Born and raised in Alma, Audra has always been very proud to call Gratiot County her home, and enjoys helping to make this a safe and healthy community to live in and raise a family. Audra has a Bachelor’s degree in Sociology from Central MI University and still loves all things CMU. Fire Up Chips! With a passion for helping others, Audra has spent the past 20 plus years working in the human service field. In 2007, Audra joined the Child Advocacy team as the Protect Yourself Teacher. She took over as the Executive Director for the agency at the end of 2009, and helped facilitate the move into the Wilcox Non-Profit Center. Audra learned quickly that collaboration was the key to successful programming at Child Advocacy, and attributes much of the agency’s growth and development to collaborative partnerships along with an amazing and committed staff. Along with the work Audra does at Child Advocacy, she is also an Alma City Commissioner and a member of the Board of Directors for the Gratiot County Community Foundation and Gratiot Area Chamber of Commerce. Audra brought the nationally recognized group 100 Women Who Care to Gratiot County and started a local chapter in 2013. Audra is also a member of the Alma Woman’s Club and Alma/St. Louis Rotary Club. Audra enjoys traveling, reading, and spending time with her husband and children.
Staci Bigelow is the Volunteer and Event Coordinator here at Child Advocacy and has been with us since November of 2015. She is a MidMichigan native, born and raised in the local community. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in Family Studies and Psychology from Central Michigan University. Staci oversees all intern and volunteer coordination, plans and implements all community events and fundraisers, publishes the agency monthly newsletter, and maintains the Child Advocacy website. She enjoys spending time with her family, attending her children’s sporting events, and volunteering at Winn Elementary.
Pam grew up in western Gratiot County and graduated from Alma High School. Growing up she had always wanted to help other people and had a passion for the safety and well-being of children. She earned her Bachelor of Social Work degree from Ferris State University. Pam worked in a licensed child care center for 16 years before coming to Child Advocacy as the Office Manager. She is also a nationally certified car seat technician and can often be found installing or inspecting a car seat for visitors to Child Advocacy. Pam says, “Being able to see all of the children and families that the team at Child Advocacy helps is an awesome thing to witness day after day”. Pam enjoys spending time outside as well as with her family and animals, but never passes up a good book to read.
Born and raised in Gratiot County, Heather graduated from Michigan State University with a Bachelor’s Degree in Communication. She spent over 20 years working with youth, women, political and civic groups, associations, businesses and media – including nearly 10 years overseas with an international non-profit organization – before returning to Gratiot County in 2015. That same year, after long admiring the work of Child Advocacy, she joined the agency as the Case Coordinator for the Children’s Advocacy Center (CAC). She currently serves as the CAC Program Director and Forensic Interviewer. Along with running the day to day operations of the CAC Heather also serves on the board of directors, the governance committee and chairs the legislative committee of the Children’s Advocacy Centers of Michigan. Heather represents Child Advocacy in the Alma Kiwanis Club, Gratiot-Montcalm Child Death Review Panel, forensic interview peer review, and the legislative committee of the Gratiot Area Chamber of Commerce. She most enjoys Michigan summers and spending time with family and friends.
Jennifer is the Victim Advocate for the Children’s Advocacy Center (CAC) at Child Advocacy. She was born and raised in Alma, Michigan. She received her bachelor’s degree in psychology and a master’s degree in administration both from Central Michigan University. As the Victim Advocate, Jennifer works closely with victims and caregivers who visit the CAC assuring identified needs are being met. Jennifer meets with families upon their initial visit to the CAC, provides information about the CAC processes, and helps to connect families with resources and referrals. Jennifer continues to provide ongoing support and advocacy to families after their visit to the CAC. Jennifer has worked in the human services field for more than 20 years. She had been a Child Advocacy Board Member for more than 5 years before joining the staff in April 2018. Jennifer is a current member of the local Child Abuse Neglect Prevention Committee and the Gratiot County Substance Abuse and Suicide Coalition.
