2023 NCRAAO Instructor Qualifications

The Institute of Iowa Assessors is the 2023 NCRAAO Iowa Conference Educational Instructor Sponsor!

Rob Higgins – “Development of the Great River Entertainment Complex”

  • Graduated from the University of Iowa B.S. in Communication Studies
  • Golf Letterman University of Iowa
  • Played 1 year of professional golf in Florida
  • Past Assistant Golf Professional: The Club at Pelican Bay, Naples, Florida
  • Past Director of Golf at Bay Colony and Pelican Marsh Golf Clubs in Naples, Florida
  • Past Director of Golf at Tiburon Golf Club in Naples
  • Head Golf Professional / General Manager Spirit Hollow Golf Course in Burlington, Iowa
  • Senior Vice President / General Manager Fun City / Catfish Bend Casino

“Bubba” Ray Michael Sorensen II – “Freedom Rocks!”- Keynote Address

  • Attended DMACC then transferred to Iowa State University majoring in Art & Design
  • While attending college, was inspired by the movie “Saving Private Ryan” and painted a sincere thank you to Veterans on a large graffiti rock.
  • After local veterans encouraged Bubba to continue painting the rock, every year since 1999, for Memorial Day he painted the rock with different tributes to our nation’s Veterans
  • Owns and operates (with wife Maria) a mural painting business, Sorensen Studios, from their home in Greenfield, IA
  • Bubba just recently completed the Iowa Freedom Rock® Tour, by placing a Freedom Rock® in all of Iowa’s 99 counties
  • Created The Freedom Rock® Foundation, which exists to help communities maintain, fix and improve the landscaping around Freedom Rocks®, as well as, create new and unique Veteran’s murals and memorials
  • Serving a third term in the Iowa House, District 23

Brent A. Jones – “GIS in Assessment Operations” and “Technology Trends & Local Government” 

  • ESRI Global Manager Overseeing Esri’s worldwide strategic planning thought leadership, and marketing activities for land records, cadastral, surveying, and land administration
  • Specializes in modernizing existing land administration systems and designing new GIS-based cadastral management systems for small and large governments globally
  • Licensed Professional Land Surveyor
  • Professional Engineer
  • NSPS Fellow
  • Past president of URISA (Urban and Regional Information Systems Association)
  • Past president of GITA (Geospatial Information and Technology Association)
  • Co-inventor of the geoblockchain
  • Past member of the UNGGIM-LAS United Nations Committee of Experts on Geospatial Information Management sitting on the Expert Group on Land Administration and Management

 Lauren Voelker – “GIS in Assessment Operations” and “Technology Trends & Local Government”

  • Senior Solution Engineer on Esri’s Land Records and Local Government teams
  • Works with city and county governments throughout the US to help them develop and deploy GIS solutions
  • Worked in county government supporting a wide array of industries from land administration to public safety
  • Holds an MS in Geography with a focus on GIS and geomorphology
  • Worked as an archaeologist at Cahokia Mounds Historic Site in southern Illinois

Chesney (Offutt) Leafblad – “Leading Multi-Generations (Intergenerational Communication)”

  • Certified Illinois Assessing Officer (CIAO)-Master
  • Chief Deputy Assessor for Warren Township in Lake County, Illinois
  • 2022 recipient of the Marshall Theroux Memorial Award, which annually recognizes a member of the Illinois assessment community who demonstrates high ethical standards, professional achievement, and dedication to the service of others
  • Instructor and Course Developer for Illinois Property Assessment Institute (IPAI)
  • Immediate Past President – Illinois Chapter of the International Association of Assessing Officers (IAAO)
  • Certified Illinois Assessing Officer’s Association (CIAO) Chairwoman
  • IPAI Education Committee Chair
  • Lake County Township Assessor’s Association Vice President
  • Assisted in the development of the IPAI Competency Model which will provide the framework for the development of course content for assessors in Illinois
  • Serves on the IAAO Women’s Initiative Network, IAAO Education Committee and as a Past President for the Illinois Chapter of IAAO, IPAI Conference Content Committee, IPAI Legal Symposium Committee, and Women’s Property Tax Association of Illinois

Amanda Padgitt – “Leading Multi-Generations (Intergenerational Communication)”

