Our Team

Photo of Scott Raecker
Scott Raecker
Director 515-271-1910[email protected]

Scott Raecker serves as Director of The Robert D. and Billie Ray Center at Drake University (formerly known as Character Counts In Iowa) – a position he has held since the work of the center was founded by former Governor Robert D. Ray as a lasting legacy to the Iowa Sesquicentennial in 1997.

The Robert D. and Billie Ray Center was created by Drake University to serve as a local, regional, national and global resource for applied research and programming in the areas of leadership, ethics and civility. The Ray Center is a statewide partner of the Josephson Institute of Ethics, and Regional Center for the Institute for Excellence & Ethics. From the preschool environment to the corporate boardroom, The Ray Center is coordinating efforts to create a positive environment of civility and principled decision making in our daily lives.

Scott’s commitment to positively impact the lives of others was also reflected in his 14 years of public service as a member of the Iowa House of Representatives from 1999 through 2012. In the legislature, Scott served in numerous leadership roles including chair of the House Appropriations Committee, chair of the Ethics Committee, and chair of the Midwest Council of Government’s Legislative Leadership Institute.

Scott is involved in numerous civic volunteer efforts. Scott serves as a board member of the Josephson Institute of Ethics, Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation, Drake University School of Education National Advisory Board, Board Member Emeritus of the Smithsonian Institution Center for Folk Life and Cultural Studies Advisory Board, Drake Bulldog Club Board, Shining City Foundation, and board member of the Rotary Club of Des Moines AM. Scott is a member of Gloria Dei Lutheran Church and Urbandale Chambers of Commerce.

Scott is a graduate of Grinnell College where he received his B.A. in Political Science and Religious Studies. Scott is also certified as a character development specialist and corporate ethics trainer through the Josephson Institute of Ethics and has recently been featured as a keynote speaker on ethics and civility to state legislatures across the United States.

Scott and his wife, Martha, live in Urbandale and have two adult children, Emily and Max.

Jeff Kluever
Assistant Director, Programs

Jeff Kluever joined The Robert D. and Billie Ray Center team as an Assistant Director – Programs in February of 2015.  A native of Norwalk, IA, Jeff graduated from Grinnell College with a Bachelor’s Degree in History and his Initial Teaching License for Secondary Social Studies Education.  After several years of teaching and coaching, Jeff accepted a position as an intern with Wartburg College football team for one season, and then spent two years as a Graduate Assistant with the Carroll University football team.  While at Carroll, Jeff earned his Master’s Degree in Curriculum and Instruction.  He then accepted a position as Executive Director of the Allen County Historical Society in Iola, Kansas, a position he held for two and a half years.  Jeff then accepted an opportunity to become the Education Supervisor at Pamplin Historical Park and the National Museum of the Civil War Soldier in Petersburg, Virginia.

After several years on the East Coast, Jeff and his wife Holly decided that they were Midwesterners at heart and are happy to have found a home in Des Moines.


Photo of Heidi Kramer
Heidi Kramer
Administrative Assistant 515-271-1910[email protected]

Heidi joined the team in March of 2014.  Prior to that, she was employed by the Johnston Community School District for over 10 years.  Heidi is actively involved in her church, is a volunteer for the Make-A-Wish Foundation and enjoys running.  She is a graduate of the University of Northern Iowa. 

Heidi and her husband Terry have 3 sons – Alex, Chase and Drake.

Photo of Cheri McDaniel
Cheri McDaniel
Executive Assistant & Project Associate 515-271-2931[email protected]

Cheri McDaniel has been with the Ray Center since December 2005. Prior to joining our team she worked as a secretary for an Iowa school district.

Cheri lives in Urbandale with her husband Howard and their mini dachshunds, Holly and Audrey. She is the mother of two-Gregory of Des Moines and Bethany of Urbandale. Cheri and Howard enjoy spending time with their family and keep busy with their 1-year-old granddaughter, Mikayla.


Photo of Kitty Olsen
Kitty Olsen
Assistant Director, Development [email protected]

Kitty Olsen has enjoyed serving as director of development since our inception in 1997. Since 1993, she has chaired the Central Iowa Chapter of the National Council on Youth Leadership, a recognition and leadership program for outstanding high school seniors. Kitty is also actively involved as a national NCYL board member. She served on the board of Variety Club of Iowa for nearly twenty years, an organization that raises millions of dollars annually for children’s charities. She has also been a board member of Metro Arts of Iowa and Friendship Force.

Kitty is a life-long Iowa resident and a graduate of Drake University, with a B.A. in Psychology. She is certified as a character development specialist through the Josephson Institute of Ethics. Kitty and her husband, Terry, live in West Des Moines. They have two sons – Eric and Tim.

Photo of Hilary Ortmann
Hilary Ortmann
Assistant Director, Events 515-271-2915[email protected]

Hilary joined the team in September of 2014. Born and raised in Iowa, she earned her B.A. in Media Studies with a Minor in Sales from Buena Vista University in Storm Lake. Following college, she transitioned to Des Moines where she got her start in the nonprofit industry organizing and implementing events with local chambers of commerce. Hilary brings previous experience with a wide variety of professional development, networking and community events to the CCII team.

Hilary married her husband Kyle in June 2014 and they reside in Grimes.

Photo of Georgia Sheriff
Georgia Sheriff
Assistant Director, Programs 515-271-1995[email protected]

Georgia joined the team in September 2012 after serving as Director of Drake University Head Start for 15 years. Her prior experience included positions with the Iowa Department of Education and Indiana University.  Her career has focused on early childhood general and special education with an emphasis on full inclusion, community development, and strategic planning.  Georgia earned her doctorate in special education from Indiana University-Bloomington. She is actively involved in the community and volunteers with the Urbandale Food Pantry and helps coordinate the Women’s Career Clothing Closet, a no-cost boutique for women returning to or in the workforce.

Georgia lives in Urbandale with her husband, Rick. They have two adult children, Chris and Colleen.


Photo of Amy Smit
Amy Smit
Assistant Director, Communications 515-271-2293[email protected]

An Iowa native, Amy moved back to Iowa in 2004 after living throughout the United States while her husband served as a meteorologist in the US Air Force.  She earned a B.A. in Political Science from the University of Minnesota and is a certified character development specialist through the Josephson Institute of Ethics.  Amy gained professional experience in both the political and non-profit fields before joining the team in January, 2004.

She lives in Urbandale with her husband, Chad, and their children, Noah and Avery.

Photo of JD Stites
JD Stites
Program Coordinator 515-271-2193[email protected]

JD supported our mission as a contract trainer since 2003 and joined the team as program coordinator in 2014. JD is a life-long Iowa resident and a graduate of Drake University with a B.A. in Journalism, and a master’s degree in business leadership from Upper Iowa University. He is also a certified character development specialist through the Josephson Institute of Ethics. JD has worked in broadcasting, education and training.

He lives in Beaverdale and has two daughters. Jenny lives in Chicago and Katy is a student at the University of Iowa.


1213 25th Street     |     Des Moines, IA 50311     |     515-271-1910     |     Email Us

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