Nicole has been a lifelong resident of Gratiot County. She holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Family Studies and Child Development from Central Michigan University. Nicole spent a semester during her undergraduate studies volunteering for Child Advocacy and was then hired after graduation as the Children’s Advocacy Center (CAC) Case Manager and Backup Forensic Interviewer in May 2016. As Case Manager, she works in coordination with law enforcement, child protective service workers, mental health providers, and staff from the Prosecuting Attorney’s Office to obtain case updates and provide support to families at the Children’s Advocacy Center. In her role as Backup Forensic Interviewer, Nicole conducts quality, legally sound, developmentally appropriate interviews with children when there are allegations of child abuse and neglect. Nicole sits on the Clare, Gratiot, Isabella County Human Trafficking Coalition and is very involved in raising awareness on the issue of human trafficking. She enjoys spending time with her family, friends, and pets.
Michelle spent the first half of her childhood in Livonia, MI but ended up graduating high school from the small town of Gladwin, MI. She earned both a Bachelor’s Degree in marketing and advertising with a minor in child development and a Master’s Degree in professional counseling from Central Michigan University. Michelle has lived in various parts of the country, to include Orlando, FL, Chicago, IL and the Detroit suburbs before landing in Ithaca, MI. Michelle has served Gratiot County as an Infant Mental Specialist at Gratiot Integrated Health Network (GIHN) for the past 13 years. During the past 5 years, through a partnership with GIHN, Michelle has split her time between GIHN and the Children’s Advocacy Center, serving in various roles to include Family Victim Advocate and Trauma Counselor. During her down time, Michelle has enjoyed volunteering for organizations such as the Ithaca Food Pantry, Hope House, and Love Inc., as well as coaching for AYSO, Girls on the Run and Ithaca youth baseball and softball. In addition, over the past 14 years, Michelle has volunteered her time as a youth leader for both the Edgewood Church of God and the Alma First Church of God. Michelle currently serves as the Marketing Chair for the local Mid-Michigan Chapter for the Infant Mental Association as well as being a board member for the State of Michigan Infant Mental Association. When not at work Michelle enjoys traveling, rescuing animals and taking naps.
Working with children and families has been Michelle Zombeck’s passion since a young age. Michelle graduated from Central Michigan University where she studied psychology and family studies. For almost 20 years Michelle has worked towards ensuring that children and families have the services they need to be successful. Joining the Child Advocacy team in 2013 as the Program Director of Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) has allowed Michelle to continue with her passion. CASA takes volunteer citizens from the community and trains them to advocate on behalf of children involved in abuse and neglect cases in Gratiot County. CASA volunteers ensure that a child’s best interest and needs are being met. Michelle is the Vice President of the Mid-Michigan Foster and Adoptive Coalition (MMFAC), President of the Women’s Resource Center of Mid-Michigan, and a member of the Multi-Disciplinary Team for the Children’s Advocacy Center.
Rachel Molands grew up in Grand Haven, Michigan, but started calling Mid-Michigan home while she attended Central Michigan University. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in Social and Criminal Justice, and Psychology, and has spent the last five years working with individuals in the social work field. As the Recruitment Coordinator, Rachel is responsible for recruiting and training all of our Volunteer Advocates, and promoting the CASA Program as a whole. Rachel is a member of the Optimist Club of Gratiot County, Collaborative Council, and volunteers at RISE (formally Women’s Aid Services). Rachel has a passion for bettering the lives of children and giving them a voice. During her free time, Rachel enjoys spending time with family, gardening, and reading!
Ty grew up in Macomb County, graduated from Dakota High School, and earned his Bachelor’s and Master’s Degrees from Rochester College. During his undergrad, he played college basketball and was a part of two National Championships. Ty spent the summer of 2006 as a mission intern in Uganda, Africa. While in Africa, he learned about how to assimilate into a culture while meeting community needs. His role at Child Advocacy as the Program Director for the Gratiot County Substance Abuse Coalition has him overseeing grant funding for his department, creating and implementing programs through the help of the coalition, working with community partners to address suicide and substance abuse challenges, and teaching classes to youth in several of the County’s high schools. Ty, known to many as Coach Ty, is also the Girls’ Varsity Basketball Coach for Ithaca High School.
