Meet our Therapists

Elana Aldrich, LMSW

(Waterloo)Elana Aldrich Pic 11.6.13

Elana began as a therapist at Life Connections in July of 2013.  Elana is a licensed master of social work (LMSW) and is a member of the NASW.  She provides individual and group therapy and clinical assessments for children and their families.

Elana attended the University of Iowa where she graduated in 2007 with a double bachelors degree in journalism and communication studies, and a minor in Spanish.  Her jobs and life experiences after graduating led her to pursue her Masters in Social Work (MSW).  She wanted a career where helping people overcome adversities was the focus.  Elana graduated from the University of Iowa with an MSW in 2012.  During the program, Elana worked within elementary schools as part of the family resource center team, and also provided Behavioral Health Intervention Services (BHIS) to children and families.

Prior to this position, Elana worked in a corrections facility providing clinical assessments, brief therapy, grief support, and cognitive behavioral therapy.  Elana has experience working with a wide variety of individuals seeking help with mental health issues, self-esteem issues, life transitions, trauma and grief.  Elana uses a systemic and strengths-based perspective with solution-focused therapy and cognitive behavioral therapy to help people reach their goals.


Susan Fletcher, Temporary LMHC, NCC


photo (1) (598x800)

Susan Fletcher began as a therapist at Life Connections in May of 2014. She is a Temporary Licensed Mental Health Counselor and National Certified Counselor.  She is a member of the American Counseling Association and Iowa Mental Health Counselors Association. She provides clinical assessment and therapy for all ages, including couples and families.

 Susan received her Masters in Community Mental Health Counseling from Western Illinois University in 2011. Previously she received a Bachelors in Secondary Education from Truman State University. Susan uses an integrative approach of Solution Focused Therapy and Family Systems Therapy to help assist clients in working toward their goals with depression, anxiety, life transitions, grief, and trauma.
Susan has had more than eleven years of experience working with bereaved parents and those who have suffered infertility and pregnancy and infant loss. She is a published author and speaker.  Susan believes “it is an honor and privilege to walk with you as you journey through life.”


Julie Gondek, LMSW


photo (598x800)

Julie Gondek began as a therapist at Life Connections in May of 2014. Julie is a Licensed Master of Social Work (LMSW). She provides individual and group therapy and clinical assessments for children, their families, and adults.

Julie attended the University of Northern Iowa where she graduated in 2005 with her bachelor’s degree in Social Work (BSW). She then attended the University of Iowa where she graduated with a Masters in Social Work (MSW). Throughout her undergraduate and graduate programs Julie worked in the human service field ranging from internships with homeless youth as a case manager, substance abuse counseling, to a NICU social worker. Julie also worked for many years with individuals with intellectual disorders as a supervisor of ICF-MR group homes and employment workshops.

Prior to this position, Julie worked as a Behavioral Health Intervention Services (BHIS) counselor to children, adults, and families and then an outpatient mental health therapist working with a wide variety of individuals seeking help with mental health issues, relationship issues, self-esteem issues, life transitions, trauma, and grief. Julie uses a strengths-based perspective with cognitive behavioral therapy and motivational interviewing to help people reach their goals.


Lynda Innes, MA, LMHC

(Mason City)Lynda.innes.picture

My degree is a Master’s in Mental Health Counseling from the University of Northern Iowa with a Bachelor’s in Elementary Education from Mankato State University. I have been licensed as a Mental Health Counselor in the state of Iowa since 1996. I am also licensed as a Professional Counselor and  Supervisor in North Carolina.

My experience for the past 19 years has been varied, working with adults, adolescents and children with mental health, substance abuse and family issues. Many of my clients have had a traumatic, abusive history and have not learned adequate skills to cope with their trauma and life stressors. My role as a therapist is to help individuals identify their strengths and move towards reaching their personal life goals. My aim is to achieve a therapeutic relationship where individuals feel safe and have my non judgmental support.

Personal goals include ongoing professional growth with enhancing my skills to help children, adults and families find support and a way to process feelings around challenging life issues. Special interests are trauma, anxiety and depression, grief/loss and divorce issues. I work from a strength based and family systems perspective using various counseling techniques that work best for individual needs.


