Claudia Rodgers is a social worker, therapist with a passion for empowering children and families in the face of adversity. A recent graduate from the University of Pittsburgh School of Social Work, Claudia has a specialization in working with trauma affected children and youth. While her focus is of a clinical nature, Claudia remains committed to engaging in community activism; policy and politics and being a crusader for social justice. In her spare time, Claudia enjoys spending time with her family, traveling the world; taking ballet and boot camp classes and snuggling with her Boxer pup, Max. Claudia is excited about the work she will be doing as a Firecracker Foundation board member, and is eager to be a part of the positive change that is sure to take place in the Lansing area.
Kathleen Livingston is a queer femme storyteller and community-based artist / organizer. She has a PhD in Rhetoric & Writing from Michigan State University, and is currently working on a collection of essays on consent in queer culture and communities. She is also the Advocacy committee co-chair and a contemporary circus performer with Violet & Fortuna, Bird’s Eye View Circus, and The Ann Arbor Aviary. Her work explores how people can come to know their own power and use it well. This work often comes out as lyric and narrative essays, acrobatic storytelling, and zines. Kathleen works with memory, photographs, scraps of paper, scissors, glue sticks, her body, and her voice. She wears maroon boots, cropped hair, and silver rings. Katie likes loud-mouthed women, unconventional laughter, and anything handmade. There’s a good chance she wants to use your photocopier.
Tyler Dyke is a grammar and spreadsheet nerd. He pays his bills by working in securities regulation as a financial institution examiner (think stocks and bonds, not security guards). Tyler enjoys volunteering and participating in the community. Currently, he also serves as the treasurer for Michigan Pride, on the board for the Lansing Regional Chamber of Commerce, and is the president of the Grand River Connection. In his free time, he enjoys traveling, home update projects, skydiving, reading, and brunching.
Katie Sova is the Operational Manager at Ulta Beauty. She has been in the makeup industry for 5 years. She loves making women feel beautiful. Katie has been a Fitness Coach through her own family personal training business with her husband Tony Sova for 10 years. As a fitness coach she has helped many people gain a more healthy approach to life. Katie has a back ground in business and marketing, customer service and human resources.Her hobbies include weight training, running, traveling, and creating art with her four kids.
A former teacher, Leah Breen currently serves as the Director of Professional Preparation Services at the Michigan Department of Education where she works diligently to support educators and students. She is a staunch advocate for both women’s and children’s rights and is unabashedly interested in policy and politics. Leah believes that only by educating ourselves and using our voice can we create equity and safety for women and children. In her free time, Leah enjoys spending time with her family, practicing yoga and reading.
Theresa Squires is a Assistant Director at Michigan Disability Rights Coalition and the Her Power Director.
An award-winning activist, Theresa proudly identifies as a woman with multiple invisible disabilities. Theresa is the founder of Her Power! a four day event where teen girls across Michigan challenge media stereotypes/lies and shatter myths about what it means to be a teen girl with a disability. For her work in disability and gender justice she was featured in YES! Magazine as their, “Person we Love” and received an award from Michigan State University’s Center for Gender in Global Context. Theresa currently serves as the Project Director for the Training and Services to End Violence Against Women with Disabilities Grant Program. In her free time she organizes Weaving the Symbolic a feminist and disability reading group. While her training specialties and grant projects vary, ending violence against women and girls is at the core of all she does.
Kathleen Miller is the Program Coordinator of the Capital Area Response Effort (CARE) Program, where she advocates for survivors of domestic violence. Kathleen is a licensed attorney and previously worked at Lakeshore Legal Aid providing civil legal representation to survivors of domestic and sexual violence. She received both her undergraduate and law degree from Michigan State University. Kathleen is a lifelong Michigander who loves euchre, dogs and any activity that involves a camping chair. Lake Michigan is her happy place, and the way to her heart is through an ice cold, fountain Diet Coke.
Herasanna Richards is the Director for the Detroit Restaurant Association. Before, Communication Specialist for bipartisan the political consulting firm, Grassroots Midwest. She has extensive experience with digital and social media campaigns, public relations, coalition building and grassroots organizing.