  • Earned a Master’s Degree in Organizational Performance and Workplace Learning from Boise State University
  • Previously served as IPAI Learning & Development Specialist
  • Learning Program Manager at the Illinois Property Assessment Institute which involves working with the IPAE Education Committee, instructors, learning department interns, and course developers to create curriculum, provide training development and design, course analysis and evaluation
  • Tammy Dunbar – “What’s In & What’s Out in the Residential Housing Market”
  • Owner & Designated Broker of Fairfield Real Estate, Inc.
  • Certified Residential Specialist (CRS)
  • Accredited Buyer’s Representative (ABR)
  • Graduate of the Realtor’s Institute (GRI)
  • Recognized as the top real estate services team in the United States
  • Currently serves on the Board for the Iowa Association of Realtors and the Forms committee
  • Serves on the Budget Committee for the Southeast Iowa Regional Board of Directors Fairfield Park & Recreation Foundation, the Convention & Visitors Bureau Board
  • Former President of the Fairfield Area Chamber of Commerce and Chamber Director, Secretary of the Southeast Iowa Board of Realtors, Regional Housing Trust Fund Director, Jefferson County Hospital Foundation Board member, and the Greater Jefferson Co. Foundation Board member

Jim Horras – “What’s In & What’s Out in the Residential Housing Market”

  • Attended Iowa State University, Ag. Business major
  • Established real estate career associated with Davis & Palmer, Inc. in 1975
  • Received Broker’s License in 1980
  • Established “Horras & Company”, Auctioneers
  • Began appraisal of real estate in association with Davis & Palmer, Inc. and later became an owner of Fairfield Real Estate
  • Earned G.R.I. designation (Graduate, Realtor’s Institute, National Association of Realtors)
  • Earned Certified General Real Property Appraiser certificate in 1991
  • Earned A.L.C. designation (One of approximately 22 in Iowa) (Accredited Land Consultant, Realtor’s Land Institute, Realtor’s National Marketing Institute, National Assoc. of Realtor’s)
  • Past or present Director of First National Bank, Fairfield; Pres. of Commercial and Investment Division, Iowa Assoc. of Realtors; Assoc. Vice Pres., Iowa Association of Realtors; Associate Vice President, Realtor’s Land Institute, Iowa Chapter; Chairman, Fairfield Planning and Zoning Commission; Treasurer, Jefferson Co. Fair Board; Chairman, Education Committee, Stu Mary Parish Council; Vice Pres., Board of Directors, Educational Foundation of Fairfield Public Schools; Chairman, Jefferson Co. Assessor’s Board of Review; President, Fairfield Golf and Country Club

 Jerry Witt“You Have the Numbers, Now What? Data Visualization using Excel & Power BI”

  • Earned a Bachelor’s degree in mathematics from Coe College
  • 30 years of experience in the real estate field
  • Attained a Real estate license and Iowa Certified General Appraiser license
  • Appointed the Tama County Assessor in 2008 and Linn County Assessor in 2018
  • Earned an Iowa Certified Assessor (ICA) Designation
  • Earned IAAO Residential Evaluation Specialist (RES) and Assessment Administration Specialist (AAS) designations in 2013
  • Under Jerry’s leadership, his office received the IAAO Certificate of Excellence in Assessment Administration (CEAA)
  • Instructor for IAAO
  • Served as the president of the Iowa State Association of Assessors (ISAA) in 2018

Caleb Howard “You Have the Numbers, Now What? Data Visualization using Excel & Power BI”

  • Currently, the Linn County, Iowa Deputy Assessor where he has worked since 2007
  • Manages a staff of 5 appraisers and is responsible for their daily tasks and workflow throughout the assessment cycle
  • Earned an ICA (Iowa Certified Assessor) designation
  • Received a RES (Residential Evaluation Specialist)

Brad Eldridge – “Valuation of Breweries/Distilleries” and “Valuation of Renewable Energy”           

  • Over 25 years in commercial real estate appraisal split between single property appraisal and mass appraisal
  • Supervises the Commercial Real Estate Division at the Douglas County Appraiser’s Office in Lawrence, Kansas
  • Serves on the Education and Professional Development committees at the International Association of Assessing Officers (IAAO)
  • Holds leadership positions with the Kansas City Chapter of the Appraisal Institute and the Kansas County Appraisers Association
  • Attained a Certified General Appraiser license in Kansas
  • Earned an MAI designation from the Appraisal Institute
  • Earned a CAE designation and is a Senior instructor from IAAO
  • Led task forces to integrate the new Body of Knowledge into IAAO coursework
  • Managing Member of TEAM Consulting

