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Tashmica “Firecracker” Torok
Founder & Executive Director

(she, her, hers)

Tashmica Torok is a nationally recognized survivor activist working to end child sexual abuse. She is a powerhouse fundraiser and movement maker who has raised hundreds of thousands of dollars and countless volunteer hours in support of her work.

She is a member of the Just Beginnings Inaugural Cohort, Lansing Area Transformative Justice Collective, MSU’s SANE Advisory Board and Survivor Strong’s Board of Directors. She has trained hundreds of parents, educators, social workers, and other community stakeholders in topics related to child sexual abuse, trauma, militant self-care, and prevention. She is also a published storyteller. Most recently, she is a contributor to Love With Accountability: Digging up the roots of child sexual abuse which is currently available on AK Press.

Tashmica has been awarded the Michigan Jaycees Foundation’s Outstanding Young Michigander Award in 2014, USA Network’s 2015 Characters Unite Award, the 2016 Emerging Leader Award from Sistrum: the Lansing Women’s Chorus, Child Advocate of the Year 2017 by the Lansing Exchange Club, and was the inaugural recipient of the Greater Lansing Inspirational Woman of the Year Award, in 2019.

Her biggest thrill continues to be accomplishing her heart work at The Firecracker Foundation with healing children, teens and families. As the executive director of The Firecracker Foundation, she incites riots of generosity and advocates for the healing of children and families every day. Tashmica is the kind of friend who always encourages you to do more. She’s a published storyteller and a nearly retired roller derby skater. She’s also the mother of three children, wife to a talented tile installer and a behind-the-scenes volunteer.

Carolyn Abide
Operations Manager

(she, her, hers)

Carolyn is the face behind the scenes here at The Firecracker Foundation. Her office magic keeps everything from paychecks to parties to pens in good supply.

With an educational background in Sociology and Anthropology Carolyn went on to spend 15 years in Chicago working with people struggling with addiction and homelessness. With the knowledge gained from that experience and time spent in the L’Arche community centering the gifts and callings of the core members there, Carolyn brings a deep belief that every life has enormous value and endless potential.

She is mother to two vibrant and strong-willed children, partner to a kind and hard-working soul and lover of any and all kinds of cheese, sweets and fiber art (except Limburger. No-one likes Limburger, not even its mother).

 

Erica Dziedzic
Donor Relations Coordinator

(she, her, hers)

Erica is an anthropologist who brings over ten years of formal experience in research methods, working in collaborative environments, and writing about complex topics for a wide range of audiences. She received her PhD in Anthropology from Michigan State University and transitioned from academia to the Firecracker Foundation in order to focus on survivor advocacy.

Erica brings enthusiasm and passion to her role as Donor Relations Coordinator. She values honest communication, connection, and compassion and uses these principles to sustain and generate support for the kids and families served by the Firecracker Foundation. She believes in the healing power of community and strength in solidarity. She is honored to be a member of this team of talented individuals.

She shares a lively home with her two spirited children, her creative and adventurous husband, and two naughty cats.

Tara Scott
SIS Program Director
Interim Yoga Program Coordinator

(she, her, hers)

Tara Scott is a Lansing native and a graduate of New York University, where she completed her undergraduate studies and later received her M.A. from Tisch School of the Arts. She is an experienced yoga teacher and the founder and facilitator of a Zen-centered contemplative community. For the past 13 years, Tara has bridged her interests in cognition and behavior to the spiritual foundations of mindfulness to curate transformative, sacred space dedicated to embodied self-awareness practices for justice, liberation, and healing.

Her work has included developing teen workshops for 4-H Exploration Days; hosting community-based dialogues on faith, mental health and intersectional identity for MSU’s Project 60/50; presenting healing justice sessions at the Allied Media Conference; leading Quaker and Buddhist communities through her intensive inquiry-and-discernment model for justice; and co-facilitating workshops on health equity and social justice for a local public health organization.

Connie Perkins
Program Director + Lead Midwife

(she, her, hers)

Connie Perkins is a midwife, activist, and herbalist living on a wooded homestead on the ancestral, traditional, and contemporary Lands of the Anishinaabeg – Three Fires Confederacy of Ojibwe, Odawa, and Potawatomi peoples. An avid woods-walker, Connie spent her childhood split between coastal Virginia and the Menominee Indian Reservation in Northern Wisconsin. She moved to Michigan in 2006 when she came to visit a friend and unexpectedly married him. They now live in a dreamy sugarbush with a whole lot of goats, dogs, chickens and wild children.

As a young adult, Connie lived in a commune in northern Chicago where she worked in many different roles at a local homeless shelter. Working and living alongside families who did not have adequate access to resources and support was a catalyst for her passions of birthing advocacy and reproductive justice. It was there that she solidified a desire to serve families during the most vulnerable and powerful times of life.

In 2007, Connie trained with DONA to become a birth doula and began working with street affected and homeless women in the Lansing area.  In 2009, just a few months after her own homebirth, Connie joined a busy midwifery practice as a student midwife. After 4 years and attending nearly 200  births, she completed her training and certified with the National Association of Registered Midwives. Ever the philomath, Connie then completed her BSM at Midwives College of Utah, where she is now Adjunct Faculty. Connie is also the founder and lead midwife of Red Cedar Birth and Botanicals, a local doula and homebirth midwifery program.

Connie’s birth activism includes serving on the Michigan State Licensing Board for Midwives as well as the Michigan Midwives Association Board of Directors, where she is currently the Vice President. She has a deep personal commitment to listening to people and making sure they are respected and trusted. Connie sees her work as a midwife as participation in a radical movement back to honoring our bodies and supporting access to choice.

Ash Rall
AmeriCorp Vista Volunteer + Training Coordinator

(they/them/theirs)

Ash is a first-generation college graduate from South-West Michigan who now calls the Lansing area home. They are thrilled to serve The Firecracker Foundation this year as their Volunteer & Training Coordinator!

Ash earned two B.A.s at Michigan State University majoring in Social Relations & Policy, Anthropology, and Gender Studies and minoring in (Mandarin) Chinese and LGBTQ & Sexuality Studies. Their passion for taking action and building bridges across socioeconomic differences helped them grow into a student leader and an activist. They facilitated workshops for MSU’s Sexual Assault & Relationship Violence Prevention Program for four years and worked for several MSU programs serving International Students. Ash advocated for improved campus policies during meetings with MSU’s (former) President Lou Anna K. Simon and her advisors, a Title IX Investigator, the MSU Office for Institutional Equity, the University Task Force on Sexual Assault and Relationship Violence, and contributed to the 2017 rewriting of MSU’s Relationship Violence & Sexual Misconduct Policy. They also served on the executive boards of several student organizations committed to building relationships interculturally and registered voters as a fellow with the Michigan Student Power Network for the 2018 election.

In their leisure time, Ash enjoys cooking for friends, listening and dancing to live music, drawing, painting with watercolors and reading/watching/listening to stories about this big beautiful world.