Young Professional in Higher Education, based in Grand Rapids, MI, is a collective of professionals from area universities and colleges who organize a variety of programs each academic year. These seminars are designed to help young professionals develop, learn and network alongside their colleagues in an effort to nourish successful and satisfying careers in higher education. Whether a faculty or staff member, or a student hoping to pursue a career in higher education, we extend an open invitation to join us for programming that will help you make the most of your career.
YPHE Board Members
Susan is currently the Assistant Director of Communications for Alumni Relations at Grand Valley State University. In this role, she manages a creative team of student employees and oversees the department’s website, e-news, social media, event promotion materials, Grand Valley Magazine articles, and more. Susan is a two-time alumna of GVSU, earning her bachelor's degree in Writing in 2010, and her master's degree in English in 2015. Before joining the Alumni Relations team, Susan worked with the Institutional Marketing department at GVSU for five years. At this point, Susan considers GVSU to be her second home! Susan joined YPHE because she enjoys meeting new people and she is excited to help grow a network of passionate young professionals working in higher education. Some of her favorite ways to unwind include spending time with her husband, walking their dog, reading a good book, practicing yoga and camping.
Matthew has more than six years of experience communicating professionally through award-winning public relations strategies, and producing content for West Michigan television, digital media and social media. Matthew graduated from GVSU in 2010 with a bachelor's degree in film/video production and broadcasting, and he is currently pursuing his master's degree in communications. He currently serves as a Communications and Social Media Specialist for the University Communications team at GVSU. Through this role, Matthew generates positive stories and content from various liberal arts and science-based departments across the university for digital and print publication. He joined YPHE to not only expand his own professional network, but to also assist those new to their careers by offering tips and tricks to finding success in higher education. Off campus, Matthew can typically be found with his nose in a comic book, kayaking down the Rogue River, laughing with his wife, or sipping a White Russian with his corgi, "The Dude" (...or, His Dudeness, or Duder, or El Duderino if you're not into the whole brevity thing).
Elizabeth Lienau - Chair
Elizabeth Lienau currently works as Photography Coordinator in the University Communications department at Grand Valley State University. In this role she manages the marketing photography needs for the University. Elizabeth earned her Bachelor of Science in Photography from GVSU in 2006 and has been working in her current role for 10 years. In her spare time, she enjoys spending time with husband, two young kids and her lazy English Bulldog.
Sara Mooney - Chair
Sara is the Assistant Director of Alumni Communications and Development at Davenport University. She is a DU alumna who earned her bachelor’s degree in International Business and Sports Management in 2009. She is currently pursuing her Master of Business Administration. In her free time, Sara enjoys spending time with her family and friends, exploring new restaurants and walking her dog, Woody.
Devon Fata works within Annual Giving and Alumni Relations at Calvin College. In this capacity, he oversees Phonathon giving and assists in strategic calendar coordination for all annual fund solicitations. As a ’16 graduate from Grand Valley, Devon received his Bachelors of Arts in communications and psychology. His role as Recruitment Co-Chair on the YPHE board helps them better connect and partner with local area colleges. Of course, when Devon is not working you can find him across Grand Rapids eating local fair, snapping Instagram photos, or writing copy with his fiancé at a local coffee shop. But mostly eating.
Emily is currently the Assistant to the Director of Student Engagement at Kendall College of Art and Design of Ferris State University (KCAD). In this role, she manages a team of student employees and helps to plan and implement New Student Orientation, Registered Student Organization events, the annual Career Symposium, and other special events and activities designed to get students involved on campus. Before joining the Student Engagement office, Emily was the Coordinator of Photographic Facilities at KCAD for five years. Emily earned her bachelor’s degree in Photography and Communication with a minor in Advertising and Public Relations from Grand Valley State University. She joined YPHE as a way to grow professionally, meet new people, and form connections in her field. Outside of work, Emily enjoys spending time with family and friends, reading, exercising, traveling, and visiting Lake Michigan.
Malia Roberts - Chair
As a dedicated, quality-oriented higher education professional with 16 years of progressive responsibility, Malia currently serves as the Associate Director of Graduate Enrollment Services at Western Michigan University. Malia possesses a solid foundation in operations, strategic-management, and budgeting with the ability to motivate and lead diverse individuals. Malia earned her bachelor's degree in Communications from SUNY Oswego and her master's degree in Communication Studies from Grand Valley State University. Two fun facts about Malia are that she became a certified open water scuba diver in the Great Barrier Reef in Australia while studying abroad, and she was a college radio DJ and college TV station reporter. She enjoys traveling, reading, and binge watching reality TV. Malia joined YPHE as a way to expand her professional network and surround herself with others who are passionate about higher education.
Amanda Pitts is currently a Senior Photographer in the office of University Communications at Grand Valley State University. She received her Bachelor of Science in Photography from GVSU in 2005, and her Master of Communications from GVSU in 2010. Amanda has been at GVSU for nearly 10 years during which time on any given day she might be found on the tops of buildings, deep underground, on a frozen waterfall, in a helicopter, on a boat, underwater, and sometimes even in her office! When she is not at work, she likes to spend time with her family participating in tickle fights, scootering, hiking, camping, and especially cuddle time with her son and cat. But Amanda’s most very favorite thing to do, besides researching random useless things on the internet, is to annoy her family by stopping to take pictures every five minutes while on vacation! Amanda joined YPHE to expand her network of higher education professionals both inside and outside GVSU. She hopes to gain new perspectives on higher education as a whole through interaction with other YPHE members who have widely varying roles from her own.
Kelsey is a High School Admissions Representative at Davenport University. She graduated with her Bachelors Degree in International Relations from Arizona State University in 2013 and has recently completed her Masters in Management from Davenport University. Kelsey enjoys traveling with her family, playing beach volleyball, and spending time with friends.
Lauren McElrath has been with the Grand Valley State University’s Financial Aid Office since 2008. She believes her previous experience as a student worker, Graduate Assistant and Financial Aid Counselor in the office has created an ideal foundation for current role as an Assistant Director. Working primarily with scholarships, she sees the importance of college access and scholarship opportunities. She strives to be active in the community and across campus to establish relationships with students and families and bring the scholarship application process to the forefront. Lauren has obtained her Master’s in Public Administration at GVSU and is a proud member of Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc and Alpha Kappa Psi Co-Ed Business Fraternity. In 2014, she was recognized as a RemArKAble Woman by the women of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority—Nu Theta Chapter. When she’s not working, Lauren enjoys karaoke, traveling and spending time with family and friends.