Board Of Directors

Photograph of Eliot Chaltry

Elliot Chaltry

BarFly, Graphic Designer, Illustrator

Born on the East-side (Port Huron) and transplanted to West-side where he now calls home. While attending Grand Valley State University for a BFA in Illustration, Elliot was given the opportunity to work with the creative minds at BarFly Ventures and helped with all of their artistic needs. Since moving to Grand Rapids in 2009, he has found his partner Zac Sanders, a little house on the north side, and two of the cutest Boston Terrier mixes in the world (which can be proven mathematically).  If he is not working in the studio, you can usually find him downtown at any local coffee shops and music venues on the weekends.

While working on the branding for the Retort, I slowly became more and more involved with the Diatribe beyond the Monday nights. While poetry may not be my Forte, Getting the tribe a graphic facelift with some new branding was. Since moving to Grand Rapids in 2009, I’ve found my partner Zac Sanders, a little house on the north side, and two of the cutest Boston Terrier mixes in the world (which can be proven mathematically).  If I’m not working in the studio, you can usually find me downtown at any local coffee shops and music venues on the weekends.

Sean Duffey

Sean Duffey

Diatribe SecretaryForest Hills Northern High School, Master Educator, Organizer, Concert Master 

Sean Duffie and is a Spanish-Immersion teacher at Forest Hills Northern High School. He coaches a 25-member high-school writing club and slam team that meets weekly and publishes a literary/arts magazine every school year. His experience training as a Louder than a Bomb! national organizer in cemented his passion for injecting intersectionality and youth voices into his teaching and writing. Working side-by-side with students, he helps them become adults who will work to bring the marginalized to the center in whatever realm they work and live in. Outside of teaching and serving the Diatribe Board of Directors, Sean is an adjunct professor of Spanish at Grand Valley State University. 

Sean is nearly finished with his thesis to complete his M.Ed. degree in Spanish Curriculum and Instruction from the Interamerican University of Puerto Rico, where he was fortunate enough to emphasize in 20th century and contemporary Caribbean poetry. This experience has transformed his teaching to emphasize the use of poetry and authentic texts so that students get as minimally filtered of an experience with other histories and cultures as possible. His experience training as a Louder than a Bomb! national organizer in March 2016 cemented his passion for injecting intersectionality into his teaching. Working side-by-side with students, he helps them become adults who will work to bring the marginalized to the center in whatever realm they work and live in.

His interest in joining the Diatribe board of directors stems from his passion for youth voices. In the years he has followed the poets of the Diatribe, and has seen the group transform into an organization whose impacts are felt within not only the poetry/open-mic community, but now within in a number of school communities.

The Diatribe has influenced thousands of students directly and indirectly. Through Sean’s job, he truly understands the positive and permanent impacts the Diatribe has had on students, and as a member of the board of directors, he wants to dedicate himself to facilitating the Diatribe’s mission and continued growth as an organization.

In his free time, Sean sits as concertmaster in the St. Cecilia Adult Orchestra and host bar trivia at the Birch Lodge. He lives with his partner (Eric), his dog (Frank), his cat (Caiaphas), and his best friend (espresso-roast coffee).

Photograph of Brittnie Finkbeiner

Brittnie Finkbeiner

Board President, Co-Chair, Chiropractor

Brit is a movement based chiropractor. Her mission is to contribute to humanity’s deeper embodiment, to re-connect people with their truest self. Brittnie uses her background in mental health and the principles of chiropractic to empower and educate people about their pure, inborn potential.

Brit recognizes the power in inspiring our youth to recognize their own capacity for healing and self expression. She sees the Diatribe playing an important role in creating systematic change within our community. 

Brit grew up in northern Michigan, later cultivating roots in Grand Rapids. She studied Psychology and Women and Gender Studies at Grand Valley State University where she earned her Bachelor’s Degree. She previously served as the program coordinator for Kent County Girls on the Run and as a support counselor for foster and probation youth in San Jose, California. Both rolls encompassed educating and empowering our youth to develop a growth mindset and find a voice true to themselves.

As much as her ginger skin appreciates the Cali sunshine, the summer storms and great lakes hold her heart.  She temporarily resides in Bettendorf, IA, as she attends Palmer College of Chiropractic. Outside of school Brit is striving to master yoga and serves as a youth educator at the local Unitarian Universalist congregation.

After graduation, she plans to join her wife in their Grand Rapids-based clinic, as a Doctor of Chiropractic and wellness consultant. Brit is extremely passionate about making an impact and connecting the GR community. She believes a healthy individual, leads to a healthy community and a healthy community leads to healed humanity. Only through connection, within ourselves and with each other, can we truly heal.  Brit’s mission is to empower people to authentically express themselves by developing life long, self-sustainable habits of mental and physical well-being.  She connects genuinely, as a partner in the health and wellbeing of the people she serves.

In her spare time, Brit uses writing and music as outlets of expression.  She finds balance spending time with her wife and daughter, running, dancing, cooking, and reading.

