Presenters

Sister Chela Gonzalez, OP

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Sister Chela Gonzalez, OP

Sister Janet Brown, OP

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Sister Janet Brown, OP

Sister Janet Brown's early years in ministry were spent teaching primary grades in Michigan and in New Mexico. She taught in many settings – urban, inner-city, farm, and pueblo communities. She treasured ministering in the Saginaw Diocese with Ken Untener as Bishop. Now, Sister Janet is the liturgical life director at Marywood. In this role, she strives to serve and model inclusivity in the liturgical life of the community.

 

Sister Joyce Ann Hertzig, OP

Educator

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Sister Joyce Ann Hertzig, OP

Educator

Sister Joyce Ann Hertzig's early teaching ministry in Saginaw, St. Joseph-Sacred Heart allowed her to experience cooperative efforts of African American, Hispanic, and Anglo students and families. Through study, action, and conscience raising discussions, seeds of justice were planted. Issues of poverty, racism, and the cost of war propelled her to search for ways to be in solidarity with the ONE human family.

Working with teachers and curriculum in Catholic Schools – Mobile Alabama Archdiocese; supporting Parish Social Ministry – Atlanta Georgia Archdiocese; promoting the Bishop’s Justice for Immigrants and Catholic Campaign for Human Development were opportunities for Sister Joyce Ann to preach justice. Engaging others created a strong voice for those with none.

After serving on the Dominican Sisters leadership team, Sister Joyce Ann is now a professional tutor with adult immigrants.

Sister Nancy Sylvester, IHM

Speaker and Author

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Sister Nancy Sylvester, IHM

Speaker and Author

Sister Nancy Sylvester, IHM, founder of the Institute for Communal Contemplation and Dialogue, ministered for 15 years on the staff of NETWORK, a Catholic social justice lobby in Washington, D.C.  Following her service at NETWORK, Sister Nancy was elected to the IHM Leadership Council. During her six-year term, she was elected as president of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious. After her term, she founded the Institute for Communal Contemplation and Dialogue, which addresses the transformation of consciousness through contemplation. She is a national and international speaker and a published author.

Father Joachim Lally, CSP

Presenter

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Father Joachim Lally, CSP

Presenter

Father Joachim Lally, CSP, is a Paulist priest and a presenter at the Catholic Information Center in Grand Rapids, Michigan. He is the founder and director of Catholic Youth in Action, the founder and executive director of the Adelante Youth Center in Lawrence, Massachusetts, and a co-founder of the Dominican Youth Mission.

Dr. Chuck DeGroat

Professor of Counseling and Christian Spirituality, Co-Founder and Senior Fellow at Newbigin House of Studies

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Dr. Chuck DeGroat

Professor of Counseling and Christian Spirituality, Co-Founder and Senior Fellow at Newbigin House of Studies

Dr. Chuck DeGroat is a professor of counseling and Christian spirituality at Western Theological Seminary in Holland Michigan and co-founder and a senior fellow at Newbigin House of Studies, San Francisco.

Dr. DeGroat has spent more than 20 years in a fluid combination of pastoral ministry, seminary teaching, and clinical counseling.  He writes mostly about the intersections of psychology, theology, and Christian spirituality, with a focus on our lived experience of oneness and worthiness in Jesus.

Prior to coming to Western Theological Seminary, Dr. DeGroat was a teaching pastor at City Church San Francisco, where he co-founded Newbigin House of Studies, an urban and missional training center with M.Div. and M.A. offerings through Western Theological Seminary, Michigan.  He's started two church counseling centers, a lay counseling program further developed by his City Church colleagues and a fellows program.  All of this represents his commitment to formation for mission.

Dr. DeGroat's first book is Leaving Egypt: Finding God in the Wilderness Places (Square Inch), which represents his narrative biblical paradigm for understanding counseling, care, and formation.  His second book, The Toughest People to Love (Eerdmans) focuses on caring for the most difficult people leaders encounter. His third book Wholeheartedness (Eerdmans) brings a vision of wholeness amidst our perfectionism and shame-based culture. His self-published Lenten devotional is Falling Into Goodness.

