MEET OUR TEAM
For all housing and general inquires please contact us or call us at 1-616-414-9209
Our dedicated staff and board of directors are always available to answer any questions you might have about Gracious Grounds.
EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR: LIZ NIENHUIS
OPERATIONS DIRECTOR: ROSE DUNLAP
Rose has been the Operations Director at Gracious Grounds since December of 2019 and is responsible for the direct oversight of the day-to-day operations across all three Gracious Grounds properties, focusing on several key areas; property management, resident life, family liaison, Resident Assistant collaboration, and training along with providing support for the Executive Director for fundraising and event planning.
Prior to joining Gracious grounds, Rose had a 20-year career in radio sales, marketing, and as the Director of Operations for WGHN radio and its two sister stations. Rose provides a wide scope of knowledge in organizational support, event execution, human resources, team training, community outreach, and client retention. Rose has worked alongside numerous non-profit organizations and is active in the Grand Haven Chamber of Commerce.
Rose has lived in Spring Lake for almost 25 years with her husband Harold. They have two children, Aubrey and Eric. In their spare time, Rose and her husband enjoy hunting for antiques and adding to their collection of vinyl records. Rose is also a member of the Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians and attends Pow Wow’s throughout the year with her family and sisters, continuing to honor their Native American traditions and beliefs.
RESIDENT SUPPORT COORDINATOR: CINDY WILHELM
Gracious Grounds welcome Cindy Wilhelm as our new Resident Support Coordinator. Cindy has a heart that aligns with the mission and vision of Gracious Grounds and is already a familiar face to some of our community members through her time spent with Young Adult Services program, attending Penguin Project shows, being a buddy at All-Stars, any engaging with community members at their jobs or volunteer locations.
Cindy has a background in psychology, special education, and social work and has previously co-managed a team of case workers who were tasked with identifying supports that would allow individuals to live independently and connecting them with the resources and care that allowed them to remain in their homes successfully. She has also provided instruction for students in special education programs from Young 5’s through community-based experiences for students up to 26 years of age. She enjoys helping anyone make positive connections and believes we are stronger when we work together to seek out what is possible.
Cindy and Grant, her husband, have lived in various places around the country, but have called West Michigan home for the last sixteen years. They have three children and two dogs. Her passions include having fun with her family, helping people find their potential, and enjoying nature. You can often find her serving at church, and various community organizations, or assisting people to find a way to renew and restore their breath and health through meditative movement.
PROGRAM & VOLUNTEER COORDINATOR: MCKENNA COYNE
McKenna joins Gracious Grounds as a recent graduate of Grand Valley State University as of Spring 2022 with a Bachelor’s degree in Communications & Public and Nonprofit Administration. Having the privilege of being an intern for Gracious Grounds in the Summer of 2021, McKenna is excited to be a part of the community again and step into her role as Program and Volunteer Coordinator.
During her summer internship with Gracious Grounds, McKenna was able to develop a solid understanding of the organization and inner workings of the nonprofit sector overall. With that, she is eager to learn and grow even more in her new role as she steps into the beginning stages of her career. Having two brothers on the Autistic spectrum, McKenna also has a tremendous understanding and passion to help those with disabilities live a purposeful life.
McKenna has lived in Grand Haven with her family and two dogs, Nash and Frankie, for a little over 15 years. In her spare time, she loves spending time with family at their cottage in Northern Michigan.
TOM & JAMIE LANGELER
DESPELDER: TOM & JAMIE LANGELER
We asked Tom and Jamie “how have the residents impacted their lives?”
They shared with us, “daily they remind us to live in the moment; to take the time to appreciate another’s artwork, a song sung while completing a house chore or a dinner thoughtfully prepared by a housemate. They enrich our lives because they are outstanding examples of gratitude, kindness, respect, compassion, grace, and can-do attitude.”
OHIO AVE: SARAH STRENG
LAKESHORE FLATS: LANDEN KOSTER
Hi! I’m Landen! I am so excited to be part of the Gracious Grounds team! As I transition into my new role, I look forward to getting to know everyone that is a part of the Gracious Grounds community! I’ll kick things off with a little bit about myself; I was born and raised in Holland, and as a West Michigan local I have taken full advantage of our beautiful lakeside summers! When the weather cooperates, I enjoy spending time at the beach, hammocking, or having a relaxing day tubing down the Muskegon river. On days when the weather isn’t as cooperative, (aka the approximate 7 months of winter we seem to get around here!) I enjoy staying in for a movie night, playing board games with friends, and the occasional outing for ice skating.
I have worked at Young Adult Services since 2016 and I am very passionate about advocating for accessibility for all people. I love to learn new things and be creative, whether it’s coming up with a new recipe, learning a song on the piano, or taking up a new hobby, I’m ready to try it! I’m excited to learn how I can best serve this community as a resident assistant and I look forward to meeting you all!
