Our Team

Scott Raecker
Executive Director

Scott Raecker serves as Executive Director of Character Counts In Iowa (CCII) – a position he has held since the organization was founded in 1997.

CCII is housed as a grant funded institute at Drake University and is a statewide partner of the Josephson Institute of Ethics, and Regional Center for the Institute for Excellence & Ethics. CCII is focused on a mission to recognize, enhance and sustain the positive qualities of Iowans in order to promote civility through character development. From the pre-school environment to the corporate boardroom, CCII is coordinating a statewide effort to create a positive environment of civility and principled decision making in our daily lives.

Scott’s commitment to positively impact Iowa 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 serving as a board member of the 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, Josephson Institute of Ethics Board of Governors, Shining City Foundation, and board member of the Rotary Club of Des Moines AM. Scott is member of Gloria Dei Lutheran Church, the Des Moines A.M. Rotary Club 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

Scott and his wife, Martha, live in Urbandale with their children, Emily, 19, and Max, 17.

Cheri McDaniel
Executive Assistant & Project Associate

Cheri McDaniel has been with Character Counts In Iowa 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.


Kitty Olsen
Development Director

Kitty Olsen has enjoyed serving as director of development for Character Counts In Iowa since its 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.

Georgia Sheriff
Program Director

Georgia came to Character Counts In Iowa 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.


Amy Smit
Communications & Events Director

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 Character Counts In Iowa team in January, 2004.

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

Mark Wills
Program Director

Mark came to Character Counts In Iowa in December 2007 after having spent twelve years working with both at-risk and delinquent youth. During that time, Mark was involved with the implementation of CHARACTER COUNTS! in various school sites, community coalitions as well as in athletics. Mark has experience with high school and college athletes as a coach, as a camp clinician/counselor and in academic support settings.

A graduate of Iowa State University, Mark and his wife, Carrie, live in Des Moines along with daughters, Meghan and Zoey.

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