Photograph of Rachel Gleason

Rachel Gleason

Teacher

Rachel Gleason is a dynamic spoken word artist whose performance style is described as a balance between humor-an understated wit- and gospel/evangelical inspired charisma. Rachel’s poetry has been commissioned by both local and national organizations, published in Chicago magazine “Curbside Splendor” and has been featured on WYCE’s Electric Poetry several times. Raised in a strict fundamentalist church, much of her art stems from the intersection of faith and sexuality.

Her coming out story was highlighted on NPR in a series about identity, acceptance, and forgiveness in West Michigan’s LGBT community. Rachel is also a singer/songwriter with a simplistic style and a unique, powerful voice. She performs stand up comedy and acts in sketches with Grand Rapids’ beloved all female comedy collective, Funny Girls, LLC.  She is also the Director of Education and co-founder at The Diatribe, a non-profit organization in Grand Rapids dedicated to uniting and inspiring the youth through spoken word poetry.

Photograph of Mark Haines

Mark Haines

Treasurer, Cooperative Living Specialist, Seeker Of Common Good

Mark has lived in group housing situations in the Netherlands and Tunisia, and also spent two years living and working with Amish produce farmers in western Pennsylvania. Beyond promoting alternative housing/lifestyle solutions through cooperative housing and homesteading, Mark aims to provide cultural space for those who don’t subscribe to the conventional American Dream, by promoting self-empowerment and seeking to remove stigma around sexuality and drug use. Mark has worked in harm reduction and HIV prevention and is also a member of the Drug Policy Alliance.

Marks enjoys reading classical Arabic, playing euchre, and seeing familiar faces around town.

Mark has lived in group housing situations in the Netherlands and Tunisia, and also spent two years living and working with Amish produce farmers in western Pennsylvania. Beyond promoting alternative housing/lifestyle solutions through cooperative housing and homesteading, Mark aims to provide cultural space for those who don’t subscribe to the conventional American Dream, by promoting self-empowerment and seeking to remove stigma around sexuality and drug use. Mark has worked in harm reduction and HIV prevention and is also a member of the Drug Policy Alliance.

Marks enjoys reading classical Arabic, playing euchre, and seeing familiar faces around town.

Photograph of Ayda Rezian

Ayda Rezaian

Special Assistant Defender

Ayda was born in Tehran, Iran but later moved to Ontario, Canada with her family. Even as a teenager she always knew that she would use her intelligence and love for “debates” to help marginalized individuals in the community by pursuits of law. She eventually went on to study at the University of Windsor where she earned an Honors B.A in Criminology and Sociology before crossing the border to the United States for Law school.

Entering the workforce Ayda became a true justice fighter, working as a litigation attorney for the Western Michigan Cooley Innocence Project and later the State Appellate Defender Office DNA Project, where she reviewed and investigated the Wayne County backlog of rape kits to exonerate those who were wrongfully convicted. When she isn’t off on an “adventure,” you would find Ayda working on a project for her new home or cuddled up with her dog, Coco, surrounded by Caribbean tunes, a home cooked meal prepared by one of her amazing friends.

Photograph of Sharon Vriend-Robinette

Sharon Vriend-Robinette Ph.D.

Inclusion Specialist, Youth Advocate, Parent, Outstanding Human

Sharon is a community leader who works to empower people through education, technology and the arts.  She works for the Information Services Department at Spectrum Health where she collaborates with community partners to build technology programs for K-12 students and she also manages the Information Services internship program.  She’s an active parent in Grand Rapids Public Schools and loves spending time with her family.

Sharon supports the Diatribe because she believes that the skills young people learn through The Diatribe workshops can empower them to impact not only their own lives but also our whole community.

In her research and writing, she explores how art, music, and poetry can empower people and change the world. She is active in the community through professional consulting and volunteering for Grand Rapids Public Schools and Grand Rapids Symphony Youth Choruses.  She enjoys spending time with her family and friends, going on outdoor adventures, and listening to and making music.

Photograph of Jack Woller

Jack Woller

Board Chair, Fountain Street Church, Executive Director

He is a child in a grownups body. He’s also a Partner, Father, and Designer. He believes in The Diatribe and the transformative power of finding your voice. ”

In addition to The Diatribe Board, Jack serves on the Board of the West Michigan Gay Men’s Chorus and the Committee to Honor Cesar E. Chavez. As part of his professional life, Jack speaks at conferences and workshops across the country on topics like Creativity, leadership to nonprofit financial management.

Jack has been married to his wife and partner Andrea for ten years, and together they have two young daughters and a Great Dane. Jack enjoys spending time with his kids, illustration, carpentry, learning, and his custom 1978 Puch Magnum moped.

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Contact/Booking: info@thediatribe.org

We are a 501(c)3 nonprofit organizations.

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Site Design by KCAD students & faculty as part of the EPIC Project.

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Diatribe Logo

Contact/Booking: info@thediatribe.org We are a 501(c)3 nonprofit organizations.

epic + KCAD logo

Site Design by KCAD students & faculty as part of the EPIC Project.

Michigan Council for Arts and Cultural Affairs logo
Lowell Arts Logo