Who We Are

 

Our Mission

To increase college readiness, participation, and completion in Michigan, particularly among low-income students, first-generation college-going students, and students of color.

Our Vision and Values

College is postsecondary education
MCAN uses the term "college" to refer to the attainment of valuable postsecondary credentials beyond high school, including professional/technical certificates and academic degrees.

College is a necessity
Postsecondary education is a prerequisite to success in a knowledge-based economy. Everyone must pursue and complete a postsecondary credential or degree beyond high school.

College is for everyone
The postsecondary education attainment rates among low-income students and students of color are significantly lower than those of other students. MCAN is committed to closing these gaps.

College is a public good
Postsecondary educational opportunity and attainment are critical to a just and equitable society, strong economy, and healthy communities.

Our Big Goal

Increase the percentage of Michigan residents with degrees or postsecondary certificates to 60 percent by the year 2030.

 

Staff

Jordan Crandell
AmeriCorps VISTA
Email: Jordan(a)micollegeaccess.org

Jordan graduated from Grand Valley State University in 2014 with a Bachelors in International Relations. Shortly after graduation, she moved to Hanoi, Vietnam to teach English at Wellspring International Bilingual Academy where she taught 2nd & 3rd Grade English and worked as an administrator in the International Department. In 2018, she returned to West Michigan to pursue a Masters in Philanthropy & Nonprofit Leadership from GVSU - she very much looking forward to graduation in April! This past year she served with AmeriCorps at Kent City Elementary School as a Reading Interventionist. She is eager to start my service with MCAN as a VISTA and can't wait for an exciting year! In her free time, you can find her cooking, watching any competitive sport or planning her next trip!                                                

Ryan Fewins-Bliss

Interim Executive Director
Email: Ryan(a)micollegeaccess.org  

Ryan Fewins-Bliss serves as the interim executive director, having joined the staff in March 2013 after several years of consulting with MCAN. Ryan hails from northern Michigan and received his undergraduate and graduate degrees from Central Michigan University in integrative public relations, and educational administration and community leadership respectively. Prior to joining MCAN, Ryan served local, state and national nonprofits and educational institutions through his consultancy, Fewins-Bliss Consulting. He has also worked for the Jackson College Access Center, Michigan Campus Compact and Saginaw Valley State University. Ryan proudly served as a locally-elected Township Trustee in Michigan's Bath Charter Township for nearly 5 years. 

Emily Halling
Assistant Director, AdviseMI
Email: Emily(a)micollegeaccess.org

Emily serves as the assistant director of AdviseMI. In her role, she will work to enhance the training and professional development of college advisers across the state in an effort to ensure high school students are college and career ready. Halling graduated with a bachelor's degree in social work from the University of Michigan - Flint in 2013. She continued her education at the University of Michigan to earn her master's degree in social work. Prior to joining MCAN, Halling worked in various capacities for the Ginsberg Center, Alternatives for Girls, the Daughter Project, and the Boys and Girls Club of Greater Flint. 

Jamie Jacobs
Senior Director of High School Innovation
Email: Jamie(a)micollegeaccess.org

Jamie Jacobs serves as the director of High School Innovations for the Michigan College Access Network.  She holds a master’s degree in student affairs administration at Michigan State University where she also completed her bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering. Jamie is interested in examining college access and success from both the local community/K-12 system and higher education perspectives; particularly focused on first-generation students, low-income students, and students of color. She is involved with Big Brothers/Big Sisters of Lansing and spends much of her spare time training for her next triathlon.

Ashley McCloud
Program Supervisor, AdviseMI East Michigan
Email: ashleym(a)micollegeaccess.org

Ashley serves as a program supervisor of AdviseMI for East Michigan. She graduated from the University of Michigan-Flint with her bachelor's in Health Education. Following graduation, she joined AmeriCorps as a VISTA with the Michigan Nonprofit Association and served to provide college access and success programming for the Flint Community Schools. Ashley enjoys opportunities to make positive impacts on various communities through volunteerism as well as expressing her self through dance.

Tony Parsons 
Strategy Assistant, High School Innovation
Email: tony(a)micollegeaccess.org

Tony comes to the MCAN team as the Strategy Assistant for High School Innovation. Before joining MCAN he served as the Assistant Coordinator of the Eagle Scholars Program in the South Redford School District, working with low income but academically advanced students. He has also served in a variety of political roles and non-profit organizations as well. Tony holds a Bachelors in Public Policy from Michigan State University. Being a former foster child, he is committed to making sure every child in Michigan has the ability to pursue the education that is right for them and helping them break the cycle. He is thrilled to bring his drive and dedication to MCAN. Outside of MCAN, Tony enjoys performing in musicals and improv comedy.

