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.

Bob Steinkamp Deputy Director

Bob Steinkamp is a retired special educator in Michigan, who worked for intermediate school districts as a teacher and principal. He also taught special education at Lansing Community College, and co-authored a book and mobile application on Autism Spectrum Disorder. With a colleague, Bob started a social coaching program to help adults with developmental disabilities. Bob has 12 grandchildren, two of whom are on the Autism Spectrum.

Aileen Hecht Financial 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.

Jennie Brandenburg Employment Specialist

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
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.

Lisa Barnett Facilitator

Lisa Barnett is a retired special education teacher who taught in Bellevue for 25 years. She enjoys spending time with her children and vacationing with friends and family. Lisa also enjoys cooking, gardening, and making arts and crafts. She became involved with ASPPIRE through her sister Maria Peak.



Chantal Charron Facilitator

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

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.

Leanne Decker Facilitator

Leanne is retired with over 32 years working in schools. She is a licensed and registered Occupational Therapist. She has worked for Ingham Intermediate School District and Lansing Schools as Itinerant Staff, in Early On, and in a center-based program. She has also worked for CMH, provided home-based Occupational Therapy, and has taught for MSU. Leanne is married to a wonderful man, has 3 children, 2 dogs and one cat. She has a strong faith. Leanne loves warm sunny weather, beaches, and water. She enjoys boating, swimming,  traveling, camping, reading, and time spent with people. She feels life is meant to be fun!

Lena Peak Facilitator

Lena received her Bachelor’s of Science in Psychology from Aquinas College. Lena currently serves as an Employment Specialist Assistant and Facilitator through ASPPIRE. Lena has experience in “helping professions” working with reputable organizations such as Capital Area Michigan Works! and D.A. Blodgett – St. Johns. In her free time, Lena enjoys live music, yoga, and listening to podcasts. Lena will be attending graduate school next fall with goals to attain a career in academia.

Steve Peak Facilitator

Steve Peak has worked as an adaptive physical education teacher for over 30 years. He earned his Master’s degree from Michigan State University and his Bachelor’s degree from North Texas State University. In Steve’s free time, he enjoys restoring his 1959 Shasta travel trailor and driving his 1970s classic Oldsmobile. Steve was the varsity boys and girls soccer coach for Olivet Community Schools, 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.

Max Sturm LLSW  Facilitator

Max currently works as an Elementary School Social Worker for Livingston Educational Service Agency. He graduated with his Master’s degree in Social Work from the University of Michigan, and received his Bachelor’s degree from Grand Valley State University. Max has been with ASPPIRE as a Facilitator since 2017. In his free time, Max is an avid sports fan, and enjoys traveling, music, and spending time with his family and friends.



Katlyn Taylor Facilitator

Katlyn received her Master’s in Rehabilitation Counseling from Michigan State University in Spring of 2018. She is a Certified Rehabilitation Counselor and Limited License Professional Counselor.  Katlyn works at PAR Rehab Services in Lansing as a mental health therapist. She has specialized training and clinical experience in working with persons with disabilities and a special interest in neurodevelopmental and intellectual disabilities.  At ASPPIRE, she is a facilitator for the sexual health group and other social coaching groups. Katlyn lives in Eastside Lansing and enjoys hula hooping, traveling, and snuggling with her cat. 

 Caitlin Thompson Facilitator

Caitlin Thompson will be a graduate from the Rehabilitation Counseling program of MSU in Spring of 2019. Caitlin has worked in a variety of educational settings and for the past 5 years has worked at MSU in Residence Education and Housing Services. Throughout her time at MSU she worked as a site supervisor paired with Project Search and has worked on and supported a variety of other projects including The Wharton Center Sensory Friendly Performances and RAINDS. Currently she works at Peckham Inc as a vocational services specialist for their Business Network and has been working with ASPPIRE for two years.


Justice Wilson-Patrick Facilitator







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.

Madison Sewick

Social Club Facilitator Assistant

Madison is from Norton Shores, Michigan. She currently resides in East Lansing as a student at Michigan State University. She is studying behavioral neuroscience and pharmacology and plans to attend graduate school to further her studies in one of these two fields. In her free time, she enjoys drinking coffee, spending time with friends and family, and reading.

Luna (Nathan) Brown Facilitator Assistant

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

Facilitator Assistants 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.