Brian J. Plachta

Writer, Spiritual Director, and Speaker

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Brian J. Plachta

Writer, Spiritual Director, and Speaker

Brian J. Plachta is a writer, spiritual director, and speaker. A lay ecclesial minister for thirty-five years, Brian holds a master's in pastoral counseling and is a frequent teacher on a broad variety of practical spirituality topics at workshops, retreats, conference centers, and colleges. He is an adjunct faculty member at the Dominican Spiritual Life Center in Michigan and is the founding partner of Plachta, Murphy & Associates, where he practices law. Brian’s passion is helping men and women discover their Inner Compass—the divine voice of wisdom in their souls.

Brian’s blog, Simple Wisdom for Everyday Living, has more than a thousand subscribers, and he’s been sending a new blog post to his subscribers every week since April 2016. He is also the author of two self-published books: Pillars of Steel: How Real Men Draw Strength from Each Other and Life’s Toolbox: Blueprints Included.

A life-long learner, Brian recently graduated from the two-year program at the Rohr Institute for Action and Contemplation and has taken theological courses at Western Theological Seminary and Creighton University. Brian has been a spiritual director for twenty-five years and volunteers at Guiding Light Mission, an addiction recovery center.

He and his wife of thirty-six years live in Grand Rapids, Michigan, with their dog, Riley, and cat, Rascal. Having successfully launched their fourth child, the Plachtas are empty-nesters who now enjoy an ever-growing brood of grandchildren.

Learn more about Brian at www.brianplachta.net >

Laura Oteto

Activist

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Laura Oteto

Activist

Laura Oteto came to the United States with her family as refugees from Kenya when she was eleven years old.  Laura was introduced to the challenges unaccompanied immigrant children face when she worked as a family reunification case manager for a local non-profit. There she assisted children from Latin America, who were detained by U.S. Border Patrol, in locating and being reunited with their families. As a partner at the Center for Immigration Studies and Education, Laura is dedicated to promoting the humane and informed responses to immigration in the West Michigan community.  

Lindsey Rosa

Mental Health Counselor and Activist

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Lindsey Rosa

Mental Health Counselor and Activist

Lindsey Rosa is a master’s level mental health counselor who has spent the last 10 years working with immigrants and refugees in the Grand Rapids community. She has extensive experience traveling to Latin America to investigate human rights issues and how U.S. foreign policy impacts the lives of our neighbors to the south.  Most recently she traveled to Tijuana to meet with the caravan of migrants making their way north from Honduras.

Lindsey has been actively engaged in organizing activities that promote humane immigration reform, as well as meeting with legislators to advocate with them on this issue. She is the founder and director of the Center for Immigration Studies and Education, and committed to creating a more informed and welcoming community in West Michigan for immigrants.

Lorilyn Wiering

Founder of Soul Care Sanctuaries and Spiritual Director

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Lorilyn Wiering

Founder of Soul Care Sanctuaries and Spiritual Director

Lorilyn Wiering is a soul care practitioner who is passionate about facilitating spiritual freedom rooted in Original Blessing, the acknowledgment that we are made in the image and likeness of God and pronounced to be not only good, but very good. She believes that this Original Blessing finds expression through Open Mind, Open Heart, and Open Will. Trained as a teacher, spiritual director, and Enneagram practitioner, Lorilyn is at ease speaking boldly and listening deeply, always drawing on her commitment to the nurture of her own and others' Open Mind, Open Heart, and Open Will.

An avid gardener, she comes alive in the presence of Nature’s rhythms, recognizing, honoring, and nurturing self and others in seasons of growth, fullness, loss, death, rest, and rebirth. She is married to Vernon, her husband of more than 28 years, and is mom to their three children, Madeleine, Basil, and Reuben.