Karla Pérez Garza      
Program Supervisor, AdviseMI West Michigan
Email: Karla(a)micollegeaccess.org

Karla joins the AdviseMI team as program supervisor for east Michigan. She graduated with an Associate of Applied Science degree in Marketing and Management from West Shore Community College, and a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration from Ferris State University. Before joining MCAN, Karla served as program coordinator for the Center for Latin@ Studies at Ferris State University. Additionally, her experiences with Promise Partners Mentorship Collaborative and her time with Promesa Summer Success Program has prepared her for supporting our advisers.

 

Ash Rall
AmeriCorps VISTA
Email: Ash(a)micollegeaccess.org

Ash is excited to serve as the Michigan Nonprofit Association's 2019-2020 AmeriCorps VISTA. They are a first-generation college student from rural South-West Michigan and recently graduated from Michigan State University with two bachelor's degrees, the first a dual major in Social Relations & Policy and Anthropology and the second in Women's & Gender Studies. Ash worked for four years as a peer educator at MSU's Sexual Assault and Relationship Violence Prevention Program, in the hopes of protecting their peers and addressing an aspect of college retention overlooked by many. While at MSU they also worked for four International Student Orientation Programs and served on the executive boards of several clubs dedicated to international and intercultural bridge-building, trying to make the world smaller through genuine interpersonal connections. 

Jahshua Smith                                                                                   
Program Supervisor, AdviseMI Metro Detroit 
Email: Jahshua(a)micollegeaccess.org
 
Jahshua serves as a program supervisor of AdviseMI for Metro Detroit. In his role, he works to enhance the training and professional development of college advisers in Metro Detroit in an effort to ensure high school students are college and career ready. Prior to joining MCAN, he worked as a behavior treatment specialist, supervisor and residential counselor for Highfields Inc., while also serving as program director for All of the Above Creative in Lansing. Smith has a bachelor's degree in broadcast journalism from Michigan State University. 
 
Jessica Soja 
Strategy Manager
Email: jessica(a)micollegeaccess.org
 
Jessica is a Strategy Manager for Community & Partner Mobilization. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from Providence College and a Master of Social Work in Community Organization from the University of Michigan. Prior to joining MCAN, Jessica led projects and programs in higher education, government, and nonprofit sectors, and served as an advisor for postsecondary students in Michigan and Massachusetts. She strives to maintain an equity-minded growth mindset and is fueled by building capacity towards mutually data-driven college access and success goals.
 

Melissa Steward 
Director, AdviseMI
Email: Melissa(a)micollegeaccess.org 

Melissa serves as program director of AdviseMI for the Michigan College Access Network. She is a proud graduate of Central Michigan University, where she holds a bachelor’s degree in interpersonal and public communication. Melissa has a love for national service, and served both as a VISTA and VISTA Leader for Michigan Campus Compact, before going on to manage the statewide Michigan Nonprofit Association Civic Engagement AmeriCorps VISTA Program. Melissa came to MCAN from Michigan Campus Compact, where she most recently served as the associate director, focusing on her passion for college access and student success.  


Christopher Tremblay 
Director of External Engagement
Email: Christopher(a)micollegeaccess.org

Dr. Christopher W. Tremblay serves as the Director of External Engagement for the  Michigan College Access Network. Tremblay has been a leader in the higher education community for 20 years, working on the college campuses of Western  Michigan University, Gannon University, the University of Michigan-Dearborn, the  University of Wisconsin-Superior, and Michigan State University. His college access involvement began with serving on the board of a Local College Access Network in Wayne, Michigan. Throughout his affiliation with MCAN, he has facilitated school counselor postsecondary training, trained College Advising Corps members, served on the MCAN College Application Week committee, and has evaluated MCAN grant applications. In 2014, Tremblay partnered with MCAN Board Member Patrick O’Connor to launch the Journal of College Access.  In that time, they have published five issues featuring 38 papers that have been downloaded worldwide more than 8,200 times. Tremblay earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in communication from Western Michigan University and a doctor of education degree in educational leadership from the University of Michigan-Dearborn. He is a proud first generation college graduate.

