Board of Directors
Michael Chandler Student Lyricist Professional Optimist
My name is Michael Christian Chandler, I am a Bi-racial American who’s very proud to be such. I don’t like describing myself, because people change every day and emotions change even quicker. The only aspect about me that is obdurate, is my need to never be stagnant in any way. My aspirations are to be a figurehead for peaceful progression but I don’t know exactly how to execute, besides giving back and building recreational centers in neighborhoods that are deemed “ghetto”. My goals, on the other hand, are mapped out with precision. I want to be recognized for my art, mainly my music. My craft however is writing. I consider myself to be a writer, so almost every day I try to learn at least one new word and further progress my mastery of the pen.
I grew up in Grand Rapids, Michigan. I lived in a small suburban neighborhood with my grandmother. My mom would pick me up occasionally and would bring me all around town. Each time she came to gather me, I would be introduced to something I hadn’t previously known about this world before (due to my young age). Through these random encounters I learned about drug dealers, junkies, gang members and other things I rather not write about. When I look back on these times, I’m almost glad I witnessed them at such an early age, because it gave me context outside of my (at the time) comfortable living conditions.
My grandma raised me to be the respectful young man I am today, I cannot give that credit to anyone else. Even though it was my experiences that crafted my mindset, and my hardships that molded my armor. My grandma was always there for me and never let me slip too far into darkness or fall too deep in my own messes. She is the most important person in my life, also who I owe my life too. On account of her saving it more times than once, by either saying the things she has said that ring through my head before I do certain things. Or by stopping me from overdosing, to taking me to the hospital after I fell off the top of a car going 50mph. She’s more than a role model to me, her empathy and compassion are unrivaled and I can only HOPE and aspire to be such a paradigm of kindness.
Elliot Chaltry Graphic Designer Illustrator
Born on the East side (Port Huron) and transplanted to West side where I now call home. While attending Grand Valley State University for a BFA in Illustration , I was given the opportunity to work with the creative minds at BarFly Ventures and helping with all of their artistic needs. This has ranged from generating HopCat event branding, to custom screen printed bottles at Grand Rapids Brewing Company and even getting to work with the Drunken Retort at Stellas making sure they have a packed house. 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.
Brianna Darin Shining Star with a steady mind The Diatribe’s first senior student
Brianna Darin is a senior at 54th Street Academy and is very strong minded individual who loves to write about anything that she’s passionate about.
Brianna starting writing at a very young age to cope with some struggles she was going through. Now third year student with The Diatribe, has helped continue to do so and share her stories with others that may be going through similar situations.
She may be a very quiet individual and stays to herself but is listening ears whenever someone needs. She cares a lot for people and wants to always help in different possible ways.
She loves to spend time with friends but also her family like her sister, nieces, and nephew. After graduation she would like to attend college to become a nurse and maybe a doctor in the future.
Sean Duffie Diatribe Secretary Forest Hills Norther High School Master Educator Organizer Concert Master
Sean Duffie and is a Spanish-Immersion teacher at Forest Hills Northern High School, where he has had the pleasure of teaching an incredible team of students in all levels of Social Studies as well as AP Spanish Literature over the last five years. In addition to teaching, he coordinates a 25- member writing club that meets weekly and publishes a literary/arts magazine every school year. For 2017, the group has formed a Louder than a Bomb! slam team that will compete at MichiganLTAB in May.
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).
Brittnie Finkbeiner Board Co-Chair Student Future Chiropractic Doctor Activist
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.
Mark Haines Cooperative living specialist Seeker of common ground
Mark has lived in communal housing for several years, most recently serving as board president for the Grand Rapids Alliance of Cooperative Communities. Community living has helped to cultivate Mark’s core values:
- The importance of finding solutions to life’s challenges using the tools and resources around us.
- The belief that people are good by nature.
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.
Tabitha KingmaFreelance Writer Gamer Movie Enthusiast
Tabitha lives and works in Grand Rapids, Michigan as a freelance writer. And, while she likes to knit during the cold months, she enjoys gaming, reading when she can, watches way too many movies (the good, bad, the ugly), loves to laugh, and let the good times roll, ultimately, writing is her passion.
One might easily catch her with an open Word doc and a bourbon on the rocks.
