Our Team

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Daniel Williams

Executive Director
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Daniel was appointed executive director in 2015 after seven years as principal of Grand Rapids University Prep Academy. While at UPrep, Daniel led his team to achieving a graduation rate of more than 90 percent each year. He was also named Principal of the Year by Grand Rapids Public Schools for 2014-15. A long-time partner and supporter of WMCAT, Daniel served on our board of directors from 2013-15. He joined the newly created Detroit University Prep High School in 2005 as director of learning through internship and, later, principal support. In 2008 Daniel was hand selected to help launch Grand Rapids University Prep Academy, the first Centers of Innovation School in Grand Rapids Public Schools. He received his Master of Education, Educational Leadership from Eastern Michigan University and his Bachelor of Arts in Communication Studies from University of Iowa.

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Louise “Punky” Edison

Development Director
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Louise “Punky” Edison joined our team in 2011, bringing with her 10 years of experience as a fund development professional. She has been involved with numerous non-profits in Grand Rapids spanning the arts, education, cancer support, substance abuse and volunteer management. She holds a Bachelor of Science in Education from the University of Michigan. In the community, Punky is a board member of the Association of Fundraising Professionals West Michigan Chapter, Women in Development and the Economic Club of Grand Rapids.

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Amy Knape

Development + Communications Manager
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Amy Knape has been with WMCAT since 2011. She is a Certified Fund Raising Executive (CFRE) who has worked in print media, association management and nonprofit fundraising. Amy has a strong background in written communications, particularly in grant preparation and donor relations. She graduated from Western Michigan University with a Bachelor of Arts in Public Relations and Journalism. In the community, Amy is a member of the Junior League of Grand Rapids, where she served as president in 2006-07 and is currently on the board. She is also a former board member for the Association of Fundraising Professionals – West Michigan Chapter.

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Tracy VanderHeide

Finance Director
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Tracy joined WMCAT in 2015 after working with us for years as an outside accounting professional. A graduate of Calvin College with a Bachelor of Science in Public Accountancy, Tracy obtained her CPA in 2008. She has worked in public accounting and as an accounting manager specializing in nonprofit and small business accounting. Most recently she was a manager in the specialized accounting services department at Hungerford Nichols.

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Jamon Alexander

Program Director
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Jamon joined WMCAT in 2015 as a program director overseeing the WMCAT Adult Career Training Program. A passionate nonprofit professional, Jamon has led fundraising and volunteer efforts at the YMCA of Greater Grand Rapids, Spectrum Health Foundation and Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital Foundation, and the Heart of West Michigan United Way. He is a community advocate and activist, volunteering his time as a youth basketball coach and board member for the Grand Rapids Urban League. In 2014 he was given the Community Advocate Award by Grand Rapids Young Professionals; and in 2013 he was named one of 40 Under 40 by the Grand Rapids Business Journal. Jamon earned his Bachelor degree in Public and Nonprofit Administration from Grand Valley State University, who named him Young Alumni of the Year in 2012.

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Trudy Ngo-Brown

Program Director
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Trudy is director of the Teen Arts + Tech Program. She joined WMCAT in 2015 after four years with the Kent Intermediate School District as a Career Readiness Consultant.

Trudy has nearly 15 years of combined experience in education as a classroom teacher and teacher educator. In addition to career and workforce development issues, she has extensive experience working with English language learners (ELLs). Trudy was a teacher with Kentwood Public Schools, Chicago Public Schools, and in Japan. She earned her Bachelor of Arts in Economics from the University of Texas and her Master of Education in Instructional Leadership from the University of Illinois in Chicago.

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Leanne Rhoads

Program Director
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Leanne has been with the WMCAT team since 2006. She is currently program director overseeing two-generation programming and services for our students and their families. She received her Bachelor of Arts from Calvin College with a major in French Education and minors in Music and Youth Ministries. Leanne is driven in her work to empower the youth of our city by merging mentorship, creativity, beauty, and hope in order to create a safe space in which our students can feel comfortable learning and growing. She is active with the Extended Learning Opportunities Network, serving on the Quality Committee.

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Adam Weiler

Program Director
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Adam joined WMCAT in 2015 as a program director for social enterprise. Adam founded Ambrose, a social-screenprinting studio, in 2008 as a way to engage creative teens in Holland, MI. Adam and his team grew the program to include a production studio, retail space, product line, and collaborative design studio that provided services to more than 400 teens a year. He previously taught in the Printing and Graphic Arts department of Careerline Tech Center in Holland. Adam holds a bachelors degree in visual arts and mathematics from Central College in Pella, IA, and a masters degree in design from Kendall College. He is currently apprenticing to be a design thinking coach with Hasso Plattner Institute of Design at Stanford University.

