board of directors
Brian was born and raised in Keokuk graduating from Keokuk High School in 1996. He moved back to the area and started working for Shoemaker & Haaland Professional Engineers in 2007 and is currently the Operations Manager and head of their Keokuk Office.
Brian joined the Chamber Board of Directors in 2009 and is currently serving his second term as Board
President. He is a member of the Keokuk Rotary Club serving as President in 2015-2016.
Brian has been married to his wife, Tisha, for 17 years and has two children, Aubree age 16 and Ascher
age 11. He enjoys to spending time with his family, playing golf, assisting with his sons Boy Scout Troop, and helping around the community.
Mark Smidt is in his second stint on the Keokuk Area Chamber of Commerce board, serving on the board and as president in the mid-2000s. He re-joined the board in January 2018.
Smidt and his wife Barb moved to Keokuk in 2001. He served as publisher of the Daily Gate City and several area publications for 14 years before briefly moving to Oregon.
Since June 2017, he has served as CEO of the Hoerner YMCA. Barb has worked at First Community Bank for most of that time and is currently market president. They have two grown children, Laura and Nick.
Keokuk City Administrator
Cole S. O’Donnell serves as the Keokuk City Administrator having previously served in several cities in Iowa, Minnesota, and Illinois. During his twenty five years in city management Mr. O’Donnell has been active in community service in each of the cities
he worked for. This includes being an active board member of chamber, economic development, and civic organizations. As a member of these boards, Mr. O’Donnell has been able to form strong public private partnerships that increased the vitality and
quality of life of each community.
As a father of four, Mr. O’Donnell is kept busy with their many activities. This does not stop him from being an active member of the Keokuk Lions and enjoying many of Keokuk’s attractions.
In the few slow moments, Mr. O’Donnell likes to take walks with his wife of 26 years and dogs of 5, 3, and 2 years.
Emily Benjamin is the Community Development Specialist at Climax Molybdenum, a Freeport-McMoRan
Company where she strives to continually improve corporate social responsibility and community economic development in Lee County by promoting collaboration and communication between industry and stakeholders on positive projects and outcomes.
Following sales and marketing experience in the private agricultural sector as well as four years coordinating outreach programs with Iowa State Extension and Outreach of Lee County, Benjamin, a Lee County native, was excited to have the opportunity to devote her professional attention to driving positive collaborations that improve social, economic, educational, and overall quality of life in Lee
County, for a company that is committed to working toward sustainable development in the communities where they operate.
Benjamin sees Lee County residents as the area’s greatest asset and is passionate about having a positive impact on the community that has had an indelible impact on her. She believes we all share a responsibility to be positive ambassadors and advocates of our community and looks forward to
engaging in partnerships that highlight as well as improve upon all that Lee County has to offer.
Benjamin sees the Chamber of Commerce and affiliate organizations as a cornerstone for facilitating those partnerships.
Though passionate about her work, Emily’s favorite title is that of “Mommy” to an ornery and energetic 4-year old named Kasen. The two, along with their border collie, Lucy, live near Shimek State Forrest where they can usually be found exploring the outdoors, building epic pillow forts, reading, or playing make-believe.