Tami VandenBerg, Executive Director
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.”
Erin Crison, Chief Operating Officer
Erin has a degree in psychology from George Mason University and has spent the past 13 years working in non-profits that have specialized in youth development. Erin is so excited to be a part of the Well House team and it’s commitment to ending homelessness in Grand Rapids. In her spare time, Erin enjoys spending her time with her two children and family, doing yoga, traveling and reading.
Travis VanLuyn, Director of Construction & Maintenance
Travis started as an intern in the fall of 2014 while completing his bachelors degree in Sustainable Business Management from Aquinas college. Travis started as an employee for Well House in the spring of 2015. Travis is a licensed contractor and has worked various construction jobs from doing concrete, custom counter tops, to building custom homes. Travis has a passion for learning, creating, building, and finding sustainable solutions to practical problems. In his spare time he enjoys spending time with his family, being outdoors, and listening to music.
Alec Beattie, Farmer
We asked him why am he was interested in working with Well House:
“When I would see someone on the streets holding a sign up that says “homeless”, I always wondered “how?” How can someone be put in that position, and how did we as a society allow someone to be in that position. It always left a weird feeling in my stomach, and I felt like there had to be something I could do about it. Well House became that something.”
Sam Dells, Building & Maintenance Specialist
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. Sam is a licensed builder and is currently working on renovating the 1800’s farmhouse he and his wife own.
Mario Leon, Development Coordinator
Mario was born in Havana, Cuba and grew up in Chicago and Grand Rapids. After obtaining his degree from Aquinas College, he spent the majority of his professional life in the sales end of the music business before he realized how much he enjoyed non-profit work. He comes to us from Boys & Girls Club where he worked in membership, volunteer management and development. In his free time, Mario enjoys music, films and his two Chinese Crested dogs. If there is squid on the menu, you can count on him to order it every single time.
Danny McGee, Director of Sustainability
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 Rapid 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, managing the farm, advising on rehabs, and finding ways to reduce the organization’s footprint. His favorite part about working at Well House is working with volunteers and the tenants. In his spare time, he also works as a sustainable business consultant, loves to rock climb, bike, or do anything outdoors.
Andrew Miller, Tenant Crew Leader
Gwen Nathan, Receptionist
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.
Jean Olds, Housing Specialist
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 has a degree in Family Studies from Western Michigan University. Jean is a hard worker, extremely dedicated, and cares deeply for each and every Well House tenant.
David Patillo, House Parent
Jodi Smith, Housing Specialist & Outreach Coordinator
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.
Board of Directors 2017
Derek DeVries, Board President, Digital Strategist,
Lambert, Edwards and Associates
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.
Cailin Kelly, Vice Chair, Owner, Creston Brewery
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, Analyst, Start Garden
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.
Brent Geers, Estate Planning Attorney/Owner, Geers Law
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, Partner, Edward Jones
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.
Theodore Janga-Ngalma Ndawillie II, Musician, Composer, Music Teacher
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, Retired Marketing Communications Professional, Workforce Development
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 O’Connor, Managing Member, 616 Development
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
Toresa also known as Coach TMB is passionate about seeing people learn how to “live their best life in life now.” She is the founder of In Life Now Enterprises, a talk media and empowerment company that brings inspirational flare to discussing real issues, real people experience while providing real solutions. Toresa is the author of two books, Return from the Brink of Disaster and Pressing Towards the Mark – It’s Now What You Think and frequently serves as a keynote speaker. In 2016 Toreas joined the Magic 104.9 fm family. Toresa knows firsthand the effects of homelessness