About Us


A Residence of Hope and Healing

Founded in 1980, Beacon of Life serves adult women in Central Iowa who are experiencing homelessness due to domestic violence, incarceration, or substance use by providing a trauma-informed residential facility and evidence-based programming and support.

Throughout a 6–24 month stay at the Beacon (and for 12 months beyond their successful stay), clients work with our Case Manager to heal and build self-sufficiency. In-house programming includes mental health counseling, addiction counseling, and healthy relationships classes. The Case Manager connects clients with community partners, such as the Evelyn Kay Davis Center for financial literacy and Project Iowa for career development. Our remodeled, ADA accessible building in Sherman Hill houses 34 women and staff offices.

Our Mission

Our mission at The Beacon is to create an environment that empowers women in crisis to achieve positive long-term change.

Senior Staff

Headshot Zoomed Arms Crossed 2021
Melissa Vine, MA, LMHC

Executive Director

Jaclyn Duden

Case Manager

Amber Klingenberg

Office Manager

Board of Directors

Jill Niswander

Board President

VP of Human Resources, Emory Industrial Services

Member since 2016

Emily Berrier

Board Vice President

Assistant Vice President, Nationwide Insurance

Member since July 2019

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Shannon Sobek

Board Secretary

Attorney; Wasker, Dorr, Wimmer & Marcouiller, P.C

Member since July 2018

Katie Caggiano headshot
Katie Caggiano

Board Treasurer

Budget Analyst 3, Iowa Dep't of Public Health

Member since July 2020

Travis Simpson

Board Past President

Regional President, Northwest Bank

Member since October 2015

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Kennesha Woods

Parole Officer, Dept of Corrections

Member since March 2021

Sara Wille headshot
Sara Wille

Human Resources Director, Federal Home Loan Bank

Member since March 2021

Kim Babberl

Product Consulting Director, Mede Analytics

Member since July 2020

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Whitney Judkins

Partner/Attorney, Timmer & Judkins, PLLC

Member since March 2021

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Katherine Harrington

Exec. Director, Iowa Community Action Association

Member since July 2020


My addiction stemmed from a college softball knee injury. Years after the injury, after two surgeries and having a screw put in to address the lingering damage, I became addicted to pain pills. I started illegally obtaining them which ultimately lead me to prison. I had heard a lot about
the Beacon of Life, so…

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I started using drugs in my mid-twenties, and before I went to prison, I was using heavily and not supporting my family like I should have been. Drugs had taken control of me; I had no support and my life had spiraled out of control. I was arrested and sent to prison. I didn’t want to go back down that road and knew I needed...

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After several unhealthy relationships, drug usage, and losing my children, I became lost and depressed. It was after leaving an unhealthy living situation and spending the night in the sculpture park when I knew I needed help. I was broken, lonely, and trusted no one. I was admitted to Broadlawns Hospital and able to get a little sleep, but after…

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