Our staff members work hard to support mental health counseling through networking, advocacy, and public relations. Please contact them if you have questions, suggestions, or to learn about volunteer opportunities.
Kacey Peterson, 2017-2019
Kacey has worked as a licensed mental health counselor (LMHC) since earning her Master’s from Drake University in 2010. She served as a school-based counselor and eventually as Clinical Director for an accredited mental health and substance abuse agency until 2014 when she opened a play therapy place in rural Iowa. In 2017, Kacey was appointed Executive Director of the IA Chapter of Children's Advocacy Centers, but returned to private practice in early 2019 as an independent consultant, grant writer, and training facilitator. Throughout her career, Kacey has served in both urban and rural settings across many of Iowa’s “frontier counties”. Her significant involvement in the nonprofit sector, and her position as IMHCA’s Government Relations Chair for nearly 5 years before stepping into the role of President has fueled her passion to advocate on behalf of underserved Iowans and the providers that strive to support them. Since 2011 she has worked to identify legislation and government policy that could significantly improve Iowa’s mental health delivery system and is dedicated to continuing those efforts as she works to educate our Senators and Representatives on the concerns and barriers facing counselors today.
Donald K. Gilbert, 2017-2019
Dr. Gilbert received a B.A. in Theology (1977), an M.S. in Mental Health Counseling (1991), and a Ph.D. in Counseling Psychology and Religious Studies (1994). Don is an ordained minister and pastored for 17 years. He has worked in private practice since 1991 and has worked as a therapist (LMHC) with individuals, couples, and groups, and an adjunct professor at Mercy College of Health Sciences (2004-present). He owns and manages New Life Counseling (2002). Dr. Gilbert is certified as a speaker, trainer, consultant, and coach with The John Maxwell Team (2012). Don is a published author. He has served on the IMHCA board as treasurer, president-elect, and currently as president. Don also serves on the Iowa Board of Behavioral Science. He is married (1976) to his wife Debbie and has lived in Polk County since 1986. Don and his wife have four children who graduated from Ankeny H.S. They have 10 grandchildren. Don is a long-time and avid Husker fan and enjoys golfing, bicycle riding, reading, working, yard work, and spending time with his wife and family.
Courtney Ackerson, 2018-2019
Courtney Ackerson studied forensic psychology at the Chicago School of Professional Psychology and graduated with her masters degree in 2010. Being a big fan of Iowa, and particularly Des Moines, she moved back to her home town of Urbandale after graduation. She has since worked for Orchard Place as a PMIC therapist, supervisor of community based services, and outpatient therapist. She will now be working with New Beginnings Counseling Services as an outpatient therapist in their office and in two Des Moines elementary schools. She enjoys traveling and being creative in her free time.
Kristten Buttermore, 2019-2021
Kristten graduated from Iowa State University in 2000 with a Bachelor of Science degree in Sociology. She went on to graduate from Drake University in 2003 with a Master’s in Education in Community Counseling. She has been providing mental health and substance abuse services since 2000, working in a variety of settings and roles. Kristten is a Licensed Mental Health Counselor (LMHC). In 2008 she founded Creative Counseling Services in Ames, IA where she provides substance abuse and mental health services.
Kenya Rocha, 2016-2019
Kenya Rocha (MS, LMHC, NCC) completed her Masters of Education and Community Counseling from Drake University. She is an EMDR International Association Certified Therapist and an approved EMDR consultant. She specializes in treating complex and single incident trauma. Kenya is the owner of Mosaic Family Counseling Center; providing mental health therapy to families, couples, groups, individuals, and children. Kenya also provides education, supervision and consultation to beginning therapists for state licensure and EMDR certification. In addition to training therapists, Kenya provides community education in areas of psychology, trauma, parenting, attachment, and many other mental health topics. Kenya is bi-lingual in English/Spanish and serves many diverse populations. In her personal time, Kenya enjoys reading, gardening, traveling, walking, and spending time with family.
Public Policy Co-Chair
This board position is open! Click here
to submit a nomination for this position.
Adrienne (Dree) LaToure, 2017-2019
Dree is a graduate of University of Northern Iowa’s Clinical Mental Health Counseling program. She has a passion for serving individuals through mental health services, and believes in our responsibility to advocate for our community’s needs. Dree looks forward to using her skills and passion to serve as IMHCA’s Membership Chair, advocating for issues in Iowa and supporting member needs. When she is not working as a Mental Health Counselor, Dree enjoys spending time with her two fantastic dogs, reading, and traveling to new places.
