MEET OUR TEAM
Social Innovations Officer
I work for Ready for School to help my community continue to thrive and continue to thrive by helping children and families be ready for their educational career. I am inspired by my community and how the people in this community are inspired to continue to make the area a fantastic place to live. In my role I work to build up unique connections through the community to help families make a successful transition into kindergarten.The most exciting part of my job so far has been being able to be part of some very cutting edge work and being able to be very creative.
When I am not working I can be found kicking it with friends and family on grand adventures.
Claim to Fame
Defying death on many different adventures with my husband.
DONNA LOWRY, MD.
President & CEO
Three things top my list of why I work for Ready For School…children, families and the community. I love kids, I admire families who are doing everything they can to support their children, and I’m committed to being a part of a community that is working to help all our community’s children thrive. In my role, I work to remove barriers for families to support their children’s readiness for kindergarten and life.
The most exciting part of my work so far has been learning about the amazing efforts that have taken place. As well as analyzing the need, and defining the reality of opportunities/resources before us as we dream big! It has been exhilarating and humbling to listen to all the community: parents, healthcare providers, educators, faith community leaders, employers, community leaders and to strategize about how we can come together and create a community of readiness where all children thrive and meet their full unique potential.
When I am not working I can be found outside. I love all things outdoors - paddleboarding, hiking, biking, yoga on the beach. I love being outdoors most when I’m hanging out with my family and friends. If friends are kindergarten age and younger, even better!
Claim to Fame
I once did a cartwheel on the Badger ferry while crossing Lake Michigan!
Executive Office Manager
I chose to work at Ready for School because I wanted to be part of an organization that works hard for the betterment of the community and what greater cause than working to provide educational opportunities to the children of the future. I love that Ready for School empowers each staff member to be scrappy professionals in order to break down barriers and be able to successfully help the families we serve. Within my role as Executive Office Manager, I am able to be quick-witted to deflect obstacles that might derail projects and also am a support system to the team to ensure that focus is on proactivity in order to meet project and task deadlines parallel to being the immediate support to our President/CEO.
When not at work, as a new mommy, to a now 5-month-old you can find me enjoying lots of cuddles and taking advantage of the free time I have to spend with him or baking yummy desserts for the hubby!
Claim to Fame
I was escorted out of the White House because I had a chapstick (considered a threat) with me.
Chief Development Officer
My role at Ready for School is to share powerful stories about relationships, investment, and environments that elevate early learning: my grandparents and this community are perfect examples. Before starting Kindergarten I spent every day of the work week my Grandpa and Grandma Mills on their farm in Ithaca, Michigan. For me, early learning looked like feeding carrots and sugar cubes to horses while cleaning stables, finish carpentry in my grandpa's woodworking shop, and making miniature butterscotch pies in my grandma's kitchen. Attentive and playful, they provided me with a lifetime of memories and moments that I hold close to my heart and carry forward daily in confidence they nurtured in me.
My 15+ years of professional experience is in fundraising and engagement to advance causes people feel so passionately about they are compelled to action. In positions at the American Cancer Society and Michigan State University I've been blessed with opportunities to work alongside community volunteers, college students, corporate executives, and college/professional athletes, and coaches (Go Green) to launch projects with vision and the collaboration to ensure they keep going. I'm grateful for the lessons and gameplay I've learned and use every day to advance the work of Ready for School.
A little over three years ago, I learned about a community identifying Kindergarten readiness as a critical need and an opportunity to do what I do well professionally. With that, my husband, then 4 year old son, and I relocated to Holland and added Daisy the wonder doodle to our family. We love the lakeshore, the people, and the place we call home. My Grandparents and Coach Izzo would approve.
Claim to fame:
Hands down my ability to parallel park!
Chief Talent Officer
I believe that continued improvements to the lives of our youngest community members is the best way to better our community as a whole. In my role, I work to coordinate ongoing projects such as community engagement, event planning and donor relations management.
The most exciting part of my job so far has been my participation in our Summer Lunch Program at Leisure Estates. Through this program, I had the opportunity to develop relationships with wonderful families and children, meet other community leaders who share my passion, and collaborate with numerous organizations to provide educational and nutritional support.
When I am not working, I can be found shopping for a great bargain.
Claim to Fame
I have planned and coordinated many weddings for fun in my spare time!
Community Resource Manager
I work for Ready for School because I believe in the power of education and I believe that everyone should have equal access to education. By better preparing students for Kindergarten, Ready For School is working to close that gap between students that is unfortunately present in school from day one. However, we don't stop there. We strive to also prepare parents, which, being a parent myself, I know is a relief to have an organization out there making sure I don't have to stumble through the process on my own. In my role, I work to reach the families in the community and make sure that they have the resources and information that they need to ensure their children are successful.
When I'm not working I can be found reading, cross stitching, or designing some crazy DIY project for around the house off of Pinterest.
Claim to Fame
I lived in Argentina for 6 months and was also able to go Bungie Jumping in Costa Rica (much more terrifying and thrilling than jumping out of a plane!)
It brings me great joy and fulfillment to be part of an organization whose mission and vision focus on walking alongside families and children in this community. Ready for School's approach to early childhood development and commitment to children reaching their fullest potential is unique and inspiring. I love that each of us is empowered to advocate for the families we partner with; I am dedicated to ensuring our community and its youngest generation flourish. In my role, I work with the medical community to help integrate reading into pediatric practices, advise families about the importance of reading with their children, and share books that serve as a catalyst for healthy childhood development. When I am not working, I can be found spending time with my husband, daughters, family and friends...playing games, boating, hiking and working out are all more fun when shared with others!
Claim to Fame
I spent a few summers at the base of the Mission Mountains, changing irrigation pipe in exchange for room and board.
Summer Enrichment Program Director
Working for Ready for School makes me feel at home. Having moved here from Northwest Indiana just two years ago, I left behind a non-profit I founded and led for a decade that cares for immigrant and refugee families. As my family has settled into the area, I wanted to find a way to use my teaching and non-profit work experience in the West Michigan area, and was blessed to discover the good work that Ready for School is doing for our community. My role is to serve as the organizer of our robust summer programming, collaborating with parents, local school corporations, and fellow non-profit agencies in the process.
Realizing the importance of first impressions, I am dedicated to equipping young learners to thrive in their initial kindergarten experience and beyond. Each child has been entrusted with unique talents and challenges. It is my personal passion to activate student enthusiasm and remove barriers that could inhibit them from reaching their full potential. In my 15+ years of classroom teaching and non-profit work, the joy that I have received from watching students overcome obstacles is immeasurable. It makes our endeavor to maintain and grow our high quality organization worth it.
When I am not working I can be found in the yard, playing with our four children and our bounding golden retriever, Dune. My husband and I love taking our children on bike rides, out for ice cream, and making sand creations at the lakefront.
Claim to Fame
An Indiana girl, I am a fourth generation Purdue University legacy. My great grandfather, also named Jesse, graduated exactly 100 years before me!