John Glover, Executive Director
John Glover brings decades of social change management, advocacy, and public health experience to his role as Executive Director at Well House. Most recently, Glover served as director of the Open Door Program at Fort Street Presbyterian Church of Detroit where they serve some of the City’s most vulnerable populations.
“I am excited to join Well House—an organization that boldly challenges the major problem of homelessness and so doggedly pursues its solution with clarity of purpose. ‘The solution to homelessness is housing’ is more than a philosophical framing. It is a declaration that social problems are, by definition, socially constructed; so too are the solutions.”
With a Masters in Urban Policy Analysis and Management, from the Robert J. Milano Graduate School of Management and Urban Policy at the New School University and a Bachelor of Arts with a Concentration in Behavioral and Social Sciences, John self-identifies as a social change agent determined to bring added value to any environment that welcomes his input.
“The answer to homelessness is still housing and that is what we do here.”
Communications and Resource Coordinator
Carla Fernández-Soto started at Well House in March of 2019. She come to Well House with a deep commitment to our planet and our collective liberation and legacy. Carla has worked on a wide range of issues including conservation, immigration advocacy, youth and women’s leadership development, and access to education for immigrant and indigenous youth.
Carla has bachelors of arts from the University of Michigan in Women’s Studies and Latina/o Studies and is a Master Scuba Diver Trainer.
Jean started at Well House in July of 2013. She comes to Well House with a wealth of knowledge and expertise of social services and community support services that are available in Kent County. Jean has a degree in Family Studies from Western Michigan University. Jean is a hard worker, extremely dedicated, and cares deeply for each and every Well House tenant.
David is the Resident Supervisor at our Youth Home. He has always had a passion for mentoring young adults within the Grand Rapids Community which is why he jumped at the opportunity to work for Well House after seeing the advertisement on television.
When David is not mentoring young adults at Well House or through his football program, he works full time at a local factory and enjoys spending time with his family.
Housing Specialist & Outreach Coordinator
Jodi started at Well House as an intern in January 2013 and became a full-time staff member only 4 months later. Jodi has a background in early childhood education and a degree in human development. She brings an incredible amount of high energy, creativity, and passion to the organization.
Board of Directors
Derek DeVries, Well House Board Chair
“We face so many large and difficult problems in our world – with Well House we can actually solve one of them,” according to Derek DeVries. A Director of Digital and Social Strategy at Lambert & Co, Derek views supporting Well House as one of the single most rewarding experiences of his life.
As Well House Board Chair and a digital marketing expert, Derek feels that he provides value to Well House behind the scenes by supporting the organization in strategic conversations and navigating transitions.
“The role of Well House is to provide permanent, affordable housing for a particular segment of the chronically homeless: those who have access to some income but cannot find housing because of addiction/substance abuse issues, criminal records, family structure, or simply being unable to afford market rates. We screen people in (not out).”
Derek is passionate that Well House knows how to address homelessness in Grand Rapids because the House First model works. “Every house we convert into permanent affordable housing gets people off the street for good (over 90% of Well House tenants never return to homelessness). We’re chipping away at that 1,000 number of chronically homeless individuals in Grand Rapids, bit by bit. It’s only a matter of time,” according to Derek. Grand Rapids has an amazing community of nonprofits dedicated to ending homelessness (and its root causes) and he is proud of Well House’s commitment to partnership and collaboration in that work. Further, getting to know the people – the courageous tenants, the amazing staff, the engaged board members, the generous volunteers and donors, and the collaborative community partners- connected to Well House has been tremendously rewarding aspect of his time with the organization.
Fun Fact: Derek along with his wife, Adrienne, are also passionate about working to rescue beagles. They are seasoned shelter dog parents who recently welcomed Rosie and Watson into their family.
Well House Board Member Heather Cronkright is driven by her desire to address, “… the stigma and discomfort that homelessness generates in our cities.” A mortgage and finance professional, Heather’s work helping local families secure housing daily bolsters her belief in the mission and vision of Well House for the Grand Rapids area.
