Affinity Mentoring today announced several new appointments to its board of directors, including Malaina Weldy and Frank Acosta.
Frank Acosta | Independent Bank
Frank is a dedicated and driven young marketing professional focused on making a difference in the community. He currently serves as the Digital Marketing Manager for Independent Bank.
When he’s not in the office, you can likely find him outdoors or spending quality time with his family and friends. Frank has volunteered through Affinity Mentoring at SWCC in Grand Rapids for 2 years and is excited to give back to the organization through board service. Frank also serves on the board of directors for the Young Nonprofit Professionals Network of Grand Rapids. He is Vice-Chair of the Marketing Committee for the Michigan Bankers Association and a Planning & Strategy Committee member for Habitat for Humanity of Kent County.
He earned an Associates in Science and Arts Degree from Muskegon Community College and a Bachelor of Business Administration, Marketing Degree from Davenport University.
Malaina Weldy | Warner Norcross + Judd LLP
Malaina received her Bachelor of Arts in Business from Goshen College and her Juris Doctor and Master of Business Administration from the University of Notre Dame. She is currently an attorney in the business practice group at Warner Norcross + Judd LLP and focuses her practice on corporate governance, formation, mergers and acquisitions, and commercial financing. She also assists with trademark licensing and domain name dispute resolution. Malaina grew up in northern Indiana and has loved getting to explore Grand Rapids and call it home. Malaina volunteers with her church and enjoys playing soccer, reading, and walking her rescue dog, Vinnie.
My name is Lauren and I am currently an MSW student at Grand Valley State University. I have my Bachelors degree in Psychology from Wagner College, in NYC. Although I have worked with adults with developmental disabilities since 2007, I have seen the impact of mentorship within the disability field.
What attracted me to Affinity Mentoring is the personal impact mentoring has had on me. I have always wanted to work in a program that helped young students to develop their sense of identity, through mentorship and support from those around them. I believe Affinity’s mission and goals can have an important impact not only on the students, but on the mentors as well. I am excited to learn alongside the team and develop my social work skills.
Affinity Mentoring today announced several new appointments to its board of directors, including Marcia Boyce, Abigail Bruins, and Christine Mwangi.
Marcia received her Bachelor of Arts in Sociology from Yale University and her Juris Doctor from Fordham University School of Law. Marcia practiced as a Corporate Banking and Finance attorney for over 15 years. She is licensed to practice law in the states of Michigan, New Jersey, New York and Pennsylvania and recently completed both General Civil and Domestic Relations Mediator training. Marcia has taken a hiatus from the practice of law to focus on her family but remains active in the community. Marcia is a member of the State Bar of Michigan and the Grand Rapids Bar Association, currently serves on the PTO Board of her daughter’s school, Ada Vista Elementary, and is the Treasurer and a member of the Greater Grand Rapids Chapter of Jack and Jill of America, Inc. In the past, Marcia served on the Fundraising Board of the Kent District Library and as Treasurer of the Board of the Grand Rapids African American Health Institute. Marcia and her husband, Hayden, have two children, Christian and Morgan. Marcia enjoys reading, traveling and spending time with her family.
Abigail was born and raised in Grand Rapids, and currently resides in the Baxter neighborhood. She has a background in community engagement, sales and development, and environmental chemistry. Abigail spends her days working as the Director of Business Development for local company Canopy Resources. She also owns and operates her own pet sitting business. Abigail is a graduate of Michigan State University where she received a degree in Earth Science. In her early 20s, Abigail spent time teaching middle school science, which is, in part, what drew her to Affinity Mentoring. Abigail is eager to support Affinity Mentoring in driving forward the mission to create equitable learning opportunities throughout our city.
Christine is a change agent who has utilized her entrepreneurial background to establish a charitable organization that has helped educate hundreds of marginalized women on critical women’s health matters. As a global citizen who has lived, worked in and been educated in 3 continents (Africa, Europe and N.America), Christine also possesses a global lens that she skillfully uses to facilitate courageous conversations about race, privilege and culture. She lends her expertise and thought-provoking leadership to non-profits, educational institutions, foundations, and public sector organizations. Christine is the proud founder of Be a Rose, Inc., Grounded in Equity, LLC and the Pulsing Black Podcast.
We’re excited to share that we’ve added a new team member, Holly Hetherington! Holly will be filling Affinity’s newly developed role of Office Coordinator. She will assist the Executive Director and Development Director in their new headquarters in the Goei Center. This new role will help increase the teams’ capacity to serve more students in more schools.
Holly holds a Bachelor’s in English, Elementary Education from Grand Valley State University. With a desire to provide social emotional and hands-on learning opportunities for youth and children, she turned her efforts away from the traditional classroom and invested her career in out-of-school time programming. Her passion for equity is at the root of all her work. Holly is currently seeking a Master’s in Social Innovation at GVSU. In her free time she loves to play soccer, eat delicious food, and kayak.
