Resource Development Manager –Annie earned a Master’s degree in Education from Aquinas College and a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology from Michigan State University. She has been employed at Disability Network since 2004. Prior to her recent position, Annie tutored struggling students in Grand Rapids Public Schools, coordinated an after school program & summer camp for at risk youth, and taught transition skills to students with disabilities participating in our LIFE 101 program. Currently Annie oversees our volunteer program, parent network, LIFE program events, the Access for Everyone campaign, and our community outreach & fund development programs. She is passionate about creating a welcoming, inclusive community that is universally accessible, diverse, and embraces everyone’s gifts & talents.
Office Manager –Bonnie Newhouse has worked at Disability Network/Northern Michigan for the past 7 ½ years, serving as Information & Assistance Coordinator and Office Manager. She attended Lansing Community College and Michigan State University and later Northwestern Michigan College earning her Bachelor’s of Science Degree in Accounting at Ferris State University. Her work history includes Certified Accounting Firms in Lansing and Springfield, IL and worked in the accounting Dept. for Diners’ Club Main office while living in Denver. She has also completed several Writers Courses in Colorado and Michigan and is a free-lance writer having published articles in the Traverse City Record-Eagle and several other publications. She has been married to husband, Art for 46 years and is the mother of 4 grown children and 6 grandchildren. In her spare time she enjoys baseball and football and attending symphony orchestra performances. While home raising her family, she has continued working on a book of her personal experiences which is nearing publication.
IL Program Manager –Jessie has a Bachelor’s degree in Sociology from Aquinas College. She spent 3 years working in Grand Rapids providing programs for inner city youth. In November 2003, Jessie was hired at Disability Network. Currently she coordinates the LIFE program, assists with our Advocacy Council, and manages our program for veterans. Jessie is driven by her family and helping others. She values Northern Michigan–our communities, lakes, and all of the people living here.
Executive Director –
LIFE Program Coordinator –Joan has been involved with Disability Network teaching LIFE 101 in high schools and middle schools since 2010. Before that, she was part of the Transition Team as an employee of Michigan Rehabilitation Services where her primary responsibility was teaching employment skills to high school students. Joan’s background is in education—she served as a special education teacher of middle school and high school students in the Saginaw area for over 30 years. During her last 12 years in education she was a high school guidance counselor, which was very rewarding. In addition, Joan was a supervisor of clinical experiences at Saginaw Valley State University. Upon relocating to Traverse City, Joan felt a void in her life because she was not in contact with young people. Working with the Transition Team and Disability Network has allowed her to continue to affect the lives of young people in meaningful ways.
LIFE Program Coordinator –Kristen is an L.L.M.S.W. who graduated from Grand Valley State University. During college, she facilitated a ropes course and worked in a group home for GLBT high school students in Massachusetts. After relocating to Michigan, she was employed for five years as the Responsible Thinking Classroom (RTC) facilitator at Central High School in Traverse City. Kristen now works at Disability Network coordinating the LIFE 102 program for high school students.
Volunteer Coordinator –Lisa received her Bachelor’s degree in social work from Ferris State University upon completing her internship at Disability Network/Northern Michigan. Lisa currently serves as our Volunteer Coordinator for our 17 county region. In addition, she assists with the coordination the Disability Network/Advocacy Council and the Grand Traverse Regional Interagency Consumer Committee. Not only does Lisa stay busy with her position at Disability Network, but she also volunteers for the Learning Partner’s Program and Safe Harbor while also teaching her daughter who has Autism self-advocacy skills. Lisa is extremely passionate for human rights issues—especially concerning individuals with disabilities. In her free time, she enjoys camping with her family, watching her son play football, and attending her children’s choir and orchestra concerts.
Renee Louvierre Mitchell
Community Resource Specialist –Renee is an LLMSW who has been assisting people with disabilities since 1998. She earned a Master’s degree in Social Work from Grand Valley State University, and has worked at Michigan Rehabilitation Services, Northern Lakes Community Mental Health, and Grand Traverse Industries. Currently, Renee manages our Nursing Facility Transition program, which consists of assisting individuals with the transition from nursing facilities to a community based setting. Renee has personal experience with disability; in 1991, she became paralyzed at the age of 15 from an automobile accident. Since then, she strives to live as independently and “normally” as possible. She has learned that to be independent and to do “normal” things, she often has to rely on help from others. She has learned how to be an effective advocate, and how to assist others through peer support to achieve their own goals. Professionally, Renee enjoys working with the agency’s Access Team to improve accessibility in the community. She has extensive knowledge of the Americans with Disabilities Act and believes it is important to teach people how to advocate and enforce the laws of the ADA.
LIS’N Program Coordinator – Currently Thomas coordinates our Lis’n Program (Local Interpreter Services Network.) He assists adults with hearing loss who are seeking employment and provides interpreting services to individuals who are deaf.
Disability can occur at any age and at any moment—in fact, 80% of us will have a disability at some point in our lifetime. Your support will help us to continue promoting personal empowerment and positive social change for individuals with disabilities—including children, veterans, aging parents, and those who recently acquired a disability due to an accident. For every dollar invested in Disability Network/Northern Michigan, $17 is returned to our region. Our programs boost the economy, create a more inclusive community, and offer tax savings for Michigan residents. Your donation will enable us to continue to improve the quality of life for local individuals.
Most people equate disability with limitations. But it’s our job to change the perceptions and realities that prevent people with disabilities from sharing in the community. Every year, we provide training, mentoring, and referrals to help people with disabilities and their families live productive lives. Because disability touches so many people, we also work on a larger scale, helping governments and businesses make changes that benefit not just those with disabilities, but everyone in the community.