Lauren Ogle Bar Manager Yoga Instructor Green thumb with a big heart
Lauren grew up in a small town in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, where the need for creative outlets runs high. Teaching and mentoring young kids in the UP fostered an urge to volunteer with programs to help better
kids’ lives. After high school she moved to Grand Rapids to attend GRCC and followed up her education at MCTC in Minneapolis, studying landscape design. She currently resides in Chicago with her dog, Batman, where she works as a bar manager and yoga teacher. Her passion to help others and love for teaching yoga led her to become a volunteer yoga and meditation instructor with Kid Millionaire, a non-profit organization dedicated to teaching children in underserved communities about financial stability, helping to equip them with the tools they need to elude poverty. She is currently trying to grow the children’s yoga and meditation program into other non-profits and charter schools as well. Her pastimes include cooking, yoga, book club, and long boarding.
Martel Posey Treasurer The Spoke Folks Bike Specialist Record Collector Foodie
Martel Posey is the Community Outreach Director for The Spoke Folks, a nonprofit bicycle co-op.
Martel plays a vital role in addressing equity within the cycling community as well as actively engaging with disenfranchised communities in his role at The Spoke Folks. Martel is a native of Grand Rapids and has shared his experiences of being a black man in our city by writing articles and being part of public forums and discussions. Martel hopes to one day own a food truck.
He enjoys an amazing record, cooking the best food in town, and riding his bike.
Jennifer Sadler Kelloggsville High School English Teacher PhotographerDiatribe’s first supporter
Jennifer was born in Port Huron, Michigan and raised by her parents who showed her the value of teaching. In 1999, she decided to follow in their footsteps and began the teaching program at Grand Valley State University. After graduating in 2004, she began teaching and coaching. She coached Varsity Boys Soccer and Girls Varsity Soccer as well as Middle School Track and was a member of the Creative Writing Committee for the Kelloggsville District. After coaching many years and obtaining her Master’s degree from Walden University, Jennifer decided to stop coaching to have more time to spend with her 3 children. Missing an additional creative outlet, she began her own photography business which has been successful for the last 8 years. Jennifer is loving her 12th year as an English teacher at Kelloggsville High School.
Jennifer enjoys both reading and writing poetry and uses this passion to fuel her student engagement. She finds value in using writing as therapy and believes it allows students to find oneness among their peers. Jennifer fiercely believes vulnerability is the best way to connect and grow. She is currently networking with different life groups through her home church, Cornerstone Church, in hopes to cultivate relationships between individuals who need a helping hand emotionally, physically, and/or financially.
Jennifer truly loves her job and won the “Favorite Teacher Award” through Barnes and Noble in 2013.
Mark SellersNightlife connoisseur MusicianBarFly
Mark Sellers is the founder and owner of BarFly Ventures, parent company of HopCat, Stella’s Lounge, The Waldron and Grand Rapids Brewing Co. Mark moved back to his hometown of Grand Rapids from Chicago in 2007 following a successful career in finance at GE Capital, Morningstar, and his hedge fund Sellers Capital. Prior to that, he had a spectacularly unsuccessful career as a musician in Boston and Los Angeles.
Mark is a graduate of East Kentwood High School, attended Berklee School of Music in Boston, has a BA in accounting from Michigan State University and an MBA in finance from Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management.
Sharon Vriend-Robinette Ph.D. Inclusion specialist Youth advocate Parent Outstanding Human
Sharon is an independent scholar and consultant who actively works to make West Michigan a more inclusive community. She earned a B.A. in history from Calvin College, and an M.A. and Ph.D. in American culture studies/history from Bowling Green State University, Bowling Green, Ohio. As both a professor and administrator in higher education, she has taught classes in the humanities and social sciences and also led departmental, institutional and regional diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives. 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.
Jack Woller Board Chair Fountain Street ChurchExecutive Director
Born and raised in Grand Rapids Michigan, Jack attended Aquinas College studying Business Administration and Visual Art. He holds certifications in Nonprofit Leadership and Board Leadership from the Dorothy A. Johnson Center for Philanthropy at Grand Valley State University and the DeVos Institute of Arts Management at the University of Maryland. Jack is currently the Executive Director of Fountain Street Church in Grand Rapids Michigan.
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.