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Jumping Ship: Former Corporate Leaders Tell All

Join Michigan Nightlight this month in Detroit and Grand Rapids for a special speakers series event, Jumping Ship: Leaders Who Left the Corporate Sector for the Social Sector. 

Kids Discover the Power of Pedaling

After losing her car, Angela Stamps discovered a new way to see the world after being given a bike. She has since repaid the favor by showing kids the benefits of cycling in Flint. 

Taking Young Poets To A Bigger Stage

A Flint-based arts group is helping young poets hone their talent with a goal to compete in an international youth poetry festival and slam contest. Along the way, they're making connections and spurring on other young spoken word artists.

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.

Transforming Neighborhoods and Attitudes

Block By Block, a program of Team 313 youth development organization, is clearing trash-strewn lots and changing people’s minds about littering. However, its biggest success may be the values youth learn while keeping their neighborhoods clean.

Making Piano Accessible for All Kids

Piano Labs gives some of Kalamazoo’s most vulnerable kids and young adults a chance to make music and become pianists. 

Teens Transform Raw Ideas into Poignant Performances

At Matrix School of Theatre in southwest Detroit, young people write and perform original plays that entertain and educate, bringing to the stage crucial issues in their lives. 

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. 

In Pursuit of a Fitter Detroit

Reid Thebault has spent 40 years with the YMCA -- the last 20 in metro Detroit -- and will retire later this year. While he presided over a period of expansion for the Y, he considers his true legacy to be the organization's risk-taking culture.

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. 

Hip-Hop: Unifying Detroit Youth

Hip-hop gets a bad reputation, but a look outside the mainstream, at a small but powerful program for Detroit youth, provides a whole different view.

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.

Casey Stratton

Casey Stratton, music program coordinator and instructor at the Boys & Girls Clubs of Grand Rapids Youth Commonwealth, strongly believes that music is important to all cultures as a way of expression and to keep their stories alive. He is helping youth create their own stories as they learn music and build relationships with caring adults through the Music Makers program. 

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. 

Jen Rusciano

When Jennifer Rusciano was in fourth grade, she explored the origins of her favorite chocolate bar, connecting it to cocoa farms in Ghana. Years later, a college fellowship led her to live and work in small-scale cocoa farming communities around the world, exploring the triple bottom line of people, planet and profit. After that, she joined FoodCorps in Michigan for two years, and eventually helped develop Detroit Food Academy, where she currently serves as executive director of operations. 

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.  

Ann Kalass

When Ann Kalass, chief executive officer of Starfish Family Services in Inkster, was growing up, she realized early on that not all children had the same opportunities as she did. Today, she’s driven to make sure vulnerable kids get the education they need to start off life with a strong footing.

Amanda Good

Concerned about the safety, security, and futures of homeless and vulnerable young women and girls, Amanda Good, CEO of Alternatives For Girls, has been leading efforts in Detroit to provide support, shelter, help, and hope to at-risk youth for a quarter of a century.

Liz Youker

Liz Youker, educational director of the Kalamazoo Symphony Orchestra, wants to ensure that every elementary-aged child in Kalamazoo Public Schools has an opportunity to play the violin, cello, flute or oboe. Working toward that goal, she oversees Kids in Tune, which she considers a great career accomplishment.

Jeff Sturges

Jeff Sturges came to Detroit with the idea that the damaging effects of poverty and racism can be overcome by handing people tools to create the life they want. He’s done that by founding Mt. Elliot Makerspace, where he emphasizes the need for people to look outside traditional structures to accomplish their goals.

Amy Harris

Amy Harris, director of the University of the Michigan Museum of Natural History in Ann Arbor, understands the importance of learning outside the classroom and how it affects the young people who discover what a museum has to offer. With a passion to expand minds through museum-sponsored experiences, Harris lures children to the wonders of natural history with exciting exhibits and innovative programming.

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.

Alice Brinkman

Alice Brinkman, executive director of REACH Studio Art Center in Lansing, approaches her role as a leader with passion. And although leadership doesn’t come as naturally as she would like, Brinkman is determined to confront difficult situations and learn better ways of doing things all in the name of growing a great neighborhood art center.

Terry Blackhawk

Melding together the talents and energy of professional creative writers and students, Terry Blackhawk, Ph.D., founder of InsideOut Literary Arts Project, has been helping to turn Detroit kids into authors and poets since 1995. 

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.

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. 

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. 

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.  

Jeannine Gant

After spending two decades in the nonprofit sector working in development and fundraising, Jeannine Gant wanted to become more directly involved in the ideas that make change. So, in 2010, she became executive director of Playworks, a national organization new to Detroit teaching the power of meaningful play.

Kristin Martinez

Kristin Martinez, environmental education manager for The Greening of Detroit, experiences a sense of awe when the environmental concepts she teaches in school classrooms click with students when they see them outdoors. She leads groups of urban kids into the wilds of Detroit’s largest city park through the Our LAND program, empowering them to be good stewards of their own neighborhoods and surroundings.  

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.

Laurie Strauss Baumer

Marrying her passion for volunteerism and being the creator of your own opportunity, Ele’s Place President and CEO Laurie Strauss Baumer shares how her organization uses relationships as pavers in the road to success. 

Rick Huisman

Rick Huisman’s winding career path has taken him from professional baseball player with the Kansas City Royals to entrepreneurship with a family business to his current role as executive director of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Grand Rapids Youth Commonwealth. He was first introduced to the organization through volunteer work during his time with the Royals.