Megan McElroy, OP, DMin

Dominican Sisters ~ Grand Rapids Councilor

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Megan McElroy, OP, DMin

Dominican Sisters ~ Grand Rapids Councilor

Sister Megan McElroy has been a Dominican Sister of Grand Rapids since 1988. She ministered for a total of 13 years as a pastoral associate. Her first assignment took her to the cradle of the community in Traverse City where she ministered at St. Patrick Parish and lived at St. Francis Convent. After four years in the northern lower peninsula, she returned to her home Archdiocese of Detroit where she ministered for nine years at St. Blase Catholic Community in Sterling Heights. After earning her Master of Divinity from Catholic Theological Union in Chicago, Megan taught theology at Woodlands Academy of the Sacred Heart, an all-girls Catholic high school in the north shore area of Chicago. She was then called to eight years of formation ministry as co-director of the Collaborative Dominican Novitiate in St. Louis, MO. During her time in St. Louis, she successfully completed her Doctor of Ministry in Preaching at Aquinas Institute, St. Louis, MO.

Diane Zerfas, OP

Coordinator, Center for Spirituality, Dominican Center at Marywood

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Diane Zerfas, OP

Coordinator, Center for Spirituality, Dominican Center at Marywood

Diane Zerfas, OP, is the coordinator for the Spirituality Center for Dominican Center at Marywood, and is deeply involved in the center's Spiritual Formation programs through the planning and teaching of Foundations in Spirituality, Spiritual Companioning, and Spiritual Direction Practicum. She holds bachelor's degrees in math, chemistry, theology, and education from Aquinas College; master's degrees in Arts in Religious Studies and in Pastoral Studies; a Specialized Certificate in Parish Life and Administration; and a Certificate in Spiritual Direction. Sr. Diane has ministered in many ways, including teaching high school as well as serving as formation director for Grand Rapids Dominicans, initiation and evangelization director at St. Mary Magdalen in Kentwood, Diocesan director of RCIA for the Diocese of Grand Rapids, co-director of Pastoral Life at Marywood, and leadership team member for the Dominican Sisters ~ Grand Rapids.

Carmelita Switzer, OP

Associate Coordinator, Center for Spirituality, Dominican Center at Marywood

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Carmelita Switzer, OP

Associate Coordinator, Center for Spirituality, Dominican Center at Marywood

Carmelita Switzer, OP, serves as a staff facilitator and presenter for Dominican Center at Marywood. She holds a Master of Arts Degree in Religious Studies from Aquinas College and a Master of Arts Degree in Biblical Studies from Providence College. She completed Pastoral Studies with an emphasis in Formation Studies at Aquinas Institute on the campus of St. Louis University. Her ministries include teaching, pastoral ministry in a parish setting, and pastoral administration in a parish that had no priest. She has also spent time in ministry on behalf of the Grand Rapids Dominican Sisters as director of formation and as co-director of Pastoral Life for the Marywood Campus. Coming from a rural farm community background she loves Michigan’s many lakes and natural beauty and God’s creatures large and small. Study of spirituality and living an integrated contemplative and active lifestyle have been long-time interests and priorities.

Ann Walters, OP

Enneagram Instructor, Dominican Center at Marywood

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Ann Walters, OP

Enneagram Instructor, Dominican Center at Marywood

Ann Walters, OP, earned her master’s degree in Christian spirituality from Creighton University. Sr. Ann is active in leading adult faith formation classes, workshops, and seminars; preaching at and directing retreats; and providing spiritual direction. Her past work includes serving as co-director of Collaborative Dominican Novitiate of the United States Dominican Women’s Congregations; director of formation for Grand Rapids Dominicans; and elementary and high school education administration. She has also been active in inner-city ministries in Detroit; Chicago; rural northern Michigan; St. Louis, Missouri; and Gusau, Nigeria, West Africa.

Sister Joan Williams, OP

Educator, Dominican Center at Marywood

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Sister Joan Williams, OP

Educator, Dominican Center at Marywood

Sister Joan Williams, OP, received a bachelor’s in music education, a master’s in theology from Aquinas College (AIRS program), as well as a Master of Theological Studies from Catholic Theological Union in Chicago.

