meet our team
BOARD OF DIRECTORS
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.
I am originally from Warsaw and I currently live on my farm southwest of Sutter, Il. I graduated from Warsaw High School in 1981 and received my bachelor’s degree from Truman State in 1986. I am currently an Account Manager at Van Meter Inc., a role I have enjoyed since 2002.
I have two daughter’s Alex Morgan from Hamilton, IL. and Danie Courtois from Tucson, AZ. I enjoy spending my free time hunting, fishing, and being active outdoors with my Australian Sheppard Pebbles. I also enjoy wood working and spending time my family and friends. When I am not busy outdoors, you may find me looking for antiques with my fiancé Sue Leon.
Tricia Merydith, is the Manager of Taske Force, Inc. Tricia is a certified staffing professional through the American Staffing Association celebrating her 26thyear in the staffing industry. This is also Trish’s third term serving on the Keokuk Chamber of Commerce board. Tricia has been involved in many Keokuk volunteer roles, including serving as the Keokuk Lion’s Club Secretary for 20 years. Trish states, “I would call myself a true “KEOKUKIAN”. I am proud to be a part of the Chamber. I feel it plays such an important role in Keokuk. The Chamber is a great way to promote our business and integrity in a fun and professional manner”
I am originally from Ottumwa, IA. I attended college at Indian Hills Community College where I received my Associates Degree, I then received my Bachelor’s Degree from Missouri Baptist University in St. Louis while playing baseball all four years. My wife, Kasey, and I moved to Keokuk in 2018 because we love the small town atmosphere and opportunities to pursue our careers. She is a first grade teacher at Running Fox Elementary while I am a Financial Advisor with Edward Jones. Our daughter, Lucy, was born in August of 2020. We love the outdoors and do our best to live life to the fullest.