Emily Rayburn is a Gratiot County native, growing up in Ithaca MI. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in Public Administration from Saginaw Valley State University. As the Gratiot County Substance Abuse Coalition Coordinator (GCSAC) Emily is responsible for ensuring compliance with Drug Free Communities (DFC) grant directives and activities, data collection, recruiting key membership, and more. The Substance Abuse Coalition strives to educate residents regarding substance use, which is a passion of Emily’s. Emily represents Child Advocacy and the Substance Abuse Coalition at the Gratiot County Collaborative Council and their executive team, Live Well Gratiot, Ithaca Promotional Committee, and Gratiot County Sobriety Court. She is also thrilled to be a part of the young professionals here in Gratiot County. During her free time, she enjoys spending time with her husband, Jon and son Spencer, hanging out at the lake, and baking/cooking new recipes.
Sara is an Alma native, growing up in Gratiot County, graduating from Alma High School and earning her Bachelor of Science Degree in Exercise and Health Science with a minor in Public Health at Alma College. Sara has always loved living an active lifestyle and has participated in many sports throughout her life; a few of her favorites include tennis and Highland Dancing. Her passion for health grew as she worked in the health field for 10 years helping others make healthy and sustainable changes prior to taking her position at Child Advocacy. In her role as the Prevention Coordinator in the Gratiot County Substance Abuse Coalition Program, she works to provide prevention education to the community by organizing trainings and taking an active part in organizing community events. She is a member of the Optimist Club of Gratiot County and is a certified Group Fitness Instructor. Sara loves spending time with her family, working in her garden, cooking, crafting, exercising, and promoting an active and healthy lifestyle in her community.
Alexa Morton (Lexi) is an Alma High School graduate. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in Social Work from Spring Arbor University where she was also a member of the Women’s Track and Field team. As the Gratiot County Substance Abuse Prevention Educator, Lexi collaborates with area schools to provide an Above the Influence campaign to youth in Gratiot County. The campaign is designed to bring awareness of positive and negative influences that can affect the youth in our communities. The campaign gives students tools they need to rise above negative influences. In addition to, she also provides vendors education on tobacco, ecigarette, and alcohol sales. Lexi represents Child Advocacy and the Substance Abuse Coalition at Live Well Gratiot, School Safety Alliance, and Recover Oriented Systems of Care (ROSC). In her free time, Lexi enjoys spending time with family and friends, her dog Ollie and coaching Ithaca 7th grade girls’ basketball and helping Alma High School Track and Field.
Morgan Rooy has lived in the Central Michigan area her entire life. She received her bachelor’s degree in Family Studies and Psychology from Central Michigan University, and was a Child Advocacy intern in 2010. Morgan completed her master’s degree in Social Work at Western Michigan University, specializing in Trauma Across the Lifespan and Holistic Health and Wellness. As the CAN Program Director, she oversees the child abuse and neglect prevention programming, as well as implements Stewards of Children and body safety education trainings, manages the Baby Pantry, teaches parent education classes, and more. Morgan also serves as a board member for 211 Northeast Michigan and the Gratiot-Isabella Great Start Collaborative. She enjoys gardening, house projects, and spending time with her family and rescue pets.
Born and raised in Gratiot County, Richelle graduated from Alma College with a Bachelor’s Degree in Early Education. Before joining Child Advocacy in 2012, Richelle spent many years in the classroom teaching pre-school, kindergarten and first grade. She is currently the Prevention Educator and teaches the Protect Yourself Program to all first and third graders in Gratiot County. The Protect Yourself Program is a body safety program that empowers children and teaches them that they are the Boss of their Body. Outside of Child Advocacy, Richelle is very involved volunteering with Alma Public Schools, where her children attend school. She can be found on the Senior All Night Party planning committee, working in concessions, or as team mom coordinating volunteers, and picking up meals for the athletes. A past coordinator of 18 years, Richelle still enjoys volunteering with the Toys for Tots program of Gratiot County. She is also a member of the Child Abuse and Neglect Committee. Richelle most enjoys spending time with her family, Michigan summers, and traveling to new places.