Our People

  • Missy Ringgenberg

    Executive Director

    Missy has the honor of being the very first respite provider for Respite Connection!  She began her career in home care and then with the Iowa Respite and Crisis Care Coalition as their Executive Director, before starting Respite Connection in 2002.  Missy received her bachelor’s degree from Iowa State University and her Master’s degree in Social Work from the University of Iowa (sorry Hawkeyes… she’s a Cyclone fan at heart).  You will often see Missy and her three daughters at Respite Connection events.  She loves spending time with both her family at home and her Respite Connection family!  Missy loves animals – you might have seen her pet rabbit Oliver at some of our events.  He joins her 2 horses, cats, dog, etc.  In her free time you might find Missy preparing for an RV trip, gardening, and driving an occasional tractor (moving hay bales is her favorite thing to do)!

    missy@respiteconnection.com

    515-237-5231

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  • Lacey Giunta

    Director of Operations

    Lacey Giunta is the Respite Connection’s Director of Operations; here to simplify, organize, update and track all the things. Lacey has worked with individuals accessing the HCBS Waivers for over 20 years. Lacey has a passion for trauma informed care and values diversity, equity, & inclusion. She’s a Certified Brain Injury Specialist and an avid reader of the Iowa Administrative Code. She bestows the title of ‘the fun one’ to her husband Nick. When not at work, she can be found cheering on her two sons, Gus & AJ, in all of their sporting endeavors. Lacey loves sunshine, reading, camping, beaches, and her pittle-shepsky pup.

    lacey@respiteconnection.com

    515.237.5235

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  • Lejla Lindt

    Billing Specialist

    Lejla came to Respite Connection in 2009 with many years of experience working in the insurance and billing field. Lejla keeps current on the ever-changing world of Respite Billing to ensure all of the latest regulations are implemented, and every possible dollar is collected. Lejla graduated from Fachoberschule, Germany in Pediatric Health and Pediatric Social Education Sciences in 1999.  She also obtained a degree in Interior Design in 2008. Lejla enjoys traveling to Europe to visit her family, she enjoys practicing yoga and her biggest passion is home décor.  If you’ve attended one of our events and you’re wondering how everything looks so beautiful – I bet Lejla is to thank!  She has that magic touch!

    lejla@respiteconnection.com

    515.237.5229

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  • Alicia Emanuel

    Project Manager

    Alicia is our Project Manager, keeping us all on track with our many projects!  Alicia works part-time and provides support to our payroll process, software upgrades, and our upcoming electronic documentation app!  Alicia is a former actuary, and we love her passion for data!  She is an expert at excel and can’t resist the chance to organize data in a way that is meaningful to us!  When not working for us, you might find her substituting as a teacher or even in the front office at Valley High School in West Des Moines!  She loves spending time with her husband and two sons, attending their sporting events and volunteering in their schools.  A new challenge….preparing to send her oldest to college in Texas this fall!

    alicia@respiteconnection.com

    515.237.5228

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  • Taylor Knapp

    Human Resource Supervisor

    Taylor is probably familiar to more people than anyone at Respite Connection!  She is our Human Resource Supervisor!  Taylor handles the interviewing, hiring, and onboarding process for our new direct care staff!  She also coordinates training beyond onboarding, such as our online courses through Relias Learning!  For our direct care staff that are looking to meet a new client – Taylor’s the one to call!  She’s passionate about making the best matches, according to your preferences and those of our clients…a match she hopes to last a very long time!  Taylor also is the face of Respite Connection at many recruiting events, not only in central Iowa but across the whole state!  If you see her at an event, stop by and say hello!

    taylor@respiteconnection.com

    515.237.5230

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  • Amanda Grimm

    Office Coordinator

    Amanda is the face and voice of Respite Connection!  She is our Office Coordinator aka Jack of All Trades!  She’s the first person you see when you walk in our office and the first person to answer calls on our main phone line!  Amanda came to us with lots of customer service experience and we love how she treats everyone as our customer – our employees, our clients and their families, case managers, and even coworkers!  She greets everyone with warmth that says, “Welcome!  We’re glad you’re here!”  Amanda is also our “gatekeeper” – opening the office and there until we close.  If you need notes or really anything at all, Amanda can help you or find the person who can!  Dropping off notes?  Come inside and say hello to Amanda!

    amanda@respiteconnection.com

    515.277.1050

  • Stephanie Balagna

    Service Supervisor

    Stephanie has been with Respite Connection since 2019 and coordinates services for Respite Connection families in the both the northeastern and southeastern part of Iowa. She has a background in education, early childhood development and public health. Stephanie is passionate about connecting families to the resources and services they need. After work is done for the day, Stephanie enjoys spending time with her family which includes her husband, three adult sons, a daughter in-law and two grandchildren. Her favorite saying is, “ If I had known grandkids were so much fun, I would have had them first”!

