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Staff

Caring, committed, capable people.

It takes a special kind of person to deal with the trauma and heartbreak of child sexual abuse every day. It’s not a job, it’s a calling for these exceptional individuals.

Sarah Zuidema, LMSW

She/Her/Hers
Program Director

A licensed social worker who has spent her entire career in child welfare, Sarah has experience in foster care and adoption, trauma, prevention and international social services. She earned a master’s degree in social work from Grand Valley State University. Sarah is also an ACE Master trainer through the Michigan ACE Initiative. Sarah wants to ensure that all Kent County children have a safe place to talk and heal from abuse.

Alicia Cadena, LLMSW

She/Her/Hers
Therapist

Alicia earned a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from Grand Valley State University and a Master of Social Work from Western Michigan University. She is a licensed LLMSW and trained in Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behavior Therapy (TFCBT). Throughout her career, she worked with youth in an inpatient psychiatric setting, conducted psychological assessments, and has served as a school-based Social Worker. She began her Master’s-level internship at the Children’s Advocacy Center in 2016. Alicia found her passion in supporting youth through their healing process and through affirmative practice. Alicia seeks to create a safe and welcoming space for all.

Andrea Walcott, LLMSW

She/Her/Hers
Therapist

Andrea obtained her undergraduate degree from Grand Valley State University in psychology and a master's in social work from Western Michigan University. Andrea is trained in Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and has worked with children, teens, and their families in various settings. Andrea started her masters-level internship at the Children's Advocacy Center of Kent County in September of 2018.

Anne Slater, LPC

She/Her/Hers
Therapist

A Licensed Professional Counselor in the state of Michigan, Anne earned both a Bachelor of Science and Master of Arts in Professional Counseling from Central Michigan University. She is a nationally certified Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapist who began working with survivors of sexual violence and trauma as a college volunteer.

Susie Kim-VanderGriend, LLMSW

She/Her/Hers
Therapist

Susie obtained her Master’s in Social Work from Michigan State University and her Bachelor’s in Political Economics from the University of California, Berkeley. She is a licensed LLMSW and trained in Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behavior Therapy (TFCBT). She has experience working with children, teens, and families in multiple settings. Susie started her Master’s level internship at the CAC in 2019. Her desire is to journey with survivors and their families on their path to healing.

Katie Proctor, LLMSW

She/Her/Hers
Therapist

Katie obtained her Bachelor’s degree in psychology and criminal justice and a Master’s degree in social work from Grand Valley State University. She completed her master’s level internship with the Ottawa County Children’s Advocacy Center in 2017 and has over ten years of experience working with teens in the juvenile justice system. Her goal is to help empower kids and teens in their healing journey.

Samantha Akerman, LMSW

She/Her/Hers
Clinical Supervisor

Samantha is a state-licensed Social Worker with a Master's degree in Social Work from Grand Valley State University and a Bachelor's degree from Davenport University. Samantha is trained in Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behavior Therapy and has worked with children and families in various settings. She is an advocate for children and is passionate about working with children and families who have experienced trauma.

Ashley Vance, LMSW

She/Her/Hers
Lead Forensic Interviewer

Ashley obtained a Bachelor’s degree in Social Work from Central Michigan University and a Master’s degree in Social Work from Grand Valley State University. She has previous experience working within Children’s Advocacy Centers in Michigan. Her background also includes providing advocacy and support to young adult survivors of sexual assault and domestic violence, in a university setting, and crisis intervention work with adults.

Augustena Baar, BSW

She/Her/Hers
Forensic Interviewer

Augustena holds a Bachelor’s degree in social work from Grand Valley State University. She has 7 years of experience as an investigator of child abuse and neglect with Children’s Protective Services. Augustena was stationed at the CAC for the majority of her time with CPS and primarily investigated allegations of child sexual abuse. Augustena enjoys traveling, cooking, and spending time with friends and family.

Samantha Klokkert, LLMSW

She/Her/Hers
Family Advocate


Sam earned her master’s degree in social work from Grand Valley State University in 2020. Prior to joining the CAC team, she worked for over 2 years with refugee and immigrant populations. This experience prepared her to engage in the important work of the CAC by building her capacity for providing trauma-informed care and enhancing her Spanish language skills. In her free time, she enjoys traveling, outdoor adventures, and reading!

Marian Anderson, BSW

She/Her/Hers
Case Manager

Marian obtained her BSW from Grand Valley State University. She previously worked in foster care for 2 1/2 years, gaining valuable experience working with children and families. She then transitioned into working at a domestic violence shelter; first as an intern and then as a youth and family advocate. Marian loves collaborating with families to work around barriers and ultimately achieve their goals. When she is not working, Marian enjoys reading, powerlifting, and traveling.