Emily Kleinsmith, MA, tLMFT

(Anamosa, Monticello)photo1 (600x800)

Emily is a Marriage and Family Therapist and member of the American Association of Marriage and Family Therapy. She attended the University of Northern Iowa where she graduated in December of 2010 with a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology with a minor in Family Studies. Emily then pursued her graduate degree at Mount Mercy University graduating in August of 2013 with a Master of Arts in Marriage and Family Therapy.

Emily works with individuals of all ages and has experience providing therapy to individuals, families, and couples. As a family therapist, Emily is uniquely trained to utilize a family systems approach to assess and provide therapeutic intervention to her clients. She utilizes different theories depending on her client’s preferences and personal style including: cognitive behavioral therapy, strength based solution focused therapy, and emotion focused therapy.

Prior to this position Emily has experience working in the field of domestic violence. This experience gives her the knowledge and empathy to work with survivors compassionately, as well as the knowledge to aid in the creation of safety plans. Her goal as a therapist is to aid clients in the formation and movement towards goals they believe to be most important to themselves and their family. Emily has experience treating those experiencing issues related to depression, anxiety, life transitional issues, family conflict, healing from past trauma, and stress management.


John Leefers, T-LMFT

(Cedar Rapids)

IMG_8545John holds several college degrees including a Master’s Degree in Marriage and Family Therapy from Mt. Mercy University. He provides a well rounded application of therapeutic intervention to promote healing and positive change. Working with individuals, couples and families, John helps to manage life’s difficult challenges and bring about peace of mind.

John has worked at a Psychiatric Medical Institution for Children and as a proud father and family man he found this work extremely rewarding. He interned at the Mid Eastern Council on Chemical Abuse as well as its sister company Synchrony Services. John’s caseload has varied widely giving him a broad range of experience and exposure.

With a remarkable sense of compassion, insight and understanding John has dedicated his life’s work to the service of others. While John’s therapeutic style is empirically and theoretically based much of his work has been inspired and enhanced by his life experience. He has an irreplaceable knowledge of humanity provided through extensive travel. He has served our nation with the U.S. Army’s 82nd Airborne Division and with the U.S. Army Reserve. His knowledge as a former combat medic along with his faith and education combine seamlessly giving John a unique perspective that helps him to incorporate and collaborate in providing a holistic approach to healing and well-being.


Elisa Lyons, M.A., CRC, Temporary LMHC

(Cedar Rapidsphoto)

Elisa has her temporary License in Mental Health Counseling (tLMHC) and is a Certified Rehabilitation Counselor (CRC). She is also a member of the American Counseling Association (ACA) and the American Rehabilitation Counseling Association (ARCA).

Elisa received both her Bachelor of Arts and Master of Arts degrees from the University of Iowa, where she majored in Psychology and graduated with distinction. She received her Master’s Degree in 2013 with her program, Rehabilitation and Mental Health Counseling, being one of the top rehabilitation programs in the nation.

Elisa completed her practicum at Vera French Community Mental Health Center as a schoolbased therapist, providing play therapy for the students within the Davenport School District. Her advanced practicum placement was at Sedlacek Treatment Center through Mercy Hospital, where she provided substance abuse counseling to adults and adolescents, in both an individual and group setting. Elisa completed her internship with Life Connections, where she worked primarily with children and adolescents, providing BHIS and therapy services. While attending the University of Iowa, Elisa gained experience in working with persons with disabilities, providing direct care and support, and running a sibling support group through the Arc of Southeast Iowa.

Elisa utilizes an individualized, strengths based approach and uses techniques from cognitive behavioral, solution focused, and person centered therapies. Elisa is available to provide assessments and therapy to clients of all ages with flexible appointment times.


Sarah Meiners, LMHC, MA, NCC


Sarah is a Licensed Mental Health Counselor and a Nationally Certified Counselor. She is also a member of the American Counseling Association and the Iowa Mental Health Counselors Association.

Sarah graduated from the University of Northern Iowa with a B.A. in Psychology and an M.A. in Mental Health Counseling. Sarah completed her internship at the University of Northern Iowa Counseling Center where she provided therapy for young adults. Prior to her position at Life Connections Sarah spent five years as a school-based therapist in the Des Moines area. During that time she developed a passion for working with adolescents and facilitated support groups for survivors of sexual abuse and trauma. Sarah specializes in issues related to trauma and abuse, depression, anxiety, body image, self compassion, and grief and loss. She incorporates strength-based practices and trauma-focused cognitive behavioral therapy. Sarah has interest in providing individual, family, and couples counseling. Her goal is to create a safe and supportive environment so that individuals and families can feel ready to begin their journey towards healing


Ashley Riphagen, M.A., CRC, Temporary LMHC


Ashley has her Temporary License in Mental Health Counseling (TLMHC) and is a Certified Rehabilitation Counselor (CRC). Ashley is also a member of the American Counseling Association (ACA).

