About hero

About First Steps Kent

Our community vision is that every young child in Kent County will enter kindergarten healthy and ready to succeed in school and life. First Steps Kent is working with our community partners to make that vision a reality.

First Steps Kent is an independent nonprofit organization founded more than ten years ago.

Learn more about the history of First Steps Kent and the Early Childhood System in Kent County.

Our Team

The First Steps Kent team is committed to ensuring every young child in Kent County will enter kindergarten healthy and ready to succeed in school and life.

  • Annemarie Valdez

    President & CEO

  • Heather Boswell

    Chief Operating Officer

  • Tyler Aman

    Data & Outcomes Analyst

  • Cati Cortes

    Financial Accountant

  • Shelby French

    Finance & HR Coordinator

  • Jill B. Salisbury

    Fund Development & Project Coordinator

  • Kendall Smith

    Communications Intern

  • Kristen Sobolewski

    Shared Services Project Manager

  • Megan Streng

    Communications Manager

  • Christine Timbol Larson

    Ready by Five Early Childhood Millage Funding Administrator

  • Daniel VanderMolen

    Project Coordinator


First Steps Kent Commission

The First Steps Kent Commission is committed to making Kent County a community in which all young children and their families can thrive. The Commission serves as our Board of Directors.

  • Kate Pew Wolters
    Co-Chair, Kate and Richard Wolters Foundation
  • Lew Chamberlin
    Co-Chair, West Michigan Whitecaps
  • Bob Herr
    Secretary-Treasurer, Community Representative
  • Melinda Johnson, MD
    Community Representative
  • Karen O’Donovan
    Community Representative
  • Dr. Juan Olivarez
    Johnson Center for Philanthropy at GVSU
  • Julie Ridenour
    Steelcase Foundation
  • Amanda Barbour
    Children’s Healing Center
  • Milt Rohwer
    Community Representative
  • Ron Caniff
    Kent Intermediate School District
  • Michelle Van Dyke
    Heart of West Michigan United Way
  • Kristina Donaldson
    Parent Representative
  • Carl Ver Beek
    Community Representative
  • Lynne Ferrell
    Frey Foundation
  • Sean Welsh
    PNC Bank
  • Maureen Hale
    Great Start Collaborative
  • Doug DeVos, Emeritus
  • Sue Jandernoa
    Community Representative
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We want to thank our generous funders for their support of First Steps Kent and their commitment to young children in our community.

Financial Reports

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