Staff & Board
Tami adds Well House to her list of community givebacks. Her passion for housing and volunteering with Well House pushed her to become executive director at the end of 2012. “I passed people on the streets without homes, in my neighborhood, everyday.”
VandenBerg is an entrepreneur, running two establishments (The Meanwhile Bar and Pyramid Scheme) with her brother Jeff. Prior to this, she worked with the Salvation Army’s Homeless Assistance Program, and in the field of housing, often-managing $4-5 million in HUD funds.
“The answer to homelessness is still housing and that is what we do here.”
Jodi Smith, Director of Operations
Jodi started at Well House as an intern in January 2013 and became a full-time staff member only 4 months later. Jodi has a background in early childhood education and a degree in human development. She brings an incredible amount of high energy, creativity, and passion to the organization.
Jean started at Well House in July of 2013. She comes to Well House with a wealth of knowledge and expertise of social services and community support services that are available in Kent County. Jean recently graduate from Western Michigan University with a BA in Family Studies. Jean is a hard worker, extremely dedicated, and cares deeply for each and every Well House tenant.
Danny started as a volunteer in the Spring of 2014 and joined as an employee at the end of August of the same year. Before moving to Grand Rapids in November 2013, Danny was working to improve housing conditions on Native American Reservations in Montana and South Dakota. In 2009 He lead a cross-country bike trip to raise money for affordable housing. At Well House, Danny works in a number of different areas, including coordinating volunteers, reducing the cost of operations, and a little bit of IT work. His favorite part about working at Well House is working with volunteers and the tenants. In his spare time, he also works as a sustainability consultant, loves to rock climb, bike, or do anything outdoors.
Travis finished his degree in Sustainable Business at Aquinas College by interning at Well House in the fall of 2014. In addition to his degree in sustainability, he is a licensed general contractor. He always knows what questions to ask and when to ask them. Travis works to maintain the growing number of Well House properties in a sustainable manner.
Gwen started at Well House in the summer of 2015 after working at Grand Rapids city Hall, Women’s Resource Center, and Michigan Works. As receptionist, Gwen handles all phone calls, visitors, and helps tenants with finding resources in the area. Her favorite part about working at Well House is working toward the mission that Marian Clements started in 1979. In her spare time, Gwen enjoys spending time with her family and volunteering in the community.
Sam started as an official staff member at Well House in Spring of 2016, after working previously as a self-employed subcontractor, building custom homes and remodeling. Sam assists in the home renovations, as well as provides maintenance to existing properties. In his spare time, he enjoys hunting, fishing, and spending time with friends and family. He also builds custom furniture and buildings at friends’ and families’ homes.
Board of Directors 2016
Audrey Chapman is a local non-profit professional, designer, and yoga teacher. Acutely aware of the devastation that chronic homelessness has on a person’s life, she joined the Well House board in 2012 because she saw the simple effectiveness and profound potential of the Housing First model. Now in her second term, Audrey is looking forward to collaborating with many more friends, businesses, and local, state, and national officials to end chronic homelessness in our communities.
Cailin Kelly is a local political activist, volunteer, and co-owner of Creston Brewery, with a background in human service work. Cailin came on as a board member of Well House in November of 2014 in strong support of the Well House model. She believes that the Housing First, harm reduction philosophy is the most sustainable and viable approach to ending homelessness throughout Kent County, and is proud to serve with such like-minded individuals.
Austin Dean is a West Michigan transplant who attended GVSU for both his undergraduate and MBA degrees. Austin has worked with Merrill Lynch and Charter Capital Partners before landing at GR Current as the Director of Business Operations. In 2013 he co-founded Failure:Lab, a community storytelling platform and event series, where Austin currently serves as the CEO of Collective Metrics, a software platform for measuring and reporting on social impact.
Derek DeVries is a digital strategist at Lambert, Edwards & Associates (LE&A). His areas of expertise include social media marketing, crisis communications, online reputation management, digital branding, web development, and counsel on all things Internet-related. Prior to joining LE&A, Derek worked for PR/marketing agencies including 834 Marketing and Design and spent 11 years in higher education providing public relations, social media marketing and communications support for Grand Rapids Community College. In addition to his duties at LE&A, Derek also teaches advertising/public relations part-time at Grand Valley State University.
Brent Geers specializes in helping people empower those they trust and provide for those they love. Brent has been an attorney since 2012, working with individuals and families to marshal their time, talent, and treasure for the benefit of their children, family, and community. He is a Grand Rapids Business Journal “40 Under 40” honoree, and currently operates his own practice, Geers Law.
Brent is married to an educator, who employs his services as a chaperone for various school functions. He is also a father to a daughter determined to break down barriers for women everywhere.
Lisa Rios is a partner with Edward Jones and has been helping West Michigan families achieve their financial goals for the better part of two decades. Lisa is madly in love with her native town of Grand Rapids and has participated in many community and philanthropic organizations over the years. As a community activist, she believes no one should be without a safe place to call home. From her research, Lisa was impressed with the effectiveness of Well House in providing both a home and dignity to Grand Rapids’ homeless community and knew she had to be part of the organization. Lisa and her husband Michael strive to instill that same sense of community and desire to give in their two boys.
Grand Rapids-based composer, keyboardist, percussionist and cyclist Theo Ndawillie II spends most of his time performing and writing with his band Vox Vidorra, teaching at Triumph Music Academy, and working on commissions. Theo has been commissioned by the Grand Rapids Symphony, ADAPT Theatre Company, Symmetry Films (shehimher), and others. His hobbies include finding various ways to combine his musical endeavors with various forms of environmental and social activism. Having grown up as 1 of 2 birth children in a foster home of 14, he has a firm belief in Well House’s compassionate approach to ending homelessness, the Housing First model, and is elated to serve on the board beginning in 2016.
Elsa Kerr has worked in both the corporate and non-profit sectors of marketing and community relations. Her non-profit focus has been on helping individuals develop the skills and tools to become self-sufficient through employment. Recognizing that stable housing is the foundation to building independence, Elsa has joined the 2016 Well House Board of Directors and is ready to support and build upon the organization’s mission and goals.
Elsa has also served on the Board of Directors of the YWCA West Central Michigan from 2004-2012, fulfilling the role of Board Chair from 2008-2010. She continues to actively support the organization today.
Matt is a managing member of 616 Development, which develops multi-family housing in Grand Rapids, and serves as Managing Member of its holding company. Matt joined the board of Well House in Fall 2015 with a strong belief in the organization’s mission and Housing First model. Matt enjoys collaborating with other board members and business owners in the community to end homelessness. Matt and his wife Julie live in East Grand Rapids with their two dogs.
Toresa Blakely, CPLC, Owner, In Life Now Enterprises
Denavvia Mojet, Political Campaign Consultant, Owner, Mojet Photography