Who We Are

About the Northeast Iowa Regional Art and Cultural Council

The Northeast Iowa Regional Art and Cultural Council was launched in 2013, under the auspices of Northeast Iowa Resource Conservation & Development (RC&D).  Northeast Iowa RC&D and the Council are working with partners from across the state to assist in creating, supporting and sustaining an effort to unite the vast array of cultural assets in multi-county regions of Iowa.  A state-wide planning consortium of Iowa’s RC&D’s, the University of Iowa, and the Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs was developed to bring support and assistance to Iowa’s rural communities. This effort is bringing historical societies and sites, artists, cultural groups, and other diverse interests together to examine the potential for the region and develop and implement a plan to build the capacity of and enhance history, art, and culture regionally.  The Council’s vision is to encourage, support, and strengthen history, art, and culture in Northeast Iowa by providing a platform that enables community members, interested citizens, and even those living outside the Northeast Iowa area to support the sites, organizations, and resources of the region.


Please excuse our mess while this page is under development.  Check back soon for full biographies and contact information for each of the Council Members.  


Council Members


Lora Friest

Executive Director, Northeast Iowa RC&D

Iowa native Lora Friest is Executive Director for Northeast Iowa RC&D.  Together with her talented staff and dedicated board, she works to make the Northeast Iowa region a vibrant, place-based model for the nation.  Lora facilitates partnerships at the local, state, and regional level and executes dozens of successful grants and projects each year.  She connects people and communities to resources that help them achieve project success and ultimately help strengthen the area’s natural resources, economic diversity, and community vibrancy.  Before the RC&D, Lora built her experience in a variety of positions that helped her understand the dynamic interface of community and natural resources.  She is passionate about art, culture, history, native ecosystems, local foods, small businesses, and the ways in which people interact with each other to create healthy communities.

Phone:  563-864-7112

Email:  lora@northeastiowarcd.org

Website:  http://northeastiowarcd.org/


Brad Crawford

Project Coordinator, Northeast Iowa RC&D

Brad has been part of the Northeast Iowa Resource Conservation and Development team since 2009.  He is a 2008 Graduate of Luther College, where he studied Computer Science and the liberal arts.  Residing in Decorah, he enjoys working with others to build community and facilitate natural resource based projects in Northeast Iowa.

Phone:  563-864-7112

Email:  brad@northeastiowarcd.org

Website:  http://northeastiowarcd.org/


Marcia McKelvey

Director of Administration, Vesterheim Norwegian-American Museum

Marcia’s interest in serving on the Northeast Iowa Regional Arts & Cultural Council stems from a work career steeped in language, culture, and art.  For 17 years, Marcia worked in Luther College’s Modern Languages and Literatures department as a technician, departmental assistant, and coordinator of the language houses.  She also served as co-director of the Scandinavian Institute, a 3-week summer course for educators from Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, and Sweden.  In 2007, she started work at Vesterheim Norwegian-American Museum in Decorah, Iowa.  In her position at the museum, she works with the President/CEO, board, development, grant coordination and writing, and events.  McKelvey states being a part of this group is an exciting endeavor covering the seven-county area of Allamakee, Buchanan, Chickasaw, Clayton, Fayette, Howard, and Winneshiek which seeks to enrich and enhance the area’s existing art, cultural, and historic resources.

Phone:  563-382-9682 x 108

Email:  mmckelvey@vesterheim.org

Website:  http://vesterheim.org/

eric and jenni

Eric and Jenni Petersen-Brant

Consulting Directors, Chatfield Center for the Arts & Local Artists

Short Bio

Phone:  507-884-7676

Email:  info@chatfieldcfa.cominfo@burrobranchstudios.com

Website:  http://arthausdecorah.org/

and http://www.burrobranchstudios.com/


Steve and Peggy Kittelson 

Local Artists

Peggy and Steve have been creating fine handcrafted kaleidoscopes since 1986.  They are active members of the Brewster Kaleidoscope Society, have received numerous awards, and have had their work included in various museum exhibits in the United States and internationally.  Residing in Clermont, IA, they serve as active educators, frequently opening their studio and giving demonstrations on the beauty, magic, and science of kaleidoscopes to students of all ages.

Phone:  563-423-7336


Website:  http://kittelsondesigns.com

Jason Speltz

Executive Director, New Horizons Chamber

Short Bio

Phone:  641-394-2021


Website:  http://www.discovernewhampton.com/

Lee Johnston

Chairman, Guttenberg Historic Preservation Commission

Lee has a degree in Marketing and Communications, including consumer and business products, and has spent the majority of her career in that area, holding titles including advertising manager, marketing manager, and president.  Her focus was in developing and promoting products.  She currently works as a Marketing Consultant to the American Dental Association Business Resources.  Lee has had a lifelong passion for antiques and historic architecture.  In 2008, she and her husband moved from the Milwaukee area to Guttenberg and bought a 160-year-old home listed on the National Register of Historic Places.   They spent several years carefully restoring and renovating the historic home.   Lee is a traveller of the United States and the world, spending the winter in Florida, visiting a son in Wisconsin, visiting her daughter and family in Germany, and traveling the world to see additional countries.

Phone:  414-793-7525

Email:  ljohnston2053@yahoo.com

Website:  http://www.guttenbergcreativitycenter.com

Spiff Slifka

Development Coordinator, Howard County Business and Tourism

Director, Howard County Tourism

Short Bio

Phone:  563-547-3434


Website:  http://www.cedausa.com/regional-economic-development/spiff-slifka/

Leanne Harrison

Buchanan County Historical Society

Short Bio



Website:  http://www.buchanancountyhistory.com/

Craig White

Executive Director, Main Street Lansing

Short Bio

Phone:  563-538-9229


Website:  http://www.mainstreetlansing.com/

Cindy Lantow

City Administrator, City of Fredericksburg

Short Bio

Phone:  563-237-5725


Website:  http://www.fredericksburgiowa.com/general_information.html

Interested in joining the Northeast Iowa Regional Art and Cultural Council?  Please Contact Us!