Sister Joan taught music to students in preschool through high school at Marywood Academy (early grades), in multiple schools in Saginaw, while commuting to St. Boniface, Bay City, and St. John’s in Essexville. Parish liturgical music, choirs, piano, organ, and band and guitar lessons were always part of her daily and weekly program. Her home base was in the multicultural-racial and bilingual parish of Saint Joseph in Saginaw. Following the II Vatican Council she began doing adult formation to help make the necessary transitions of thought and practice of religious expression in liturgy and sacrament.

Sister Joan also served as Coordinator of Religious Education for the Hispanic population in twenty parishes while working in the pastoral center of Archdiocese of Washington, D.C. It was there that she received the call to discern mission in San Pedro Sula, Honduras. God and her pilgrim spirit led her to respond.

To best prepare for this call, she studied Spanish and theology for a semester at Xavier University in Bogota, Columbia. Living among the people of San Pedro Sula from 1998 through 2017, she provided theological pastoral formation, accompanied men and women in prison, and provided HIV education and support to multiple families with children HIV+.

Nancy Brousseau, OP, DMin

Spiritual and Retreat Director, Dominican Center at Marywood

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Nancy Brousseau, OP, DMin

Spiritual and Retreat Director, Dominican Center at Marywood

Nancy Brousseau, OP, has been a spiritual and retreat director for more than 30 years. She facilitates an interfaith committee, and her work with group spiritual direction with the people of the Heartside Neighborhood in Grand Rapids is published in Group Spiritual Direction: The Lived Experience. She offers ecumenical retreats, spiritual direction, workshops, and programs in prayer, spirituality, and spiritual formation for churches in Michigan, Indiana, and Ohio. Sr. Nancy has certificates in the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius and Spiritual Direction, and is a certified grief-recovery specialist. She was director of Dominican Center at Marywood for five years and director of Spirituality Programs for six years. Sr. Nancy has a Master of Arts in Religious Education, a Master of Divinity, and a Doctor of Ministry in Spiritual Direction. She taught middle school students for 17 years and served five years in school administration.

Mary Catherine Fodrocy, OP

Educator, Dominican Center at Marywood

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Mary Catherine Fodrocy, OP

Educator, Dominican Center at Marywood

Ministry has taken Sister Mary Catherine Fodrocy to several places in Michigan. She has served in Grand Rapids, Saginaw, Ravenna, Ionia, Remus, Three Rivers, and Kalamazoo.  She recently retired from St. Joseph Parish, Kalamazoo, after 24 years as pastoral associate there.

Various ministry roles throughout Sr. Mary Catherine's life have been teaching, administration, and pastoral ministry with people from 6 to 100 years old. She has been involved in sacramental preparation for adults, primarily through the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults (RCIA) since the beginning of its implementation in the United States after Vatican II. The unifying thread through these ministries has been walking with people through the ups and downs, twists and turns of our journey of faith together.

 

Jeanette Banashak, EdD

Educator, Spiritual Director, and Creativity Coach

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Jeanette Banashak, EdD

Educator, Spiritual Director, and Creativity Coach

Jeanette Banashak has been teaching and leading international trips since 1998. Professionally, her interdisciplinary focus includes education, spiritual formation, creativity, and Spanish. She holds two doctorates in education and a certificate in Spiritual Direction and the Enneagram. Most recently, she completed her dissertation on the interrelationship between creativity and contemplative prayer/meditation. She is passionate about creating experiences where people interact in new cultural environments. She is a Creativity Coach and former Professor of Creativity. When she's not teaching, she enjoys playing board games and telling stories.

Brian McCourt

Spiritual Director, Interfaith Enthusiast, and Fellow Seeker

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Brian McCourt

Spiritual Director, Interfaith Enthusiast, and Fellow Seeker

Brian is a certified spiritual director and volunteer with the Kaufman Institute, serving the Grand Rapids interfaith community. He is passionate about helping people become aware of their own inner journey while affirming their individual path or tradition. He believes we each have a unique love language with the Divine, and through spiritual practice we are able to find wholeness and experience meaningful spiritual connection.

