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.

Email Icon
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!

Email IconPhone Icon
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.

Email IconPhone Icon
Catherine Lanting

Catherine Lanting

Program Director

Catherine (Cat) started at the Foundation as an AmeriCorps member in 2011. With her passion for the be nice.action plan, and belief that four simple steps can change someone's hour, their day, and/or their life, she has stepped into the role of Program Director. Seeing its potential and setting goals for be nice.programming to be accessible to any individual is her priority, but instructing all of the MHF's offered programs (including the be nice. action plan to kindergartners through senior citizens, be nice.extension, Mental Health First Aid, and QPR) is still where she finds much joy.

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. She currently resides on the lakeshore, and in her free time, Cat skis, feeds chickens, races sailboats, and hikes the North Country Trail with her family and 3 canines to protect her mental health.

Email IconPhone Icon
Jessica Jones

Jessica Jones

Communications Director

Jessica started working for the Foundation in 2016. She is responsible for all things communications. She manages the website, handles the social media accounts and media presence, writes those jazzy newsletters our subscribers love, and creates compelling content to support the MHF's programs. She also assists in the coordination of the smaller community-curated fundraisers and seeks out community partnerships to promote the be nice. education program. She is a graduate of Grand Valley State University with a degree in communications and a background in journalism and 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, spent four days traversing the Dolomite Mountains of Italy, and most recently hiked her baby boy up to see the 360° view atop Cloud's Rest in Yosemite National Park.

Email IconPhone Icon
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 who 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.

Email IconPhone Icon
Kacie Byard

Kacie Byard

Business Program Coordinator

Kacie started at the Foundation as an intern and is now the full-time Business Program Coordinator! She helps onboard new be nice. Businesses and develops sustainable programming for existing businesses. Whether she is conducting a training, creating a be nice. launch video or facilitating custom training or merchandise for a business, Kacie supports businesses of all kinds with implementing the be nice. program. Her background in program management and business development, along with her passion for mental health in the workplace, led Kacie to the Mental Health Foundation's Business Team. Kacie is a proud graduate of Western Michigan University where she studied public relations and psychology, and she is currently pursuing a graduate degree in industrial and organizational psychology through Adler University. She can usually be found walking her Toy Aussie puppy around town or frequenting the local coffee and ice cream shops. She is a lover of the outdoors and protects her mental health through exercise, reading and journaling.

Email IconPhone Icon
Isabella Buck

Isabella Buck

Program Coordinator

Isabella (Bella) Buck has been involved with the foundation in many capacities, and loves working with the Program Department! As a Program Coordinator, she creates content for be nice. Programming and connects with liaisons throughout the year to ensure they are confident in implementing be nice. School and be nice. Team. A graduate of Aquinas College, she studied English, journalism & communication, and played Women's Soccer and Women's Tennis. Bella protects her mental health by taking long walks, calling friends, enjoying local coffee shops, and playing tennis!

Email IconPhone Icon
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!

Email IconPhone Icon
Rachael Braginton

Rachael Braginton

Program Coordinator

Rachael grew up with the be nice. program and was a part of the be nice. Leadership Group at Grandville High School for four years. She then attended Hope College where she studied business with a background in psychology and neuroscience, and also played Women’s Soccer. As a student-athlete, Rachael had her own struggles with mental health and became a survivor of suicide in 2018. Her personal understanding and passion for mental health awareness and suicide prevention in young athletes is what brought her to a position with the Mental Health Foundation of West Michigan as a Program Coordinator, working with the be nice. School and Team programs. Rachael protects her mental health by playing rec soccer and volleyball, enjoying a good meal with a friend, and playing with her dog Tucker.

Email IconPhone Icon
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.

Email IconPhone Icon

Contact the Mental Health Foundation of West Michigan

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


info@benice.org | 616.389.8601

Download Our 990 Form

Sign Up for the be nice. mailing list

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.