Staff and Facilitators


Maria Peak Executive Director

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.

Jean Aldrich Facilitator

Prior to joining the non-profit South Lansing Community Development Association (SLCDA), Jean worked in healthcare administration for 25 years, then earned her Horticulture Certification at WHV.  Horticulture helped her discover AmeriCorps State programs where she served the maximum allowed term of 4 years with local non-profits teaching gardening.  This is how she met Maria Peak and learned about Asppire!  Together Maria and Jean put together a new gardening program in Summer 2018, which quickly expanded to a full year curriculum.  In Jean’s current position with SLCDA she leads all the South Lansing Urban Garden (SLUG) gardens in education and production of fruits and vegetables.  So needless to say gardening is her passion, and her family holds the key to her heart and soul.

Matt Arends    Social Club Facilitator, Facilitator Assistant

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.

Jennie Brandenburg Employment Specialist

Jennie has over 10 years of experience in the job development field, over 15 years working for non-profits, and 7 years working for various grants through the Michigan Department of Education – Office of Special Education. Jennie graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree with a focus in Community Development and Community Services from Central Michigan University. She has completed the Community Employment Services with an emphasis on Customized Employment training through Griffin-Hammis Associates. She has also completed the Global Career Development Facilitator Training. She has a passion for working with individuals with disabilities and assisting individuals in finding employment. Jennie lives in Dimondale with her husband, daughter, son, dog and three cats.

Luna Brown Facilitator Assistant

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.


Aileen Hecht Program Analyst

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.


Kaily Kraft Facilitator
Kaily was raised in Williamston, Michigan, and currently lives in Ferndale, Michigan. She received her Bachelor of Science in Human Development and Family Studies from Pennsylvania State University. She will graduate with a Master of Arts in Rehabilitation Counseling from Michigan State University in May of 2023. Kaily has been interning with ASPPIRE since September 2022. In her free time, she enjoys spending time with her friends and family and doing anything outdoors.  

Madison Odenwald Facilitator

Madison is working towards a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology from Michigan State University with a minor in Youth/Society. Madison began with ASPPIRE as an intern in May 2023. In her free time, Madison enjoys going to the beach, hanging out with her two cats, and spending time with friends and family. 


Steve Peak Facilitator

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.

Sarah Sleeper Employment Specialist

Sarah graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree with a focus in Criminal Justice from Baker College. Sarah has worked for non-profit organizations for 2 years. She has experience as a case manager and working with multiple families within the community.  Sarah was born and raised in Michigan (Flushing) and currently resides in East Lansing. In her free time, she enjoys hanging out her husband and two boys, and spending time outside. 


Katie Woerderhoff Participant Coordinator & Employment Specialist

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.


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.