LAKESHORE FLATS: BETH CIHACZ
Meet Beth Cihacz. She is a graduate of Kuyper College with a BA in Youth Ministry. She has lived in Grand Haven for 20 years and currently works at Love In Action.
In her free time, Beth loves to craft, enjoys playing board games, reading, and driving around exploring. Beth believes people with unique needs have value and are beautiful. She has been enjoying getting to know Lakeshore Flats Residents and Parents and has been bonding with her fellow Gracious Grounds Resident Assistants. Beth serves Gracious Grounds with great compassion, humor, and creativity!
LAKESHORE FLATS: EMMA RAGAR
Emma moved to “the mitten” in 2012 with her daughter Angela. Emma worked at Ottawa Area Intermediate Young Adult Services Program before taking on her position with Geskus Photography.
While working in the Young Adult Services program, Emma found that she truly enjoyed helping, teaching, and spending time with those that needed it and benefited from it. It’s also where both she and her daughter made many new friendships. Emma has the patience, perspective, and “mama bear” focus that our community members need and is enjoying getting to know all the Gracious Grounds Lakeshore Flats Residents while building new friendships for both herself and her daughter.
PRESIDENT: JEFF TROUPE
Jeff Troupe is currently a Special Education teacher for students with cognitive impairments at Grand Haven High School. He has been helping students become academically employable as well as gain the necessary independent living skills to live a life as barrier-free as possible. He is currently in his eleventh year working for Grand Haven High School. Through his career, Jeff has established many partnerships with the business community and Grand Haven Area Public Schools that has allowed students to obtain on the job training experiences and job exploration opportunities that have led to gainful employment.
Jeff was born and raised in Grand Haven with loving parents who instilled a passion in Jeff for community service. Jeff’s father served as the superintendent of the Ottawa Area Intermediate School District and served on numerous boards and committees in the community. Jeff hopes to honor his fathers legacy by continuing to serve similar roles. Recently, Jeff was honored to have the opportunity to serve on the Reimagine Project committee. Jeff focused on ensuring accessibility for students with special needs in the design of the new playground. “It has been an exciting opportunity to bring my skills as a special education teacher and advocate for individuals with special needs to this project” ~ Jeff
Curently, Jeff and his wife reside in Belmont, Michigan with their three-year-old son. His wife works in the Housing and Homeless Services at the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services. Jeff and his wife remain actively involved in the Grand Haven community and are both very committed to instilling the value of community service into their son just as Jeff’s parents did for him.
VICE PRESIDENT: JENNIFER VANSKIVER
As is the experience with all the members on our Board of Trustees, my heart led me to Gracious Grounds. My heart is named, Claudia Jane. But my ever-confident daughter will be the first to tell you she prefers to be called, CJ! She is almost 17 years old – in fact, her birthday is the same day as our fundraiser this year, April 27! (Lots of reasons to celebrate.) Her journey through life with cognitive disabilities has not been easy or certain. But, she’s charted her own path using an awesome combination of resolute determination and optimism. Her future is bright, and getting even brighter because of the inclusive, forward-thinking vision of Gracious Grounds. I look forward to serving this incredible mission in every way I can for her future, the future of her peer group, and the benefits that our work will bring to our entire community.
As the Chief Communications Officer for North Ottawa Community Health System I hope to initially bring to bear my resources and network from the health care realm, as well as my gifts to help widen the circle of influence and support of Gracious Grounds as we grow to meet increasing need. I wish to thank the Board and Sandy, for the warm welcome I have received. And, I wish to thank YOU, in advance, for your continued dedication to making our community a place we can all call home.
TREASURER: DICK THOMPSON
Dick Thompson joined our Board in 2021 and is excited by the opportunity to share his skills and professional experience to further the mission of Gracious Grounds.
Dick graduated from Miami University with a degree in education. He pursued a career in the hospitality industry at various hotels in Ohio, Indiana, and Illinois. This ultimately lead him and his wife to Grand Rapids. In 2000, Dick left the hospitality industry for an opportunity in senior housing. He was introduced to the wonderful community members of Gracious Grounds while working in Grand Haven for Heritage Property Management. Following his retirement, he was approached by the Gracious Grounds Board of Directors about his interest in utilizing his professional experience as a part of our Board. In addition to serving on this Board, Dick is also a lead usher at St. Robert of Newminster and works as a consultant to the hospitality industry.
SECRETARY: GEORGE GARDNER
A lifelong resident of the Grand Haven area, George and his wife, Jane, live in Spring Lake with their dogs. He remains close with his family, especially his daughters who live in the area. George has been an accountant with De Boer, Baumann & Company since 1986 and provides tremendous insight and experience to our Board.
