A Letter to the Community

Dear Monroe County Community Member,

During the last five years the Monroe County Great Start Collaborative has been extremely effective in developing a strong infrastructure within our community to promote and support early childhood issues. Various community stakeholders including agencies, business leaders, and families with young children have come together to advocate for the needs of young children.

As part of the work of the Great Start Collaborative, data collection and gaps analysis have been an on-going process so that the strengths and needs related to early childhood can be continually evaluated and addressed. Using the indicators that are unique to Monroe County, we developed an updated Strategic Plan and Action Agenda based on the information gathered from our community.

The Monroe County Great Start Strategic Plan and Action Agenda were then presented to the full collaborative body for their approval and support. Members agreed that the Strategic Plan fulfilled their intention to best serve families and young children in our community. This plan was then formally endorsed by the Great Start Collaborative.

The commitment to early childhood demonstrated by our community is evident through the overwhelming support shown by all sectors. Clearly Monroe County is dedicated to ensuring that every child is ready to succeed in school and in life.


Members of the Monroe County Great Start Collaborative


15-16 Community Members

Amanda Phebus – Parent Member

Amanda Schmitz – Monroe Family YMCA

Amy Zarend – GSC, Director

Andrea Murphy – MCISD

Ann Mercer – Mercy Memorial Hospital

Anna Steele – Parent Member

Beth Garza – Childcare Network

Beth Junkin – Family Medical Center

Beth Patton – Meadow Montessori School

Bridgitte Gates – Monroe Community Mental Health Authority

Cari Grahl – Michigan Works!

Christine Todd – MCISD

Connie Carroll – United Way of Monroe County

Corey Welch – Senator Dale Zorn’s Office

Cortney Last – Great Start Readiness Program (GSRP)

Craig Haugen – Jefferson Public Schools

Crystal Martin – Family Counseling and Shelter Services

Crysti Esper – MCISD

Edward Manuszak – Bedford Public Schools

Esmeralda Castro – Early Head Start/Head Start

Jadin Howton – Monroe County Library System

Jennifer Fleck – Monroe Vicariate Hispanic Ministry

Jen Hay – Monroe Family YMCA

Jennifer Langenderfer – Monroe Bank & Trust

Jessica Myers – First Presbyterian Church of Monroe

Julie Haefler – Salvation Army

Karen Reeves-Wagner – Mason Consolidated School

Kathryn Bourbina – Early Childhood Special Education/MCISD

Kim VanDevelde – Monroe Public Schools

Kristen Columbus – Michigan Alliance For Families

Laurie Revere – March Of Dimes

LeAnn Britton – Kiddie Korner Daycare/Preschool

Lynette Lange – Family Counseling and Shelter Services

Lynn Gluvna – Childcare Network

Mark Cochran – ProMedica Monroe Regional Hospital

Michael Smith – AFL-CIO/United Way

Michelle Brahaney – MCISD Assistant Superintendent

Nancy Thompson – Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA)

Nicole Eyler – Great Start Parent Coordinator

Nicole Sinis – Orchards Children’s Services

Nicole VanDaele – Early Head Start/Head Start

Rusty Davis – United Way of Monroe County

Sommer Weiderhold – Department of Health & Human Services

Stacey Goans – Michigan Works!

Stephanie Garrett – Health Department/WIC

Dr. Stephen McNew – MCISD Superintendent

Terrie Ball – Family Medical Center

Terry Jones – MSU Extension Office

Theresa Tejada – National Kidney Foundation of Michigan

Toni Cooper – Parent Member

Traci Drewior – The Mall Of Monroe

Tressa Duffin – Michigan State Police

Tricia Rumler – Parent Representative

Wendy Klinski – Catholic Charities of Southeast Michigan

"Early experiences determine whether a child's brain architecture will provide a strong or weak foundation for all future learning, behavior and health."

- Center for the Developing Child at Harvard University