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 –
Caitlin received her bachelor’s degree in Psychology from The University of New Hampshire, and is currently pursuing her master’s degree in therapeutic recreation from Indiana University. Caitlin has been working with children and adults with disabilities for many year in various capacities. Previously, she has worked as an employment specialist for adults with disabilities, a Behavioral Health Professional (BHP) for children with Autism, and is also licenced to teach adaptive horseback riding. Caitlin recently relocated to Traverse City from Cape Cod, Massachusetts with her husband Ryan, who serves in the Coast Guard, and Goldendoodle, Bruin. She is thrilled to have joined the Disability Network team and is excited to explore all that Northern Michigan has to offer.
Information and Assistance Coordinator –David has worked for public and private agencies as an employment and training coordinator and counselor. He has worked his entire career in health and rehabilitation. In his work at the Disability Network, David enjoys providing information concerning health services, legal aide, housing and vocational opportunities to people with disabilities in the Northern Michigan Region.
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.
Director of Organizational Advancement –Jennifer has more than 30 years of experience in developing and fulfilling communications, marketing and outreach strategies and counseling senior management on business strategies. Much of that time has been spent serving non-profits. Her goal is working genuinely to engage every citizen in the success of their community.
She is a community champion, relationship builder, strategic planner and messaging agent who finds her greatest fulfillment in giving voice and structure to those that honor good works in support of our most vulnerable. She is passionate about social justice and prior to joining the DNNM team has been working to empower and engage vulnerable communities and to support families in ways that really nurture the spirit. She is deeply honored to join the Disability Network Team in service to the mission. Family, in all forms, is her greatest value.
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.
Community Transition Services Transition Navigator –John is the new Transition Navigator for Community Transition Services and is very excited to be part of the Disability Network team. John graduated from Western Michigan University with a BA in Sociology. He has a passion for working with people with disabilities and has many years of experience providing them support in different ways. John is committed to the person-centered approach for program planning, support and services provided to people with disabilities. Prior to joining the Disability Network, John was a director for an Independent Living Services program for people with developmental disabilities in Sacramento, CA. John and his family recently relocated back to Michigan from Auburn, CA to be close to family. He is very excited to be back in Michigan and happy to call Traverse City his home. John enjoys spending his free time with his wife and two kids.
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.
Transition Manager –Kristen Conrad is a L.M.S.W with a degree from Grand Valley State University. During her undergraduate, she worked in experiential education and facilitated groups of students of all ages from students to adults in ropes course and outdoor adventure experiences. Kristen also worked in a group home for LGBT high school students. While pursuing her Masters in Social Work, Kristen was employed in the Traverse Area Public School system working with individuals and student groups. Kristen facilitates LIFE classes to over 175 students annually as well as over 50 students in the Community LIFE program, while helping to manage and train other LIFE staff. Kristen is passionate about developing programs that help to integrate classroom students into the community.
Community Transition Services Transition Navigator –
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.
LIFE Program Coordinator –
Lisa retired from teaching in July 2018. She started her teaching career in General Education working with Elementary age students. For the past 15 years she has taught in the Adult Transition Program, working with young adults with disabilities. She also is the mom of an adult child with a significant disability. With her experiences as a mom, a Special Education teacher, and a public guardian for people with disabilities, she is passionate in helping and advocating for individuals with disabilities to build a quality life that is meaningful and fulfilling. She believes that everyone should be afforded the same opportunities in life.
Lisa grew up in the Upper Peninsula and attended Northern Michigan University where she obtained her Bachelor’s degree in Education. She has lived in beautiful Northern Michigan for the past 25 years and earned her Master’s Degree in Early Childhood Development and Special Education from CMU and GVSU.
She works as a Life Program Coordinator in the Charlevoix Emmet ISD area, servicing several area schools. She is excited to continue to work with transition age students.
LIFE Program Coordinator –
Michael holds an M.Div from Virginia Seminary and graduate studies in Music at University of Michigan. After almost 20 years in parish ministry, he is passionate about helping our youth become the very best version of themselves. A gifted communicator and teacher, Michael believes that none of us can be truly whole until we can turn the “other” into “one another.” His work as a LIFE Program Coordinator will help to connect, integrate , and empower our high school students with disabilities in Alpena, Montmorency, and Alcona counties. Also an artist, chef, and author, Michael resides in Alpena with his life partner, Rexann, and their “motley herd” of boys and pups.
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.
LIS’N Interpreter Services Scheduler –
Wendy received her bachelor’s degree in Social Work from Ferris State University. Currently she has works as an Interpreter Service Scheduler and an advocate for Deaf & Hard of Hearing individuals. Wendy is Deaf herself and uses American Sign language as her primary language. In her spare time, she teaches Beginning American Sign Language at Northwestern Michigan Community College. She enjoys camping, hiking, kayaking and spending quality time with three grandchildren.
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, $13 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.