Who We Are

Who is on the Board?

The Foundation Board of Directors consists of up to 15 community members with the experience and professionalism to identify community needs. The Board is responsible for the management of the Foundation. The Board serves without compensation.

Executive Committee:

Stephen Scheck

Dr. Stephen Scheck

President
Western Oregon University

Term Expires December 2024

Sarah Ramirez

Susan Graham

1st Vice President
Managing Member, Graham Oregon Properties, LLC
and Tax Attorney, Ernst & Young, Retired

Term Expires December 2025

Ben Meyer

Sabra Jewell

2nd Vice President,
City Communications, City of Monmouth

Term Expires December 2026

Ben Meyer

Abby Fitts

Secretary
Attorney at Law

Term Expires December 2025

Marilyn Morton

Marilyn Morton

Treasurer
MINET, Independence City Council

Term Expires December 2025

Vernon Wells

Vernon Wells

Past President
Retired from City of Independence

Term Expires December 2026

Members at Large:

Michael Cairns

Michael Cairns

Ecologist
US-EPA, Ret.

Term Expires December 2025

Michael Cairns

Karen Frascone

Owner,
K Insurance Group

Term Expires December 2025

Cec Koontz

Cec Koontz

Mayor of Monmouth,
Director of Finance & Operations, Central 13J

Term Expires December 2024

Jennifer Kubista

Jennifer Kubista

Superintendent, Central 13J School District

Term Expires December 2025

Ben Meyer

Ben Meyer

Financial Advisor Edward Jones

Term Expires December 2026

Sarah Ramirez

Sarah Ramirez

Owner, Joyful Blessings Consulting

Term Expires December 2026

Executive Committee:

Dr. Stephen Scheck

Dr. Stephen Scheck

President

Western Oregon University

Term Expires December 2024

Dr. Stephen Scheck has been in the Monmouth-Independence area since 2006 when he joined Western Oregon University (WOU) as dean of the college of liberal arts and sciences. Subsequently, he served as vice president for academic affairs and provost of the university before returning to the faculty as a professor of biology. When his children were younger, Dr. Scheck served in various capacities with the Boy Scouts of America, worked with local Girl Scouts, 4-H groups, and offered science lessons in local elementary schools. Dr. Scheck received B.S. and M.S. degrees from Fort Hays State University, Kansas, and a Ph.D. from Iowa State University.

Susan Graham

Susan Graham

1st Vice President

Managing Member, Graham Oregon Properties, LLC and Tax Attorney, Ernst & Young, Retired

Term Expires December 2025

Susan Graham joined the MICF Board after her retirement from Ernst & Young, where she worked as a Tax Attorney for more than 15 years. She currently runs a rental real estate management and development business, is a member of the Family YMCA of Marion & Polk Counties Board, and supports the AARP Tax-Aide program as the Monmouth Location Coordinator. She has served on non-profit boards and other volunteer organizations in California and Oregon since 2006. She has generally focused her volunteer efforts on education, diversity and inclusion, professional development, and health and wellness.

Susan has lived in Independence since 2014. Prior to moving here, she lived in San Francisco, San Diego, up and down the East Coast of the US, and even in France for a few years. She tells everyone who asks that she is not moving anymore. She is married and has an adult son living in California. In her free time, Susan is active with the Women of Independence and Monmouth (WIM) group and enjoys driving her Miata on local backroads.

 

Sabra Jewell

Sabra Jewell

2nd Vice President

City Communications, City of Monmouth

Term Expires December 2026

Sabra Jewell has been a member of the nonprofit sector for nearly ten years after a decade in the restaurant industry. Her roles within the industry have been focused on fund development, grant writing, and events. Sabra was raised in Smyrna, Georgia, received her BA in Communication from the College of Charleston, and spent five years in Boulder, Colorado, where she received her MPA from the University of Colorado – Denver.

Sabra lives in Independence with her husband and two pets. She works as a Development Officer at Western Oregon University. Her passions are strengthening communities through service and collaboration, her family, and the hospitality industry because you can take the girl out of the restaurant business, but you can’t take the restaurant business out of the girl.