George was welcomed to the Gracious Grounds Board in 2021 and has previously served on the Board of the Tri-Cities Family YMCA. He has also served as Past President of Spring Lake Rotary and on the Grand Haven Main Street DDA Recruitment & Retention Committee.
MEMBER: GAY COLE
MEMBER: LAUREN GOWMAN
Lauren Gowman is a bright and knowledgeable young woman who grew up in Grand Haven, Michigan. She attended Grand Haven High School, Hope College, and recently graduated with her MBA from Cornerstone University in early 2017.
Currently, Lauren serves as the Director of Operations for the Assisted Living portfolio for Heritage Property Management, which is also her family business. She is one of five current 4th generation family members to work for the company. She started working in the kitchen at age fourteen and worked her way up through various roles. Her great grandfather, Arthur Reenders, stared the business in 1946. Arthur started building single family houses, her grandpa started multifamily housing, and her dad, uncle, and aunt got into senior housing twenty-three years ago. They currently have nine assisted living communities and six independent senior community properties located around the state of Michigan.
Lauren’s relationship with Gracious Grounds started in 2016. In 2016, Sandy Baker reached out to Lauren to see if Heritage Property Management had any employment opportunities for her residents. Through this process, Lauren and Sandy created a bond that would last for years to come. “I immediately fell in love with the organization and what Sandy was providing for the community” Over the years, Lauren has had the Gracious Grounds residents to her house for a summer fire, to her parents’ house for a swim and cook out, and to a Hope College basketball game. Grand Pines Assisted Living currently employs several Gracious Grounds residents and is in walking distance from Gracious Grounds. We can not thank Lauren and her family enough for providing such wonderful opportunities for our residents!
Lauren believes that she can be an asset to Gracious Grounds because her expertise with senior living can be applied to Gracious Grounds. “We both work with vulnerable adults that need a lot of love, compassion and care.” Lauren’s main desire is to help others; therefore, she feels honored to work in her daily job and feels that being a part of the Gracious Grounds board will fill her cup even more. “I can’t wait for this journey, there are big things in store!”
MEMBER: SCOTT LARSEN
Scott and family (wife & 3 children) moved to Spring Lake in 2004. His wife, Trisha, was born and raised in Spring Lake. Their youngest daughter, Rebecca, has been a Gracious Grounds Community member at Ohio Property since Day 1.
He became involved in Gracious Grounds as Rebecca was a student of Sandy Baker’s when the organization began. After starting with Gracious Grounds serving on the Building & Grounds Committee, Scott joined the Board in early 2021
Scott has been in the construction industry for over 30 years and feels this knowledge will be useful as Gracious Grounds moves forward into the future
MEMBER: ERIN LYON
Erin moved to Grand Haven immediately following high school where she quickly made it her home. Erin received her Bachelors and Master’s Degrees from Grand Valley State University and earned her Doctorate of Jurisprudence Degree from Michigan State University. Erin has been the owner of Jumpin’ Java since October of 2016, and she serves as the Corporate Compliance Officer at Sunset Retirement Communities in Jenison, as well as being a member of the Chamber Ambassadors. Erin is very active in the community and gives back as often as possible. She served as a Board Member of the Grand Haven Young Professionals for more than five years where she was the Director of the Salmon Run. She was a member of the Re-Imagination Station Capital Campaign Fundraising Committee and has helped with the Momentum Center Prom for the last two years. Erin is very much looking forward to offering her time and talents to Gracious Grounds.
MEMBER: KATIE RADLEY
Katie resides in Grand Haven with her husband and two children. She has her bachelor’s degree from Michigan State University in Family Community Services. Her original career path had her involved in corporate childcare, but upon learning her youngest son had Autism Spectrum Disorder, she changed her path to help support families similar to her own. Following her involvement with ASWS (Autism Support of West Shore) and serving on the Early Childhood Autism Council for the State of Michigan, Katie and her husband launched the opening of the Shoreline Center in 2015. Having grown from 5 employees serving a handful of kids to now treating over 150 individuals through a staff of 50 employees, Katies feels that the Shoreline Center has accomplished her mission to support local families in need.
Katie is excited to join the Gracious Grounds Board and help to collaborate on ideas such as working to make Gracious Grounds affordable and accessible, as well as how each community member can be an integral part of our surrounding community.
8th ANNUAL GRACIOUS GROUNDS GALA PRESENTED BY SECURITY CREDIT UNION
REGISTER NOW FOR THE 1st ANNUAL GRACIOUS GROUNDS CELEBRITY GOLF OUTING
GRACIOUS GROUNDS WELCOMES NEW RESIDENT SUPPORT STAFF
GRACIOUS GROUNDS ANNOUNCES OPENING OF LAKESHORE FLATS, WELCOMES 25 NEW RESIDENTS
SUPPLIES AND DONATION WISHLIST