Affinity Mentoring’s Board of Directors has named Cassandra Kiger the new Executive Director. Cassandra will begin Wednesday, May 20, 2020.
Cassandra has dedicated her career to advocating for equitable opportunities for youth in settings with refugee and immigrant youth, in child sexual abuse prevention, and in education support. She has her Master of Social Work from Grand Valley State University and brings a decade of experience in program development and management; research and data utilization; development and sustainability work; and diversity, equity and inclusion training, programming and leadership to the team.
Cassandra leans into the quote from Lilla Watson, an Indigenous Australian artist and activist, “[i]f you have come to help me you are wasting your time, but if you have come because your liberation is bound up in mine, then let us work together.”
Cassandra believes, “Every person within our community brings valuable history, experience, knowledge and expertise to contribute to making our community great, from the youngest to the oldest. I want to work at Affinity to have a greater opportunity to work together with my neighbors, working towards our mutual liberation, and equitably contributing towards a bright and prosperous future.”
Cassandra is prepared to support Affinity in moving forward as an agent of equitable change, focused on the communities in our city that have systematically received less resources and support, and participate in a movement towards integrated diversity, equity and inclusion in our city. This includes a future oriented lens that supports quality, equitable education for the diverse student body that will one day become our local community members and workforce as they learn and grow today.
Cassandra strongly believes in uplifting youth in a supportive network, “the students that Affinity works with are not future leaders, they are leaders today, and I am excited to galvanize the community to support their growth and help them build a prosperous and healthy future for our city,” she explains.
Her past experience includes providing language access services to the community at Hispanic Center of Western Michigan, building system and policy level equity initiatives at the Children’s Advocacy Center in Ottawa County, and supporting refugee and immigrant youth as a Case Manager at Bethany Christian Services.
Cassandra is a homeowner and active participant in the 49507 Garfield Park neighborhood. She is excited to work alongside local residents and schools to support equitable growth and change through Affinity Mentoring. In her free time she enjoys playing soccer in the GR Champs League, reading, urban gardening, salsa dancing, and snuggling with her spouse and puppy.
We are thrilled to welcome the newest member to the Affinity family, Keyla Araujo! Keyla recently accepted the position as Site Coordinator at Affinity’s newest school partner, Godfrey-Lee Early Childhood Center (ECC). She brings a broad experience of community engagement and volunteer coordination.
Keyla is bilingual in Spanish/English, has experience coordinating programs and volunteers through her church’s Family Leadership Initiative and other programs. She’s an active community member who has been connected at Godfrey-Lee ECC for some time. In her spare time, she likes to work on her garden, get involved in her church, and spend time with her husband and four children.
Please join us in welcoming Keyla and celebrating the opening of our 4th site by attending our upcoming Ribbon Cutting Ceremony!
Date: Wednesday, August 14 Time: 3:30pm Location: Godfrey-Lee ECC (961 Joosten St SW, Wyoming, MI 49509)
Amy is working towards a Master’s in Social Work from Grand Valley State University. After completing her undergraduate degree in Psychology from Michigan State University, Amy moved to Quito, Ecuador, where she became fluent in Spanish and developed an interest in social justice.
Since returning to West Michigan, she has worked as a foster care case manager for Unaccompanied Children. In her free time, Amy enjoys hikes with her golden retriever and cooking new recipes.
Marjory Clay | Community Relations Intern
Marjory will be interning with us for the summer semester. She is currently a senior at Grand Valley State University, pursuing a Bachelor of Arts in Communication Studies, with a minor in Public Relations and Advertising. She is looking forward to learning how non-profit organizations function, and how to effectively communicate the mission of Affinity with potential and existing supporters.
Her goal is to one day become a communications director for a non-profit organization, or an advertiser in the music industry. When she is not working or in school, she enjoys creating, being outside, listening to music, practicing yoga, traveling, and spending time with friends, family and her two kitties.
Welcome Ariel and Annalise! This week we welcomed the newest members to our team, Ariel Simaz and Annalise Piazza!
Ariel Simaz Ariel will be interning with us for the fall and winter semesters. She is earning a Bachelor’s of Social Work from Grand Valley State University. She’s looking forward to learning the ins and outs of running a mentoring program and is hoping to gain more nonprofit management skills.
Her goal is to one day become a camp director for youth and/or adults with special needs to utilize adventure therapy. When she’s not in class or at work she enjoys camping, rock climbing, hiking, reading, DIY projects, traveling, and eating.
Welcome to to the Affinity family Ariel!
Annalise Piazza Annalise is a senior at Calvin College, double majoring in Social Work and French. She will be primarily working at our Burton site helping match students, administer surveys, and support the Mentor Center!
She loves working with kids and is looking forward to watching students form strong bonds with their mentors. Her goal is to gain more experience in the Social Work field and later return to school for her Master’s. Outside of school, Anna loves sharing life with friends, co-leading Calvin Dance Marathon, and investing in her church.