Meet the Board
Melissa Murphy (President) is the school counselor at Springville Secondary School, where she serves approximately 200 students in seventh through twelfth grades. She is fortunate to work with students, families, faculty, and staff who value the work of school counselors and what they do to support students. Melissa earned her M.A. in school counseling from The University of Iowa, an M.A. in English from Western Illinois University, and a B.A. in Sociology from Iowa Wesleyan College. Prior to becoming a school counselor, she taught English/language arts to middle and high school students. As advocacy chair, Melissa provides school counselors the tools they need to advocate for themselves and their students in their districts and beyond. In her free time, Melissa enjoys bicycling and tromping through the woods when the weather allows, and reading, cooking, and crossword puzzles when it doesn't.
Courtney Cook (President Elect-Elect) is the Social-Emotional-Behavioral Health Coordinator at Prairie Lakes AEA where she is also co-lead of School Counselor support. Beyond her role as SEBH Coordinator, she is also a certified trainer of Youth and Child Mental Health First Aid and Nonviolent Crisis Intervention, and serves on the Systems Leadership and Future Ready teams. Courtney is also the Prairie Lakes - Mental Health Awareness Training Grant Project Director and serves on multiple Mental Health & Disability Services advisories. Before working at Prairie Lakes AEA, she served as the 6-12 School Counselor for Graettinger-Terril CSD in Northwest Iowa and was a Secondary English teacher in Colorado Springs prior to that. Courtney is a graduate of Adams State University (MA-School Counseling) and University of Iowa (MA-Educational Policy & Leadership Studies, BA - Communication Studies). She is a passionate advocate for school counselors becoming school leaders as more districts continue to prioritize and value social-emotional learning as part of students becoming "future ready". In her free time, Courtney enjoys being at home with her family of six and four pets. Chances are she's either playing Chickapig or other family favorite board games, or binge-watching something from Magnolia Network, Disney+, or Netflix.
Sheryl Bass (Past President) is a College Career Transition Counselor for Linn-Mar High School and Kirkwood Community College. Sheryl is a graduate of the University of Iowa (MA-School Counseling) and Mt. Mercy College (BA-Psychology). She is passionate about college and career readiness, especially ways to introduce students to careers requiring less than a 4-year degree. Sheryl is excited about her new role as a CCTC and hopes to use data to show her impact on student success. She believes that school counselors play a key role in advocating for school counseling at all levels, which happens day-to-day in the work we do in our buildings and in collaborating with all stakeholders. In her free time, Sheryl enjoys spending time with her fiancé, reading, and doing hot yoga.
Nyla Mowery (Vice President - Elementary Level) is an elementary school counselor at Studebaker Elementary in the Des Moines Public Schools district. Nyla completed her undergraduate in elementary education in 2005 from the University of Iowa. Prior to being a school counselor, she taught upper elementary for three years and preschool for five years. Nyla completed her masters in school counseling in 2013 from Drake University and has been working as a school counselor for the Des Moines Public Schools since graduating. In her free time, Nyla enjoys reading, playing video games, going for walks with her dog, Bandit and cuddling with her cats. Nyla has a daughter, Angel, who is a senior in high school this year.
Brianna Porter (Vice President - Middle Level) currently serves as middle school counselor(grades 6-8) with Mount Pleasant School Community School District at Mount Pleasant Middle School. This will be her 2nd year as a middle school counselor and going into her 5th year as a school counselor. She has served as a school counselor at all three levels and loves her work. Brianna has a goal of eventually RAMPing her school within the next three years. Prior to becoming a school counselor Brianna worked in the human services field and served in a variety of positions working with at risk children and family which has greatly assisted her in her role as a school counselor. In her spare time Brianna enjoys spending time with her family, outdoors, movies, and Disney.
Alyssa Cobie-Nuss (K12 VP) is a K-12 School Counselor serving as the At-Risk Coordinator for West Central Community School District. She grew up on a farm near Ackley, lowa and earned her Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology from Central College in Pella in 2012. After that she worked for a short while in schools as a paraeducator before earning her Master of Arts degree in School Counseling from the University of Northern lowa in 2016. She is passionate about mental health and trauma informed care in our schools. She enjoys being outside and exploring Northeast lowa with her husband, reading, and spending time at the gym.
Paul Hayes (VP Counseling Coordinator/Director) is the Future Ready Learning and School Counseling Lead for Cedar Rapids Community Schools. He has 28 years of experience as a teacher, school counselor, and district-level administrator. Paul holds a BA in Secondary English Education and an MA in K-12 School Counseling from the University of Northern Iowa. He also holds an endorsement in K-12 Administration from Drake University. Paul has been able to create the conditions for school counselors to implement quality, research-based and innovative practices. These efforts have been possible largely because of his participation in state and national conferences, engaging in conversations with colleagues throughout the state/nation and contributing to various professional publications. Paul has two children, Bryton and Brylie, and lives in Cedar Rapids with his wife, Bryn, who is also an educator.