Brian has lived overseas and traveled extensively, both professionally and on various faith pilgrimages. He is a contemplative at heart and believes what we all need most is healing (body, mind, spirit) and connection (with each other and the Divine).

When Brian is not working with Dominican Center and Kaufman Institute, he manages a team of architects for Steelcase, where he has worked for 25 years. He holds a master's degree in contract law and has served on many boards.

Kim Bartz

Licensed Master Social Worker

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Kim Bartz

Licensed Master Social Worker

Kim Bartz has more than 10 years of experience as a social worker. She is a graduate of Western Michigan University’s Master’s of Social Work program and has a clinical license in the State of Michigan. She has worked with people from all different backgrounds and walks of life. Currently, she is a mental health counselor in her own private practice in Caledonia.

As a personal student of the Enneagram, and as someone who uses it regularly in her professional world, she hopes to share this tool with others who wish to grow personally and spiritually.

Joshua Banner

Spiritual Director, Retreat Leader, DMin Candidate

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Joshua Banner

Spiritual Director, Retreat Leader, DMin Candidate

Joshua Banner is director of The Invitation, a resource for spiritual direction, retreats, teaching, and consulting. He is also creator and host of the Invitation's podcast, which serves the spiritually hungry and has a special focus on pastors and prisoners. Much of Josh's joy is discovering how God is actively involved in the lives of the men he prays with at the EC Brooks Correctional Facility in Muskegon, Michigan.

Josh has served extensively in local churches and in campus ministries in worship arts and discipleship. He has degrees in literature and philosophy (Wheaton College, Wheaton, Illinois); a master's in interdisciplinary studies  (Regent College, Vancouver, British Columbia); and is currently writing a dissertation on the spirituality of confinement for a Doctor of Ministry in spiritual direction (Fuller Seminary, Pasadena, California). Josh is also an adjunct professor at Hope College in the Studies in Ministry.

Josh and his wife, poet Susanna Childress, their two sons Casper and Shepherd, and daughter Merritt live in Holland, Michigan.

Judy Hahn

Spiritual Director, LMSW, CAADC

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Judy Hahn

Spiritual Director, LMSW, CAADC

Judy Hahn has been involved in the ministry of spiritual direction for more than 30 years, both in Chicago and Grand Rapids. She is also a licensed master’s social worker (LMSW) and a certified advanced alcohol and drug counselor (CAADC) presently working part-time in the counseling program at Catholic Charities West Michigan.  In both spiritual direction and counseling, Judy has met individuals negotiating their ways through trauma and abuse. While living in Chicago she also had the opportunity to journey with women involved in prostitution and heard their many stories of pain and suffering as well as of recovery and healing.

Diane Hamel

Artist

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Diane Hamel

Artist

Diane Hamel, a lifelong artist, studied fine art at Michigan State University from 1971 - 1975. After raising her family, she returned to Aquinas College in 1989, where she earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in theology. Diane worked as a professional lay minister at St. Charles Borromeo Parish in Greenville, Michigan, where she served as the Director of Religious Education for nine years. In 2000, Diane began working at St. Patrick Parish in Parnell, Michigan, as the Director of the Catechumenate. In addition to her ministry at St. Patrick Parish, she served the Roman Catholic Diocese of Grand Rapids, Michigan, as a member of the Liturgical Art and Environment Commission for many years. Diane has given numerous workshops on preparing sacred spaces and liturgical environments.

In 1997, Diane attended A Brush with God, an icon workshop. It was during this experience her two passions of faith and art converged, and she's studied iconography and painting icons since. In addition to studying with Xenia Prokovsky, a Russian iconographer, Diane has written many icons for private collections, churches, and other institutions, including the Cathedral of St. Andrew in the Diocese of Grand Rapids, Michigan. Her icons are exhibited around the United States, and one belongs to the private collection of Bishop James Harvey, the Prefect for the Papal Household at the Vatican.

