50th Anniversary Reunion for Past & Present Staff

Join us for the Center's 50th Anniversary Reunion!

Join us on June 16 for a reunion of past and present
Center staff and training program participants!

June 16, 5:30pm-9:00pm
Raccoon River Park Nature Lodge
2500 Grand Ave, West Des Moines, IA 50265

Come when you can and stay as long as you like! You are welcome to bring a guest. Formal remarks will begin at 6:30 pm. Beverages and hors d’oeuvres will be provided. We hope you’ll bring stories and memories to share!

Contact Paige Franzluebbers | (515) 274-4006 | pfranzluebbers@mindspiritcenter.org


August 2021 Staff Highlight: Alicia Krpan, L.M.H.C.

Alicia Krpan, L.M.H.C.

What do you like best about working at the Center?

I like the people that I work with and the collegiality we have developed through the years.

What is your favorite thing to do when you’re not at work?

I love to cook, read, travel, and going on unplanned adventures with my family.


What is your favorite color?


What is your favorite quote?

In the long run, where we put our attention is central to a sense of meaning and purpose.

July 2021 Staff Highlight: Emily Lovell, Administrative Assistant

Emily Lovell, Administrative Assistant

What do you like best about working at the Center?

My favorite thing about working at DMPCC is the friendly and kind environment. I appreciate the genuine interactions I have with others, making the atmosphere very delightful. It makes me feel good to be a part of a team that supports one another!

What is your favorite thing to do when you’re not at work?

I really enjoy getting in touch with my creative side. I have been working on many projects. I like to spend time painting, crafting polymer clay earrings, and painting fun designs on thrifted clothing. I also love spending time outside. I often find myself at Greenwood Park in Des Moines appreciating the wildflowers and walking on the trails.

What is your favorite color?

I have many favorite colors and it is always changing. I tend to go through “color phases” and surround myself with my favorite color at that time. At the moment, I am very fond of lilac purple.

 What is your favorite quote?

I’ve always been fond of the quote; “It is what it is”.  This helps me to accept experiences as they are and be able to go with the flow!

Kathy Reardon made the Center better

(back to the Kathy Reardon tribute home page)

by James E. Hayes, D.Min., executive director and spiritual director at the Des Moines Pastoral Counseling Center

Kathy Reardon has made the Center better in many ways since she joined us in 2001. That’s why it was difficult for me to hear when she asked for some time last month to inform me that she planned to retire from the Center at the end of July 2020. Difficult to hear and yet I’m happy for her as this pandemic has helped her to discern the next chapter of her life and how she can continue to make a difference in the lives of others. She is already missed. Though she is retiring from the Center, she remains energized by her spiritual direction practice. She has found virtual meetings from her home cloister to be fruitful and she looks forward to continuing that practice. We look forward to her staying connected to the Center and being a resource for future inspirational offerings.

In typical Kathy fashion, she didn’t want to make a big deal about her retirement. Those who know her understand that she’s a contemplative at heart—and an introvert. Being the center of attention causes discomfort. Those who know her and how much she’s contributed to the Center also know that she has been a big deal in making a difference. She changed the way we serve by bringing her breadth of skills to the service of our mission. She created new services; changed our vocabulary as she helped us to understand words like “healing touch;” brought the heart of a prophet to our systems so that all might be treated with equal shares of love. I was privileged to experience many of her gifts in our short three years of working together. She helped me to understand this place as she asserted her leadership skills and gave me sound advice on issues that needed tending as I started my time as an executive director. She was a confidant when I needed advice on difficult decisions. She helped me to understand better what holistic healing means in our work. Most importantly, she helped me to grow in my own understanding of ultimate mystery through formal workshops and simple daily comments in the workplace that alerted us all to the depth of each moment in the context of the everlasting now. Thank you Kathy!

As my time with Kathy was not decades in length, I asked colleagues who had such tenure to share some thoughts about Kathy’s contributions.

