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


  • Heather Boswell

    Vice President

  • Cati Cortes

    Financial Accountant

  • Shelby French

    Finance & HR Coordinator

  • Kyle Johnson

    Ready by Five Early Childhood Millage Funding Administrator

  • Jill B. Salisbury

    Fund Development & Project Coordinator

  • 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
  • Dr. Juan Olivarez
    Community Representative
  • Julie Ridenour
    Community Representative
  • Amanda Barbour
    Children’s Healing Center
  • Milt Rohwer
    Community Representative
  • Ron Koehler
    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
    Community Representative
  • Sue Jandernoa
    Community Representative
  • Claire Guisfredi
    North Kent Connect
  • Kelsey Perdue
    Michigan League for Public Policy
  • Rev. Howard C. Earle, Jr.
    New Hope Baptist Church
  • Hanna C. Jaworski, MD
    Spectrum Health
  • Doug DeVos, Emeritus
Women smiling and hugging a childGirl eating


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

Boy smiling
  • Meetings
  • Minutes