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.
Darby is a Gratiot County native, graduating from Alma High School and earning her Bachelor’s Degree in Child Development from Central Michigan University in 2004. She has a passion for helping others and spent 18 years working at a non-profit Community Action Agency, providing educational and family services to residents in the Mid-Michigan area. Darby works as a Victim & Family Advocate at the Children’s Advocacy Center (CAC). She greets families upon arrival to the CAC, explains the forensic interview process and ensures families are connected to any resources and referrals they may need. Darby is a support person to children and their caregivers after their initial visit to the CAC and acts as a liaison between families and service providers, based on the family’s needs. In her spare time she enjoys listening to live music, traveling and exploring local cuisine, playing volleyball and spending time with her husband, two sons and dog.
Mandi is the Case Manager and Forensic Interviewer for the Children’s Advocacy Center (CAC) at Child Advocacy. She grew up in the Hemlock area and graduated from Hemlock High School. Mandi obtained her Bachelor’s Degree in Family Life Education from Spring Arbor University in May 2016, and has spent the last 7 years working in the human services field helping families. Within the role of Case Manager here at Child Advocacy, she works to coordinate forensic interviews with the appropriate members of the Multi-Disciplinary Team (MDT), obtain case updates and support the children and families that come into the CAC. While in the role of Forensic Interviewer, Mandi conducts interviews with children when there are allegations of abuse and/or neglect. Interviews are completed by following a protocol to ensure it is legally sound and developmentally appropriate to the child. Mandi says “The best part of my job is getting to meet so many amazing kids, and being that safe person they trust.” Mandi enjoys spending time outside (especially during the fall and summer months), listening to music and spending time with her husband, 3 daughters, and puppy “Scout.”
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 has called mid-Michigan her home since 2012. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in Social and Criminal Justice and Psychology from Central Michigan University. Fire Up Chips! Rachel has spent the past 10 years working with individuals in the social work field. As the GCSSPP Prevention Educator, she will be responsible for providing substance use prevention education and activities to children and their families in our community. Rachel is on the Executive Board for the Optimist Club of Gratiot County and the Gratiot Young Professionals Network. She has a passion for bettering the lives of children and giving them a voice as a CASA Volunteer for over 7 years. In her free time, Rachel loves reading, CrossFit, and spending time with her nephews.
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 and Suicide Prevention 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.
Caleb grew up in Gratiot County, graduating from Alma High School and earning his bachelor’s degree in family studies with a minor in child development at Central Michigan University. During the 2019-21 school years he served as the School Success Mentor at AHS where he provided support to at-risk and online students. Caleb is now joining Child Advocacy as a Prevention Educator where he will have the opportunity to reach an even wider base of local students and community members. In his free time, Caleb enjoys bonding with his niece and nephews, hanging out with friends, and spending his summers with family at the lake.
Morgan 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, teaches body safety education and Mandated Reporter trainings, facilitates the CAN Committee, and provides therapy services to CAC families. Morgan is a certified Stewards of Children facilitator and also serves as a board member for 211 Northeast Michigan. 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.
Amanda is a proud Gratiot County native and is the Coordinator for the Gratiot County Breastfeeding Coalition. She graduated from Saginaw Valley State University with her Bachelor’s of Science in Nursing, completed her Master’s of Science in Nursing Education from Western Governors University and is a Certified Lactation Counselor. Amanda developed a strong passion for helping women and their babies learn about breastfeeding during her seven years working as a labor, delivery and postpartum nurse. Despite her experience and education, breastfeeding her own daughter presented many challenges and struggles. Knowing that not all women have the appropriate resources to overcome these barriers has inspired her to facilitate a more supportive culture of breastfeeding in her community.
Ashley Tupper grew up in Ionia, Michigan, but started calling Alma home while she attended Central Michigan University. She received her Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration and a Master’s Degree in Leadership both from Central Michigan University. As the Pantry Coordinator, Ashley is responsible for coordinating the Baby Pantry, Foster Closet, Supply the Cycle, and Food Bag Program. Ashley is a co-chair for Gratiot Young Professionals Network and a member of Alma Elementary PTO. Ashley has a passion for bettering the lives of children, families, and her community. During her free time, Ashley enjoys spending time with family, reading, and traveling!