Employment & Advocacy – Bill Zimmer is a licensed social worker who has found his way to DNNM by way of a long and varied career in mental health. Bill states that it was the strong relationship with the disability community and the experience and commitment of staff that drew him to DNNM. Bill brings experience in employment, and resource navigation, and fully embraces the agency’s mission of promoting personal empowerment and social change for people with disabilities.
LIFE Program Coordinator –Bob graduated from Michigan State University in 1979; and has an Industrial Arts Education degree, a Special Education degree, and a Masters in Educational Technology. After college, he moved to Traverse City and now refuses to leave (except on vacation!). Bob taught Special Education at TBAISD for 30 years, most of that time at the Adult Work Center. He helped develop the ACE program and the student led IEPC. Bob feels fortunate to be able to work with Life 101 students and the great staff at Disability Network. Bob (and his wife Becky) have a daughter in Seattle, son in Milwaukee, and a son and daughter at Michigan State. He loves to travel and has been all over the world (often on his bike). Bob also likes to swing a hammer but prudently stays away from ladders.
Director of Development –Dayna relocated to Traverse City from southeast Michigan in 2009. Prior to her recent position, she worked several years in event management, communications, and marketing. Dayna oversees Disability Network’s Fund Development program, marketing & communications, and the Access for Everyone campaign. She is currently working on earning a certificate in Fundraising Management from Indiana University. Dayna enjoys spending time with her husband, and their two dogs, Selma and Moon. She is also an avid supporter of the arts and environment. Dayna’s passionate about creating inclusive communities that are universally accessible, diverse, and embrace everyone’s abilities.
Information & Assistance Coordinator –Demarie received her Master’s in Social Work from Grand Valley University. Demarie has been advocating for people in the mental health systems for years. She is also involved with poverty issues in Leelanau County. Demarie enjoys her work at DNNM, working with people to help them remove barriers and live full lives in their communities. In her spare time she teaches fiber arts and tends to her animals on her fiber farm.
LIFE Program Coordinator –George studied at Northwestern Michigan College. He has worked in the Human Services Field for 20 years. He started out working in a crisis center with people in a mental health crisis. Then worked assisting developing programs that provided recreational activities and employment opportunities for developmentally disabled adults. Then most recently was a Program Coordinator for Alternative Services Inc. and managed multiple adult foster care homes and programs for the past 7 years. George lives in Kalkaska with his wife and 3 daughters. Besides working with the L.I.F.E. program he also works part time with children with Autism as a Behavioral Technician. George also does Reiki, and enjoys hiking, kayaking, and spending time with his family.
Information & Assistance Coordinator –Jennifer received her Bachelor’s degree in Social Work from Ferris State University, and joined the Disability Network team full time while completing her Ferris internship. Prior to her Social Work degree, Jennifer spent nearly 20 years in hospitality, customer service, team management and assisted with operational training. She moved from the north east side of Michigan in 1999, and has made Traverse City her home after a few years traveling abroad while working on a cruise line. Jennifer enjoys spending time with her family, engaging in life’s adventures and places much value on learning from the “greatest generation.” She is passionate about social justice, and empowering individuals.
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 –Jim has served as the Executive Director of Disability Network Northern Michigan since July 2003. Prior to his current position, Jim was the Interim CEO of the American Lung Association and Director of Governmental Affairs and Programs. He has worked in nonprofit leadership for over 25 years. Jim is passionate about social justice, and the idea that the human experience should be full and rich for everyone. He loves being outdoors, music, and the arts.
Finance Manager –Judy Ewald has a Bachelor of Business Administration in accounting from Western Michigan University. She previously served on the Board and performed accounting work for a private foundation in Metro Detroit. She began her career after college working in accounting for the comptroller of a division of General Motors. Judy later become more focused on income tax work and has worked for several Certified Public Accountant firms serving accounting and tax clients. Judy has three adult sons that reside in Colorado and Washington D.C. She has recently relocated to Northern Michigan from the Metro Detroit area, and enjoys biking and swimming in her free time.
LIFE Program Coordinator –
Katy is a graduate from Grand Valley State University with a BS in Therapeutic Recreation. She has been working with people with disabilities and mental health disorders for nearly ten years within the community, hospital settings, homes, and the school districts. Katy recently moved to Northern Michigan from Grand Rapids and is enjoying living outside of the city, and the many outdoor recreational opportunities available up here. She now works at Disability Network to coordinate and teach the LIFE program and is excited to continue advocating for people with disabilities and to work with youth.
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.
Lenny is a New Orleans native who recently moved to the great state of Michigan. Lenny is a graduate of Southeastern Louisiana University, with a BA in Political Science with a Specialization in Government/Law. Lenny has 10+ years working with a diverse population and is a certified Mental Health First Aider. Lenny has spent years working with and advocating for individuals with disabilities and mental health disorders. Lenny is married to Kyla Avery and the couple just welcomed their first child, Juliana on May 14th, 2015. Lenny enjoys spending time with his family, dog, and serves as a youth minister at his church in Lincoln. Lenny says that he is truly excited about working for Disability Network Of Northern Michigan and cannot wait to service the people of Northern Michigan.
Nursing Facility Transition Outreach Specialist – Leslie is a graduate of Western Michigan University with a Bachelor’s degree in Interdisciplinary Health Services. Leslie has spent numerous years in the Nursing Facilities in the area and has a true passion for people to live the most independent life possible. She has called Northern Michigan home for her entire life and enjoys the beauty that surrounds us daily. Leslie and her husband Patrick have four children that have begun their life, spreading across the country from North Carolina to Arizona. In her free time, Leslie enjoys being around any one of the beautiful lakes in the area.
Parent Network Coordinator –Nicole is part of our Parent Network, striving to provide disability awareness information and resources to families and caregivers. This includes our network meetings, monthly in the Fall and Spring. When Nicole is not at Disability Network she enjoys spending time with her family, and being active in disability advocacy.
Independent Living Specialist –Sherrie graduated from Grand Valley State University with a Master’s Degree in Social Work. She has resided in Northern Michigan her entire life, and has worked in a variety of fields including; court system, Community Mental Health, private agencies, schools, adult foster facility, and foster care and adoption agencies. Sherrie was hired in December 2014. She serves as Outreach Coordinator to 7 counties in Northeast Michigan, and also serves as an Independent Living Specialist on the east side of the state. Sherrie is happily married and enjoys her large family. She loves assisting the most vulnerable clients, and enjoys learning from them too.
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, $14 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.