Kara Endicott – “Up the Creek (Personnel Disasters)” and “Renewable Energy”

  • Over 25 years of experience in mass appraisal
  • Assistant County Appraiser for Johnson County, KS
  • Earned a Certified Assessment Evaluator (CAE) Designation
  • Residential Evaluation Specialist (RES) Designee from the International Association of Assessing Officers
  • Senior National Instructor IAAO
  • Current Region 1 representative on the Board of Directors for IAAO
  • Previous IAAO Education Committee member and Chair

Mike Weeks “Lot Sizing & Pricing” and “Sales Ratio Analysis”

  • Attended Marshalltown Community College and Iowa State University
  • Started career in the assessment field in Black Hawk County, Iowa as Appraiser I
  • Named Chief Deputy Assessor in Buchanan County in 1999
  • Experience appraising all classes of property and working with GIS
  • Employed with Vanguard Appraisals, Inc. since 2005 selling, implementing, and training their CAMAvision® software
  • Conducts Annual Services for select jurisdictions in all classes of property
  • Iowa Certified Assessor (ICA)
  • Certified Illinois Assessing Officer (CIAO)

Larry “Buck” Kooz – “Incidents & Safety Training for Assessment Professionals”

  • Born and raised along with 8 siblings on a farm outside LaMotte, IA
  • Graduated from Dubuque Senior H.S.
  • Following graduation, he opened a business, LaMotte Seed and Supply, which he currently still runs
  • He was elected Jackson County Supervisor where he served for 12 years
  • Witness to courthouse active shooter incident involving the Jackson County Assessor
  • Appointed Jackson County Chief Deputy 2018
  • Appointed Jackson County Assessor in January 2019

Officer B. Cameron – “Incidents & Safety Training for Assessment Professionals”

  • A 16-year member of the Burlington Police Department
  • 2006 Graduate Iowa Law Enforcement Academy
  • Field Training Officer
  • NASRO Member
  • Certified Alice Instructor
  • Currently assigned to Burlington High School as the School Resource Officer

Randy Ripperger – “Commercial Assessment 101”

  • Central College, Pella, Iowa – Bachelor of Arts, Economics
  • State of Iowa Certified General Real Property Appraiser, #CG01607, (November 5, 1996)
  • Designated Certified Assessment Evaluator (CAE) by the International Association of Assessing Officers
  • Designated Iowa Certified Assessor (ICA) by the Institute of Iowa Certified Assessors
  • Appointed Polk County Assessor in 2014
  • Past-President International Association of Assessing Officers
  • Past National Association of Counties, Director
  • President, Institute of Iowa Certified Assessors
  • Senior Instructor, International Association of Assessing Officers
  • Outstanding Member Award, Iowa State Association of Assessors, 2011
  • Verne W. Pottorff, CAE, Professional Designee of the Year Award, International Association of Assessing Officers, 2011
  • Professional Development Lifetime Achievement Award, International Association of Assessing Officers, 2021
  • IAAO Fellows Award, 2022

Danielle Brazant“What Makes a Great Assessor?”

  • Survivor of near-death experience causing traumatic brain injury
  • Professional writer and speaker delivering powerful presentations and keynote addresses
  • Over 15 years of Management and successful Sales Experience
  • Leadership expert teaching HOW to motivate, and create motivation, within any organization or Business using 6 steps and 3 key elements
  • Team, webinar, and breakout session instructor delivering customized instructional speeches and materials tailored to the client’s platform
  • Author of “Maximizing Your Potential: How to Start the Journey Towards True Happiness in Life”
  • Previous City Commissioner and Board of Director

Brian C. Arnold – “Thinking Outside the Numbers/Data Collection and Valuation Tips”

  • Over 25 years of experience in the fields of Assessment, Appraisal, Planning, and Zoning
  • Owner – BAsis Solutions, LLC – A consulting and real estate valuation company
  • B.A. Business Admin. – Real Estate & Land Use Economics – University of Nebraska Omaha
  • Residential Evaluation Specialist (RES) Designee from the IAAO
  • Iowa Certified Assessor (ICA) Designee from IICA
  • Former Education, Legislative, AG Land Use Adjustment, IDR Multi-Res Equalization, and IDR Equalization Committee member with ISAA