The Team

The Team

 

laura-ward

LAURA WARD
Executive Director

Laura has been leading our team since 2011. With over 15 years of experience in youth development and program administration, she has always had the goal of helping young people to thrive and reach their potential. Laura has been a champion for social justice and human rights throughout her career working with refugee and immigrant children and families in the Grand Rapids area. Before leading the Affinity Mentoring team, Laura was a Case Manager and Team Leader in Bethany Christian Services Refugee Foster Care Program. Laura has Master’s degrees in Social Work and Public Administration from Grand Valley State University. Laura is bilingual in Spanish and English. Laura and her husband, Wayne, live in Grand Rapids with their daughter, Adelyn, and son, Zander. As a family, they enjoy sports (especially football), boating, swimming, hiking and reading.

 


 

 

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MATTHEW CUNNINGHAM
Advancement Manager

Matthew joined our team in October of 2016. He has always had a passion for helping others. Matthew started his career in youth ministry and child development and worked in that field for 7 years. Over the past 15 years he has focused his career on building networking relationships that are marketing centered and has aimed to remind people of their value and how to convey that value to others.  Living most of his life in Texas, he moved to Grand Rapids three years ago with his wife Erin, three dogs and two horses. He enjoys the arts, theatre and music and has been singing for the past 20 years. When spare time is available, Matt can be found on the golf course.

 


 

 

Amy De Jonge - Affinity Mentoring

AMY DE JONGE
Burton Site Coordinator

Amy has been a part of Affinity since 2014. With a background in social work and over 10 years working with non-profits, she has seen firsthand the impact a mentor can have. Before joining the Affinity team, Amy was the Regional Coordinator of YoungLives in West Michigan, Young Life’s mentoring program for teen moms and pregnant teens. Working with at-risk youth and their families served to strengthen Amy’s belief in the importance of education. Amy and her husband, Drew, have three kids; Graham, Elle, and Archie. They love being outdoors. And while summers in West Michigan can’t be beat, having young kids has given them a whole new respect for sledding, snowman building, and wintry walks.

 


 

 

Sharon Gardner - Affinity Mentoring

SHARON GARDNER
Southwest Community Campus [SWCC] Site Coordinator

Sharon has been with Affinity Mentoring since 2009.  Throughout the past 7 years with the program, she has enjoyed seeing how mentoring can produce change and growth within both the mentor and the mentee.  Sharon has her bachelor’s degree in Nonprofit and Public Administration from Grand Valley State University and is currently pursuing her Master’s in Social Work at Michigan State University.  She also speaks Spanish, and enjoys connecting with the Spanish-speaking community in Grand Rapids. Sharon lives in Grand Rapids with her two daughters and together they love to explore.  Their most recent adventure took them backpacking around Nicaragua.  Sharon loves hiking, especially around the islands of the Great Lakes, running, and reading great fiction.  

 


 

 

kelsey-duthil

KELSEY DUTHIL
Mentor Center Manager

Kelsey joined our team in June 2016. She has spent the last year getting involved at Burton Elementary, volunteering at school events, and teaching the ESL/ELL class for the Literacy Center’s Family Literacy Program. During her time at Burton, she was impressed by Affinity and the relationships the mentors have fostered with the students. Kelsey graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Linguistics from Calvin College, and she is passionate about multilingual, multicultural neighborhoods, community collaboration, and intersectionality in education. She believes in the power of mentorship, and the integral role mentors have in completing the circle of support every child should have. Kelsey also volunteers as an English tutor during the school year, and enjoys catching up reading on her Spanish literary classics during the summer.  

 

Have Questions? Call Us

616-406-3987