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.

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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 Coordinator

  • Kristen Sobolewski

    Shared Services Project Manager

  • Megan Streng

    Communications Manager

  • Christine Timbol Larson

    Ready by Five Early Childhood Millage Funding Administrator


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
  • Amanda Barbour
    Children’s Healing Center
  • Ron Caniff
    Kent Intermediate School District
  • Kristina Donaldson
    Parent Representative
  • Lynne Ferrell
    Frey Foundation
  • Maureen Hale
    Great Start Collaborative
  • Sue Jandernoa
    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
  • Milt Rohwer
    Community Representative
  • Michelle Van Dyke
    Heart of West Michigan United Way
  • Carl Ver Beek
    Community Representative
  • Sean Welsh
    PNC Bank
  • Doug DeVos, Emeritus


We want to thank our generous funders for their support of First Steps Kent and their commitment to young children in our community.

Child Care Provider Information