board of directors

board of directors

Discover more about the people who help guide our organization and bring our mission to life!

board members

Lori Balow, Co-Chair

Katie Ferris, Co-Chair

Christy Buck, President

D. Bradley Gill III, Secretary

John Kotwick, Treasurer

Michael Burdo

Brian Davis, PhD

Terri DeBoer

Cal DeKuiper

Cheri DeVos

Sydney DeVos

Jeff Eardley

Jeff Elhart

Nancy French

Larry Hines

Matt Johnson

Dr. Michael Nanzer

Beverly Ryskamp

Kristen Sinke

Lori Balow

Lori Balow


Atonne Group

Lori Balow is the CEO of the Atonne Group, the parent organization managing a diverse group of family-owned businesses. A 1986 graduate of Central Michigan University, Lori began her career in the residential real estate industry. Upon earning her Michigan real estate broker license in 2005, Lori shifted her focus to commercial real estate sales, property development and property management. Lori accepted her current position as CEO of the Atonne Group in 2010, serving as chairperson of both the Atonne Operating Companies and Family Board of Directors. Lori works closely with other board members to provide assistance and solutions that satisfy the unique demands found within a highly diverse group of companies, while ensuring their corporate cultures and performance match the overall vision and mission of the family. In addition to her responsibilities with Atonne, Lori spearheaded the creation of the Jack and Aletha Goodale Family Charitable Foundation, and currently serves as chairperson.

Lori has been an active supporter of the Mental Health Foundation for many years, having served on various subcommittees prior to joining the Board of Directors in 2018. Lori maintains a strong belief that mental health affects not only our personal lives but also our professional lives, each and every day. Her position with Atonne affords her a unique perspective in support of this belief, and drives her passionate faith in the mission of the Mental Health Foundation. Lori is married and she and her husband Craig enjoy traveling, riding motorcycles, and visiting their three children who are busy creating wonderful lives of their own.

Katie Ferris

Katie Ferris

Office Managing Partner – Tax Services


Katie Ferris is tax office managing partner for BDO West Michigan (Grand Rapids and Kalamazoo). In that role, Katie is responsible for setting and executing strategic direction for the tax practice. She serves clients in multiple industries, including manufacturing, distribution, technology, telecommunications, and construction. Her primary focus has been on federal, state, and international tax planning, consulting, and compliance for closely-held businesses and their owners.

Katie has significant experience with organizational structuring and planning to enhance tax efficiencies. She also assists clients with estate planning, accounting methods, mergers and acquisitions, and Internal Revenue Service (IRS) tax examination services.

I am passionate about supporting the mission of the MHF because it is so wide-reaching and affects each and everyone one of us in different ways. It’s so important to reduce the stigma and be comfortable having open dialogue about mental health – and encouraging others to get help when they need it. It will save lives and I’m incredibly proud to support such an amazing organization.

Christy Buck

Christy Buck

Executive Director, Founder of be nice.

With more than 36 years of experience in the mental health field, Christy’s passion for transforming and saving lives through mental health education led her to develop two mental health and suicide prevention programs - be nice. and be nice.extension (formerly Live Laugh Love).

Since 2006, she and her staff have passionately presented to over 300,000 people in West Michigan on mental health awareness, bullying, and suicide prevention. She has been the keynote speaker at many events and regularly delivers speaking engagements to community and business groups on mental health awareness.

Christy’s determination to make mental health a part of the conversation has led to her involvement with numerous community organizations and coalitions along with becoming a certified instructor for QPR and Mental Health First Aid, for which she has been recognized as one of the Top 100 instructors in the country.

Christy has been awarded wonderful honors for her work including the American Red Cross Hometown Hero Award, 50 Most Influential Women In West Michigan, Daughters of the American Revolution Women In History Award, and was honored as a finalist for the Brilliance Awards Woman of the Year.

Of all of her accomplishments, her family brings her the most joy. She earned the title of yiayia two years ago and now has three beautiful grandchildren, and is the proud mom of Demetrios, Katerina, and Isabella with her hubby Tim.

Christy protects her mental health by dominating in trivia every Wednesday night with her friends and spending time at her second home in Manistee, Michigan. She is a proud graduate of Michigan State University (Go Green!) and is a devoted member of the Greek Orthodox Church.