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Jovan Naves

Studio Manager
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Jovan came on board in 2016 to manage Ambrose at WMCAT, our commercial screen printing studio, and serve as a mentor and supervisor to our apprentices. A graduate of East Kentwood High School, Jovan was most recently the studio manager for One Custom City Print in Detroit. He launched his own clothing line, Bare All Clothing, in 2013 and is currently the owner and designer. Jovan earned a degree in Graphic Design from Wayne State University’s School of Fine Arts. Working at WMCAT is a “win-win” for him as he is committed to giving young people opportunities to make it and contribute.

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Yvonne May

Student Services Manager
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E. Yvonne May has been with WMCAT since 2005, working with our adult career training students to ensure their success in the program and career placement. She came to WMCAT after teaching computers for the City of Grand Rapids as well as Grand Rapids Public Schools. Yvonne received her Bachelor degree in Management and Human Resources from Spring Arbor College, and her Masters in Education Technology from Grand Valley State University. She is active with the Family Self-Sufficiency Program of Kent County.

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Kirk Eklund

Program Manager
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Kirk is the manager for our social enterprise programs. He joined WMCAT in 2012 as administrative/technology coordinator and later as a teaching artist for a leadership design team. He has more than 10 years of experience in the non-profit sector, including at the YMCA. Kirk received his Bachelor of Arts from Grand Valley State University in Public and Non-Profit Management. In the community he is a member of the Young Nonprofit Professionals Network, serving on their Marketing Committee and is a member of the Avenue for the Arts Advisory Committee.

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Carolina Lopez-Ruiz

Student Services Manager
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Carolina works as the student services manager for our Teen Arts + Tech Program. She received her Bachelor of Fine Arts in Fine Art Photography from Kendall College of Art and Design. She started with WMCAT by volunteering with the youth program in 2008 and was hired as an instructor in 2009. She also works as a professional event photographer.

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Katie Hunter

Program Coordinator
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Katie joined WMCAT in 2015, after working abroad as a publishing assistant and site coordinator for a culinary retreat. She received her Bachelor of Arts from Kalamazoo College, where she majored in Fine Art and studied Philosophy and Critical Theory. Much of her career has been project based, including several accomplished with the Arcus Center for Social Justice Leadership (ACSJL) at Kalamazoo College. She is brand new to the city of Grand Rapids and excited to be working in the community.”

 

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Jason Kreska

Administrative and Technology Coordinator
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Jason joined WMCAT in 2015 to design and deliver a seamless experience for everyone who walks through our front doors.  Jason has experience in service delivery with the catering company that provided the team at Google Freemont in Seattle a full scale smorgasbord onsite daily. He also worked at Cornish College, leading a team on campus where he designed professional development experiences, social media marketing and logistics.  He is an active outdoorsman who loves hiking through mountains and up trails when he is not at WMCAT.

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Gen-Dairec Buchanan

Ambrose Team Leader
Gen-Dairec was one of our first apprentices at Ambrose and is now a team leader. A 2015 graduate of Grand Rapids Public Schools, he focuses on the screen printing process. Gen-Dairec started attending WMCAT his sophomore year of high school, studying illustration and working on several public art projects. He plans to attend Kendall College of Art and Design to study illustration and digital arts. Gen-Dairec wants to to be a professional cartoonist and comic book illustrator, in part because of his love for Japanese animation.
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Megan Crouch

Ambrose Graphic Designer

Megan, one of our first apprentices at Ambrose, is a graphic designer for our screen printing business. She started attending WMCAT’s Teen Arts + Tech Program in 2009. During her time spent here she took a range of classes, including print making, illustration, toy making, and product design.

Megan, a 2014 graduate of Grand Rapids Montessori, is currently in her second year at Kendall College of Art and Design pursuing a career in Graphic Design. In her spare time she enjoys jewelry making, drawing, and crafting to movie marathons.

 

 

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Anny Nunez

Ambrose Team Leader

Any was one of our first apprentices at Ambrose and today is a team leader. She started attending WMCAT her sophomore year of high school, focusing on sculpture and drawing. She is currently a sophomore at Grand Rapids Community College studying psychology in pursuit of being a psychiatrist. Anny is a family oriented person, spending most of her time mothering her nephew, while her head remains in the clouds planning future trips and goals.