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Lorena Slager

Lorena Slager taught art after graduating from Calvin College with a degree in art education. Then she opened a coffee shop, The Sparrows Coffee Tea & Newsstand, and most recently co-founded the Creative Youth Center, a nonprofit that empowers kids through writing. As executive director, Slager proudly works from the center’s new digs on Wealthy Street. 

Roberta Lucas

Roberta Lucas, early learning director and training specialist for Living Arts’ ACT 1 program, grew up with a costume shop in the attic and a puppet theater in the basement, and produced outdoor productions each summer with other neighborhood kids. With the same enthusiasm, she is bringing artistic expression into Detroit classrooms to build literacy and encourage young students to create, express, grow and learn.

John Weiss

John Weiss was fortunate enough to discover his passion for working with youth early in his career. In his current position as executive director at the Neutral Zone, a teen center in Ann Arbor, he channels this passion by ensuring that youth are involved and engaged at every level of the organization.

Rachel Klegon

Rachel Klegon, executive director of Green Living Science, provides a blueprint for Detroit schools to teach scientific concepts to students within an environmental framework. She sees kids and families take ownership of their behaviors and use their newly learned green knowledge to do what is right for their households, neighborhoods, and the greater community. 

Glenda Price

Glenda Price, president of Detroit Public Schools Foundation, knows that when she needs advice or help, a network of colleagues is there to support her work. As leader of a nonprofit that provides resources for value-added programs and activities for schools, Price works hard to strengthen the educational process for Detroit kids.

Sharon Loughridge

As executive director of Grand Rapid’s D.A. Blodgett - St. John’s, the largest child welfare agency in west Michigan, Sharon Loughridge, believes that many of the barriers facing vulnerable children can be torn down by a human hand. D.A. Blodgett - St. John’s 22 programs work to keep families in tact, but when children can no longer stay in their homes it also provides shelter, foster care, and adoption services. 

Rashid Faisal

Rashid Faisal, principal of Henry Ford Academy: School for Creative Studies in Detroit, is excited to be an educator in this day and age as we shift from an industrial society to a knowledge-based society. He says that it’s time for schools, like the public middle and high school academy he leads, to abandon archaic practices and embrace new practices that evolve and change with our ever-changing world.

Michael W. Hamm

Michael W. Hamm, director of the MSU Center for Regional Food System, and his staff are devoted to the good health and development of all Michigan youth. The center’s creative programs and initiatives, like Michigan Good Food and Hoophouses for Health, are helping to ensure that more children have balanced, produce-rich diets. 

Greg Locke, Jr.

Greg Locke, Jr. leads The First Tee of Battle Creek, introducing hundreds of kids in Battle Creek to golf through summer programs, school involvement, and more. He finds funding for every child who wants to play golf, whether they can pay the program fee or not. A lifelong passion for the game mixed with a strong love of kids is the recipe for Locke’s success.  

David Gamlin

David Gamlin is a leader with a vision. A first-generation college student himself, he strives to ensure that every young person who goes through his Detroit-based program is armed with the knowledge that a support system exists to help with many issues that today’s post-secondary students face.

Denise Nightingale

Denise Nightingale has been running for most of her life. Her two young sons love to run too, but until March, they had no running club. That’s when the at-home mom took it upon herself to launch one at Saginaw’s Handley Elementary School. Her goal was to introduce 25 students to the sport with a Kids Run the Nation Saginaw pilot. A whopping 44 kids signed on and are running their hearts out.

Kirk Latimer

Kirk Latimer believes healing happens when youth tell the story of their struggles to a live audience. As educational director of Speak it Forward, Inc., based in Kalamazoo, Latimer teaches teens to find and express their voice through the spoken word arts.

Kim Dabbs

As executive director of West Michigan Center for Arts and Technology (WMCAT), Kim Dabbs believes that all young people should have equal access to choices that will help them realize their potential. WMCAT’s Teen Arts Program helps to remove barriers to opportunity so that kids can flourish. 

Dr. Marijata Daniel-Echols

With a background in research, policy, and evaluation in the early childhood education arena, Starfish Family Services’ new vice president of early childhood policy and programs, Dr. Marijata Daniel-Echols, has learned to welcome progress in large or small doses. She brings a wealth of expertise and experience to the Inkster-based private nonprofit in hopes of improving life outcomes for vulnerable children.

Judy Watson Olson

As president and CEO of Great Lakes Center for Youth Development in Marquette, Judy Watson Olson networks with nonprofit agencies and community leaders to garner support for youth-serving organizations in the Upper Peninsula.
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