Networking and Communications Chair
Kyla Loucks, 2017-2019
Kyla is a recent Drake University graduate with an M.S. in Clinical Mental Health Counseling. Through working with individuals receiving special needs services and at-risk youth, she developed a passion for client advocacy. With a background in community outreach, Kyla is eager to combine experience and passion to help advance the profession of mental health counseling and mental health advocacy issues in the state of Iowa. She is a native of rural Iowa, now living in the Des Moines area. She spends most of her free time drinking caffeine so she has energy to keep up with her kids!
Conference Committee Chair
Christy Johnston, 2017-2019
Christy completed her Masters Degree in Counseling Psychology at Benedictine University in Lisle, Illinois in 1998 and moved to Des Moines to work at Orchard Place. She was a residential therapist and a school based therapist at Orchard Place for a total of 13 years. She now works for Broadlawns at the FOCUS High School program doing Individual, Group and Family therapy. She also does outpatient therapy part time at Dr. Bertroche and Associates. She was the IMHCA Conference Committee Chair for 8 years and is back at it again this year after taking a two year break. She has two children: her son is in his second year at ISU majoring in Engineering, and her daughter is a Freshman at Urbandale High School. In her free time she enjoys reading, jogging, spending time with friends, family, and watching football.
Anthony Ferguson, Jr., 2017-2019
Anthony Ferguson, Jr. received a B.A. in African American Studies, as well as a Certificate in Critical Cultural Competency, from the University of Iowa, and he is currently in his second year at Drake University working toward a M.S. in Clinical Mental Health Counseling. Anthony is a National Board for Certified Counselors (NBCC) Minority Fellow, a recipient of the Iowa Mental Health Counseling Association (IMHCA) Academic Scholarship, and was recently recognized by the Honorable State Representative Ako Abdul-Samad for his commitment to students at Drake University, and his advocacy in educating the African American community about addressing the needs of mental health issues. Currently, Anthony works at House of Mercy as an Outpatient Primary Counselor. In his free time, he volunteers with Big Brothers Big Sisters, Investing In My Future, and is a Life Member of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc.
Continuing Education Chair
Susan Heitshusen, 2019-2021
Susan (LMHC, IADC) has worked as a licensed mental health counselor (LMHC) since earning her Master’s from Drake University in 2013. She is a certified alcohol and drug counselor and a certified grief recovery specialist. Susan has worked for House of Mercy and Compass Clinical Associates. Since May of 2018 she has been self-employed and currently practices at Prairie Wellness in Des Moines. Susan and her husband have four children and six grandchildren.
Casey Baker, 2018-2020
Casey Baker received her B.S. in psychology (2008), M.S. in Mental Health Counseling (2011), and Ed.D in Counselor Education and Supervision (fall 2018) from Minnesota State University, Mankato. Casey has experience working in the Mental Health field in various clinical settings including private practice, college campus, and community mental health. Casey is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist (LMFT) in the state of Minnesota. Casey is a Licensed Mental Health Counselor (LMHC) in the state of Iowa. Additionally, she is a Registered Play Therapist (RPT) and Nationally Certified Counselor (NCC). Casey is currently an Assistant Professor of Counselor Education and Program Director for the Mental Health Counseling Program at Buena Vista University (2016-current). To keep current in the field, Casey provides individual and family counseling at Seasons Center on a part-time basis. In her free time, Casey enjoys spending time with her husband and two children.
This board position is open! Click here
to submit a nomination for this position.
Lauren Kern, 2017-2019
Lauren Kern earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology from Simpson College in 2014. She is currently working towards an M.S. in Clinical Mental Health Counseling at Drake University. Lauren has always been passionate about serving others and helping their voices be heard. As an Applied Behavior Analysis specialist, she worked with children living with autism (2014-2016). Lauren currently works with adults living with a mental illness at Passageway where she connects members with resources to improve social and work skills to enrich their lives. Her dream job is to have a registered therapy dog and work with college students. She enjoys volunteering weekly to read to young children and promote literacy through The United Way. In her free time, Lauren enjoys reading, hiking, baking, and exploring national parks with her husband.
Jason Stark, 2017-2019
After working as a school teacher and pastor for many years, Jason chose a new career path and graduated from Drake University with a Master’s degree in Mental Health Counseling and Rehabilitation Counseling. Currently he is practicing as a Licensed Mental Health Counselor at Affinity Therapy and Counseling in Des Moines. Although not really an IT guru, Jason is a bit of a renaissance man, and it appears that is how he managed to land the job of the web coordinator for IMHCA. Jason grew up in Michigan but has lived in Iowa with his wife and three children for more than 20 years. When he isn't working, Jason enjoys trying to protect motorists by reducing the deer population, and riding his old-school 1980 Honda motorcycle.