Erin Lane (VP Counselor Educator) is a counselor educator at Western Illinois University – Quad Cities and feels honored to serve on the ISCA Board. Erin has worked in public and private education in Iowa for almost two decades. Prior to her position as an assistant professor, she was employed as a teacher and administrator; however, she found the most fulfillment as a school counselor in the Southeast Polk School District. She received her Bachelor’s degree from Beloit College, and her Master’s in School Counseling and Ph.D. in Counselor Education and Supervision from the University of Iowa. Her professional passions consist of helping school counselors strengthen advocacy skills, enhance professional identity, and better incorporate data-driven programming. Erin’s research interests include school counselor advocacy, Post-secondary Readiness (CCR), and the needs of gifted students in the K-12 setting. Erin lives in Iowa City with her husband and three daughters. In her free time, she enjoys spending time with family, listening to podcasts, and attending as many Hawkeye events as possible.
Derek Cornett (Treasurer) is currently the school counselor at Longfellow Elementary School in the Iowa City School District. He graduated from Winona State University with his degree in Counselor Education. He has served as a K-12, 6-12, and K-6 school counselor. Derek is looking forward to his time on ISCA to learn from the other school counselors and promote the field within education. He is looking for opportunities for school counselors to support one another throughout the state and help with new ideas and techniques that are successful in various programs. He is passionate about relationships with students and how important those relationships can be in overall educational development. Derek is excited to get more involved with ISCA and learn about more opportunities to help the school counseling field and promote our importance towards student development.
Lauren Cerqueira (Advocacy Chair) is currently the school counselor at Hills Elementary, Grant Elementary, and Weber Elementary in the Cedar Rapids School District. This is her first year with the ISCA board.
Samantha Harms (Membership Chair) is an elementary school counselor at Cooper Elementary in the Fort Dodge School District. Prior to becoming a school counselor, Samantha was a Work-Based Learning Coordinator at Iowa Central Community College for four years, where she provided career exploration opportunities for K-12 students. Through that role, Samantha was inspired by fellow educators and found her passion for working with students. She desired to be able to help students more with their educational journey and the barriers they face led her to enroll at Buena Vista in the Professional School Counseling program. She graduated with her Masters in 2019 and also has an undergrad in Human Resources Management. Samantha is very passionate about the school counseling field and strives to meet the needs of the whole child. This is her first role with ISCA and is looking forward to working with the board to help provide opportunities to help grow the school counseling profession in Iowa. Samantha currently resides in Fort Dodge with her husband Pete and their daughter, Emma.
Shelly Brimeyer (Awards and Recognition Chair)
Sheila Kinyon-Johnson (Newsletter Chair) is a school counselor with the Muscatine Community School District. Prior to her current occupation as a school counselor I was a high school AP Language and Literature instructor as well as a Speech and Debate coach. Her educational background consists of attending the University of Northern Colorado where she received her B.A. in both Journalism Mass Communication and Secondary Education in Speech Communication. From there, she attended the University of Alabama for a M.A. in Human Communication (Rhetoric) and the U of Iowa for a M.A. in Counselor Education. Sheila looks forward to collaborating with ASCA and ISCA board members to deliver up-to-date information both educational and informative information for school counselors through the quarterly newsletter.
Dave Ford (AD-HOC - AEA) serves as Director of AEA PREP (Postsecondary Readiness & Equity Partnership) and as Postsecondary Readiness Lead at Mississippi Bend Area Education Agency. His experience also includes serving as a district counseling coordinator, a school counselor, and instructor in various graduate programs in the areas of counseling, education, and research. He has researched and presented extensively on the topic of college and career readiness in schools. Dave lives in Grinnell with his wife Melissa, and daughters Annika and Emery. He enjoys spending time with family and friends, traveling to new places, and serving as director of the Grinnell Volleyball Club.
Brittania Morey (AD-HOC - ICAN and Communications/Marketing Chair) is the Vice President, Marketing and Communications for ICAN where she spends her days creating programs to help students make informed decisions about life after high school, and assisting school counselors in their role in the Career and College process through resource and curriculum development, and professional development training opportunities. As an ICAN representative she works between the two organizations on various partnership programs including the school counselor professional development webinar series and the School Counselor Resource Guide, and chairs the Communications/Marketing committee. Brittania holds a Bachelor's degree in Art and Journalism from the University of Northern Iowa and a Masters in Business Administration in Marketing from Marylhurst College, and has worked in education for more than15 years.
In her free time she enjoys spending time with her family, movies, gardening, reading, cooking, attending concerts, and traveling to new and exciting places.
Jamie Covell (AD-HOC - Iowa College Aid) is a Community Engagement Consultant with Iowa College Aid. She coordinates the statewide Course to College program. Course to College is an all-encompassing program to support high schools in creating a college-going culture through five steps: prepare, apply, finance, decide, and go. Previously, Jamie was the Director of the Reach and Rise Mentoring Program and Coordinator of the Foster Grandparent Program both in Dubuque, IA. Jamie is compassionate about student success, especially for underrepresented students, as she herself was a first generation student. She really enjoys her career and is honored to work with such admirable school counselors! Jamie holds a Bachelor's degree in Social Work from Loras College and Master's degree in Social Work from the University of Michigan. In her free time, you can catch Jamie at the farmer's market, running, organizing something, or traveling. She enjoys spending time with family and friends, visiting national parks, providing belly rubs to pups, and eating pizza, tacos, and ice cream!