From Susan Ackelson, former Center counselor who also retired recently:

Kathy brought a focus on the body and spirituality with her holistic nursing, healing touch and spiritual direction along with her training in mental health.  The body aspect was completely new for the Center and her work in helping us integrate this new aspect of holistic treatment was critical.  She helped us expand our knowledge of other therapeutic body practices by inviting practitioners of alternative health modalities to meet the staff.  She then initiated community education forums for our clients and community members to educate on alternative health modalities.  She also developed a holistic assessment tool for therapists to use in evaluating their clients. Kathy led a weekly meditation group for our staff for years. 

From Ellery Duke, licensed psychologist and former executive director:

I recall the breakfast meeting at Village Inn in 2001when Jeff, Eileen and I met with Kathy about the prospect of her joining the Center’s staff, doing spiritual direction and Healing Touch.  We of course wanted her to bring spiritual direction and Healing Touch to the Center’s growing interest in the integration of mind, body, and spirit healing.  Kathy brought her understanding of, and expression of healing based in her nursing and spiritual direction backgrounds.  Through the ideas of Kathy, Jeff Means, Kay Riley, and others, the highly regarded PrairieFire program was launched.  Over 100 have been trained through PrairieFire.  It was through Kathy’s ground-breaking work in spirituality at the Center that Diane McClanahan came on board to further expand the Center’s offerings in spirituality and ministry.  Kathy’s spirit-based, mindful approach to life has certainly shaped how the Center expresses its mission.  Thank you.

As the pandemic precludes any formal gathering, we hope to gather more such thoughts to celebrate Kathy’s contributions to our mission. Feel free to send your recollections and notes of gratitude to her directly. If you send them to the Center, we’ll make sure she gets those. At some point we hope to have an appropriate celebration for any who have retired in this age of pandemic.

If you are interested in honoring Kathy with a donation to the PrairieFire fund,  you may donate here.

With gratitude for the many people touched by Kathy’s work, we ask that she be blessed with abundant life as she begins this next chapter of her life’s story.


Heartfelt thank you to Kathy Reardon – pioneer and educator

Kathy Reardon, R.N., M.S., Spiritual Director, Holistic Healer

Kathy Reardon retired from the Des Moines Pastoral Counseling Center in August 2020 after 17 years of innovative leadership and service in holistic healing — integrating mind, body and spirit into the therapeutic process.

As one beloved by many, we are pleased to honor Kathy with reflections from her long-time colleagues, and also by offering a way for you to join in the tributes.

Tributes to Kathy Reardon

How you can thank and honor Kathy Reardon

  • Send Kathy a note or letter via the Center:

Attn: Kathy Reardon

Des Moines Pastoral Counseling Center

8553 Urbandale Ave.

Urbandale, IA 50322

  • Donate to the PraireFire fund in honor of Kathy Reardon:



Kathy Reardon and Kay Riley, co-founders of the Center’s PriaireFire spiritual renewal program were honored in 2016 with a concert by singer/songwriter Sara Thomsen.

Meet board member Shirley Poertner

Shirley Poertner, a member of the Center’s Board of Directors

The Des Moines Pastoral Counseling Center is grateful for our volunteer, community-based board of directors. They give generously of their time, talents and treasures to advance the mission of understanding, hope and healing. Why? One board member, Shirley Poertner, agreed to share about herself and her motivations. Thank you, Shirley!


What are your hobbies?  travel, mystery novels, gardening, walking with my dog, Cooper

What is your professional background? I worked in banking for ten years before taking corporate positions at Meredith Corporation and DuPont Pioneer. I formed a management consulting firm in 1994 and for twenty years, offered leadership development, executive coaching , and strategic planning services. The last ten years of my professional career, I was an Associate of VitalSmarts LLC in Provo, UT and marketed, sold and delivered workshops based on the New York Times bestselling book, Crucial Conversations.

Tell us about your educational background: I have a teaching degree from NE MO State University (…now Truman U) and a Master’s in adult education from Drake University.

