our staff

our staff

Christy Buck

Christy Buck

Executive Director, Founder of be nice.

Christy Buck is the Executive Director of the Mental Health Foundation of West Michigan. With more than 33 years of experience in the mental health field, Buck’s passion for transforming and saving lives through mental health education led her to develop two classroom programs, ‘Live, Laugh, Love’ for middle and high school students, and ‘be nice.’ Since 2006, she and her staff have passionately presented to over 200,000 people in West Michigan on mental health awareness, bullying and suicide prevention. Buck regularly delivers speaking engagements to community and business groups on mental health awareness. She is certified in Question Persuade and Refer and Mental Health First Aid, which she has been recognized as one of the top 100 in the country.

Christy serves on the Grandville School Board and is involved with numerous community organizations and coalitions. Most recent honors include 2017 American Red Cross Hometown, 2017 Athena Finalist, 2017 Art Van Charity of Hope Award, 2018 50 Most Influential Women In West Michigan, 2019 Daughters of the American Revolution Women In History and most recently finalist for Brilliance Award Woman of the Year.

Christy enjoys spending time with her family - hubby Tim, and kids - Demetrios, Katerina, Isabella and granddog, Riggins and the community of Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church! She is a proud graduate of Michigan State University.

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Larissa Payton

Larissa Payton

Executive Assistant

Larissa has been working with the Mental Health Foundation since 1999. She graduated from Kendall College of Art and Design in 1997 with a BA in Visual Communications. Larissa, among other things, is the staff liaison with the Board, arranges meetings, takes minutes, and managing corporate files. She triages calls from the community, does graphic design, manages orders and invoicing for be nice. merchandise, and assists with our events.

Larissa and her husband recently bought a camp trailer and enjoy spending time up north at "camp" on the weekends!

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Therran Hines

Therran Hines

Office Assistant

Therran has been both a volunteer and an employee at the Mental Health Foundation of WM. He started with the MHFWM in 2006. Therran studied finance at Michigan State University. His most recent employment, prior to being with the Foundation was in building maintenance (volunteer) with the Food Bank of East Michigan. Therran has been diagnosed with schizoaffective disorder and has had great success with his recovery.

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Kandice Sloop

Kandice Sloop

Program Coordinator

​Kandice works closely with schools on implementing and delivering our Education Programs: be nice. and Live Laugh Love. In addition, she serves as an Instructor for Mental Health First Aid and helps plan the MHF’s Annual Stomp Out Stigma Walk and Shining Through Art Show and Auction. Kandice graduated from Grand Valley State University in 2007 and received her Masters in Social Work from Western Michigan University in 2013. In her free time, she enjoys hanging out with her family, shopping and catching up on her favorite TV shows. Kandice lives in Hudsonville with her husband, Patrick and 2 daughters, Adeline and Blakely.

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Catherine Lanting

Catherine Lanting

Program Coordinator

Catherine (Cat) started at the Foundation as an AmeriCorps member in 2011. She works as a Program Coordinator, orchestrating be nice. in Middle and High Schools, as well as instructing all of the MHF's offered programs including the be nice. Action Plan, Mental Health First Aid, and QPR. Cat is a native Grand Rapidian who graduated from Michigan State University with a BS in Interdisciplinary Studies - Health Studies and is so excited to be educating young people and the community about a topic that she needed information about in her own youth. In her free time, Cat races sailboats, feeds chickens, and hikes the North Country Trail to protect her Mental Health.

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Jessica Jones

Jessica Jones

Program Promotion Coordinator

Jessica started working for the Foundation in 2016. She is responsible for all things communications. She handles the social media accounts along with online content. She also assists in the coordination of Micro and 3rd Party Fundraisers and creates partnerships within the community to promote the be nice. education programs. She is a graduate of Grand Valley State University with a degree in Communications and a background in journalism and news broadcasting. Being outside is her favorite past time whether it's hiking, kayaking, hammocking, going to the beach or camping, and she always has a book she’s reading. She's hiked 365 miles along the Appalachian Trail, trekked deep into the Grand Canyon, topped mountain peaks of the Canadian Rockies, and most recently spent four days traversing the Dolomite Mountains of Italy.

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Kate Meengs

Kate Meengs

Community Program Coordinator

Kate first started teaching for the Foundation back in 2008, and continues to be incredibly passionate about teaching students and community members the importance of mental health. Kate graduated from Western Michigan University with a master’s in social work, and has experience working in hospitals, schools, and is trained in DBT. Currently, Kate delivers be nice. presentations throughout the community and is certified to teach Mental Health First Aid and QPR. In addition, she is writing grants for the MHF. Before Kate’s daughter Joanie was born in 2018, she and her husband Mark hiked thousands of miles on the Pacitic Crest Trail and throughout the US and Europe. Kate continues to love traveling and exploring with her family.

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Hilda Martinez-Gutierrez

Hilda Martinez-Gutierrez

Business Program Coordinator

Hilda began working at the Foundation in the fall of 2018. She is responsible for implementing the be nice. Business and Faith programming by way of assessing the needs and expectations pertaining to mental health education and resources for those sites. She is a graduate of Western Michigan University with degrees in Family Studies and M.A in Counselor Education. Hilda is a Limited Licensed Professional Counselor in the State of Michigan, who is dedicated to community mental health. She enjoys being with her husband Carlos and daughter Ysannia, traveling, decorating, and relaxing at home with good food, good chocolate and a good aroma of her favorite scented candles.

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Jennifer Reynolds

Jennifer Reynolds

Fund Development Director

Jennifer joins the Mental Health Foundation as Development Director bringing 20 years of experience in donor relations and fundraising. Jen’s background includes professional work in the fields of healthcare, social services and higher education philanthropy. At the Mental Health Foundation, Jennifer works to honor community members dedicated to mental health awareness and to connect with others passionate for the cause. Jen is grateful for her husband and two children her keep her laughing on a daily basis. She tries to find time for listening to her favorite podcasts, reading, admiring design blogs, and getting enough sunshine. Jennifer is a proud graduate of Aquinas College where she studied political science.

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Mary Aldrich

Mary Aldrich

Program Finance Coordinator

Mary began working in the mental health environment in 2012 at Network180 as an Accounting Clerk after being a stay at home mom for many years. During those years she volunteered in a variety of ways at her children's school, dance studio and other fundraising events. In 2017, she started at the Foundation as a volunteer organizing apparel. Now, she is responsible for the bookkeeping. She and her husband John have two children, Erin and Steven. She enjoys keeping the Foundation staff supplied in sweets, and chilling by the lake with family and friends and a good book!

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Contact the Mental Health Foundation of West Michigan

349 Division Ave S Grand Rapids, MI 49503


info@benice.org | 616.389.8601

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