Ashley received her Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology with a minor in Family Studies from the University of Northern Iowa in 2011. In 2013, Ashley received her Master of Arts degree in Rehabilitation and Mental Health Counseling from the University of Iowa.

Ashley completed a practicum with the REACH program at the University of Iowa, which is a two year certificate program for individuals with intellectual disabilities. Ashley also completed a practicum at On With Life, an inpatient brain injury rehabilitation center. She completed her internship at Easter Seals Iowa in the Rural Solutions and Assistive Technology programs working with adults and children with disabilities. While in school, Ashley also worked with individuals with disabilities in residential and employment settings.

Ashley is available to provide clinical assessments and therapy to individuals of all ages with flexible appointment times available.


Raejean Rosedale, Temporary LMHC


Raejean maintains her temporary License of Mental Health Counseling (tLMHC) in Iowa, and also a Provisional License Mental Health Practitioner (PLMHP) in the state of Nebraska.

Raejean was originally born and raised in Marshalltown, Iowa, but she has strong ties to Omaha, Nebraska, where she earned her Master of Arts in Mental Health Counseling Licensure in 2010 at Grace University.  Raejean was able to have a wide variety of experiences with the social service opportunities in Omaha during and after her graduation, including but not limited to the following areas and programs: crisis and suicide hotlines, substance abuse treatment centers, homeless shelter empowerment programs, transitional living programs, domestic violence/sexual assault programs, and empowering educational and mental health wellness programs for children.

Raejean has provided individual, couples, psycho-educational and group counseling at various facilities and organizations.  She has extensive experience providing in-home counseling, parenting classes, and family support services. Raejean also has interest and skills in working with Spanish speaking individuals and families.

Raejean is passionate about assisting families to access their strengths and uses an individualized and holistic approach to mental health including physical, mental, emotional, social, and spiritual aspects.  She is available to provide assessments and therapy to individuals of all ages and backgrounds.


Naomi Rumbley, LMSW, LPHA

Naomi Rumbley(Cedar Rapids)

Hello! My name is Naomi Rumbley and I work for Life Connections. Life Connections is a family orientated agency. We provide services throughout the state to individuals and families. Our programs include therapy, skill building, and other family focused services. A goal of ours is to connect to families and form trusting relationships. Services are designed to assist your family in achieving your goals. Through our family focused services, we want to help you and your family build healthy relationships. As member of the Life Connections staff I am committed to providing confidential, positive and family focused services.

I graduated from the University of Iowa with a Master’s Degree in Social work. I received my
under graduate degree in social work at the University of Northern Iowa. I have experience
providing Individual Therapy, Family Therapy and Group Therapy. I have worked in the
community mental health setting, I have experience licensing and supporting foster families and
working with children and adolescents in a residential setting.

I look forward to working with you and appreciate your time, please feel free to contact me at
any time to learn more information about the services that we provide.


Tiffany Zarifkar, LMHC

(Cedar Rapids)

Tiffany began working for Life Connections in January of 2012.She is Life Connections’ Clinical Director, a Licensed Mental Health Counselor (LMHC) and a Nationally Certified Counselor (NCC). She provides individual therapy, group therapy, clinical assessments (LPHAs), and some Behavioral Health Intervention Services (BHIS). In addition to her clinical services, Tiffany supervises all therapists working for Life Connections and provides consultation services for BHIS providers.

Tiffany attended Cornell College where she received her B.A., double majoring in Psychology and Sociology. Directly afterwards, she attended the University of Northern Iowa to earn her Master’s degree in Mental Health Counseling. While attending UNI, Tiffany worked full-time providing direct care and support for individuals with mental and physical disabilities.

Prior to working for Life Connections, Tiffany worked for three years at a local mental health agency as a mental health counseling intern and BHIS counselor. Although trained to work with a variety of individuals, Tiffany enjoys working with young children and leading groups. Tiffany has special interest in working with trauma survivors, applying a trauma-focused cognitive behavioral and strengths-based approach.