Abby Fitts

Abby Fitts

Secretary

Abby Fitts, Attorney at Law

Term Expires December 2025

Abby Fitts grew up overseas and served in the Navy before moving to Independence in 2008. She and her husband live on the family farm with their 3 kids, all of whom attend Central. Abby owns and runs a law office in Independence and volunteers as a Court Appointed Special Advocate for children in foster care. She serves on several local and statewide boards and is a member of the Monmouth Independence Chamber of Commerce, SEDCOR, Oregon Association of Defense Counsel, among others.

Marilyn Morton

Marilyn Morton

Treasurer

1INET, Independence City Council.

Term Expires December 2025

Marilyn Morton retired from MINET. She has lived in Independence, Oregon, since 1990 and is an active member of the community. She was elected to the Independence City Council in 2002 and still serves in that capacity, currently serving as Council President. 

Marilyn serves on a variety of local organizations in Independence. Some of her current affiliations include serving as chair of the Monmouth-Independence Community Foundation, a 501(c)(3) organization that holds endowment and non-endowment funds for many local charitable groups. The Foundation gives out several annual scholarships to local graduates.

She is also an active member of each city’s Business Associations, Ash Creek Arts Center, and the Monmouth Independence Chamber of Commerce.

Marilyn’s work history includes finance, escrow, teaching piano, and running her own home office business for many years. In addition to City Council, as a local volunteer, she is involved in several annual festivals and events and for 21 years has organized the Independence Ghost Watch. She is also a published author. She believes deeply that excellent communication is the cornerstone of any successful business or organization and works hard to promote that principle in all that she does.

Vernon Wells

Vernon Wells

Past President

Retired from City of Independence

Term Expires December 2026

Vernon Wells has lived in the Monmouth-Independence area for most of his life and is a graduate of Central High School. He worked in emergency services for our community for over 40 years. While attending college he lived at the Monmouth Fire Department and worked as a dispatcher, firefighter, and medic. Vernon then began a career in law enforcement. He worked at both Monmouth Police Department and Polk County Sheriff’s Office before being appointed the Police Chief of Independence. Vernon served
as the Independence Police Chief for 26 years. Serving under 3 mayors and 5 City Managers.

Vernon received a Bachelor and Master’s degree in Criminal Justice from Oregon College of Education (now Western Oregon University). He worked for over ten years as a part-time instructor at the Oregon Department of Public Safety and Training. He also worked as an adjunct professor at Western Oregon University, and as a contract trainer for Western Community Policing Institute focusing on Community Policing and Ethics training. He was also active in the Oregon Association Chiefs of Police serving in all the elected positions including their President in 2007-2008.

After his retirement in 2014 Vernon has focused most of his volunteer time with the Monmouth Independence Community Foundation (MICF). He feels MICF has the greatest potential for doing good in our local community. He has great admiration for the men and women who created the Foundation and structured it in a way to assure program funding will exist forever. He has been on the Executive Board of the Monmouth
Independence Community Foundation since 2006 and served as the MICF Board President from 2015 to 2023.

Members at Large:

Michael Cairns

Michael Cairns

Ecologist
US-EPA, Ret.

Term Expires: December 2025

Michael Cairns has been a resident of Independence since 1975. He retired from the US Environmental Protection Agency after 31 years as an ecologist. Michael’s career involved research and publishing on global climate change, nutrient dynamics in Oregon Cascades watersheds, coho salmon decline in coastal Oregon rivers, fish and wildlife toxicology, and lake eutrophication.

He earned a bachelor’s in Zoology from San Jose State University, a Master’s in Fisheries Science from Oregon State University, and a bachelor’s in Public Policy and Administration from Western Oregon State College (WOU). 

Michael has served on various community boards, including the Independence City Council, Cultural Awareness Commission, Historic Preservation Commission, and the Central School District budget committee. He is currently a member of the Central Lions Club, Independence Elks Lodge, and several non-profit organizations. 

Michael is married to Gail Oberst for 32 years and is the father of adult daughters Bootsie and Emmylou and son Will. The latter two are Central High graduates. He is the proud grandfather of 4 grandkids.

