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School Success : People

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Care, Concern and Consistency Get Youth Back on Track

One Wyoming 1 on 1 uses the power of relationships to keep kids in school and on track. Adult mentors are matched with at-risk kids; early results show great promise.

Supporting Girls in Technology

The Michigan Council of Women in Technology unites technology-minded girls and women of all age groups, inspiring and nurturing their interests and careers. 

Black Family Development's Faithful Shepherd

With faith, hard work, and strong partnerships, CEO Alice Thompson helps kids and families in southeast Michigan handle challenges with a holistic, culturally sensitive approach.

2020 Girls: Empowering Future Leaders in Science and Math

The 2020 Girls program develops a passion for STEM studies and careers in young girls in the Lansing area, engaging girls in traditionally male fields of study. 

Mary Gehrig

Mary Gehrig, superintendent for early childhood services at Calhoun Intermediate School District, hesitates to take accolades for her accomplishments; she gladly hands them to her associates. They are the ones, she says, who put visions, plans, ideas, and initiatives into motion to help young people.

Bonnie Billups, Jr.

Bonnie Billups, Peace Neighborhood Center executive director, is an alumnus who has been involved with Peace since he first participated at ten years old. Billups is a successful, college-educated, professional product of the center’s efforts to keep kids on the right track – a living example of the organization’s long-time efforts to help at-risk Ann Arbor area children achieve their dreams through prevention and education.

Frank McGhee

As the leader of Neighborhood Service Organization’s Youth Initiative Project (YIP), Frank McGhee sees the potential of young people from some very tough neighborhoods; he guides them through the process of addressing issues that trouble their community, and they grow as leaders along the way. 

Jo Ann Cribbs

Children need positive role models both inside and outside their families says Jo Ann Cribbs, who oversees youth programming for the Urban League of Battle Creek. While educators play a vital, day-to-day part, Cribbs feels strongly that parents are a child’s strongest influence when it comes to education. Cribbs strives to better the lives of local children and involves parents in programming too. 

Sarah Lenhoff

As a teacher in New York City Public Schools in the early 2000s, Sarah Winchell Lenhoff saw how inadequacies in the public school system created barriers to learning for children. Today, as director of policy and research at Education Trust-Midwest, Lenhoff works to impact education policy, helping to shape policies to improve instruction in the classroom and, in turn, produce better outcomes for Michigan students.  

Marjorie Kuipers

Marjorie Kuipers is concerned for kids who do not have enough food, who lack coats, boots and mittens to warm them, and who lack the opportunity to spike their grades with no-cost tutors or share what they learn with their families. Kuiper is the executive director of Grandville Avenue Arts & Humanities, an organization that provides academic and social enrichment. She cares deeply about making a difference in the lives of struggling families.  

Sabrina Corbin

Starr Commonwealth has pioneered programs to improve the lives of the most world’s vulnerable children since 1913. Sabrina Corbin leads the international organization’s Battle Creek campus, helping academically and socially challenged young people. With various residential and day treatment programs, she and her staff strive to alleviate pain and instill hope among young people who have given up on themselves and have been tossed aside by society.

Louis Glazer

Louis Glazer runs a think tank that helps communities be successful by preparing their youth for college and by retaining talented young people. Glazer, president of Michigan Future, Incorporated, works to launch open enrollment high schools in Michigan that prime urban teens for college without the need for remediation.

Lisa Machesky

As executive director of the Baldwin Center in Pontiac, Lisa Machesky sees daily the growing divide between rich and poor. She envisions a future where every child has an equal chance for success, and Baldwin Center’s enrichment and education programs for kids and basic needs assistance for families mean Pontiac children have a better footing for the future.

Amy Amador

Mercy Education Project's mission is to provide educational opportunities, life skills development and cultural enrichment for women and girls who have limited access to resources to enable them to improve the quality of their lives.

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. 

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.

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.

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.

Sarna Salzman

After earning a master’s degree in community development at UC Davis, Sarna Salzman returned to Michigan in 2001, reconnecting with friends who had founded Traverse City-based SEEDS two years earlier. Salzman refers to her executive directorship as that of a professional networker, facilitating connections that strengthen ties between ecology, education, and design. 

Carol Hofgartner

As the founder and executive director of Art Road Nonprofit, Carol Hofgartner is inspired by art and sees how artistic creativity feeds so many careers. That’s why her goal is to have art class brought back to every school classroom in Detroit. 

Dorothy Pintar

Dorothy Pintar, director of the School Success Partnership at Northeast Michigan Community Service Agency in Alpena, works to make sure all kids have the opportunity and possibility to succeed in school and live out their dreams. 

Anji Phillips

Many vulnerable kids and their families need help, and Anji Phillips is dedicated to helping them. As executive director of the Coordinating Council of Calhoun County, Phillips leads with passion and fights for the rights of the underserved, the unseen, and the unrecognized with a team of strong child advocates beside her.

Jason Lee

Jason Lee, Executive Director of the Detroit Area Pre-College Engineering Program (DAPCEP), believes that if children have a solid education rooted in science, technology, engineering and mathematics and are prepared to pursue a career as an engineer, they can do anything. A recent survey of program participants showed that 90 percent of respondents graduated from high school.  

Dr. Leonard Seawood

Dr. Leonard Seawood walked into a failing school district almost three years ago and immediately began making the tough choices it took to undo two decades worth of decline. As superintendent of the Benton Harbor Area Schools, Seawood did not walk a smooth path, but his district has been on the comeback trail ever since. 

Martha Gonzalez-Cortes

A west Michigan native from a farm worker household, Martha Gonzalez-Cortez now leads the Hispanic Center of Western Michigan. She stands up for social justice issues and is finding effective ways for Hispanic youth to find school and life success. 