Emma Walter
Strategy Assistant, External Engagement 
Email: Emma(a)micollegeaccess.org 

Emma joined the Michigan College Access Network in November 2016. Emma serves as a strategy assistant, with External Engagement. Previously, she worked as an executive assistant for Sullivan & Cromwell LLP in New York City. Emma graduated from Michigan State University with a bachelor's degree in public policy and a minor in philosophy and law. During her college career, Emma interned under State Senator Rebekah Warren, along with various other nonprofit entities.

 

Marilyn Washington 
Operations Assistant
Email: Marilyn(a)micollegeaccess.org

Marilyn is currently pursuing her Bachelor's Degree in Business Administration from Davenport University. She coaches Varsity Cheer at Potterville High School and little league cheer for the Lansing Area Titans where she has been a part of since they began in 2011. In the near future Marilyn plans to start a non-profit mentoring program geared towards young boys from Lansing, specifically those who may have suffered the loss of their father or father figure. It is her belief that children need more mentors and less discipline.  She hopes to match them with a mentor to help improve behavior, self-confidence, anger management skills, life skills, and more importantly literacy levels. 

Vicky Wright  White female headshot outside
Director of Operations
Email: Vicky(a)micollegeaccess.org

Vicky joined the Michigan College Access Network in February 2017 and serves as Director of Operations. She holds a bachelor's degree from Aquinas College, a master's degree in Higher Education and Administration from the University of Akron, and master's degree in Positive Organizational Development and Change from Case Western Reserve University. Prior to joining MCAN, she worked in Higher Education at various institutions, including Grand Valley State University, Siena Heights University, and Albion College, supporting first year and underrepresented students and their transition to college.  

 Board of Directors 

Chairperson
Patrick O'Connor, Ph.D

Associate Dean of College Counseling
Cranbrook Schools
Email: poconnor(a)cranbrook.edu

Patrick O'Connor works in the College Counseling Department at Cranbrook and on the Political Science Faculty at Oakland Community College. A native Detroiter, he is a past president of the National Association for College Admission Counseling and a past president of the Michigan Association for College Admission Counseling. He teaches a comprehensive class in college admission counseling, is co-founder of the Journal of College Access, and is the author of the highly acclaimed college guide, College is Yours.


Vice Chairperson

Robert Ferrentino, Ph.D

President
Montcalm Community College
Email: bobf(a)montcalm.edu

Robert C. Ferrentino is President of Montcalm Community College, a position he assumed in July of 2009. He previously served Muskegon Community College for more than 13 years, in the positions of Dean of Occupational Programs, and most recently, Vice President for Academic Affairs. Dr. Ferrentino serves on the board of directors for Michigan Education Trust and is part of the West Michigan Works! workforce development board. He also is Chairman of the Montcalm County Habitat for Humanity board of directors, and has volunteered for many other organizations and committees. Dr. Ferrentino earned a bachelor's degree in marketing and a master's degree in business administration from Northern Illinois University. He received his Juris Doctor degree from the Thomas M. Cooley Law School.

Secretary
Maddy Day
Site Consultant
Annie E. Casey Foundation's Jim Casey Youth Opportunities Initiative
Email:

Maddy Day, LLMSW, holds a bachelor’s degree in Psychology from the University of Washington. In 2010, while pursuing her MSW, Maddy co-founded the University of Washington Champions Program, a recruitment and retention program for students from foster care. She graduated with her master’s degree in Social Work from the University of Washington in 2011 and worked as Director of Outreach and Training for the Center for Fostering Success at Western Michigan University for six years, developing and directing the Fostering Success Michigan statewide initiative and supervising the Center for Fostering Success training specialist. In July 2018, Maddy started her own consulting company, Maddy Day LLC, and joined the Annie E. Casey Foundation's Jim Casey Youth Opportunities Initiative as a Site Consultant. Day resides in Portage.

Treasurer
Catherine M. McNamara, CPA

Assurance Partner
BDO USA, LLP
Email: crozanski(a)bdo.com

Cathy is an assurance partner for BDO USA, LLP in Troy, Michigan with more than 20 years of experience in public accounting and industry. She has extensive experience serving both public and privately held companies, as well as hand-on experience as an industry CPA. She is also a subcommittee member for BDO's IFRS taskforce and she participates in developing and teaching internal and external Continuing Education courses. She is a member of the Michigan Association of Certified Public Accountants and the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants. Cathy is a graduate of the Leadership Detroit program (Class of XXXII) and currently serves as a board member and the past-chair for Common Ground, an Oakland County crisis agency. She also is a treasurer for Loyola High School in Detroit.

