Led by passionate people
The Institute for Global Education is volunteer-driven and led by the following board of directors:
Katie Villaire, Interim Chair
Katie Villaire has been involved with the IGE since its establishment in the 1980s. Villaire worked with the group for several years and became more active when her husband passed away in 1993. She has been an active member of the board since the late-1900s, and has shared the board position in the past before becoming Chair four years ago. Villaire has helped the IGE in many of its programs and has a particular interest in education methods and issues, basic human rights and fair living conditions, and issues of equality. Villaire is a retired college professor.
Laura Casaletto has been working with volunteer groups for decades. Casaletto often prefers to work with youth, and is currently a tutor for refugees. She was an officer in the Montessori high school parent organization, has been involved with coaching, lobbying, race relations, fundraising, and nature outreach programs. She is an artist, a professional editor and union member.
Groups served recently: Racial Expressions Youth in Action,A.N.S.W.E.R., Sierra Club, Nature Conservancy, Our Kitchen Table, Grand Rapids Public (and parochial) Schools, Boy Scouts, Michigan Organizing Project and African Community Church.
Chester Lowe has been involved with the IGE for several years, and has been involved with the public sector for decades. Some of Lowe's public service and leadership accomplishments are outlined below.
- Community Advocate for social and environmental safety: Det./1985-88 & Grand Rapids/2004-present
- Former educator/counselor: 1976-77@GVSU & 2011 @ GRCC-"Dynamics of Racism in Social Work"
- Volunteer outreach services for The Rx Health Council of West MI: 2005-present
- Rx Council of Western PA 1991-2004: Board Membership
- Former Volunteer for crisis intervention services in Grand Rapids: Switchboard Hotline, Inc./1974-76
- Former counselor for drug & alcohol services of Detroit, MI: Rubicon-Odyssey House of Detroit/1986
- U.S. Department of Commerce: Census Bureau Crew Leader in Pittsburgh, PA of 2000
- Marketer for the Pittsburgh and Grand Rapids Symphony Orchestras/ Pgh. 1988-1995 & G.R. 2005
- Program development for Prison Education through William James College/GVSU: 1974-1976
-Community Alternatives: Therapeutic Specialist for Mental Health in Pittsburgh/Washington, PA 2001
- Sodexho-Marriott at University of Pgh.- Barista 2002-2004
- The Bitter End Coffee House Manager/Head Barista 2007- present
- Extra-casting member for movies with Nancy Mosser Casting of Pittsburgh (1989-2004) and Matthew Casting of Grand Rapids (2009-present)
- B.S. in Sociology & Psychology from Grand Valley State University: William James College: 1976
- Accreditation/Training from Robert Morris University for Addiction Counseling: 2000
Gerard Akkerhuis has been the IGE treasurer since 2008, with an expertise in using Quickbooks. Akkerhuis received a MSW from Grand Valley State University in 1990 and has been a volunteer in public service since then. He has served as a boardmember of the Well House Homeless shelter, East Hills Council of Neighbors, Grand Rapids Area Neighborhood Develpment (GRAND), the Easttown Food Co-op, and is currently the volunteer coordinator of a health food buying club. Akkerhuis has been a member of IGE since the early 1990s.
Mike Franz is a retired community college professor after 37 years. Franz has been an IGE member for 27 years and has worked on the Global Resources committee of IGE each year to bring the Week of Peace Education to area schools. Other organizations and activities include: local coordinator for MoveOn.org in GR, member Senior Advocates, Stephen Minister at Trinity Lutheran Church, and past and current IGE trustee.
Amy Bennington is relatively new to the IGE. She has worked with various organizations, working with young people of all ages doing mentoring and tutoring. Bennington has also worked with youth by helping organize neighborhood service projects to encourage students of all ages to connect with their communities. Bennington received a Bachelors degree in Social work from Grand Valley State University. At IGE, Bennington enjoys being part of the Circles of Peace working group, helping to organize activities celebrating the UN International Day of Peace on Sept. 21st of every year.
As of Nov. 2012, we would also like to welcome the following people to our Board of Trustees:
Vince Schumacher, Move to Amend
Ted Ambrose, Active Community Member
Tom Burke, Left Forum
Ron Irvine joined the board of IGE in December of 2012, representing the Grand Rapids Friends (Quakers) that originally founded IGE through the American Friends Service Committee as an organization that expresses their values of waging peace and justice with equality, integrity, and simplicity. Ron's identity and purpose resonates deeply with these core values, expressing them through his personal life and career. As a single father of a family of three races living in the inner city, his children have lived out those values in the Grand Rapids Public School System and have made him a proud father. After working with at risk students in alternative and special education for 25 years in 27 schools in Kent County, he continues to express these values presently working at Hope Network with adults that have developmental disabilities and serving on three boards of directors in his community; Institute for Global Education, Oakdale Neighbors, and Genesis Nonprofit Housing Corporation. Living out these values require inner work he regularly writes about in his blog, Living with Open Hands (http://ronirvine.wordpress.com)
Whitney Ehresman , Office Coordinator
Whitney Ehresman earned a BA in Community Leadership/Public Administration and Political Science from Aquinas College. Her studies at Aquinas College were strongly focused around international studies. Ehresman has an extensive background in journalism, with an expertise in writing, editing and page design. Ehresman also helps the IGE in social networking, and is the Business Development Manager for Advanced Technology Recycling, a company focused on environmental stewardship. Professional memberships include: Grand Rapids Chamber of Commerce Ambassador Committee, Grand Rapids Area Seasoned Professionals (GRASP), and the Grand Rapids Young Professionals.