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Michael Burdo

Michael Burdo

Michael Burdo is passionate about supporting the Mental Health Foundation and the work that has been done and continues to break down barriers to care and encourage others to seek the help they need. He has watched family, friends, and coworkers deal with mental health issues and suicide. He is extremely proud of the Foundation's work as we continue to save lives.

He earned his Bachelor of Arts from The Ohio State University.

Brian Davis, Ph.D.

Brian Davis, Ph.D.

Associate Executive Director for Professional Learning

Michigan Association of Superintendents and Administrators

Brian recently retired as the superintendent of Holland Public Schools. This longtime HPS leader transitioned into a leadership role with the Michigan Association of Superintendents and Administrators (MASA).

Brian will bring with him expertise in Social Emotional Learning, Diversity and Inclusion, and school finances/funding. HPS has been a part of be nice. since 2013.

Terri DeBoer

Terri DeBoer



Terri DeBoer has been a passionate supporter of the Mental Health Foundation for more than 20 years. She began as a volunteer at some of the biggest fundraising events, and joined the Board of Directors in 2008. Terri has served on the Executive team, including 2-terms as Board Chairperson. She was a part of the team that helped create the be nice. Action plan.

Professionally, “changing seasons” would be a great way to describe Terri DeBoer’s career in West Michigan, as the Daybreak meteorologist at WOOD-TV8. She has been bringing viewers their “wake up” and “bus stop” morning weather for nearly three decades.

For the past 10 years, Terri has also been co-host of eightWest, which is a show that keeps viewers informed and entertained.

“The best part of my career as a Storm Team 8 meteorologist is tracking the constant changes in the weather,” Terri said. “Expanding my role to include co-hosting eightWest every weekday has allowed me to tell the great stories about the periods of storminess and sunshine that are a part of everyday life!”

Terri has journeyed through the stages in life, from being pregnant on the air to the marriages of her two oldest children. During the summer of 2018, she became a grandmother. She loves sharing her journey through life by connecting with other moms and grandmothers across West Michigan.

Terri is adjusting to a quieter life as an empty nester after all the juggling that came from raising children, balancing a career and impacting the community.

“I love the challenge of tracking West Michigan’s ever-changing weather, while also enjoying the energetic and informative platform of eightWest.” Terri said. “I am thrilled to be part of a multi-media station that brings viewers essential information… and a little bit of fun!”

Calvin DeKuiper

Calvin DeKuiper

Retired Superintendent

Calvin recently retired as the superintendent of Zeeland Public Schools. Under De Kuiper’s leadership, Zeeland enrollment has increased by over 730 students. He led the district through the passage of a $53.5 million bond proposal in 2015, which addressed security issues, enrollment growth and technology needs. ZPS has been part of be nice. since 2015.

Jeff Elhart

Jeff Elhart

Playground Director II

Elhart Automotive

My personal mission is to use my God-given talents to provide for a loving family unit, operate an exceptional automobile dealership, mentor others, serve others in like interests and to passionately promote mental illness awareness and suicide prevention education throughout communities including K-12 schools, colleges, businesses, churches, veterans, retirement communities and other special interest groups.

Born and raised in Holland, Michigan I met my junior high school sweetheart in 7th grade and have been married to her, my wife Cherie, for 39 years. Graduating from General Motors Institute prepared me for my career. My family provided me the opportunity to follow their hard work and stewardship to the community by following their footsteps in owning and operating our family automobile dealership, Elhart Automotive Campus in Holland, Michigan. After battling depression for a relatively short period of time, my brother and business partner Wayne succumbed to depression by suicide on March 27, 2015. My brother’s written message found 16 months after his death read, “Family and friends, this depression has gotten the best of me. Please don’t blame yourself as it was me. Please help others overcome this illness of depression. God, please use me to help others. Signed Wayne.” It was this event and Wayne’s wishes that formed my life mission today.

Nancy French

Nancy French

Sr. Director of Communications, University Development

Grand Valley State University

Nancy offers the organization more than 35 years of marketing, communications, and board governance experience. She also is a member of the board's marketing committee.

"I believe that mental health is the fundamental issue of our day. My personal experiences with battling depression and anxiety, both myself and in my family, have taught me that education is vital to creating mentally healthy communities.