    stephanie@respiteconnection.com

    515.283.3869 or mobile 563.260.7401

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  • Jenny Black

    Service Supervisor

    Jenny Black graduated from the University of Northern Iowa with a degree in Social Work. She has experience in a residential setting, a school setting with at-risk kids, and as a social worker for the state of Iowa. Jenny landed at Respite Connection in 2010 and loves the relationships that she develops with the people she supports. Jenny loves live music, being outside in the sun, spending time with family, and dinners with friends! Jenny also enjoys that she gets to be such a great support for her family members.

    jenny@respiteconnection.com

    515.323.7328

  • Rachel Boley

    Service Supervisor

    Rachel Boley is a Respite Connection Service Supervisor for the Southeast Region of Iowa.  As a former special education teacher, Rachel has a passion for working with the indvidiuals she serves.  Rachel has an adult daughter, Bailey, and a love for pets.  She can often be seen working with her kitty co-workers:  Charlie, Simon, Tweety, and Sylvester; and her French Bulldogs!  Rachel enjoys reading, movies and traveling!  She looks forward to the day when she can finally check off a big item on her bucket list….riding in a hot air balloon!

    rachelb@respiteconnection.com

    515.635.4889 or mobile 641.777.9546

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  • Martha Grewell

    Service Supervisor

    Martha is a Service Supervisor in our Urbandale office.  She graduated from Northwestern College with a degree in Social Work.  She has over 30 years of experience working with families and people with special needs as well as at-risk families, youth and foster families.  She has experience in a variety of settings including residential and case management for a managed care company.  She worked on grant programming for DHS and juvenile court, and was a Social Worker for the State of Iowa.  Martha enjoys reading, binge-watching crime drama shows, traveling, and spending time with her family.  A tried and true ISU fan, you will find her color-coordinated wardrobed self at basketball games cheering her team on!

    martha@respiteconnection.com

    515.237.5237

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  • Hannah La Vie

    Service Supervisor

    Hannah is a Service Supervisor covering the Quad Cities area in Eastern Iowa.  She received her Bachelor of Science in Therapeutic Recreation and a Certificate in Disabilities Studies from the University of Iowa.  Although new to us as a Service Supervisor, Hannah is no stranger to Respite Connection!  She was a direct care provider for 4 years!  Her additional experience with other agencies within the community, residential, and clinical settings gives her great insight in ways to support our direct care staff as a supervisor!

    Hannah’s most important value is to always try her best in everything she does.  At Respite Connection, her goal is to provide the best services possible, supporting both her families and her staff.  After hours, you will probably find her outside!  She loves camping, fishing and taking walks.  Traveling is a passion of hers as well.  Her favorite travel destination so far is to Australia!  Next on her list…Hawaii!  If you do find her indoors, she likes to relax by coloring in adult coloring books and reading.  A fun fact about Hannah is that she writes with her left hand, but does almost every other task with her right hand!

    hannah@respiteconnection.com

    515.323.7337 or 563.210.2988 mobile

     

  • Herlinda Magana-Silva

    Asst. Svc Supv/ Asistente de Supervisor de Svc

    Herlinda supports families across all of Iowa!  She originally came to us to cover Western Iowa, but now goes far beyond that area.  She is a fluent Spanish-speaker and will jump in and help interpret over the phone or online with anyone that needs her help. That is such a blessing to many, many families! After hours you can find Herlinda tackling on a new craft project or trying out new cooking recipes! She also loves being able to provide direct care for our clients. It brings such warm to her heart to be able to have those special connections with her clients.

    Herlinda sirve como un asistente para los supervisores de servicio. Ella habla español y estaría feliz para responder cualquier pregunta para nuestras familias. Ella está disponible para interpretar y ayudar a su familia. A Herlinda también le encanta pasar tiempo haciendo trabajo de cuidado directo con nuestros clientes. Si necesita alguna idea para sus clientes o si los trabajadores tienen alguna pregunta, Herlinda siempre está aquí para ayudar.

    herlinda@respiteconnection.com

    515.237.5229 or mobile 712.539.1175

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  • Jamie McQuillen-Benge

    Service Supervisor

    Jamie is a Service Supervisor who is often on the road!  She manages services for families in Northern Iowa, around Mason City area, as well as the Fort Dodge area.  And she’s also working with families in central Iowa, too!  Jamie earned her BSW from UNI.  She says, “It’s important to me that I am a good advocate for clients and families and provide them assistance navigating the ever-changing world of waiver services”.  Her interests include traveling, reading, and spending time with her dogs, Arlo and Scout.  Jamie is so passionate about reading and fostering relationships with coworkers, she started a monthly book club for us!  A fun fact is that she will be getting her scuba certification this fall for her next adventure!

