Bruckner and Knedler will also be honored with the Mercy Heritage Awards | Local News

The Mercy Heritage Awards celebration has long honored Southwestern Iowa leaders for decades of community service and philanthropy.

The awards ceremony, which was originally scheduled to be held on March 14, 2020, has been rescheduled to Thursday, September 8, 2022, at a new location: the Hoff Family Arts & Culture Center, home of Pottawattamie Arts, Culture & Entertainment.

The Mercy Heritage Awards will celebrate Jerry Mathiasen, Arts & Humanities; Larry Winum, Business; Martha Bruckner, Education; and Marie Knedler, Health and Social Services.

“This group represents some of our most accomplished and committed community members, and the Mercy Heritage Awards ensure they get the recognition they deserve,” said Denise McNitt, Vice President of Patient Care at CHI Health. MercyHospital.

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Below are snapshots of Martha Bruckner and Marie Knedler. Capsules on Mathiasen and Winum were published in the Sunday August 21 issue of The Daily Nonpareil and can be found at


Martha Bruckner served as superintendent of the Council Bluffs Community School District from 2007 to 2017. Previously, she was associate superintendent of educational services at Millard Public Schools in Omaha.

Bruckner spent time in the middle of her career as a professor and chair of educational administration and oversight at the University of Nebraska at Omaha. Her early experiences in education included positions as a teacher, vice-principal, high school principal, and later as a school board member at Ralston Public School.

Bruckner served as president of the International Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development in 2004-2005 and was named Iowa Superintendent of the Year in 2016. She has been featured in publications as varied as Education Week, AASA School Administrator , National Superintendents’ Roundtable and PBS. NEWSHOUR online.

Bruckner earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees at UNO and his Ph.D. in curriculum, teaching, and administration at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. She has been recognized for her contributions to education, being the recipient of the Walter K. Beggs Award from the University of Nebraska College of Teachers for Outstanding Service to Education and the Distinguished Alumni Award from the UNO College of Education.

While leading Council Bluffs schools, she worked closely with many talented and dedicated educators and board members to implement programs such as the International Baccalaureate programs at College View and Carter Lake Elementary Schools. , as well as Kirn and Wilson Middle Schools.

In the decade that she has served the Council Bluffs community, significant physical improvements have been made to the elementary and secondary schools, bringing them all to excellent condition. In a joint campaign with the Council Bluffs Schools Foundation – with leadership and financial support from the Iowa West Foundation and millions of dollars in philanthropic donations – the Gale Wickersham Athletic Complex has gone from dream to reality.

The most significant achievement, however, resulted in a 20-point improvement in the district’s graduation rate, supported by focused work done at all levels of the district. Services such as graduation coaches and summer learning experiences and new traditions such as Pledge of Achievement ceremonies have helped focus students and staff on the goal of completing their secondary education and to progress towards the success of all students.

The district emphasized annual themes that reminded educators of their importance in children’s lives, such as “All Our Children,” “Defying Gravity,” and “Changing for Good.” One of the highlights of his service has been working with many Council Bluffs representatives to help shine a light on the Council Bluffs community as an American city.

Bruckner is currently Executive Director of the Metropolitan Omaha Education Consortium, working with 12 school districts and three post-secondary institutions to ensure exceptional educational opportunities for all students in the Metropolitan Omaha-Council Bluffs area, from kindergarten through middle school. Council Bluffs Community Schools and Iowa Western Community College are members of MOEC.

However, she is constantly reminded that her greatest blessing is the love and support of her husband Bob, her sons and stepsons, her grandchildren, her siblings and each of their families.



Daughter of Dolores and Sylvester Hansen, Marie Knedler was the oldest of seven children. She was her father’s helper in the fields and with the animals on the family farm near Alton in northwest Iowa.

She attended St. Mary’s Elementary School and later Spalding High School in Granville, where she was active in speeches, debates and musicals. She also worked as a nurse’s aide while in high school at Orange City Municipal Hospital, the start of a lifelong career in the medical field.

After graduating from high school, Marie enrolled in the nursing diploma program at St. Joseph Mercy in Sioux City. She achieved high clinical honors and served as student council president.

After graduating, several of her classmates wanted to stay together and sought positions in South Dakota, Nebraska, and Iowa. Coming to Council Bluffs and visiting the newly built Mercy Hospital – all six have been offered positions to work in different units.

Knedler worked day and night in surgical medicine, then was transferred to the coronary care unit, where she later became the director. She took a few weeks off in the summer of 1973 and traveled around Europe – much to her parents’ dismay.

She held various nursing leadership positions at Mercy and, in 1988, was promoted to vice president of nursing. Several mergers took place after 1995 and Knedler was chosen to serve as the chief operating officer of Mercy Hospital as well as other system roles in behavioral health, home care and palliative care, emergency services and cardiology.

In 2009, she continued as president of Mercy and was, at the same time, named president of Bergan Mercy. In 2016, she also assumed the role of President of Creighton University Medical Center and worked on the merger of Bergan Mercy and CUMC.

She returned to Mercy in 2017 and retired in February 2019.

Throughout her professional career with the Sisters of Mercy, Knedler has found many avenues to continue her ministry in the Council Bluffs community. She has taken many opportunities to lead and support nonprofit services. To name a few:

● Start of a free medical clinic with Dr. Charles Edwards on N.35th Street – the start of our federally qualified clinic in Council Bluffs now known as All Care;

● Secured funding from the Iowa West Foundation for a Behavioral Health Planning Grant to form the Mental Health and Addiction Coalition, which has now decided to provide regional delivery of mental health services;

● Worked with community leaders to form Wellness of Council Bluffs, which eventually merged with other nonprofit organizations to form the 712 Initiative;

● Along with many community leaders, they helped form Hospice of SW Iowa, which is now part of the VNA;

● As a founding board member of the Pottawattamie County Community Foundation, grew it into an enduring foundation for the future of Pottawattamie County and its citizens.

Knedler has also held numerous leadership positions at other nonprofit organizations, including the Chamber of Commerce and the Iowa Hospital Association.

Married to Michael for 40 years, she has two sons, Jonathan and Jared. Both married within the past two years – Jonathan to Heidi Kauk and Jared to Jacque Klein.

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