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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.

  • Deb Beck, Vice President
    Deb Beck, Vice President

    Deb is a graduate from Central City High School and attended Kearney State College. After college, Deb began her employment with Pinnacle Bank. She is currently a Mortgage, Consumer, Ag and Commercial Loan Officer. Deb is married to Dean Beck and resides in Clarks, NE. They have one son, Ryan. Ryan and his wife, Nicole have 2 children, Blake and Callaway and they live in Lincoln, NE. Deb enjoys family and friend time, gardening, landscaping, flowers, traveling, reading and as much time golfing as she can get in.

  • Tom Wagner, Secretary
    Tom Wagner, Secretary

    Tom is a graduate of Central City High School and received a B.A. in Education from Wayne State College. Tom and his wife Nancy farm in Merrick County and are members of the Episcopal Church in Central City. They have 2 grown sons, Sean and Trent. Tom is also a member of the Platte Peer Group/Bader Park. Tom enjoys working for early childhood education, volunteering and following his grand kids’ activities.

  • 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 (24), Ashton (22), Gwyneth (13) and Gretchen (12). She enjoys volunteering with youth at her church and Palmer Public School. Leah's favorite hobby (her family might say "obsession") is travel planning.

  • 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 (32), Wyatt (22), and Concey (17). Crissy enjoys volunteering for Special Olympics, fishing, snow skiing and boating. Crissy is a member of St. Peter & Paul Catholic Church in St. Paul.

  • Larry Benson
    Larry Benson

    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 seven grandchildren.

  • Morgan Clarke-Hogan
    Morgan Clarke-Hogan

    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 with her husband Donald. They have 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.

  • Nicole Greving
    Nicole Greving

    Nicole and her husband Shane live in Chapman. Nicole is a graduate from Central City High School and attended Northeast Community College. She works inside the home and has two children, a daughter Bailey (13) and a son Braiden (10). Nicole served as the President of Central City Elementary PTO for the last four years. She currently is serving on the board as the Secretary. Nicole enjoys spending time with family and friends.

  • 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.

  • Lisa Kershaw
    Lisa Kershaw

    Lisa is a graduate of Silver Creek Public High School and received her Associate of Applied Science Degree in Ag Business from SCC in Beatrice. Lisa and her fiance Travis have 2 sons, Ty and Gavin Vanek. Lisa is employed at Whitetail and is a member of the Methodist Church. Lisa enjoys spending time with family and friends.

  • Diane Schoch
    Diane Schoch

    Diane is graduate from Fullerton High School and attended Methodist School of Nursing in Omaha, NE graduating in 1985. In 2009 she completed her Bachelor’s Degree in Healthcare Administration. Diane was Chief Nursing Officer at Merrick Medical Center for the past 30 years. She and her husband Roger own and operate R & D Sprinkler Service, Inc. in the Merrick County area. The Schoch’s have 3 grown children and one son-in-law, Abby and Tanner live in Clarks where Abby teaches at High Plains and Tanner is also employed at High Plains where he is a coach while attending UNK to complete his teaching degree. Amy, lives in Central City and works at Beaver Creek Marketing and Brad attends UNK studying pre-med. Diane is also a member of the Presbyterian Church. Diane enjoys spending time with family especially during the summer months along the Loup River.

  • Monica Simonson
    Monica Simonson

    Monica grew up and continues to make her home in Palmer. She is a graduate of the University of NE Kearney earning her Bachelor of Arts degree and Masters in Curriculum and Instruction from Doane College. Monica and husband Randy have two children. Logan (26) and his wife Karly make their home South of Worms. They both work for Grand Island Physical Therapy. Bailey (22) will graduate in May with a teaching degree. Monica is employed with the Grand Island Public Schools, where she has taught for 34 years. She is a member of the St. John’s Lutheran Church and a variety of educational organizations. Monica enjoys reading, Husker volleyball, traveling and air-boating.

  • 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.

Our Impact

  • Community Grants Awarded


  • Scholarships Awarded


  • Donations Received


  • Total Funds Distributed


  • Funds Managed for Others


© 2021 Merrick Foundation

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