Dara Munson

After working in the juvenile justice field and the United Way, Dara Munson became President and CEO of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Metropolitan Detroit in 2007. Munson is passionate about the mentoring organization that opens doors for Detroit youth and helps them to achieve greatness.

Travis Williams

Leader Travis Williams has worked for the Outdoor Discovery Center Macatawa Greenway since its 2000 inception and has been thoroughly involved with the nonprofit’s development. Williams uses experience in business development, nonprofit management, strategic planning and partnerships to drive the center’s growth and advancement.

Carrie Spencer

In sharing the natural world with children, Carrie Spencer, a naturalist at Seven Ponds Nature Center in Dryden, leads by example, letting the wonderment and peace she feels outdoors set the stage for students to learn about and become stewards for southeast Michigan’s natural resources.

Rhonda Buckley

After extensive education in music and business, more than a decade of teaching experience, and the eventual founding of a multidisciplinary arts center for inner-city youth in Washington, DC, Rhonda Buckley was lured back to Michigan when MSU asked her to serve as associate dean of the College of Music -- and develop a community music program in Detroit, her hometown. 

Aaron Dworkin

Aaron Dworkin is a 2005 MacArthur fellow, President Obama’s first appointee to the National Council on the Arts, and founder and president of the Sphinx Organization. He’s dedicated to providing young people of color in Detroit and Flint the opportunity to succeed in classical music, however they define that dream.

Kari Pardoe

Kari Pardoe believes that children can accomplish whatever they want and that drive, direction, and leadership can start with service learning. As director of The LEAGUE Michigan, a program for service, service learning, and philanthropy education, Pardoe sees amazing results with youth, who though they have little themselves, find ways to give to back. 

Anan Ameri

Anan Ameri is founding director of the Arab American National Museum in Dearborn, but she doesn’t want the museum to be seen as only for and about Arab-Americans. It’s a point of pride that the museum has become a resource for multi-cultural programming, helping to overcome segregation in metro Detroit.

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.  

Penny Bailer

City Year Detroit’s Executive Director, Penny Bailer, is a 37-year resident of Detroit with a firm grasp on the vital need for education improvement in Detroit. With a zest that is rare and unmistakable, Bailer oversees the many mentoring, educational, and enrichment programs that City Year offers to the city’s underserved youth.

Jo Anne Mondowney

Jo Anne Mondowney, executive director of the Detroit Public Library, calls herself an accidental librarian, drawn to the profession by the library’s ability to improve quality of life for anyone regardless of economic resources. Encouraging her staff to take risks and be independent is a hallmark of her leadership style.

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. 

Kolmarge Harris

As someone who grew up on the streets of Chicago, Kolmarge Harris knows first hand the challenges urban kids face. After retiring from a 20-year career as a professional boxer, Harris started Lansing Spartans Youth Organization to combine his love for boxing with his desire to mentor at-risk youth in his community.

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.

Alison Heeres

A former volunteer for Cooking Matters courses, Alison Heeres is now in charge of educational programming for The Next Urban Chef, a program that educates Detroit youth on local food systems and sustainability while teaching valuable culinary skills. 

Amy Berkhoudt

Amy Berkhoudt brings a relative newcomer’s fresh perspective to Detroit’s issues, along with an unwavering belief in the potential of the city’s youth. She also brings energy and passion to bear in her work as co-director of the Detroit Youth Food Brigade.

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.

Carrie Wilson

Carrie Wilson, Council Director for Girls on the Run of Calhoun County, believes one person with one voice can influence the lives of young girls. Wilson says planting the seeds of confidence in vulnerable children does not always yield instant gratification but requires time and dedication to pay off.

Denise Fase

Denise Fase recognizes that we often instinctively look at the weaknesses in others. As Executive Director of the Grand Rapids Initiative for Leaders, Fase makes it her job to fight that impulse and view troubled urban teens as prospective leaders with unique gifts and skills to offer their community. 

Ruth Lumpkins

Ruth A. Lumpkins, executive director of Jubilee Jobs, has a strong desire to help the underserved and a vision to inspire all of her students not only to have dreams, but to realize them and be serious about their education and their future.

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. 

Angela Reyes

As executive director of Detroit Hispanic Development Corporation, Angela Reyes believes that failing schools and a lack of jobs create an environment ripe for youth to fall into crime or drugs – or simply lose hope. DHDC is changing the outlook for southwest Detroit youth and parents, and community members are becoming their own agents of change. 

Martha Thawnghmung

Martha Thawnghmung connects to the Burmese refugees in Battle Creek not simply as clients, but as her brothers and sisters. Through the Burmese American Initiative she helps Burmese adults and children overcome language and cultural barriers and navigate government and agency systems to access resources for their health and education. 

Carl Kelly

As executive director of the Grand Rapids Youth Boxing Foundation, Carl Kelly uses boxing to teach leadership and life principles to underprivileged kids. A retired schoolteacher, Kelly now spends his time directing the MLK Boxing and Mentoring Program, influencing the lives of many Grand Rapids young people. 

Miranda Sue Hartmann

As the artistic director of All-of-Us Express Children’s Theatre in Lansing, Miranda Sue Hartmann shines a light on the talents of children, creating a safe, nurturing environment where children discover the pleasure and rewards of success. 
64 Articles | Page: | Show All
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