Along with her communications background, Herasanna has also worked in sexual assault and domestic violence advocacy and organizing with organizations such as V-Day, MSU Sexual Assault Program and other collegiate and community organizations. She also worked as the Program Coordinator for Citizens Alliance on Prisons and Public Spending, overseeing their community outreach and coalition building throughout Michigan. Herasanna attended Michigan State University and earned degrees in Political Science and Communication
Liz Abdnour works as a Senior Institutional Equity Investigator at Michigan State University, where she investigates allegations of Title IX violations, discrimination, and harassment within the MSU community and provides training, resources, and policy guidance on sexual misconduct, relationship violence, and equal opportunity issues. Liz is a licensed attorney and previously worked in legal services for eight years providing free representation to low income individuals with a specific focus on advocating for survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault, children, and immigrants. Liz is a member of the State Bar of Michigan Standing Committee on Domestic Violence. In her free time, Liz enjoys sleeping, eating, and watching funny cat videos.
Emily Dievendorf is an independent political and nonprofit consultant. Prior to consulting Emily served as executive director and lobbyist for Equality Michigan where she advocated for LGBTQ-friendly policies at every level of government. Prior to Equality Michigan, Dievendorf worked in the Michigan House of Representatives as a legislative aide for Democratic state legislator Alexander C. Lipsey of Kalamazoo and as chief of staff to Democratic state representative Andy Coulouris of Saginaw.
Dievendorf is a graduate of the James Madison College at Michigan State University with a degree in social relations. She has been active on numerous campaigns and progressive issues, particularly LGBTQ equality, race relations and equality, women’s rights, and HIV/AIDS. In addition to her service with the Firecracker Foundation, Emily serves as president of the Lansing Association for Human Rights and as the Program Director for the Saginaw Oakland Commercial Association. She was recognized by Crain’s Detroit Business as one of “Ten People to Watch in State Politics” in 2014 and was appointed in 2015 to the Michigan Advisory Committee to the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights.
Apryl is a local author, artist, and scientist. She received her PhD in Neuroscience from Michigan State University where she is currently a Research Associate in the MSU Neuroscience Program. Apryl researches the effects of traumatic stress on the brain, with particular focus on how hormones, sex/gender, and early-life developmental processes influence how individuals respond to trauma. Apryl is the faculty advisor for the MSU chapter of the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) where she works to ensure that all people struggling with mental health issues on her campus receive the resources and respect they need.
Apryl is passionate about educational outreach and institutional policymaking as it pertains to building a community that invests in the holistic healing of those who have survived sexual trauma. She believes in the healing properties of yoga, art, music, and writing as therapeutic modalities for trauma recovery. Apryl’s own story, Fortitude: A PTSD Memoir, was released in 2015 and her art has been featured in ArtPrize. Apryl enjoys practicing yoga, writing and playing music, going to concerts, and making fun of her two dogs, Lady and Bean.
Jennifer works as a Senior Sales Professional with Janssen Pharmaceuticals, Inc. a Johnson & Johnson Company.
Raising two kind hearted, well-rounded scholar athletes brings her great joy. She spends much of her time empowering Allison (16) and Blake (13) to be future leaders through both academic and extra-curricular activities.
Born and raised in the city of Detroit she has spent more than 25 years working and living in the greater Lansing area. She is a graduate of Cass Technical High School and has a bachelor’s degree from Michigan State University. As a proud member of Jack and Jill of America, Inc., Greater Lansing Chapter, MSU Black Alumni Association, Inc. and a volunteer driver for Meals on Wheels, Jennifer is committed to impacting the lives of others positively.
She enjoys traveling with her fiancé, Harold and eating almost any cuisine prepared by someone other than herself.
The Firecracker Foundation is seeking applications from community members interested in serving as board members charged with the oversight of this ambitious 501©3 nonprofit organization.
As a newly-launched grassroots nonprofit, the board of directors operates as a volunteer work force developing programs, policies and procedures that will ensure the sustainability of this invaluable community resource. The Firecracker Foundation provides free, high quality holistic healing services to children that have survived sexual trauma in the tri-county area and their families.
Currently board positions are available for individuals with the following professional experience;
- Legal expertise pertaining to nonprofit business and/or child advocacy law and policy in the state of Michigan.
- Trauma Sensitive Yoga training, practice experience and/or a passion for building therapeutic yoga programs.
- Experience cultivating and training a team of advocates to participate in crisis intervention for children and their families.
- Financial expertise related to nonprofit accounting, best practices and accountability.