Staff and Facilitators

Maria Peak Executive Director mpeak@asppire.org

Maria Peak worked in the field of Special Education for 30 years as a classroom teacher and transition coordinator for Eaton Regional Education Services Agency, and a project coordinator for Michigan Transition Outcomes Project through Michigan Department of Education, Office of Special Education. Maria first became involved with ASPPIRE as a facilitator and curriculum consultant. In 2015, she became the Executive Director of ASPPIRE. Maria enjoys spending time with her family and friends, antiquing and decorating their old farm house.

Aileen Hecht Program Analyst ahecht@asppire.org

Aileen lives in Lansing with her husband and two children. She was diagnosed with autism at age 28. Aileen graduated from Baker College in 2009 with a degree in Business Management concentrated in Accounting and has worked for ASPPIRE since 2012. As a previous participant, she relates well to others in the program and acts as a peer mentor in various capacities. In her spare time, Aileen enjoys reading, cooking, and socializing.

.

Jennie Brandenburg Employment Specialist jbrandenburg@asppire.org

Jennie graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree with a focus in Community Development and Community Services from Central Michigan University. Jennie has worked for non-profit organizations for over 15 years. She has 6 years of experience in the workforce development field and has worked as a case manager in job development through Michigan Works! While at Michigan Works! she completed the Global Career Development Facilitator Training. Jennie has also worked for various grants with the Michigan Department of Education Office of Special Education for over 7 years. She has a passion working with individuals with disabilities and assisting individuals in finding employment. Jennie lives in Lansing with her husband, daughter, son, and three cats.

 Evin Papuga Employment Specialist epapuga@asppire.org
.
Evin was born and raised in White Lake, Michigan, though he currently lives in Lansing. He received his Bachelors of Arts from Siena Heights University where he studied psychology, philosophy, and religion. He received his Masters of Arts from Michigan State University where he studied rehabilitation counseling. Evin has been with ASPPIRE since the Fall of 2018 as a volunteer and facilitator. In his free time he likes to be outdoors camping, fishing, hunting, hiking, etc.
.

Chris Murphy Facilitator cmurphy@asppire.org

.

.

.

.

.

.

Jean Aldrich Facilitator

.

.

.

.

.

.

Chantal Charron Facilitator ccharon@asppire.org

Chantal has worked in Special Education for 30 years as a Program Consultant and a Speech and Language Pathologist at the Livingston Educational Service Agency. Her experience includes working with students of all ages and disabilities, providing social coaching for high school students with High Functioning Autism and co-authoring a resource for individuals with social and cognitive challenges. She finds great satisfaction when individuals increase their advocacy skills and achieve maximum independence in their lives.  Her husband, Dave, and two wonderful children, Max and Renee, love to spend time in northern Michigan and travel to new places.

Joanne Davids Facilitator jdavids@asppire.org

After working for 31 years as a Design Engineer for General Motors, Joanne Davids retired and went back to school to become and a Special Education Teacher. She currently works doing Applied Behavior Analysis therapy with young students on the Autism Spectrum. Joanne has been married to the love of her life for over 20 years, and together they have four children, one of whom is on the Autism Spectrum, and 11 grandchildren.

Steve Peak Facilitator speak@asppire.org

Steve earned his Master’s degree from Michigan State University and his Bachelor’s degree from North Texas State University. Steve has recently retired from the Eaton RESA where he worked as an Adapted Physical Educator for over 30 years. In Steve’s free time, he enjoys restoring his 1959 Shasta travel trailor and driving his 1970s classic Oldsmobile. Steve was also the Varsity Boys and Girls soccer coach for many years with Olivet High School, and still enjoys playing soccer on a local league. Steve and Maria have three adult children that they spend as much time as possible with.

Matt Arends    Social Club Facilitator, Facilitator Assistant

marends@asppire.org

Matt has been with ASPPIRE as a participant and advisory board member since 2009. Matt currently works at the MRT Systems in Lansing. Matt lives in the first Lansing Intentional Communities, Inc (LINCS) home. Matt attended local community colleges, Michigan State University, and Michigan Career and Technical Institute. Matt has had experience working with young people with disabilities as a community living support staff member and respite care worker through Community Mental Health. Matt enjoys spending time with his niece, nephew and family members. He loves to watch movies, play board games, read books and socialize with friends.

Katie Woerderhoff Participant Coordinator katiew@asppire.org

Katie earned her bachelor’s degree in Psychology from Michigan State University (also double minored in Health Promotion & Youth/Society) and plans to pursue her Master’s degree in Counseling Psychology. Katie began with ASPPIRE as an intern in May 2021 and also occasionally works for The Bureau of Services for Blind Persons. Katie was born and raised in Michigan (St. Joseph) and in her free time Katie enjoys hanging out with her cat, spending time outdoors, and exercising.

Luna (Nathan) Brown Facilitator Assistant

nbrown@asppire.org

Luna is a peer mentor and advocate for people with disabilities. They are a Lansing native, autistic and very active in the local LGBTQ and disability communities. Luna is also the executive director of the LGBTQ Abilities organization. In their spare time Luna likes to spend time with friends, their cat George, and keeps busy working towards a degree in religious studies.

Sydney Butler Facilitator Assistant

Sydney is a freshman at Michigan State University studying pre-nursing. Sydney joined ASPPIRE to learn more about individuals with differences and to make a positive impact on the community. Sydney is also involved in many other clubs at Michigan State including Nursing Student Association, Spartans for Change, Cozy Coverz, and the Relay for Life committee. Katie also teaches part-time at her previous dance studio.
.

Volunteers from MSU, LCC, and the Greater Lansing area support ASPPIRE’s social coaching programs. If you would like to volunteer, please check out the Get Involved tab.