Diane gives private lessons, guides retreats and workshops, and teaches college courses on the technical skills and spiritual aspects of creating an icon. She works out of her studio, Viriditas Icon Studio in Lowell, Michigan. She is privileged to be a part of the rediscovery of iconography within the Roman Rite of the Catholic Church.

Joseph Cordes, PT/GCFP

Feldenkrais Professional and Holistic Physical Therapist

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Joseph Cordes, PT/GCFP

Feldenkrais Professional and Holistic Physical Therapist

Joseph Cordes is an experienced Feldenkrais practitioner of over 20 years. In his private practice, he works with both adults and children with a variety of difficulties, including chronic pain and neurological problems. His work is informed by a long-time involvement in meditation and Tai Chi practice. Joe completed his Feldenkrais Professional Training Program in 1997 with Mark Reese, Feldenkrais Trainer. Joseph has 36 years experience as a holistic physical therapist.

Amy W.M. Kam, CZT

Certified Zentangle Teacher

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Amy W.M. Kam, CZT

Certified Zentangle Teacher

After discovering the Zentangle® Method on her own, Amy W.M. Kam felt called to share this relaxing and transformative drawing practice with many others. She pursued certification by Zentangle founders Maria Thomas and Rick Roberts. As an avid “Tangler,” runner, gardener, and breast cancer survivor, Amy seeks to share the life lessons embedded within the patterns her students learn through simple step-by-step instructions and the outcome of beautiful pieces of art.

Amy derives her greatest joy as an instructor when a student uncovers a new appreciation of their own uniqueness and embraces the diverse beauty of different patterns they see around the table.

Amy serves on the Big Brother Big Sister Advisory Council at D.A. Blodgett-St. Johns, is a founding member and treasurer of Sole Sisters, and serves the Sunday Assembly at Dominican Center at Marywood Chapel in multiple ministry capacities.

Sister Mary Kay Oosdyke, OP

Educator

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Sister Mary Kay Oosdyke, OP

Educator

Sister Mary Kay Oosdyke, OP, earned a Bachelor of Arts and a Master of Arts in religious education from Aquinas College and an MA in education from Michigan State University. Later, she earned an MA in systematic theology from the Aquinas Institute of Theology in St. Louis and a PhD in theology and education from Boston College.

Sister Mary Kay began her teaching career in 1965 in elementary schools in Michigan. In 1972, she began teaching at Aquinas College, first in the education department and later in the theology department. In the 1990s, Sister Mary Kay was the director of the Graduate Ministry Program at Ursuline College in Cleveland, Ohio, and in 2003 she became academic dean at Aquinas Institute of Theology in St. Louis, Missouri.

From 2008-2017, Sister Mary Kay served as director of the congregation’s Associate Life program and the taught theology at Aquinas College. For relaxation, she enjoys film, reading, dinner with friends, and kayaking.

Today, Sister Mary Kay Oosdyke is supporting pastors and parish staff by providing adult formation and spiritual formation workshops, seminars, and retreats.

Barry Brown

Photographer

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Barry Brown

Photographer

Born in Denver, Colorado, Barry Brown was inspired to capture the beauty of the world in photographs from a young age. The son of a modern architect and educated in electrical engineering during his tenure in the Army, Barry is blessed with both technical skills and an eye for aesthetics.

With a bachelor’s degree in business and a minor in visual arts from the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs, Barry launched a full-time photography studio in 2001 and quickly became a leading photographer in Colorado Springs.

Since earning a master’s degree in healthcare management from Oregon Health & Science University in Portland, Oregon in 2012, Barry has worked primarily the healthcare field and now consults in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

Barry practices photography part time and is known for his intimate and emotional portraits. His knowledge of lighting, camera functions, and editing allow Barry to focus the viewer’s eye on the subject without distraction. Barry seeks to make photography accessible to all and enjoys sharing his knowledge and skills with others.