D. Bradley Gill, III

D. Bradley Gill, III

Wealth Advisor

SkyOak Wealth

Brad graduated from Grand Valley State University where he earned his Bachelor of Business Degree in 2014. Brad lives in Kalamazoo, and when he’s not volunteering with the MHF or coaching clients in his career as a Wealth Advisor, he loves spending time with his wife, Erica, and his dog, Torch. As an avid water sports and snow sports enthusiast, Brad takes every opportunity he gets to spend time on the water, or on the snow, with his family and friends. Brad has always had a passion for mental health awareness and education, especially after his father died by suicide in early 2015. Shortly after his father’s passing, Brad became committed to helping erase the stigma surrounding mental health challenges, and to making sure those who need help know where to find it. On his quest to give back, Brad was introduced to the MHF and is honored to now be a part of its board of directors.

Larry Hines

Larry Hines


Hines Corporation

Larry Hines, President of Hines Corporation, a holding company located in Spring Lake, Michigan, was born and raised in lowa and holds a BS in Business Administration from Drake University. Larry coordinates all activities at Hines Corporation, focusing on operational issues and acquisition strategies and sets the company's long-term strategic focus.

Larry began his career with White Consolidated Industries in several finance positions and has held executive positions with divisions of McGraw Edison Company, including Speed Queen, Bussmann and President of Clarke Floor Machine.

Larry is a visionary who is a charismatic, committed, focused and involved leader. He has always made it clear that being a successful company means giving back to the communities where we conduct business. Larry sets the example by supporting civic, cultural and professional institutions. He has served on the boards of the Muskegon Museum of Art, the Community Foundation for Muskegon County, West Michigan Symphony, and the Mental Health Foundation of West Michigan. In recognition of Larry's outstanding service to these organizations and our community, he was awarded the 2017 Governor's Service Award, the "Lifetime Humanitarian Award."

Larry states, "I am proud to be a Mental Health Foundation Board member. I have seen first-hand the impact mental health issues have on families, friends, employees and the community. I'm determined to do what I can to help promote the organization's mission. I feel we all need to do our part to help those who struggle with these issues by generating a greater level of awareness, communication, and acceptance."

John Kotwick

John Kotwick

Product Manager

Zimmer Biomet

John Kotwick joined the Mental Health Foundation Board in 2018 and strives to live the 'be nice' action plan every day.

John grew up in East Grand Rapids and graduated from The University of Michigan with a degree in mechanical engineering. He moved back home to Grand Rapids after five years working as an engineer in Saudi Arabia and has since returned to East Grand Rapids High School to coach the lacrosse and football teams. Professionally, John works in the medical device industry as a product manager.

Awareness, education, and support of mental health related causes became a very real part of John's life through the diagnosis, ups, downs, and eventual loss of his mother, Marnie Kotwick, to bipolar disorder and suicide in 2017. John cites his mom's compassion and spirit as his primary motivation in supporting the MHF in every way he can.

In addition to his work with the MHF, John is also active with the Movember Foundation (, a worldwide non-profit focused on men's health issues including mental health and suicide prevention. John captains a network of teams under the banner 'Mo Mental Help' each November, or 'Movember', raising awareness and funds for the foundation's projects and research.

In his free time, John enjoys road trips, trail running, and the outdoors.

Beverly Ryskamp

Beverly Ryskamp

Chief Operating Officer


Beverly Ryskamp is the Chief Operating Officer at Network180, the Community Mental Health Authority for Kent County. Ms. Ryskamp joined Network180 in 2011 as the Systems Development Supervisor, becoming Director of Innovation and Development in 2016. During Beverly’s time with Network180, she’s led many practice improvement initiatives including the Network180 Crisis Center project, and Kent County's Behavioral Health Home pilot and system-wide roll out. She has directed the administration of multiple state, federal and private grants in conjunction with system innovations. Prior to joining Network180, Beverly supervised a home-based crisis intervention program and practiced law. Beverly is a licensed clinical social worker and an attorney. She is a graduate of Calvin College, the University of Michigan School of Social Work, and the University of Michigan Law School.

Kristen Sinke, MSN, RN

Kristen Sinke, MSN, RN

Director, Value Analysis

Spectrum Health

Kristen has partnered with MHF since 2018, serving on the Board in 2019. Kristen is a Registered Nurse at Spectrum Health, leading the system’s Value Analysis program. As an RN, Kristen is committed to promoting holistic health and wellness. Both mental health awareness and suicide prevention are personal passions for Kristen; a desire to end the stigma that can often surround these topics is what led her to work with MHF.

Contact the Mental Health Foundation of West Michigan

160 68th St. SW Suite 120
Grand Rapids, MI 49548 | 616.389.8601

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