Diana Lang Baltimore, Executive Director, Founder & Board Member
As the founder and executive director of The National Center for Adoption, Diana Lang Baltimore hopes to educate others about adoption terminology, the adoption processes and the positive aspects of adoption that can enhance the well-being of children and families. Adopted at birth, Baltimore is in reunion with her birth family members. Her birth father was also adopted. She is a proud mom of two children—Blake and Danielle. Blake is biologically-related to her and she adopted Danielle six months after her birth. Diana earned her B.S., M.S. and Ph.D. from Iowa State University. Her desire to educate others about adoption stems from her experiences as an adoptee, an adoptive parent and an adoption researcher. She interviewed and surveyed numerous individuals who have been involved in the adoption process. The majority of individuals who participated in her research indicated a need to educate others about adoption as a positive parenting option.
Bill Pearce, Vice President & Board Member
Bill Pearce is the co-director of Adoption Associates of Iowa and is certified as an Iowa Adoptions Investigator. Adopted by his stepfather at the age of 15, Pearce began to support adoption at a young age. He held numerous professional seminars on child development, juvenile justice, family dynamics and adoption issues. Pearce earned his B.A. and M.A. in Sociology at Drake University. He has been married for 56 years and has two children and three grandchildren. Pearce worked in Juvenile Court for 25 years and served as the Iowa Court System unofficial lobbyist. He free-lanced as a writer, investigated contested custody cases, managed a psychiatric clinic and now owns a secular, adoption agency. He is the co-author of Scruffy Shares a Secret, an illustrated storybook about young children of alcoholics and the co-author of Tough-Minded Parenting. Pearce has an understanding of individuals with problems, families as systems, formal organizations, budgets, policy and law.
Melonie Wallace, Secretary & Board Member
Melonie became an advocate for adoption after she and her husband started the adoption process. They experienced 3 scams and a birth mom who decided to parent 3 days after her baby’s birth. Finally, they became proud parents of 2 daughters through adoption. Melonie feels very blessed to be a mom through adoption, but realized her story caused some to shy away from adoption. Melonie, a co-founder of Adoption Advocates of Iowa, helped pass an Iowa bill making it a fraudulent act to run an adoption scam. She is also co-chair of The Gingerbread Run/Walk. Melonie has networked with thousands throughout her career and enjoys talking to others about adoption. She looks forward to making additional, positive changes.
Erin Kiernan, Honorary Board Member
Erin is a co-anchor of WHO Channel 13 news team and an advocate for adoption and adoptive parents’ rights. Kiernan became pregnant at age 16 and chose adoption for her son, who is now in his twenties and remains an important part of her life. She and her husband, Michael, made public their eight-year struggle to start a family of their own, a process that involved multiple rounds of artificial insemination and in vitro fertilization. The experience prompted her to help spearhead a bill in the Iowa legislature that would guarantee an adoptive parent the same maternity leave as a birth mother. Today, Erin and Michael are the proud parents of their son, Michael Francis.
Natalie Liedman, Marketing Coordinator & Board Member
As the marketing coordinator for Iowans for Adoption, Natalie is responsible for writing about adoption and orchestrating social media, communications, public relations, and adoption-related events for the organization. She is a recent graduate of Iowa State University and earned her B.S. in public relations and B.A. in Spanish. She has had three media internships and is currently a marketing assistant/project manager at BANK in West Des Moines. Although Natalie has not been adopted, she enjoys working with birth families, adopted individuals and families and sharing their stories throughout Iowa.
Michelle Vogel, Treasurer
Adopted as an infant, Michelle joined the family of a couple that had adopted a baby girl five years earlier. Michelle and her adopted older sister ironically share a birthday, but that is where most of their similarities end. As a curious and impatient young person, Michelle always wondered about her biological family and if she had family that looked like her or shared the same traits. In 2007, after the birth of her second child, an unexpected chain of events reunited Michelle with her biological parents. While they remain in contact, Michelle believes adoption was a blessing for her and cannot imagine having to make such a difficult, selfless choice as an expecting mother. Michelle joined this organization because she wants to help others understand that adoption is a positive, powerful choice. Michelle lives in Ames with her husband, Jake, and their three young children, and serves as Vice President at Sigler Companies.
Meghan Hoyt, Technology Coordinator & Board Member
Meghan Hoyt is the Customer Relations and Business Operations Manager at EnSoft Corporation. In her prior roles, Hoyt was a project coordinator at EnSoft, a shelter intern at ACCESS Women’s Shelter and a respite care provider for Healthy Connections, Inc. She received her B.S in Psychology, Sociology and Women’s Studies at Iowa State University. Hoyt was adopted at a very young age. In total, her parents adopted five children and have been foster parents for roughly 30 years. Adoption and foster care have always been the foundation of her family. She considers herself fortunate for having been adopted and advocates for children successfully finding adoptive families. Through her current job, Hoyt is knowledgeable on managing websites, applying for funding and communicating with people from countries all over the world.
Ryan Genest, Adoption Attorney & Board Member
Ryan Genest attended Southern Illinois University at Carbondale earning his Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science in 1989. He attended Drake Law School in Des Moines, Iowa earning his Law Degree in 1992. He has been in private practice since graduating from law school. Genest practices in domestic relations (including adoption) and criminal law. He has represented clients throughout the state, including all of the counties in the central Iowa area. He is a member of the Iowa Trial Lawyers Association and the Iowa and American Bar Association’s Family Law Section.
Rusty Johnson, Public Relations Coordinator & Board Member
Raised in Oskaloosa, Iowa, Rusty Johnson defied the odds of the foster care system. Beginning in the fourth grade, Johnson moved into several temporary foster homes. By the sixth grade, elementary music teacher Ms. Carolyn Brickley agreed to take Johnson as a foster child. During supervised visits, he also connected with his biological mother, who in return, gave him a saxophone. After his mother’s death in 1994, Johnson used music and his saxophone to ease his childhood struggles. In 2006, he combined music and advocacy to create “Rusty Johnson’s American Dreams” tour. His child welfare advocacy has received national recognition and awards. This past July on his birthday, he was adopted by Ms. Carolyn Brickley.