Kathy Julien, RYT 200

Certified Yoga Teacher

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Kathy Julien, RYT 200

Certified Yoga Teacher

Kathy Julien believes yoga is a healing and transformative practice. While Kathy embarked on a 200-hour yoga teacher training program in 2013, it was with the intention to deepen her personal practice. But during her training program, she began to notice she couldn’t help herself from sharing what she’s learned with anyone who expressed the slightest interest. Kathy’s desire as a yoga teacher is to help students cultivate the beautiful gifts they have to offer, one breath at a time. Kathy brings to her students a mindful practice that encourages mind, body and spirit connection.

Kayla Morgan

Trauma-Sensitive Yoga Instructor

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Kayla Morgan

Trauma-Sensitive Yoga Instructor

Kayla Morgan began her yoga practice in 2010. She was drawn to yoga as a way to empower herself after she experienced complex trauma and aged out of the foster care system. Kayla instantly recognized the many healing benefits yoga offers. In 2018, she earned her RYT 200 Yoga Alliance certification through Grand Rapids Healing Yoga, specializing in trauma-sensitive yoga. Kayla believes she can shine a light on the under-representation of people of color in yoga and wellness by providing a safe space to heal from our nation's traumatic history.

Leara Glinzak, ATR, MSAT

Art Therapist

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Leara Glinzak, ATR, MSAT

Art Therapist

Leara Glinzak earned her Master of Science in Art Therapy with a concentration in counseling from Mount Mary University in Milwaukee, WI. She is a registered art therapist and a counselor in her own private practice, I Light LLC, where she contracts out art therapy services and provides services at I Light LLC's studio as well. Services include workshops, programs, open studio, and individual and group therapy sessions. She is grounded in a person-centered approach and specializes in grief, trauma, cancer care, distress, spirituality, addiction, and dementia.

Leara is a member of the Michigan Art Therapy Association and the American Art Therapy Association, where she serves on the research board. She has presented at several conferences, including the American Art Therapy Association, Mount Mary Symposium, Leading Age, and Pathway to Caregiving Conference. Her research, entitled Effects of Art Therapy on Distress Levels of Adults with Cancer: A Proxy Pretest Study is published in the Journal of the American Art Therapy Association. Leara looks forward to constantly growing within her practice and honored to be a guide for others along their journey.

Nahed Fernando

Spiritual Director / Retreat Leader

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Nahed Fernando

Spiritual Director / Retreat Leader

Nahed Fernando is a certified spiritual director in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Nahed emigrated from Egypt to America at a young age, and has a diverse Christian church background and multicultural perspective that informs her worldview. She enjoys sharing contemplative readings of sacred scripture and meditative prayer processes one-on-one or within group settings. Nahed is a former homeschool mother and enjoys reading, writing, painting, and sharing tea-time with others.

 

Rachael Richardson, RYT 200

Certified Yoga Teacher

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Rachael Richardson, RYT 200

Certified Yoga Teacher

Rachael Richardson is a 200-hour registered yoga teacher. She completed training through the Success Naturally Yoga Center in Springfield, Missouri. Rachael's training focused on classical Hatha yoga and the use of restorative poses. She is continuing her studies to earn certification in the Iyengar tradition with Mary Reilly, a senior-certified Iyengar yoga teacher. Rachael became a student of yoga after discovering how it helped her cope with both depression and lifelong back pain. She is passionate about showing others how yoga can be accessible to everyone, despite limitations of the mind and body.

Learn more about Rachael's chair, gentle, and restorative yoga classes offered at Dominican Center.

Sandra Mitchell

Certified Coach and Writer

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Sandra Mitchell

Certified Coach and Writer

With infinite loving kindness, attentive listening, forthright feedback, and an ever-expanding discernment of coaching principles, Sandra Mitchell offers clients a safe space to explore and find freedom from the fear and frustration that stands between them and the life they most long for.