Sharlonda Buckman
Senior Executive Director for Family and Community Engagement
Detroit Public Schools Community District
Email: sharlonda.buckman(a)detroitk12.org

Sharlonda Buckman is senior executive director for family and community engagement for the Detroit Public Schools Community District. She was born and raised in Detroit and earned her master's degree in community economic development from Southern New Hampshire University. Sharlonda serves on the board of directors for Michigan College Access Network and University YES East Academy. She has received several awards for her leadership and service including the Judge Wade McCree Jr. Friend of Children Award, Spirit of Detroit, Citizen of the Week and others from youth serving agencies for her personal and professional accomplishments.

Bart Daig
President and CEO
Baker College
Email:

Bart Daig, Ph.D., has served in a variety of roles at Baker College over the past 28 years. Currently, as the CEO/President, he is responsible for providing vision, strategic direction, and executive leadership for the Baker College System that ensures the achievement of the College’s mission, philosophy, strategies and annual goals. Bart holds a Ph.D. in leadership, a master’s degree in business administration, and a bachelor’s degree in business administration. He has been a life-long resident of Genesee County and currently resides in Atlas Township.

David Gamlin
Vice President
Midnight Golf Program
Email:

David Gamlin is the vice president of Midnight Golf Program, a 30-week empowerment and mentoring experience that provides high school students in Detroit with invaluable character education lessons including financial literacy, college preparation, community activism and learning to play golf. Since its creation in 2001, the Midnight Golf Program has helped thousands of at-risk, underserved high school students in the Detroit area enter college and various professional careers. Gamlin has been with the program in some capacity for the past 18 years, having held titles including workshop presenter, program director and, now, vice president. In addition to his work with Midnight Golf Program, Gamlin has 30 years of experience mentoring youth, including work with New Detroit, a civic leadership organization. Gamlin resides in Southfield.

Donna L. Givens
President and CEO
Eastside Community Network
Email: 

Donna L. Givens has over 30 years of nonprofit leadership experience in areas of youth and family development, community economic development, community partnerships and community education. Over the years, she has developed and implemented demonstration programs and worked in partnership with a number of community organizations with the consistent goal of increasing opportunity, building capacity and fostering growth. Now serving as President and CEO of Eastside Community Network, Givens formerly held leadership positions in a number of nonprofit organizations and boards, including Youth Development Commission, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Metropolitan Detroit, New Detroit, Inc., and Bridges to Hope, among others. She has a master of educational leadership degree from Wayne State University, a bachelor’s degree in political science from the University of Michigan and a certificate of completion from the Harvard University Summer Leadership Institute. Givens resides in Detroit.

Greg Handel
Vice President, Education and Talent Programs
Detroit Regional Chamber
Email: ghandel(a)detroitchamber.org

Greg Handel has worked at the Chamber for 21 years and has been responsible for the Changer's K-12 Education and Workforce Development programs and policy for the past seventeen years. In this capacity, Greg has helped develop and advocate policy related to Detroit Public School governance, state-wide education funding and school choice. He also takes the lead in planning the education and workforce sessions for the Chamber's Mackinac Policy Conference every year and plays a similar role with the Leadership Detroit Education Session. Greg's other responsibilities include the Detroit Compact Scholarship program, which provides full college scholarships to over 150 Detroit Public School graduates every year. He is currently involved in convening the Detroit Region's entry in the CEO's for Cities Talent Dividend Competition and other workforce projects at the Chamber. Greg also serves as the Chamber's liaison to numerous other committees and projects devoted to improving education and workforce development throughout the region.

Daniel Little
Professor of Sociology and Public Policy
University of Michigan
Email:

Daniel Little, Ph.D., holds appointments of professor of sociology and professor of public policy at the University of Michigan. Little served as chancellor of the University of Michigan-Dearborn from 2000 to 2018, where he is also a professor of philosophy. Little received his undergraduate degrees in mathematics and philosophy from the University of Illinois in 1971 and his Ph.D. in philosophy from Harvard University in 1977. Little has had substantial involvement in the Metro Detroit community, including board memberships on New Detroit, City Year Detroit, the Urban League of Detroit, Detroit Drives Degrees, the Metropolitan Affairs Coalition, and Detroit Public Television. Little resides in Ann Arbor.

