Abby Howie, Kashaan Merchant and Steve Van Oort Will Serve with new DMACC Foundation President Scott Bennett
The trio are part of a 29-member team of volunteers serving on the DMACC Foundation Board
The banking executive, franchisee managing director and county supervisor will each serve three-year terms, which can be renewed
One of the primary roles of the DMACC Foundation is to help raise scholarship funds to support the academic success of DMACC students
Three new members have been added to the
DMACC Foundation Board of Directors.
Abby Howie, Senior Loan Officer at Availa Bank;
Kashaan Merchant, Managing Director of Merchant Investments, Inc.; and
Steve Van Oort, District 3 Supervisor with the Polk County Board of Supervisors, have been added to the 29-member team of volunteers serving on the DMACC Foundation Board.
They will be working closely with Scott Bennett of Ankeny, who was recently chosen as the new President of the DMACC Foundation Board of Directors. The new members will each serve three-year terms, which can be renewed.
“I am pleased to welcome, Abby, Kashaan, and Steve to the DMACC Foundation Board of Directors,” said Tara Connolly, Executive Director of the DMACC Foundation. “The DMACC Foundation Board Members represent the diverse communities in which we serve. Each member brings unique perspectives and skills that will enhance and strengthen the Foundation.”
One of the primary roles of the DMACC Foundation is to help raise scholarship funds to support the academic success of
DMACC students. The Foundation, which awards more than $2 million in annual scholarship support, works collaboratively with individual donors, local businesses and support organizations to ensure funding is available for student scholarships as well as for faculty and program enhancements.
Each year, the Foundation hosts events offering those donors an opportunity to provide support for DMACC and its students. The Foundation’s Annual CEO Golf Outing is one event that has experienced tremendous success in raising millions of dollars since it began in 2008.
Abby Howie (above, left) has been the Senior Loan Officer and Senior Vice President at Availa Bank in Ames for the past three years. Prior to that, she has had extensive service in the banking profession working in various positions at U.S. Bank in Boone, Vision Bank in Boone, MidWestOne Bank in Waterloo, U.S. Bank in Cedar Falls and Firstar Bank in Boone.
Howie earned a Bachelor of Science in Financial Management and a Masters of Business Administration from Upper Iowa University.
Kashaan Merchant (above, center) has served as Managing Director of Merchant Investments, Inc. for nearly six years. He has experience in restaurant operations across multiple states, as one of the largest franchisees in a national chain.
In addition, Merchant has been the President of National Investment Consolidated Enterprises, the Treasurer and Secretary of Twin Cedars Bank and Co-Chair of the Merchant Foundation of Iowa. He earned a Bachelor’s degree in Business (Management and Finance) from Iowa State University.
Steve Van Oort (above, right) was elected a Polk County Supervisor in 2012 after serving seven years as mayor of Ankeny. He currently represents the 3rd District which includes Altoona, Ankeny, Bondurant, Mitchellville, Pleasant Hill, and a portion of unincorporated Polk County.
Van Oort serves as a Polk County representative on numerous boards and committees. He was appointed by Governor Reynolds to serve as a Commissioner on the Iowa Commission on Aging and is the founding member of the Ankeny Community Foundation.
The DMACC Foundation celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2022. According to Connolly, since its inception, the DMACC Foundation has allocated $19.5 million in scholarship support to DMACC students.
For more information about the DMACC Foundation, visit
Media contact: Tara Connolly, (515) 964-6447