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Who We Are


Our staff has a strong commitment to serving the many constituents of our organization. But first and foremost, they focus their energies on those who strive to make a difference in Merrick County.

Board of Directors

Our board represents a cross-section of our community and has a passion for our organization and those we serve. The members work hard to ensure long-term sustainability of the organization and oversee that the funds entrusted to us are used for the purpose directed.

  • Dr. Kristen Hermansen-Ryan, President
    Dr. Kristen Hermansen-Ryan, President

    Kristen is a graduate of Central City High School. Kristen attended University Nebraska Lincoln and UNMC College of Dentistry for D.D.S. Kristen and her husband Nick have three children, Charlee, Truman, and Juno. Kristen is a member of the Fairview United Methodist Church. Kristen enjoys her work, traveling, backpacking and reading.

  • Larry Benson, Vice President
    Larry Benson, Vice President

    Larry Benson has a Bachelor’s Degree in Ag Education from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and currently owns Benson Farms in Chapman, with his brother Birger. He is married to Aimee and they have three grown children Andrew (wife Kristin), Leah (husband Andrew) & Joel, as well as eight grandchildren.

  • Leah Brown, Treasurer
    Leah Brown, Treasurer

    Leah graduated from Central City High School and the University of Nebraska at Kearney with a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration. She and her husband, Darrin, farm near Archer and attend Fairview United Methodist Church. Leah has four children: Aaron, Ashton, Gwyneth, and Gretchen. She enjoys volunteering with youth at her church and Palmer Public School. Leah's favorite hobby (her family might say "obsession") is travel planning.

  • Mary Steiner, Secretary
    Mary Steiner, Secretary

    Mary received her Bachelor of Science degree in Nursing from the University of Colorado School of Nursing in 1983. As a registered nurse she acquired experience in acute care, public health, and management. During her career she was recognized as a patient advocate, collaborator, and “builder” of projects and programs. Mary is retired and lives in Chapman with her husband, Eric, and their granddaughters, Kenndra and Bekah. They have three grown children: Adrienne, Cheryl and Richard, who passed away in 2020. Mary is a member of the Chapman Baptist Church and the Chapman Community Improvement Association. She enjoys spending time with family and friends, reading, embroidery, and gardening.

  • Crissy Bader
    Crissy Bader

    Crissy grew up by Ericson, Nebraska. She is a graduate of Wheeler Central High School. Crissy graduated from the University of Kearney and earned a degree in Park and Recreation Management. Crissy and her husband farm and ranch near Palmer. They have three children, Regan, Wyatt, and Concey. Crissy enjoys volunteering for Special Olympics, fishing, snow skiing and boating. Crissy is a member of St. Peter & Paul Catholic Church in St. Paul.

  • Tyson Benner
    Tyson Benner

    Tyson is a graduate of Central City High School and received his Bachelor's of Science in Ag Business and Marketing. He is currently the VP of ag and commercial lending at Archer Credit Union in Central City. He is married to Katie Benner and they have three boys, Easton, Chase, and Byron.

  • Morgan Clarke
    Morgan Clarke

    Morgan received her Associate's degree in Business and Marketing from Southeast Community College and her Bachelor's in Business from Bellevue University. She is currently the General Manager of both the Central City Mall and Osceola Foodmart. Morgan currently lives just outside of Central City. She has three children: Kiyana, Braxton and Kendrick. Morgan is also a member of the United Methodist Church. She enjoys spending time with her kids, reading, and watching Husker or Green Bay football.

  • Marvin Fishler
    Marvin Fishler

    Marvin is a graduate of Central City High School and also attended Midland College before beginning a successful farming career. Marvin is now retired and serves on the Board of Directors for Southern Public Power District. Marvin and his wife Vicki live on a farm just west of Central City and have three adult children, Lynne, Mandi & Jessica.

  • Whitney Hake
    Whitney Hake

    Whitney is a kindergarten teacher at Palmer Public School. Whitney and her husband, Bryan, live in Palmer. They have two children, Lennon and Sutton.

  • Jayme Hans
    Jayme Hans

    Jayme attended Wynot Public Schools before receiving an education in HVAC/R and plumbing from Southeast Community College in Milford. He is the owner of Hans Service LLC and resides outside of Clarks. Jayme is married to Tamara Hans and they have four children, Ayden, Kyler, Taya, and Charlie.

  • Denise Hebda
    Denise Hebda

    Denise is a graduate of David City High School. She received her Bachelor of Science in Elementary and Special Education from the University of Nebraska at Lincoln, and her Master's Degree in Curriculum and Instruction from Wayne State College. She currently works in Special Education at Twin River High School. Denise lives in Silver Creek with her husband Ray. They have five children: Grant, Craig, Lana, Ross and Kirk. Denise enjoys spending time with family and friends, attending her kids' games, loves to watch Husker volleyball & football, scrapbooking, "junking"/antiques and outside activities.

  • Brandon Konwinski
    Brandon Konwinski

    Brandon is a graduate of Twin River High School. He received his Associate's Degree in Industrial Technology from Central Community College in Columbus and is currently employed by Rasmussen Mechanical Services as a Reliability Specialist. Brandon and his wife, Kasey, live on a farm just west of Silver Creek. They have two children, Watson and Jack.

  • D.J. Talbott
    D.J. Talbott

    D.J. is a graduate of Norfolk High School. He received his degree in Utility Line from Northeast Community College in Norfolk and is currently employed by Southern Public Power District. He is married to Tiffany and they have three daughters, Kylie, Kalyn & Kyndall.

  • Kevin Urkoski
    Kevin Urkoski

    Kevin is a graduate of Clarks High School. He received a Bachelor's degrees from both Midland Lutheran College as well as the University of Nebraska at Kearney. He is currently an Insurance Agent for Myers Insurance in Clarks. Kevin lives in Clarks with his wife Shelly, and their four children: Lane, Wyatt, HallieJo and Breyer. Kevin is a member of the Salem Lutheran Church in Stromsburg. Kevin is also part of the Clarks Volunteer Fire Department and is a coach for the youth sports programs. Kevin enjoys hunting, fishing and camping.

  • Trent Wagner
    Trent Wagner

    Trent is a graduate of Central City High School. He received his Bachelor's of Science at Nebraska Wesleyan before going to Kansas City Kansas Community College to receive a Mortuary Science Degree. Trent is a co-owner of Solt-Wagner Funeral Home which has locations in both Central City and Polk. He is married to Kim Wagner and they reside on a farm outside of Archer. Trent has three daughters, Taylor, Taryn, and Kenzie.

Our Impact Over 12 Months

  • Community Grants Awarded


  • Scholarships Awarded


  • Students Awarded


  • Donations Received


  • Number of Funds


© 2023 Merrick Foundation

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