ArtForceIowa is a 501c3 non-profit governed by a board of directors.  The organization is managed by Cyndi Pederson, Yvette Zaród Hermann, Christine Her, Michelle Jackson, Emma Parker and Whitney Leming-Salisbury. Professional artists serve as Artist-Mentors. These artists lead workshops and develop positive relationships with youth.



Cyndi Pederson
Executive Director                                 
(515) 229-4748

Cyndi is a Des Moines native and passionate supporter of the arts. She has spent much of her professional life working on creative solutions to improve the quality of life for Iowans. As the former Director of the Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs, Pederson managed a staff of 91 employees and was the lead legislative liaison for the department. During the past three years at the Des Moines Social Club (DMSC), she was responsible for establishing operations as the organization grew into the renovated firehouse. In her role as Executive Director of ArtForceIowa, Pederson will oversee the organization’s mission “to transform youth in need through art” with a suite of innovative arts-based programs.

Michelle Jackson
Production Manager
StreetCred Studios 
(515) 777-3182

Michelle is our StreetCred Studios Production Manager. She's passionate about working with troubled youth and believes in second chances. 


Yvette Zaród Hermann 
Program Director                                                               
(917) 628-3633

Yvette is a passionate advocate for the rights of young people. As a New York City Teaching Fellow, Yvette earned her Master's of Science in Education from CUNY Lehman College while working in a public high school in the Bronx. She has 13 years of arts-integrated teaching experience. She has taught widely in Des Moines Public Schools, at the YMCA, Des Moines Performing Arts, Grand View University and DMACC Urban Campus.

Emma Parker
Youth Engagement Specialist/Community Youth Concepts Youth Service Momentum AmeriCorps Member                            
(515) 777-3182

Emma is our Community Youth Concepts Youth Service Momentum AmeriCorps Member. She graduated from Iowa State University with a BFA in Studio Art . She provides financial support and assists with programming. 

Christine Her.jpg

Christine Her
DSM Heroes, Program Manager                                   
(515) 777-3182

Christine is a singer, songwriter, performer native to Des Moines. She co-founded TOGETHER, a youth-led activist coalition and received the Governor's Volunteer Award. After graduating from Drake University with a BA in Creative Writing, she began working at DHS where she helped provide free legal assistance to hundreds of refugees. She served as co-chair for Monsoon's board and has experience with consumer marketing, programming, teaching and serving as the Des Moines Register's and Juice Magazine's community engagement/content specialist and events coordinator.

Whitney Leming-Salisbury                     Social Media Strategist, Partnering to Protect Children AmeriCorps Member
(515) 777-3182

Whitney is our new Partnering to Protect Children AmeriCorps Member. She recently graduated from Drake University with a BAE in Secondary English Education and Psychology. She is also certified in Trauma-Informed Care and Teaching.








Artist-Mentor Team 

Current Artist-Mentors Include:

Visual Arts
Saulaman Schlegel, Reiko Uchytil, Jordan Olson, Johnathan Fusco, Dan Nutt, Kathryn E. Sutton, Cody Sherman, Sam McCauley, Emma Parker

Christine Her, Micah Smith, Dartanyan Brown, Kaleena Calcutta-Faux

Hip-hop Production
Saulaman Schlegel, Jason Gorsuch

Filmmaking and Photography
Kristian Day, Dan Acosta Jaquez

Theater and Creative Writing
Yvette Hermann, Sarah Welch, Jami DeVries, Rachel Vogel Quin

Board Members

Carl Vieregger, Professor of Management & International Business, Drake University, Project Director, United Way of Central Iowa

Kimberly Graham, Attorney (specialist in Family Law)

James Bell, Motivational Speaker

Sharon Wegner, Attorney (specialist in Juvenile Courts)

Hoang Tran, Design Architect, RDG Dahlquist Studios

John Mark Robert Feilmeyer, Nonprofit Leader, MyAgro

Michael A. Gilmer, Attorney, Davis Brown Law (specialist in Taxation)

Anna Tran, ‎Internal Auditor, Fidelity & Guaranty Life