    jamie@respiteconnection.com

    515.323.7334 or mobile 515.494.8664

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  • Valerie Mergen

    Service Supervisor

    Valerie is our source of positive energy at Respite Connection! She came to us in 2009 with lots of experience working with waiver services. She received her BA in Leisure, Youth, and Human Services from The University of Northern Iowa. She works full-time in our Urbandale office and when she is not working, she is on the go. She enjoys spending time with her family who keeps up with her, no problem!! Some of her favorite things include: traveling, ziplining, hiking, and line dancing. She has yet to go skydiving but hopes to soar the skies soon.  When it’s time for our thrill seeker to slow things down she likes to pamper herself with a professional massage. When you come into the office, you will know Valerie by her huge smile and energy – no coffee needed!

    valerie@respiteconnection.com

    515.237.5236

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  • Michele Mesman

    Service Supervisor

    Michele works part-time in our Urbandale office and really enjoys seeing how services can impact families in a positive way. She graduated from Dordt College with a degree in Social Work and has had a variety of roles in the helping field, ranging from a community mental health agency to case management, and using Applied Behavior Analysis with children. Michele was voted “Best Dressed” as a senior in high school, and could still land the title today with her scarf and necklace collection!  While Michele really enjoys the time she gets to spend with her Respite Connection families, she also really enjoys time with her own family. She and her husband home school their three children, and attend sporting events on a regular basis. And when she’s done with all that? A manicure and pedicure is in order!

    michele@respiteconnection.com

    515.283.3866

  • Brittney Olson

    Service Supervisor

    Brittney has been a service supervisor here at Respite Connection for 10 years and counting!  Her background has included working with individuals with disabilities in a residential setting as well as a school setting. You might know her from starting out as our office coordinator in her first 2 years of employment and then transitioning to a supervisor the last 8 years. Brittney enjoys spending time with her husband, 2 daughters and her dog Jack. When she isn’t working you might find her exercising at the gym, playing basketball, traveling, or shopping! She can’t resist a good black Friday bargain!

    brittney@respiteconnection.com 

    515.237.5233

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  • Deb Pumphrey

    Service Supervisor

    Deb is a part-time Service Supervisor out of Ottumwa. She graduated from the University of Iowa with a Master’s degree in Social Work and has experience at the Dept. of Human Services and with AEA. Deb is an advocate and can be seen advocating for individuals with a disability at our state capitol and even in Washington D.C.!  Deb has a long history working with HCBS Waivers and was involved in the early years of the HD Waiver (known then as Ill and Handicapped Waiver), working on committees that wrote many of the rules still in effect today!  Always on the go, Deb likes to keep busy!  She enjoys spending time with her family (especially those grandkids!), and traveling. Deb travels the world not just on vacations but on mission trips as well.

    deb@respiteconnection.com

    641.777.7605 cell

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  • Karlee Walker

    Service Supervisor

    Karlee is one of our newest Service Supervisors in our Urbandale office!  But she is not new to Respite Connection!  She began her career with us in early 2019 as a Direct Support Professional providing Respite and Supported Community Living services part time.  Karlee graduated from Iowa State University where she earned a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice and sociology.  Her passion for helping others shines through as she does one of favorite parts of her job – meeting in person with those we serve on her caseload and their families!  In her free time, Karlee likes spending time with family and friends, watching sports, shopping and attending concerts!

    karlee@respiteconnection.com

    515.323.7329

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  • Mandy Westerdale

    Service Supervisor

    Mandy has been a Respite Connection Service Supervisor since 2016. She manages the eastern region of central Iowa, mostly between Grinnell and Iowa City. Mandy graduated from Upper Iowa University with a bachelor’s degree in human services and minor in psychology. She has over 20 years experience working with people who have a disability, which makes her a wealth of great information for the families she works with.  Mandy is passionate about working with clients and their families.  She really enjoys assisting others in reaching their goals.  She oversees a fun group of clients and their staff that gathers at least monthly in her area, supporting friendships and doing fun activities together!  Mandy loves spending time with her 3 boys and her husband. She enjoys traveling, shopping, scrapbooking, and a good football game!  We know where to find her on Friday nights in the Fall!

    mandy@respiteconnection.com

    515.323.7335

  • Lynn Younie

    Service Supervisor

    Lynn is a Service Supervisor that joined Respite Connection in 2010!  She coordinates services for Respite Connection families in the northwest part of Iowa. She had an interest in working with families since high school, and went on to get her degree in Psychology from Clarke College. She has experience working with people with chronic mental illnesses, as well as at-risk youth and has worked as a Case Manager. After work is done for the day, Lynn and her husband enjoy spending time with their children and sometimes foster children in their home!  One of her proudest moments – earning a trophy for her 7th grade spelling bee!  If the Green Bay Packers are playing, we know where Lynn will be – supporting her favorite team!

    lynn@respiteconnection.com

    712.730.0041 mobile

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