2019-20 BOARD OF DIRECTORS
- Lynne Bekkering
- Sally Dutton
- Rev. Patty Higgins
- Molly Harrison
- Linda Kehr
- George Marsh, Vice-President
- John O’Neal, Treasurer
- Penny Szczechowski
- Julie Tebo
- Gerri VanAntwerp, Executive Director
- Gwen VanDorp, President
- Judy Williams, Secretary
SAY HELLO TO OUR DEDICATED STAFF
GERRI VAN ANTWERP • Executive Director
Gerri joined Benzie Area Christian Neighbors (BACN) as its Volunteer Coordinator in 2009 and was named Executive Director in 2011. While her job entails all the responsibilities as a CEO for a regional nonprofit, she is driven by the principles of a servant leader. Gerri holds a BS in Hospitality and Tourism Management from Grand Valley State University. Having relocated extensively throughout the Midwest, Gerri now resides in Benzie County and has grown to love this place where her children grew up.
Gerri is an active volunteer. She serves on several area Boards and works with a variety of community events. Gerri and husband Mike have five grown children spread throughout Michigan and the U.S. Gerri enjoys high school sports and reading the Sunday newspaper, and walking Bella on our area’s gorgeous trails. She believes being authentic and respectful have been drivers in her career successes.
MICHELLE NORTHRUP • Director of Operations
Michelle has been with BACN since 2012. She is responsible for the logistics of all food and clothing programs, facility maintenance and safety, and administration/customization of the database. Michelle has been involved in the Poverty Reduction Initiative, Grand Vision to Grand Action, Northwest Michigan Food Coalition, and has been instrumental in building BACN’s relationships with Food Rescue and Feeding America. She has presented at both the Traverse City and Michigan Salesforce User Groups.
Michelle lives in Traverse City with her husband Tom, son Hayden and daughter’s dog Nixie. Nixie is living with Michelle while daughter Allie is establishing her career in southern California. Michelle plays flute, is an outdoor enthusiast, and enjoys yoga, good coffee and tea. She also makes excellent pies!
KELLY OTTINGER • Director of Development
Kelly hails from northern Indiana and in 2015 fulfilled a dream of many years by beginning her work at BACN and moving to northern Michigan. She was a correspondent for a variety of newspapers in northern Indiana, before becoming the Grant Writer/Administrator for Boys & Girls Clubs of Elkhart County until making the move to BACN. She enjoys keeping BACN’s Facebook page updated, and writing communication pieces such as the bi-annual newsletters. She finds Benzie County not only beautiful in the landscape, but in the extraordinary generosity of the people living here.
Kelly and husband Jon have three grown children: Abby (Valparaiso, IN), Casey (Denver, CO) and Charlie (St. Petersburg, FL), and two grandchildren, Logan and Liam. She is a member of First Congregational Church in Frankfort, and sings with the Benzie County Community Chorus. She is a hobby soap-maker, and volunteers with Great Lakes Border Collie rescue. She has two dogs of her own (Eljay and Ruby) and has fostered several others.
LIZ HAM • Services Coordinator
BACN’s newest employee, Liz Ham, was born and raised in Lima, the capital of Peru. Liz came to Michigan fourteen years ago through a program called Life and Work Experience to help her become more fluent in English. While working at Crystal Mountain, Liz met her husband. They have two children, Diego who is 12 and Sofia who is 7.
Liz has applied her marketing background in a number of settings. She worked at Crystal Mountain for nine years, has worked part-time with the health department, Telemon, and most recently was employed by Experience Early Learning, a company that creates a preschool curriculum.
Liz brings more than experience and energy to her new position; her understanding of different cultures and native Spanish language are also a huge benefit to BACN. In her words, “I am happy and very proud to represent BACN and be part of this wonderful organization.”
SALLY BOBEK • Volunteer Coordinator
Sally and her family built a home in Benzie County in 1989. It was intended as a vacation retreat, and according to her husband Chris, a retirement home. She wasn’t sure about that, but after retiring and spending three weeks here, never wanted to leave. Sally and Chris sold their downstate home to a son, and moved here permanently (but didn’t exactly retire!).
Sally spent several years as coordinator for a volunteer social organization of over 4,000 members. Prior to that, her work experience included 20+ years in various doctor offices as office manager and medical biller. Chris and Sally have six children, so her multi-tasking skills have been well-documented! Sally first came to BACN as a volunteer who desired to help her community. Her new BACN “family” gave her the desire to leave retirement, and she now works to bring more volunteers to BACN. Sally and Chris live on the shores of the Betsie River, with dogs Princess and Sparky.