Jen joined the Milton E. Ford LGBT Resource Center in July 2016. She has dedicated her professional career to LGBTQIA+ advocacy and education. Prior to joining GVSU, she served as the Director of LBGT Student Services at Western Michigan University and Executive Director of the OutCenter in Benton Harbor, Michigan.
Jen is committed to centering the voices of LGBTQIA+ students and co-creating intersectional, anti-oppressive spaces. She is passionate about intersectional social justice as a framework to understand and address issues of bias, discrimination and exclusion at the individual and systemic levels. She holds a BS from the University of Michigan and an MPA from Western Michigan University. In her spare time, Jen loves to explore, take road-trips and try new foods.
Marla has worked in various aspects of higher education since 1998. After 10 years of teaching at three universities, she completed her graduate work and moved to California, where she transitioned into a career in student services and support. While working as an academic counselor in San Francisco, she developed a guide to LGBTQ community resources to help students access health care and other critical services. In California, she also volunteered for a community literacy program and worked with incarcerated students through the Prison University Project at San Quentin until she relocated to Grand Rapids in 2014.
Marla is passionate about education as a justice issue and about providing students with access to critical resources. She is dedicated to working collaboratively to create a supportive, challenging, and empowering learning environment for LGBTQ students. Marla holds a BA from Montana State University, an MA from Ohio University, and PhD from the State University of New York at Buffalo.
Carrie Simmons serves as the Program Coordinator and has been working for the center since it opened in the fall of 2008. Prior to this, she worked in GVSU's Housing and Residence Life department and at Rochester Institute of Technology in Residence Life. Carrie holds a Master's Degree in College Student Affairs and a Bachelor's in Elementary Education from Western Michigan University.
Carrie’s passion for justice issues arose in high school when she started the Recycling Club her junior year. Since then she has been highly passionate about many topics including environmental, LGBT, gender, economic, disabilities and food justice.
In the spring of 2012, Carrie traveled with 12 GVSU students and a professor to New Zealand to study eco-villages and experience collective living. This month-long trip, along with the experiences from helping to create, implement and participate in Change U: Social Justice Training, has been integral in shaping Carrie’s passions and professional work.
Jake joined the Milton E. Ford LGBT Resource Center in August 2016 as the Graduate Assistant. graduated from GVSU in 2015 with a degree in Sociology, and was part of the first class to graduate with an LGBTQ Studies minor from Grand Valley. He is currently entering his second year in graduate school and is enrolled in the Masters of Social Work and Masters of Public Administration programs.
Grand Valley was the first place that Jake felt affirmed with his queer identity, and it ignited his passion for LGBTQIA+ advocacy and activism. He strives to channel this passion back into the GVSU community and will continue working to make West Michigan a safe and inclusive place for all LGBTQIA+ youth and young adults to realize their full potential.
Student worker staff photo credit: Zachary Carlson, 2014.
Andrew is a third year student at Grand Valley. They are currently pursuing a degree in the Women and Gender studies program. Andrew also has a passion for social justice and radical queerness. A proud member of Loud and Queer, a queer social group, they also look forward to doing meaningful work with the center. In their spare time they enjoy reading, running, and hanging out with friends.
DeAndreah Hollowell is a third year student with a major in Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies and a minor in Sociology. DeAndreah identifies as a Black Feminist, who thoroughly enjoys debunking popular myths about social inequality. She is a co-facilitator of the Queer and Trans People of Color student organization, and an Intersections Ambassador. When she’s free, she enjoys singing to Beyoncé, reading graphic novels, dancing, and making art.
Ezra Smith is a second year student at GVSU, majoring in Geology. He is a proud member of the Queer and Trans People of Color student organization, and Loud and Queer, and is very passionate about social justice. Ezra writes, sings, and plays bass guitar in his freetime. With a Geology major, he hopes to bring fresh water to countries in need with the least amount of consumerism possible.
Andie Bell is a returning student to GVSU with a major in Psychology. He holds a B.A. in English and plans to pursue a Master's program in Counseling after graduation. His goal is to work as a licensed mental health professional in an environment that supports the diverse needs of the LGBT+ community. In his free time, Andie consumes an impressive amount of frozen coffee drinks, writes scraps of Y.A. fiction stories, and spends a lot of time thinking about gender.
Carlos Garay Negrón is a third-year student majoring in Film & Video with an emphasis on Sound Design. Carlos's focus, as a Latinx Queer Person of Color and a consummate Film nerd, is on the representation of Queer/Trans Latinx/Colored bodies and people in film and other media. Carlos is also a member of the Queer and Trans People of Color student organization, and helps create a safe space and friend-group for QTPOC in GVSU. Carlos is an avid music geek, and plays keyboards with Ezra in their band, as well as devoting time to reading, biking, embracing awkwardness, and consuming as much food as physically allowable.
Madie Rogers is a second year student at GVSU, majoring in Multimedia Journalism with a minor in Writing. She aspires to become a book editor/publisher and plans to bring more diversity (particularly LGBT+ representation) into genres such as fiction and YA. Madie knows a bit of ASL, and is a black belt in Tae Kwon Do. In her free time, she is usually found napping, chasing after all the stray cats on campus, or hunting down Pokémon. Go Mystic!
David Alvarez, Professor, English Department; Affiliate faculty for Middle East Studies; member of Healing Children of Conflict
Liam Bailey, Visionary Director, QGR (Queer Grand Rapids)
Andy Bui, GVSU Student, Student Senate Diversity Affairs Committee
Danielle DeMuth, Chair and Associate Professor, Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies
Kyle Felker, LGBT Faculty & Staff Association President
Kevin Gierman, Director of HIV Program Services, The Grand Rapids Red Project
Todd Heywood, Senior Reporter, American Independent News
Jessica Jennrich, Director, Women's Center
Tony Josephson, Director, Human Resources, Stryker Corporation
Cael Keegan, Assistant Professor, Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies/Liberal Studies
Marlene Kowalski-Braun, Assistant Vice Provost for Student Affairs
Rhonda LeMieux, Student Services Assistant, Dean of Students Office
Steven Lipnicki, Assistant Dean of Students, Division of Student Services
Donald Mitchell, Professor, College Student Affairs Leadership
Matthew Mokma, Liaison to the Board of Trustees, Chicago Architecture Foundation
Andrew Plague, GVSU student, intern for the Vice President of Inclusion and Equity
Mark Sampson, Clinical Director, Counseling Center
Judith Snow, Therapist and Author
Kathleen VanderVeen, Assistant Vice President of Inclusion and Equity, ADA Coordinator
Doug VanDoren, Pastor, Plymouth United Church of Christ
Gary VanHarn, Allies & Advocates Chair, Padnos International Center Staff