How did you get involved with the Center’s Board of Directors? I had used the Center’s services over the last fifteen years, donated annually, and I knew a number of the Center’s staff and board members. I had always thought the Center would be a wonderful place to contribute by sharing some of my professional skills. When my name was mentioned as a potential board member and I was contacted, I immediately said, “Yes!”

What do you find most inspiring about the Center’s mission? The most inspiring aspect of the Center for me is its spiritually integrated counseling and its focus on holistic healing and self-discovery. The Center’s services that I tapped into in the early 2000’s literally changed my life, enriching my perspective on who I am and what I have to offer the world.

What would you like others to know about the Center? I’d like others to know what a unique place the Center is, its diversity of services, its inclusiveness and accessibility. We don’t turn anyone away who is in need of healing, offering a sliding fee schedule and assistance funds.


If you are still making end of year philanthropy decisions, please consider helping children, teens and adults who need access to mental health counseling and education. DonateNow

Rorschach experts in the house, a family story

Father – Daughter Rorschach experts, Dr. Olav Garderbring and Dr. Eva Christiansen, circa 1999
October 2016 – Christiansen, Ph.D. (photo left), serves as a licensed psychologist and in-house Rorschach expert at the Des Moines Pastoral Counseling Center. Eva also helps develop the Rorschach on a national level through her work with the Society for Personality Assessment.
Eva’s strong interest in the Rorschach is inherited from her father, Dr. Olov Gardebring (photo right), a psychologist who presented at the very first meeting of the International Rorschach Society (IRS) in 1949 in Switzerland.
Fifty years later, in 1999, IRS leaders invited Dr. Gardebring to return to their annual meeting (in Amsterdam) for another presentation. This time Eva joined him and was given the honor to introduce her father onto the stage. Recently, Eva helped her father celebrate his 98th birthday and she recalled the two times he presented at IRS meetings, and their shared interest in the Rorschach.
The Rorschach is a psychological test in which subjects’ perceptions of inkblots are recorded and then analyzed using psychological interpretation, complex algorithms, or both. “The process involves a lot of interaction between the counselor and client,” said Eva.

Note: this image is merely a graphic inkblot representation, it is not a real Rorschach image. Practitioners prefer the actual Rorschach inkblots are used only in clinical settings.

The Center couldn’t be more proud to have Eva — and her rich trove of knowledge — on our clinical roster, helping us to provide quality counseling services to the community.
Last year, the Center’s testing team provided 860 hours of psychological testing for our clients, utilizing a variety of assessment tools.
For more information: dmpccc.org/testing.

Thank you Ellery!

From the Desk of Ellery Duke – November 2016

A message of Gratitude from Ellery here.

Honor Ellery with a gift to the Ellery H. Duke Fund for Hope & Healing


After nearly 40 years of dedicated service, Ellery will be retiring in December 2016.  We invite you to recognize Ellery for the impact he has made on the lives of so many.  This fund will help ensure a legacy of hope and healing for generations to come.


Ellery’s retirement message – June 2016

pcc_ellery letter_corporate_for email_web-page-001

Click image to launch a PDF of Ellery’s letter to supporters of the Des Moines Pastoral Counseling Center.


Media Kit

Media release – Dr. Ellery Duke announces retirement after leading large mental health
organization and counseling clients for nearly 40 years

2015 Annual Report – Des Moines Pastoral Counseling Center

Three-Minute Video – Des Moines Pastoral Counseling Center

What is pastoral counseling? 

Images – Click images to launch high resolution version for print.


Ellery Duke, Ph.D., licensed psychologist

Ellery Duke_headshot_72 dpi for web (2)

Ellery Duke, Ph.D., licensed psychologist


Des Moines Pastoral Counseling Center

Des Moines Pastoral Counseling Center


Ellery’s bike ride across America

Ellery bicycled 3,571 miles in 32 days, July 7 – August 7, 2013, raising more than $30,000 for mental health counseling assistance. Read his biking blog here.

Check back soon for a link to a photo album

Click image to access a photo album