 President of the Iowa Bandmasters Association, and is a Past President of the Northeast Wyoming Music Educators Association and the South Central Iowa Bandmasters Association. He is an elected member of the American School Band Directors Association and a member of Phi Mu Alpha Professional Music Fraternity. He lives in Ankeny, Iowa with his wife Krista, daughter Abby, and sons Tyler and Nathan.

Kris VerSteegt is a music specialist dedicated to developing the musical, creative, and aesthetic potential of children; enhancing the ability of practicing teachers to provide joyful, meaningful, and creative experiences in music education; and educating pre-service, generalist teachers regarding how an education with music can both support and elevate work in the general education classroom.

Mrs. VerSteegt joined the music education faculty at Iowa State University in 2016 and has been teaching Music in Elementary Education since that time. Kris has also been teaching K-5 vocal/general music since 2000, and she continues to do so on a part-time basis to accommodate her teaching schedule at ISU. Kris also serves on the Drake University Summer Music Institute faculty.

Mrs. VerSteegt received her Bachelor of Music degree from Iowa State University and her Master of Science in Education from Drake University. Kris is currently enrolled as a Ph.D. student with the Drake University School of Education as well; she will finish coursework in May 2021. Her research interests include creating creative musicians, decolonizing music pedagogy, and effective pedagogical repertoire. Mrs. VerSteegt holds mastery certificates in the Kodály approach and Orff Schulwerk; she has completed Feierabend training and Comprehensive Musicianship training as well.

Mrs. VerSteegt was the founding president of the Kodály Educators of Iowa (KEI), an affiliate chapter of the Organization of American Kodály Educators (OAKE) and has served as president of the Iowa Music Educators Association (IMEA), a federated state organization of the National Association for Music Education (NAfME). In addition, Kris represented general music on the Iowa Fine Arts Standards adoption team.

Mrs. VerSteegt is active as a clinician and has presented numerous professional development workshops on various topics. Kris was honored to deliver the keynote address at the 2016 MKMEA conference where she also led the community folk dancing event. Kris is also a frequent contributor to Iowa Music Educator and a frequent clinician for the Iowa Music Educators Association’s annual professional development conference.

Kris VerSteegt lives in Ames with her husband Travis and her sons Jake and Lincoln.

Advisory Board Members

Maddison Maddock, Art Educators of Iowa
Helen Duranleau-Brennan, Iowa Thespians Association
Christopher Ellerston, Iowa Choral Directors Association
Trish Bergren, Iowa Association of School Boards
Cindy Herndon, Iowa Dance
Suzanne Jones, Iowa Communications Association
Chris Strohmaier, Iowa Bandmasters Association
Jon Welch, Iowa String Teachers Association
Kevin Droe, Iowa Music Educators Association
Lorenzo Sandoval, Iowa Shakespeare Experience
Dave Krogan, Iowa Association of School Music Dealers
Alan Greiner, Iowa High School Music Association
Angela Matsuoka, Fine Arts Consultant, DOE