A board member, Heather enjoys seeing people transcend hardship and achieve hope, joy and victory again. Learning and hearing stories of Well House tenants reinforces Heather belief and commitment in the work of this unique organization.
“Well House provides a safe alternative for those experience homelessness. This is vital to our community for many reasons, including the safety and wellbeing of all Grand Rapids residents.”
Possessing a self-described ‘servant heart’, Heather’s work with Well House has had a personal impact and expanded her understanding of homelessness. According to Heather, “The status quo is not enough. We must do more to ensure that we decrease the number of Grand Rapids residents experiencing homelessness.”
Fun Fact: Heather is a musician, model, and aspiring writer.
“Well House makes safe, quality housing a priority as they assist families and individuals experiencing homelessness,“ says Well House Board Member Maren Channer. A retired sales, marketing and design professional, Maren is passionate about creating positive experiences and change in Grand Rapids.
A passionate advocate for the Housing First model, Maren is committed to making, “…more people aware of Well House’s mission and help them understand how the model can help strengthen the community.” A self-described, “get-it done” person, she is committed to the mission of Well House and the Grand Rapids community.
“I was raised to push up my sleeves and get to work if I see something that needs doing. I never shy away from sticking my hands in the dirt if necessary or pouring over data to discover hidden insights.”
Maren looks forward to applying the knowledge and skills she’s developed over 30+ years in the office furniture industry to help Well House navigate changing market conditions.
Fun Fact: Maren learned to drive on an old John Deere Model ‘A’ while growing up on a farm in South Dakota. Her guilty pleasures include pedicures, smoked whitefish, and shoe shopping.
Well House Board Member Brent Geers passionately believes that , “Well House provides a resource – not a service – to the Grand Rapids community.” An attorney by trade, Brent recognizes that vital importance of the housing Well House provides and its ability to multiply the impact of other good works going on in the community.
Leverages his legal training, Brent enjoys analyzing and balancing the needs of all our partners. Well House, according to Brent, is an integral part of our community and his familiarity with with some of the major partner organizations, such as Network 180, and their work helps further its mission.
“For me, the questions really are: 1) do I want to encourage resourcefulness? and 2) do I want to preserve housing and neighborhoods? The answer to both is yes, and so Well House is an easy choice.”
Well House and its board are a voice for our tenants, according to Brent, and one that he hopes that more people in the community could hear. “That person you see hard at work may well be a Well House tenant – thanks to having housing that they can take pride in, people would be amazed.”
Fun fact: Brent is a self-proclaimed ‘computer nerd’ who love building computers.
“In the moment where individuals – real people – lose everything, Well House helps them navigate barriers, open doors, take a breath, and find hope,” according Jenifer Jackson. A technology consultant at VanBelkum Companies, Jenifer is committed to helping those experiencing homelessness in the Grand Rapids community.
As a Well House Board Member, Jenifer is motivated to support and promote the story and mission of Well House.
“The Well House mission is straight to the point and easy to back – Put those experiencing homelessness in houses, a basic foundation to build life.”
Jenifer is passionate about supporting Well House’s work because it is more than the ‘right’ thing to do. According to Jenifer, “We have a social responsibility to our neighbors to not look away, but notice, and to step up…even if only a little.” Further, her commitment is grounded in a desire to find innovative and new strategies for addressing the needs of those experiencing homelessness, “I am committed to do my part to help the Grand Rapids community and will continue to advocate for other residents.”
Fun Fact: Cookies are Jenifer’s arch nemesis and she prides herself on being, “… opitmistic to the Nth degree.”
“Well House offers individuals experiencing homelessness tools to regain their lives through housing, without judgement or pre-conditions,” according to Elsa Kerr. A retired communications and marketing professional, Elsa passionately works to ensure residents have access to the basic need of safe, warm housing.
As a Well House board member, Elsa leverages her project management and organizational skills to promote Well House’s mission, expand community awareness, and develop a network of supporters and volunteers. Her commitment to Well House is bolstered by its holistic approach to homelessness and commitment to the environment.