Karen Frascone

Karen Frascone

Owner
K Insurance Group

Term Expires: December 2025

Karen grew up on a small dairy farm in Wisconsin and graduated from the University of Wisconsin with a Bachelors in English Literature. She and her husband moved to Oregon in 1979. 

After 10 years of working as an independent health insurance agent, she joined Pfaff-Karren Insurance in the fall of 2010.

​In the process of building her client base in the early 2000s, Karen began using colorful business cards and became the “lady with the purple business card.” She has been a member of the Salem Chamber of Commerce since 2001. She serves on the Board of the Independence Downtown Association and the Monmouth Independence Community Foundation. Karen is authorized to offer Sons of Norway insurance products in Oregon and is actively involved on the board of Thor Lodge, Salem Sons of Norway, and the Eugene Sons of Norway Sonja Lodge.

Because of her dedication to clients and strong work ethic, she has been recognized for her achievements. She is one of 31 agents statewide to receive an annual grant from the State of Oregon to assist even more Oregonians in enrolling in health insurance. With no plans to retire anytime soon, she is thrilled to have the team of K Insurance Group working together to focus on the goal of helping more clients with the best possible customer service in all aspects of health and life insurance.

Cec Koontz

Cec Koontz

Mayor of Monmouth, Director, Finance & Operations, Central 13J School District

Term Expires: December 2024

Cecelia ‘Cec’ Koontz served Monmouth community as a city councilor from 2010-2014. She has served in leadership roles for several Monmouth-Independence organizations.

In 2012, she was named the Monmouth‐Independence Chamber of Commerce’s First Citizen for her outstanding service to her community and in 2018, Cec Koontz was elected Mayor of the city of Monmouth, Oregon.

Koontz serves on the WOU Board of Trustees and is the Director of Finance and Operations for the Central School District. She obtained a bachelor’s degree in economics from the University of Puget Sound in Tacoma, Wash.

Dr. Jennifer Kubista

Dr. Jennifer Kubista

Superintendent, Central School District 13J

Term Expires December 2025

Jennifer Kubista is the Superintendent of Central School District.

She was the Director of Student Life in the Tacoma School District for 6 years where she was responsible for implementing the Whole Child initiative district-wide among other duties. Located in Tacoma, Washington the school district has about 30,000 students. She also served as the Director of Athletics and Activities while at Tacoma.

Kubista has served as the Commissioner of the Columbia Empire Volleyball Association in Beaverton, Oregon for 2 years. She has been recognized with the Northwest PBIS Network Champions Award in 2014 and as Athletic Director of the Year in 2010 by the Washington Secondary Schools Athletic Administrators Association.

She has completed work in the Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development (ASCD) Influence Leader Program.

Kubista has a Doctorate in Educational Leadership from Seattle University and a Masters of Arts degree in Education from the University of Connecticut.

Ben Meyer

Ben Meyer

Financial Advisor Edward Jones

Term Expires December 2026

Ben joined Edward Jones as a financial advisor in 2000 and became a limited partner with Edward Jones in 2011. He earned a bachelor’s degree in business from Western Oregon State University. Ben received the AAMS® professional designation in 2006. The College for Financial Planning awards the AAMS® designation to individuals who complete a 12-module professional education program, pass a final examination, commit to its code of ethics, and agree to pursue continuing education.

Ben and his wife, Kari, have one son and two daughters. He has lived in Monmouth since 1993. Ben has been active in business and civic affairs in Monmouth for many years. He is also a member of Rotary, the Chamber of Commerce, Monmouth-Independence Community Foundation, and a volunteer with the First Baptist Church.

Sarah Ramirez

Sarah Ramirez

Owner, Joyful Blessings Consulting

Term Expires December 2026

Sarah grew up in the Polk County area, graduated from Central High School where she met her husband, Jesus. She lives in Independence with her husband, son and their bevy of animals.

Sarah has worked in many community businesses, volunteers her ongoing life experience as a board member, parent advocate, and fund developer for several local nonprofits. She has been an active community member for many years raising awareness for inclusion and access for people living with disabilities.

Sarah loves her community and feels being part of MICF is a great way to give back and be part of the next generation of Monmouth and Independence leaders.

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