Kuhu Saha

A 2008 graduate of the University of Michigan, Kuhu Saha brings all the positivity, energy, and enthusiasm of youth to her job as executive director of Give Merit’s FATE program. Give Merit is the nonprofit arm of clothing company Merit Goodness and receives 20 percent of the brand’s revenues to fund and develop programs such as FATE.

Sharlonda Buckman

Investing in children, by way of helping parents become better advocates, is the driving force behind Sharlonda Buckman, CEO of Detroit Parent Network. She espouses that it's everyone’s job to ensure that every child is in a winning position.

Melanie Beelen

Executive Director Melanie Beelen wraps her heart around the children and families at Baxter Community Center in Grand Rapids. A good measure of success, Beelen says, is to be able to look a small child right in the eyes, at her own level, speak to her, and then to simply listen. And she does so. Every day.  

Carlo Sweeney

In 2005 at the age of 32, Carlo Sweeney used his life savings to start the Downtown Boxing Gym with the aim of helping Detroit kids avoid the pitfalls that befell him as an inner city teen. The program combines the discipline of boxing with a strong focus on academics, community, and family bonds.

Amy Sumerton

826michigan In-school Residency Program Director Amy Sumerton wants all kids to see their value as individuals and as members of their community. Through the small group and one-on-one writing program that she oversees in Ypsilanti schools, kids are encouraged to find their unique voice through writing. 

Jodi Johnson

Young Adult Librarian Jodi Johnson has created a safe and stimulating sanctuary for local kids at Ypsilanti District Library’s Michigan Avenue Branch. It’s built on mutual respect and trust. As the adult guide of the Teen Advisory Group, Johnson sees the at-risk kids who participate taking responsibility and learning from their leadership experience. 

Scott Alan Davis

Scott Alan Davis left his work in the private sector 15 years ago to do what he loves: serve youth and serve community. As the Vanguard Community Development Corporation’s executive director, Davis strives to help kids reach their full potential and then watches them learn to serve others as they step confidently into adulthood.

Heidi Cate

Lighthouse Academy is the safety net for academically struggling and socially misplaced students. Superintendent Heidi Cate discusses helping those students readjust and achieve goals that some would call impossible.

Ronald K. Nelson

Ronald K. Nelson heads the YMCA of Greater Grand Rapids with confidence in the positive social changes the organization promotes. He is committed to offer low-income children healthy nutritional information, physical fitness opportunities, and more -- taking programming on the road and into neighborhoods as needed.     

Joseph Trommater

Joseph Trommater is the new leader at S.P.A.R.K.S., Students Participating in Academics and Recreation for Knowledge and Success, a program of the Clare-Gladwin Regional Educational Service District. He's been involved with the program for years and watched it significantly increase graduation rates and connect children and their families to opportunities for learning and personal enrichment.

Richard A. Loewenstein

Rick Loewenstein, CEO of JARC, an Oakland County agency that provides residential and support services to people with developmental disabilities and their families, hopes to someday see the social service sector valued as much as other sectors for its provision of jobs, fiscal savvy, and ability to engage the community. 

Brother Jerry Smith

As executive director of the Capuchin Soup Kitchen on Detroit’s near-eastside, Brother Jerry Smith sees his role as helping people grow and develop. That belief extends from the youngest children in after-school programs to agency staff, some of whom first came to the soup kitchen for services.

Amanda Uhle

Amanda Uhle, executive director of 826michigan, an Ann Arbor nonprofit that aims to teach kids the joy of writing, has conquered early start-up pains and later financial struggles, but most recently faces a significant, albeit flattering, challenge: local demand for services exceeds 826michigan’s capacity. 

Richard Clanton

Richard V. Clanton, CEO of United Methodist Community House, wants all children to succeed, regardless of their life circumstances. And, he’s proud of how his agency has improved the lives of at-risk Grand Rapids children through nationally accredited child development and after-school centers, summer day camp, and a literacy initiative.

Deborah Buchholtz

With a passion for business and organizational operations, Deb Buchholtz brings effectiveness, efficiency, and results to Big Brothers Big Sisters, A Community of Caring. Buchholtz puts her unique approach to work improving the operations of the mentoring organization that serves five counties in southwest Michigan.

Don Hoaglin

Don Hoaglin’s job description calls for more than the average school principal. Community engagement is key to his everyday activities at Prairieview Elementary School, a school that stemmed from the Developing a Community School Project. Through hard work and a proactive approach, he has the involvement of Battle Creek business leaders, service agencies, clergy members and more.

Melanie Knoll

Melanie Knoll is co-executive director with Cara Graninger of Living Arts, an arts and community development group serving the southwest Detroit community with arts-infused education and dance programs. She grew up in the neighborhood she now serves and finds it very rewarding to provide opportunities to children just like herself. 

Michael Poma

As executive director of the Baraga Houghton Keweenaw Child Development Board, Michael Poma works to see that children keep up with their peers in school. However, what keeps him awake at night is wishing he could make his services accessible and affordable to more people, especially needy children.

Gilda Z. Jacobs

Gilda Jacobs once worked as a Michigan state legislator. In her current position as president and CEO of the Michigan League for Public Policy, she believes she’ll make more of an impact on the lives of vulnerable children and families. 

Amber Arellano

Amber Arellano sees Michigan's school challenges and socioeconomic challenges for what they are: challenges – but not our destiny. As the executive director of Education Trust-Midwest, she’s bound and determined to reform the K-12 education system to transform the Great Lakes State into the Great Education State. 
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