“Stable housing is a foundation to build independence and Well House helps the most vulnerable with that first, big step”
Elsa believes that Well House futhers its mission by expertly utilizing a strong tool box of core competencies and strategically partnering with others in the community, “For example, there aren’t therapists on staff, the Housing Specialists work with the tenants, in need of counseling services, and connect with other agencies, who have the expertise to help our tenants, when needed.” Well House is a permanent solution, according to Elsa, because people are provided with a safe home and community of people who care, they are respectfully connected to services they need at their own pace.
“Well House plays an important role in Grand Rapids — a community that values each and every one of its residents,” says Sharon Koop, a mortgage lending and insurance professional. Sharon believes that all residents should have good housing that can provide a foundation for the rest of their lives.
As a Well House board member, Sharon is passionate about the city of Grand Rapids and committed to utilizing her professional experience to address the difficulties many face in securing safe, long-term housing.
“The knowledge that someone is no longer experiencing homelessness because of Well House is motivating for me personally and as a resident of Grand Rapids. This is why I became a Board Member. We all have different time and talent obligations. We all have different monetary obligations.”
Well House uses time, talent, and monetary gifts in a very responsible and helpful way, according to Sharon. Additionally, she feels that, “By partnering with Well House, our residents are able to live in a safe place, have pride in having their own rental space, and participate in their communities.” She encourages anyone that values the safety and security of their own living space to consider supporting and learning more about Well House.
“Well House provides a unique source of permanent housing for all individuals experiencing homelessness, including those that need a second or third chance...,” according to Eloise Luyk. As a long-time housing advocate and dedicated volunteer, Eloise aims to leverage lessons learned throughout her career to ensure that all are able to secure the core need of housing.
Eloise is a retired human resources professional who is passionate about deepening her support of and commitment to local housing efforts, as a Well House board member. Much like the employees she supported throughout her career, she believes that everyone deserves support and second chances to be successful, especially, “…those that show a desire or interest to move forward and improve their lives.”
“Housing provides a foundation for their life and it is critical that all people have a place to call home. A place where they feel secure and can be at peace. This allows individuals and families the opportunity to thrive.”
Eloise is excited that her experience, as a board member, will allow her to support and expand the work of Well House through problem solving and developing solutions.
Fun Fact: Eloise loves doing arts and crafts with her great grandson, who is three going on ten. A paper arts enthusiast, she has taught mixed media art Journaling and paintings at Forest Hills Community Center for 3 years.
“Individuals experiencing homelessness in Grand Rapids have been overlooked and marginalized for years,” according to Bryant Mitchell. Armed with real estate expertise, Bryant aims to challenge homelessness in Grand Rapids by amplifying its societal impact and championing solutions.
A Well House board member, Bryant is passionate about the city of Grand Rapids and committed to utilizing his networks and professional expertise – within the housing industry – to assist Well House in the purchase and management of the properties that become permanent homes for the people we serve.
“Providing a home is the basis for reigniting those experiencing homelessness because it gives them a place to be safe and breath peacefully.”
Housing is the primary tool that Well House leverages to address homelessness, according to Bryant. Through his work with Well House, he seeks to reinforce the pivotal roles that Well House plays in combating homelessness in his community. When he is not navigating the real estate market,
Fun Fact: Bryant loves to explore the great outdoors by hunting, fishing, and camping.
“Homelessness is not a failure of the individual, but a failure of the community,” according to Nick Swartz. A Talent Acquisition Manager for Grand Rapids Public Schools by day, Nick is deeply committed to finding and providing housing for neighbors most in need.
As Nick works to find and recruit teachers, and other candidates, to Grand Rapids Public Schools, he has had the opportunity to meet many people with means to help in the community as well as many people in need of help from the community.
“It is not that expensive of an endeavor to provide more accessible housing. Returning our homeless neighbors to productive employment and civic engagement will benefit us all.”
Nick’s deep belief in the Housing First strategy for ending homelessness fuels his desire to raise the awareness of Well House and its mission. “Well House plays an important role in providing a no strings support for the homeless,” according to Nick. There are many organizations doing great work in our community and others, according to Nick; However, there is dignity and respect given when you allow a person in need to take ownership in their transition from homelessness to engaged community member.