Jessica Turk

She/Her/Hers
Community Services Specialist

Jessica comes from a background of parent advocacy and parent empowerment training. She is a strong advocate for parents and their families. She is also a former foster parent, which is the motivation behind her passion for helping families and children overcome barriers. As a mother of six, she is always dedicated and devoted to her children.

Kelsey Klumpstra

She/Her/Hers
Intake Coordinator

Kelsey obtained her bachelor of Arts at Grand Valley State University in Spanish, Non-Profit Administration and Latin American Studies. She has experience working with a wide variety of children, teens, and families in multiple settings, including multiple countries. Creating safe spaces, engaging in active listening, and advocating for others are all a part of Kelsey’s personal mission. Off the clock Kelsey loves to be active outdoors and hang with her friends and family.

Preston

He/Him/His
Comfort Dog

Preston began his training as a puppy through Leader Dogs for the Blind. After a career change, he was selected by the Canine Advocacy Program to work at Small Talk Children's Advocacy Center in Lansing, Michigan. Preston provided comfort to children and families at Small Talk CAC for two and a half years. During his time at Small Talk, Preston had the opportunity to be a source of support and comfort to the sister survivors throughout the Larry Nassar sentencing. 

Sara Soehnel

She/Her/Hers
Kids Have Rights Program Manager

Sara joined the Kids Have Rights team of educators in 2010. She holds a degree in Elementary Education from Central Michigan University with an emphasis in Language Arts. Sara has presented at the Michigan Chapter of the National Children’s Alliance on bringing personal body safety education to children across the state of Michigan. She is also an ACE Master trainer through the Michigan ACE Initiative.

Andrea Woller

She/Her/Hers
Kids Have Rights Lead Educator

Andrea worked in the education field for 10 years before joining the Kids Have Rights team in 2015. She earned an Aquinas College degree in elementary education with endorsements in special education, early childhood education and reading/language arts. Her teaching experience includes Early Childhood Special Education instruction and curriculum development.

Melanie Mays, MA, LLPC

She/Her/Hers
Kids Have Rights Educator

Melanie has experience working in educational settings from preschool classrooms through the college level. She holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology from the University of Michigan and a Master’s Degree in Counseling from Michigan State University. Melanie is passionate about educating and empowering children and helping them know and understand their rights.

Kristen Sarkipato

She/Her/Hers
Kids Have Rights Educator

Prior to joining the Kids Have Rights team, Kristen worked in the social work field as a Children’s Program Coordinator and Family Advocate at a local domestic violence shelter. She earned a Bachelor’s of Science in Sociology from Grand Valley State University. She is passionate about educating and empowering staff, students and caregivers to recognize, prevent and stop child sexual abuse.

Tatum Hawkins, MA

She/Her/Hers
Development & Communications Director

Tatum earned a bachelor’s degree in mass media communications and a master’s degree in public relations, setting the stage for a successful career in non-profit communications and fund development. She is passionate about increasing community awareness of CAC and helping supporters connect to this worthy cause. Tatum unwinds from the demands of the job through travel, art, music and cooking.

Rebekah McDowell

She/Her/Hers
Operations Director

Rebekah has transitioned through three different positions at CAC since first joining us as a part-time Grant Writer in 2007. A childhood spent in various states, countries and islands taught her to embrace change and challenge. Rebekah is a graduate of Central Michigan University who enjoys movies, yoga, reading, writing and spending time with family.

Michelle Eason

She/Her/Hers
Administrative Assistant

Michelle holds a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice from Ferris State University.  She has over 10 years of experience working in office administration and human services. Her commitment to our mission is a reflection of her passion to serve others. Michelle enjoys cooking and promotes a stress-free life by making self-care a habit.

Misti DeVries, BS

She/Her/Hers
Community Services Coordinator

Misti holds a bachelor’s degree in child and family development from the University of Georgia. She has over 13 years' experience working with children and families throughout Kent County. As our Community Services Coordinator, Misti’s goal is to engage the community in our mission through education and volunteer opportunities. Misti enjoys spending time with her husband, sons, and corgis.

Melissa Werkman

She/Her/Hers
Executive Director

Melissa is grateful to have been able to spend her career in roles that allow her to support children and families in West Michigan – whether by creating opportunities for improved health and wellness or advocating for individuals with Down syndrome – each position has lent to learning and growth that she is honored to bring to her role in supporting the critical work the team at the CAC does every day.
5% of children under the age of 18 are solicited sexually online.
1,000+ suspected child sexual abuse cases are reported in Kent County each year.
75% of childhood sexual abuse is thought to go unreported.
1 in 7 girls and 1 in 25 boys are sexually abused.
1,000+ suspected child sexual abuse cases are reported in Kent County each year.
75% of childhood sexual abuse is thought to go unreported.
1 in 7 girls and 1 in 25 boys
are sexually abused.
5% of children under the age of 18 are solicited sexually online.