Megan received the 2014 Henry D. Messer Youth Activist Award for her work in Michigan’s LGBT equality movement. The award is one of the annual Catalyst Awards from Equality Michigan. As Community Engagement Coordinator of the Kalamazoo Gay and Lesbian Resource Center since late 2012, Megan has had an impact not only in the Kalamazoo area, but across Michigan. During her K days, she worked with Habitat for Humanity as an AmeriCorps volunteer and with Queers for Economic Justice in New York. Megan will received her award at Equality Michigan’s annual dinner in February.
Richard was a co-recipient of the 2014 Pro Bono Recognition Award from the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan. He was honored for volunteer service representing a plaintiff assigned by the court in a complex disability case featuring elements of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act. Though elements of the case are still pending, Richard helped successfully argue that a wheelchair-bound muscular sclerosis patient is entitled to lifetime disability benefits. Richard is a partner and senior litigator in the Detroit office of the law firm Plunkett Cooney. He earned his bachelor’s degree at K in political science, and he received his law degree at Boston College.
Jeff was named the 2015 Credit Union Community Volunteer of the Year by the Michigan Credit Union Foundation (MCUF). The award recognizes a credit union employee or member who has a history of exemplary volunteer service outside of the credit union system. Jeff has volunteered with numerous southwest Michigan nonprofit organizations for more than 25 years. Currently, he is the board president of both the Lake Michigan College Foundation and the Fun Financial Literacy Institute. He is the current treasurer and past president of the Niles Community School District Board of Education. Jeff serves on the board of directors of the Michigan Gateway Community Foundation’s Buchanan Area Fund, and is a committee chairman for Michigan’s Great Southwest Strategic Leadership Council and the Kinexus Bridge Academy. He is a former board member and campaign chair for United Way of Southwest Michigan, and past president of the Niles-Buchanan YMCA and the Buchanan Lions Club. Jeff earned his bachelor’s degree in economics and business and studied abroad in Madrid, Spain. He is vice president of operations at United Federal Credit Union (St. Joseph, Mich.) He and his wife Diane live in Niles, Michigan.
Amy was selected as a 2015-2016 Executive Fellow. The Executive Fellowship Program is sponsored by the Center for California Studies at California State University, Sacramento (Sacramento State) and the Office of the Governor to provide an experiential learning opportunity in California state government. Executive Fellows function as full-time professional staff in executive offices at various levels of California’s executive branch, which includes the office of the governor, constitutional offices, cabinet secretaries, commissions and departments. The 10-month program integrates work experience with academic and professional development. Prior to taking this position Amy was teaching in Madrid, Spain, as a Fulbright Fellow.
Nathan is the senior legislative manager for Access Now, a New York City-headquartered advocacy organization that defends and extends the digital rights of users at risk around the world. A former communications director in the U.S. Congress, Nathan has shaped political and social issue campaigns across the United States and the Internet. He earned his bachelor’s degree from K in political science, and he studied abroad in Hong Kong. He earned a master’s degree in global marketing, communications and advertising from Emerson College in Boston.
Meredith has been named a New Leaders Council—Detroit 2016 Fellow. NLC-D is an entrepreneurial leadership program for progressive young professionals, with a mission to recruit, train and promote the next generation of progressive leaders. Meredith is the director of development and strategic initiatives for Michigan United, a statewide organization fighting for racial, economic and gender justice in Michigan through grassroots organizing. Michigan United’s primary areas of work are fighting for comprehensive immigration reform, ending mass incarceration, promoting equitable development and fighting for an economy that works for all of us. Meredith has organized on campaigns to fight violence against women, increase affordable housing, clean up toxic waste in her local neighborhood, raise Michigan’s minimum wage and increase access to affordable, quality child care and long-term care. She lives in Detroit and loves building campaigns to advance gender equity and women’s rights. At K she earned her degree in human development and social relations and studied abroad in Dakar, Senegal. Her study abroad Intercultural Research Project was a program on HIV-prevention among at-risk Senegalese communities. Her Senior Individualized Project was a documentary on HIV-prevention in Detroit.
Ian is campaign manager for Robert Wittenberg, Democratic Party candidate for the 27th District, Michigan House of Representatives. Ian grew up in Pleasant Ridge, Mich., and has worked on numerous electoral races in the area.
Kate was one of three recipients of the Ashley Brooks-Danso Memorial Fund Student Travel Scholarships for the Council on Social Work Education’s annual program meeting last year. The gathering is the premier national meeting in the social work education field. More than 2,500 social work educators, administrators, practitioners, students, and other key decision makers from across the country and around the world attended, making it the largest gathering of its kind. Kate’s scholarship was awarded through the CSWE National Center for Gerontological Social Work Education. A Master in Social Work (MSW) student at the University at Albany, Kate was accepted into the competitive Internships In Aging Project (IAP), which is conducted in partnership with community consortium agencies and offers the opportunity to specialize in services to aging persons. IAP is part of the Geriatric Social Work Practicum Program, which was begun by the John A. Hartford Foundation and coordinated by the New York Academy of Medicine, now called the Hartford Partnership Programs for Aging Education. The goal of the program is to address the critical need for geriatric social workers.
Tom is working on the $150 million expansion and renovation of the Cleveland Museum of Natural History, scheduled for completion in 2020. Tom is founder of Thinc Design, a New York City-based firm that has provided exhibit designs for clients worldwide, including the National September 11 Memorial & Museum in New York, the USA Pavilion at the 2015 Milan Expo, and the Steinhart Aquarium at the California Academy of Sciences in San Francisco. The Detroit-area native moved to New York City to become a theater designer after graduating from K with a B.A. degree in German. His assignment in Cleveland includes moving the Perkins Center from the north to the south side of the institution’s complex in University Circle, plus creating interior displays in the new main exhibit wing.
Laura is the executive director of the District of Columbia Office on Aging (DCOA). She leads an agency that develops and carries out a comprehensive and coordinated system of health, education, employment and social services for the District’s older adults, persons living with disabilities and their caregivers. Prior to her appointment by Mayor Muriel Bowser, Laura served as DCOA’s interim general counsel. She was appointed interim executive director in early November and named executive director in December. She has deep professional roots in advocacy. Prior to joining District government, Laura worked at AARP Legal Counsel for the Elderly directing the Real Property Tax Project. She spearheaded the community advocacy and litigation strategy that led to significant legislative reform in 2014 and the creation of the Real Property Tax Lien Ombudsman. Before receiving her law degree (Georgetown University), she worked in a variety of nonprofit settings, spanning numerous issues that included domestic violence, jail-based voting and registration, and consumer protection. At K she earned her bachelor’s degree in political science and studied abroad in Thailand.