YWCA Ames at ISU Board of Directors


Vanessa Castillo, Co-President

Vanessa is a Ph.D. candidate in Psychology at Iowa State University. Her research focuses on how cultural values influence people's decisions and reasons for forgiving or not forgiving. She completed her Master's in Psychology at Iowa State University and her Bachelor's degree at Concordia College with a Psychology and Spanish major. Vanessa enjoys reading, scrapbooking, and cuddling with her cat (Sabrina). She has been on the YWCA board of Directors since Fall 2019, was the co-vice president from 2020 to 2021, and currently is co-President of the YWCA Board.

You can reach Vanessa at:

Cristina Pardo-Ballester, Co-President

Cristina grew up in Granada, Spain. She graduated from the University of Granada in 1996 with a degree in Translation and Interpretation. She continued her studies in Nevada and California. She is currently an Associate Professor of Hispanic Linguistics in the Department of World Languages and Cultures. Her research interests center on Computer-Assisted Language Learning (CALL), Second Language Acquisition (SLA), language assessment, and translation studies. She joined YWCA-Ames in 2020. She loves to take long walks with Nina, her dog, and pet Julieta, her 16 years old cat. Among other things she likes to do is to travel and spend time with her family. 

You can reach Cristina at:

Laura Grinnell, Treasurer

You can reach Laura at:

Kylee Haueter, Secretary

Kylee is studying journalism and political science at Iowa State University. Over the summer, she was a reporting intern with the Omaha World-Herald and currently, she serves as the editor-in-chief of the Iowa State Daily. She has covered everything from protests to the pandemic to the 2020 election. Once she graduates, she hopes to get a reporting job for a paper on the east or west coast. Kylee is also a member of the sorority Alpha Delta Pi. During her free time, she likes to research true crime and read mystery novels while cuddling with her cat, Fargo. 

You can reach Kylee at:

Navya Mannengi

Navya serves as the Director for International Student Success for the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences at Iowa State University. She received her Professional Masters of Business Administration degree from the University of Iowa. She was born in Hyderabad, India and moved to Iowa City, Iowa with her family when she was 5 years old. As a child of immigrants, Navya is passionate about increasing global engagement, creating inclusive environments, and promoting growth and well-being for students. Outside of work and school, you can spot Navya spending time cooking, watching movies, and finding new things to try and do in the Des Moines area.

You can reach Navya at:

Steph Schares

Steph Schares is a teacher at Ames Middle School. She graduated from Iowa State University, where she ran track. After teaching Language Arts in Iowa, she moved to Portland, Oregon where she enjoyed coaching track and field and working as a school counselor. She moved back to Ames with her family (her husband and three daughters) in 2015. She continues to enjoy coaching youth track for the Iowa Flyers, as well as teaching as an adjunct at Drake University.

You can reach Steph at:

Sara Rooney

Sara is a 1999 graduate of Iowa State University. Sara went on to pursue a MAT from Drake University in 2008 and a MS in Educational Leadership from Creighton University in 2018, and has served as the principal of St. Cecilia School in Ames since 2018. Sara has four children- Samuel, 15, Hope, 10, Hattie, 8, and Hannagan, 7. Sara enjoys spending time with her children cooking and baking, hiking and being outdoors, and traveling and camping. Sara also has two cats, Storm and Tiger, and 3 chickens.

You can reach Sara at:

Javelis Marín Castro

Javelis is a senior studying Animal Ecology & Pre-vet at Iowa State University and her home is in Puerto Rico. She works as a Resident Assistant (RA) for the Iowa State Department of Residence. She also serves as the Vice President of MANRRS, the undergraduate representative of the DEI Committee for her department NREM, and a member of the Martial Arts Club. In her free time, she loves doing Zumba and yoga, roller skating, hiking, photographing mother nature, and watching horror films!


You can reach Javelis at:


Jasmine Tappin

Born and raised in Minneapolis, MN, Jasmine (she/her/hers) is the program coordinator for the George Washington Carver Scholarship Program and Academy in the Office of Multicultural Student Affairs at Iowa State University. She earned her Master’s of Science in Education degree from the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse.  She also earned a Bachelor’s degree in Sociology from Hamline University. Through her education and employment experiences, Jasmine has planned, implemented and assessed a variety of programs, collaborated broadly with campus partners and created spaces for student growth and development. In her spare time she enjoys watching movies, traveling, and reading romance novels.

You can reach Jasmine at:


Zakiya Johnson

Zakiya is a junior studying Psychology at Iowa State University. She is passionate about using Psychology as a tool to uplift and advance BIPOC communities. Outside of the YWCA Board of Directors, she is a George Washington Carver scholar and peer mentor, a peer mentor for the Psychology Department at ISU, secretary for Psi Chi, and a Peer Financial Educator for the Office of Student Financial Aid. In her free time, she loves to read fiction novels, watch old movies, listen to audiobooks/podcasts and knit!


You can reach Zakiya at:


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