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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.

Clinical Services

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.

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 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, EMDR, and nature-based counseling. She has worked with children and families in various settings since 2006. She is an advocate for children and is passionate about working with children and families who have experienced trauma.

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, Brainspotting, and EMDR, and she 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.

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.

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.

Samantha Klokkert, LLMSW

She/Her/Hers
Therapist
se habla español

Sam is an LLMSW therapist trained in Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, and passionate about walking alongside children and families through their healing process. She 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.

Márcia Van Soelen, LLMSW

She/Her/Hers
Family Advocate


Marcia earned her Bachelor's degree in Social Work and Psychology from Calvin University and Master's degree in Social Work from Grand Valley State University. She has experience working with families and children who have experienced trauma in a variety of different settings. She began her Master's level internship at the Children's Advocacy Center in 2020. Marcia has a passion for walking alongside children through their journey of healing.

Jessica Turk

She/Her/Hers
Client 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
se habla español

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. 

Prevention

Misti DeVries, BS

She/Her/Hers
Prevention & Outreach Director

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 Prevention & Outreach Director, 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.

Andrea Woller

She/Her/Hers
Prevention Program Manager

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.

Onalee Andrews, LLMSW

She/Her/Hers
Kids Have Rights Educator

Ona earned her bachelor’s degree in social work from Colorado State University in 2015, and her master’s degree in social work from Grand Valley State University in 2020. Prior to joining the CAC team, she worked as a community mental health professional in Denver, CO. Upon moving back to Michigan in 2018, Onalee became a volunteer at the CAC. She began her master’s-level internship at the CAC in 2019. Ona is passionate about spreading awareness, educating students and caregivers, and empowering children to feel confident in advocating for their rights.

Administration

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
Prevention & Operations 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.

Melissa Vigh

She/Her/Hers
Administrative Secretary

Melissa holds a bachelor’s degree from the University of Michigan. Before joining the Children’s Advocacy Center’s team she worked in several different capacities within the Criminal Justice System. She has a strong desire to help advocate for children and families who have been affected by abuse. In her free time, Melissa enjoys playing the piano, biking, reading, and spending time with her family.

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.