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.
Scott Burden is a graduate of Calvin College where he studied Special Education. Throughout his time at Calvin, Scott worked for the admissions office and new student orientation, which is where his passion for student affairs began. Upon graduation in 2012, Scott began working for a non-profit called Young Life in the Grand Rapids community and, through numerous personal growth experiences, realized his desire to pursue a graduate degree in higher education with hopes of empowering students to lead an authentic life within the context of their undergraduate experience. Scott looks forward to learning more about social justice as he is passionate about radical queer theory and exploring the intersection of athletics and sexuality. We look forward to working with Scott as he pursues his Master’s Degree in College Student Affairs Leadership.
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.
Marissa Bell is a returning student to GVSU with a major in Psychology. She holds a B.A. in English and plans to pursue a Master's program in Counseling after graduation. Her goal is to work as a licensed mental health professional in an environment that supports the diverse needs of the LGBT+ community. In her free time, Marissa 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.
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