Guest Authors

Growing Great has had a wonderful assortment of guest authors who take the time to share information, humor, and important tips. In the past year, our guest authors have included:

Cary Zavala

… is a licensed professional counselor and a skilled parenting educator. Cary is joining with Lenawee Great Start in presenting a series of Parent Education talks during the 2014-2015 year (register here to attend!).

Terry Clark-Jones

…is a Senior Extension Educator with Michigan State University Extension.  She has been with MSUE for over 33 years and her areas of specialty are housing, financial management and parenting education.  Her area of responsibility are Monroe, Lenawee, Hillsdale, Jackson, Washtenaw, and Livingston counties. Terry received a Bachelor’s of Science Degree in 1981 and a Master of Science Degree in 1993 from Eastern Michigan University. She is a Certified Family Life Educator, MSHDA and NCHEC Certified Housing Counselor. Terry and her husband Bob are lifelong residences of Ida, Michigan and have two adult sons, Corey and Cody.

Suzanne Lopez

… is a Lenawee’s CHILD parent educator in the Britton Deerfield School District along with being the School Success Coach for “At-Risk” students in grades K-4. She has a Bachelor of Science degree in Applied Behavior Analysis and has recently been admitted to Purdue University to obtain her Master of Science degree in Special Education. When she is  not working, she is home with her own children (ages 3-13).

Alexis Eggenberger, MSSA, BCBA the Manager of the ProMedica Center for Autism. She is a Board Certified Behavior Analyst and Licensed Social Worker. Alexis completed her training at Bowling Green State University, Case Western Reserve University, and University of North Texas. She has been working with individuals with Autism since 2009, and has a passion for working with those with special needs. Alexis is a resident of Ohio, but is learning all of the wonderful things Michigan has to offer!

Carrie Shrier

…is a Michigan State University Extension Educator in the Children and Youth Institute.  She has worked with MSU Extension for ten years, currently providing programming in the area of Early Childhood Development. Carrie has worked with young children throughout her career, as a preschool teacher and center director prior to her work at MSU Extension, and personally, as the mother of four young children. Carrie holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Child Development from Michigan State University and is currently working on a Masters of Arts in Education.

Tricia Moyer-Fowler

… is the Parent Educator at Madison Elementary and Family Resource Room. Tricia has been at Madison School District for the past 7 years. She has her Master’s of Science in Special Education Learning Disabilities. She also has Bachelor’s degrees in Economic and Management emphasis in accounting, Secondary Business Education and Mathematics and Cognitive Impairment from Albion College, Siena University and Eastern Michigan University. She enjoys spending time with her husband, son (13 years old), & daughter (6 years old); volunteering at school; participating in church activities; and working part-time at Michigan International Speedway for the past 30 years.

Michele Benjamin

… has been the Lenawee’s CHILD parent educator in the Tecumseh Public School District for almost five years. She is a former Child Welfare Specialist and trainer. She enjoys spending time with her husband and their 10-year-old daughter; volunteering at the Lenawee Humane Society; and cooking and gardening.

Liz Fuss

…is a Quality Improvement Specialist with Child Care Network, the Great Start to Quality Southeast Resource Center.  She has a Bachelor of Arts degree from Siena Heights University with minors in Early Childhood Education, English, and Language Arts and taught at a charter school prior to working for Child Care Network.  She grew up and still lives in Adrian.

Amy Williams

…is a journalist based in Southern California. As an entrepreneur and mother of two, she has learned a lot of things the hard way, and hopes to use her experience as a parent to help others find success in the more difficult walks of life.

Brooke Borton

…enjoys life at home with her husband, two girls ages 5 and 7, an infant baby boy, and two cats. She and her husband celebrated their fifth anniversary in October, shortly before her 30th birthday, and their favorite holiday is (of course) Halloween. She attended Adrian College and JCC, studying English, Spanish, and nursing, and plans to pursue her degree again only after her tenure in the ever-busy position of stay-at-home mom. Brooke has worked in various professions including retail management, fast food, medical transcription, and medical reception, and managed her own photography business for three years before making the choice to stay home indefinitely with her young girls. She thinks the best way to learn is through trial and error and “just jumping in.”

Cathy Chesher

…is originally from the Chicago area and moved here after marrying Steve, an Adrian native, 32 years (!) ago. They have two adult children, Michael and Amanda (who Cathy is happy to say love to read). When she is not working, reading or playing with her new iPad, Cathy tends to her perennial garden, does yoga and other exercise, cooks, and enjoys travel. Cathy says she has the best job in Lenawee County! “There are many things I like and love about being a children’s librarian, but nurturing and supporting the love of reading is at the top of the list. In my mind, there is no such thing as a child who doesn’t like to read; just one who hasn’t found the right book yet.”

Safca Frost

Safca Frost was raised in Tecumseh and has recently moved back to her hometown with her husband and their four children. She stays home with her youngest child, who is four years old, while her three older children attend the local elementary school. They are discovering all of the wonderful opportunities Lenawee County has to offer and are having a great time! She is an avid reader, enjoys writing, and playing outside with her kids.

Brooke Rains

…is Coordinator for Child Care Network in Lenawee, Jackson and Hillsdale Counties. Brooke is a wife, dog mom, beach lover, education graduate of Adrian College, and an Adrian resident. She is excited to blog for us about her role as a national trainer for I Am Moving, I Am Learning, a proactive program for addressing childhood obesity in preschool-age children.

Suzi West

is a former Parent Liaison for Lenawee Great Start who now works as a facilitator for Early On of Michigan. She has lived in Adrian for 8 years and has an early childhood degree from CMU. She has three children (ages 9, 7, & 5) and is passionate about supporting our youngest learners to be successful in school.

Jennifer Landstrom

…is mom to two beautiful, equally amazing children, Drew and Katherine. Drew was diagnosed as having an Autism Spectrum Disorder in 2005. This diagnosis led to her deep involvement in the disability community, eventually volunteering her time as a Parent Advocate for families struggling with the special education process. It was soon evident that the need for advocacy, guidance, and support was greater than the time she could devote volunteering and so she founded a business called 123 Advocacy. Her goal at 123 Advocacy is to educate and empower parents and guardians with the belief that they are their child’s first and best advocates.

Jennifer Bennett

…is a La Leche League of Lenawee Leader. A Detroit native, Jennifer moved to Lenawee County 14 years ago; when her first child was born, she gladly left the corporate world behind. She and her husband have two girls who keep them busy with homeschooling, chauffeuring, making lots of messes and creating lots of memories. They enjoy being outdoors, making crafts, playing games, sharing movie nights, making music, participating in church activities, and seeing their extended families as much as possible.

Teresa Johnson

…is owner of the “Squishy Tushy” store in Blissfield that sells cloth diapers and covers, diapering accessories, training pants, toys, jewelry and products for moms.

Jennifer Stutzman

… is a life-long resident of Lenawee County and has been married to her hubby for 13 years. Aside from her part-time job as a doula, she is a stay-at-home mom to five children: Krista, almost 12; Kara, 10; Kayleigh, 6.5; Kaleb, 4; and Kollin, almost 6 months.

Christi Demitz

…works as an extension educator for Michigan State University Extension. In this role, Christi facilitates disease management workshops in the community for adults and assists schools in creating a healthier environment for students. Prior to joining MSU Extension, Christi worked for over 10 years as a public health consultant for the Michigan Department of Community Health in the Cardiovascular Disease, Nutrition and Physical Activity Section.

If you would like to guest blog for Growing Great, contact Sarah Meikle at