PRESIDENT | Chong-Anna is an experienced non-profit executive, community organizer, and advocate. She is passionate about mission-driven work, building community, and leveraging public and private resources as a force for the greater good.
She has been in top leadership roles as a professional in workforce development, civic engagement, political and non-profit fundraising, but her most treasured role is being champion for fellow survivors. Most recently, she served as the Director of Development for the Michigan State University Museum and worked with survivors to co-curate the award-winning exhibition Finding Our Voice: Sisters Survivors Speak.
Chong-Anna is currently the Executive Director of Michigan Community Action, the statewide association for all of Michigan’s Community Action agencies that make up the largest network of anti-poverty organizations in the state. She served on the Firecracker Foundation’s Development Committee for five years before joining the board in 2019 and assuming the role of President in 2020.
She lives in Lansing with her husband, two children, and two cats.
SECRETARY | 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 PTSDMemoir, 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.
VICE PRESIDENT | 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.
TREASURER | 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.
MEMBERS AT LARGE
Liz Abdnour owns her own law and consulting firm providing legal representation to individual clients, as well as independent investigative services, consultation, and training in K-12, higher education, and workplace discrimination and harassment matters to employers and educational institution clients. Liz’s specialty areas include special education, school discipline, Title IX, disability, discrimination, harassment, and other civil rights issues, as well as family law, housing, and personal protection order matters. Liz previously worked in legal services providing free representation to low income individuals with a specific focus on advocating for survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault, children, and immigrants, and as a university Title IX and civil rights investigator. In her free time, Liz enjoys sleeping, eating, and watching funny cat videos.
Kathleen “Violet Defiant” Livingston
Kathleen Livingston (goes by Violet) 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. Violet works with memory, photographs, scraps of paper, scissors, glue sticks, her body, and her voice. She wears maroon boots, cropped hair, and silver rings. Violet likes loud-mouthed women, unconventional laughter, and anything handmade. There’s a good chance she wants to use your photocopier.
Tim Welch is a doctoral student in Couple and Family Therapy at MSU. He has two bachelor’s degrees (philosophy and psychology) and a master’s degree in Marriage and Family Therapy from Oklahoma State University. He has professional experience working as an elementary teacher in Kansas City Missouri, working in a psychiatric hospital for children and providing in home therapy services for families working towards reunification with their children.
As a therapist Tim has seen the impact sexual violence has on survivors. He has seen how the experience(s) of sexual violence are hard enough, but the shame of secrecy, or sharing your story only to have it shut down are like a second trauma – one that can be prevented with not only access to quality treatments but by believing survivors when they first tell their stories.
Lauren Collier-Spruel, M.A.
Lauren is a Doctoral Candidate and University Enrichment Fellow at Michigan State University pursuing a PhD in Organizational Psychology. She holds two M.A. degrees in Psychology (Michigan State University and Wake Forest University) and earned her B.S. in Psychology and B.A. in English from the College of William and Mary. Her research focuses on diversity and inclusion in the workplace. Specifically, she examines the effectiveness of inclusion initiatives at work and the effects of ineffective ally behavior on individuals in marginalized groups. She serves as a research mentor to undergraduates in the Psychology department and enjoys walking with them on their journey as they become independent researchers. In her free time, she enjoys hanging out with her husband, learning to cook new recipes and writing creatively.
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.
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.
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.
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.