Sarah Wycoff McCauley
Founder and President
Strategic Policy Consultants
Email:

Sarah Wycoff McCauley is the founder and president of Strategic Policy Consultants, a policy consulting firm that represents clients in Michigan and throughout the country on issues related to education and the workforce, economic prosperity, criminal justice, regional collaboration and more. Sarah has nearly a decade of experience with public policy, including work in both state and local government. She holds a bachelor’s degree in political science from Albion College and a Master of Public Policy from the University of Michigan. McCauley resides in Traverse City.

David R. McGhee
Associate Vice President of Organizational Excellence and Impact
Skillman Foundation
Email:

David R. McGhee joined the Skillman Foundation in 2014 and serves as the associate vice president of organizational excellence and impact. Prior to joining the Foundation, David served as a program director for Big Brothers, Big Sisters and as a congressional liaison for U.S. Representative Dan Kildee, who represents Michigan’s 5th Congressional District. David’s work with youth and communities and role as a thought-leader has been recognized across the state and beyond. He was featured in the September 2012 issue of Black Enterprise Magazine and contributed to the National Urban League’s 2013 State of Black America Report. In 2016, he was selected as a Next City Vanguard, joining a group of 45 top urban innovators making equitable change, and was also selected to take part in the 2016 American Express Leadership Academy Alumni Summit, a gathering of the nation’s emerging nonprofit and philanthropic leaders. David received his bachelor’s degree in public administration & public policy from Oakland University and a master’s degree in leadership from Central Michigan University.  David is a lifetime resident of Flint.

Scott Menzel, Ph.D
Superintendent
Washtenaw Intermediate School District
Email: smenzel(a)washtenawisd.org 

Scott Menzel has been the Superintendent of Washtenaw Intermediate School District since 2011. Prior to serving in this role he was superintendent of the Livingston Educational Service Agency for four years and in Whitmore Lake for five years. He is driven by a commitment to equity, inclusion, and social justice. Prior to serving as superintendent, Dr. Menzel served as the executive director of South Central Michigan Works. Dr. Menzel is currently the editor of Perspectives: A Journal of Research and Practice About Educational Service Agencies. He chaired the MAISA Early Childhood Committee from 2009-2016 and served on the MASA/MAISA government relations and policy committee for several years. He has received numerous honors for his work, including the National African American Parent Involvement Day Spirit Award, the MASA Regional Superintendent of the Year Award, the Leadership Award from Brown Chapel AME Brotherhood Banquet, The Ann Arbor News’ Executive of the Year Award, and the White House YMCA Champion for Change Award. Dr. Menzel holds a Master’s Degree in Philosophy and Social Policy from The American University in Washington, D.C. and a doctorate from Eastern Michigan University in Educational Leadership.

Sharon Mortensen
President and CEO
Midland Area Community Foundation
Email:

Sharon Mortensen serves as president/CEO of the Midland Area Community Foundation, a position she has held since June 2012. Under her leadership, the Foundation has begun a career and college access network designed to encourage first generation and economically-disadvantaged students to complete postsecondary training. Sharon has worked in the nonprofit world for over 25 years and has extensive nonprofit and community involvement having served or currently serving on a number of councils, boards and commissions, including the Midland County Health and Human Services Council, Mid-Michigan Medical Center-Midland, City of Midland Housing Commission, Midland Community Center Advisory Board, ROCK Advisory Board, among others. Mortensen resides in Midland.

Amy Smitter
Development Director
Camp Quality Michigan
Email: asmitter(a)habitatmichigan.org

Amy Smitter serves as Development Director for Camp Quality Michigan. Prior to this role, Amy served as COO at Habitat for Humanity of Michigan and as the Director of Institutional Development for Campus Compact and served for ten years as the Executive Director of Michigan Campus Compact where she raised funds, advocated on behalf of higher education and service, and built programs, services and partnerships for member higher education institutions. During her tenure, the organizations grew in capacity, staff, services and support. She worked at Wheeling Jesuit University and holds a Master's Degree in Student Personnel Administration from Ball State University and a BA from Michigan State University. Before working in higher education, she worked for the volunteer center of Calhoun County, Michigan and other nonprofits.

 

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