Sandra's experience in coaching and mentoring includes: helping clients break through health and wellness issues; supporting those dealing with the heartbreak and confusion of supporting addicted loved ones; empowering those grappling with career, relationship, and other life transitions; and inspiring clients to rediscover themselves and create lasting change.

Trained and certified as a coaching professional, Sandra spent a full year in intense study, training, practice, and supervision. In addition, Sandra holds a degree from Aquinas College in Grand Rapids, Michigan, and has worked for more than 25 years as a writer, marketer, and mentor for those who nurture heart-centered wellness practices, ministries, nonprofits, and small businesses.

Shannon Cohen

Writer and Speaker

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Shannon Cohen

Writer and Speaker

Shannon Cohen, Inc. [SCI] is a boutique firm founded and operated by Shannon Cohen.  Shannon helps leaders honestly uncover and address the tough challenges they face behind their smiles, titles, and roles, and helps organizations tackle the issues they wrestle with behind closed doors. Shannon creates safe spaces for leaders and organizations to unveil their truth and walks alongside leaders to strategize and pace solutions that yield results.

The Shannon Cohen, Inc. brand consists of three components: [1] Motivational Speaking and Corporate Training, [2] A positive affirmations retail product line, and [3] Book/Leadership Blog, and [4] Equity and Inclusion work. Shannon’s work has taken her to serve the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy as well as systems and organizations across the Midwest.

Shannon’s heart beats for what she lovingly calls, “rockstar difference makers” -  leaders who are pillars in their homes, marketplaces, and communities. Her Tough Skin, Soft Heart messages encourage rockstar women to lay down the burden of perfection, invincibility, and fearlessness to practice self-care. Her authentic and inspiring messages are catching—they pull you in and lift you up, leaving you confident in your purpose. Outside her writing and speaking, Shannon serves as an adjunct faculty member at Grand Valley State University, is the co-founder of Sisters Who Lead, the 2017 ATHENA Young Professional Award Recipient,  and was recently named among the 2018 50 Most Influential Women in West Michigan by the Grand Rapids Business Journal. She is active in her community and gives freely of her time and energy so that other leaders can thrive at the intersection of joy and purpose in every aspect of their lives.

Susan Duesbery

Intuitive Counselor, Spiritual Coach, and Energy Therapist

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Susan Duesbery

Intuitive Counselor, Spiritual Coach, and Energy Therapist

Susan is passionately committed to continually living a life of authenticity and to loving herself and others fiercely, knowing that her heart’s wisdom will never lead her astray. She feels deep gratitude for many things: vibrant relationships, yoga, meditation, nature, travel, a good book, and abundant laughter.

Susan’s heartfelt intention is to help her clients remember their wholeness. She specializes in assisting individuals to understand their core stories and to see how these stories can negatively impact their health, their relationships, their happiness, and their ability to fulfill their life’s purpose. She offers concrete ways to help people let go of thoughts and perceptions that prevent them from living a life filled with love, peace, and joy.

Although Susan has been an energy intuitive since childhood, in 2004 she pursued formal training with Master Intuitive Kathy Reider of Intuitive Services Inc. and with Reiki Master Jan Atwood, LLC. After working for several years with Kathy and with Jan, she earned her Reiki Master certification and honed her innate intuitive energy reading abilities. She has been an intuitive counselor and  energy therapist in private practice ever since.

Susan holds a graduate certificate in Holistic Health from Western Michigan University and has taught WMU’s graduate course on managing stress. She is a certified integrative life coach with The Ford Institute, specializing in Jungian shadow work; a 500-hour yoga teacher with more than ten years of teaching experience; a Reiki master; a certified labyrinth facilitator with Veriditas; and a holistic stress management facilitator with The Paramount Wellness Institute.

In addition to working privately with clients as an intuitive counselor and as an energy therapist at The Eagle Park Wellness Collective in Grand Rapids, Michigan, Susan hosts retreats and presents transformative workshops as well as offers private yoga therapy, breath work intensives, meditation sessions, and weekly public yoga classes.

To learn more about Susan, please see her website www.susanduesbery.com