2019-21 Board Nominees
Posted on: February 6, 2019 | Posted in: News
The candidates for the 2019-2021 Eastown Community Association Board of Directors is listed below. There are 11 candidates for eight open positions including five incumbents running due to the end of their terms.
Please see biographies below for more information about each candidate!
Mike is a software developer and one of the founding members of Rapid Development Group in Grand Rapids. He landed in Grand Rapids after graduating from Illinois State University in 2001. He lends his time to organizing local technology groups and conferences and is especially passionate about creating more diversity in the tech industry. Mike loves being a part of an Eastown community that values diversity and inclusion and seeks to do his part to keep it that way. The accessibility of public transportation allows Mike to take the bus to and from work each day where he catches up on the latest books and podcasts that challenge his understanding of the world we live in. Mike grew up loving the This Old House program. Outside of work Mike’s hobbies revolve around home improvement that focuses on preserving the character of his old Dutch Colonial on Gladstone where he lives with his wife and three kids. Mike’s family enjoys taking walks together to explore all the great parks, restaurants, and stores Eastown has to offer.
Matt moved into Eastown in 2009 with his wife Cristin. They started a family and their children Diego and Coral attend the local school. As a teenager he was drawn to the area by the local businesses and the Eastown Streetfair. He enjoys bike riding, walking to the local businesses, and taking the bus downtown with his family. He is interested in supporting the longstanding traditions that brought him into the community and being a voice of the community.
Shannon Cunningham (Incumbent, President)
Shannon serves as the Director of Marketing and Business Development at Smith Haughey Rice & Roegge, a law firm located in downtown Grand Rapids. She is responsible for new business development, firm branding initiatives, fostering strategic relationships, public relations, and external communications. She also leads all aspects of marketing and business development functions to achieve firm growth, profit, and visibility goals. Shannon graduated from Grand Valley State University in 2007, receiving her Bachelor of Arts in Advertising and Public Relations and obtaining a minor in Spanish. In addition to her position at Smith Haughey, Shannon is a member of the American Marketing Association and the Legal Marketing Association and writes for both The Rapidian and the Eastown Community Association’s Eastown Access. She also sits on the Board of Directors for the Humane Society of West Michigan and is a mentor through Kids Hope USA and Burton Elementary. Outside of work, Shannon can be found strolling or running through Eastown and its surrounding neighborhoods, working on her Eastown fixer-upper or enjoying local Grand Rapids brews and eats. Shannon joined the ECA board in 2013 and currently serves on the ECA’s Access Committee.
Originally from the Lansing area, Dakota and her husband Jeremy moved to Grand Rapids in 2014. After being serial renters throughout the city, Dakota and Jeremy recently purchased a home in Eastown; a neighborhood they had grown to love for its diversity, walkability, and unique character. Dakota is a Real Estate Development Association for Inner City Christian Federation and is a passionate advocate for affordable housing throughout Grand Rapids. Her position at ICCF has allowed her to collaborate with many area non-profits, community leaders, and passionate neighbors on a variety of community issues and opportunities; something she feels truly privileged to do. Outside of her professional life, Dakota loves spending time with her new puppy, trying out new restaurants, and enjoying some of the amazing local music in our city. Community is an important aspect of Dakota’s life and she is excited to positively contribute to her’s as a member of the ECA board.
Marta Johnson-Ebels (Incumbent, Secretary)
After a handful of years renting in Eastown, Marta decided to lay down roots officially with a home purchase in 2009. She was excited to move to a diverse neighborhood with a school right down the street (formerly Sigsbee Elementary), and parks and restaurants within walking distance. While Marta is impressed with so many developments and improvements in Eastown over these past 7 years, she is also concerned about how segregated our city as a whole remains and that Grand Rapids was recently ranked as the worst city economically for African Americans. She would like to develop ways we can address these issues alongside efforts to support the continued (and impressive!) improvement of our local schools, Congress and Campus Elementary. Together with her husband and daughter their family enjoys living alongside the best neighbors one could ask for on Logan street. Marta brings passion and a diverse background in social enterprise, innovative finance, community organizing and environmental policy to the ECA board.
Matt Feyen (Incumbent)
Matt is a longtime Eastown resident. He had the good fortune of growing up in Eastown—way back when Yesterdog and Wolfgang’s were about 1/4 of their current size, and both still allowed smoking! After going out of state for college and doing some international traveling, he returned to Eastown when he was in his mid 20’s and has been here ever since. He lived on the 400 block of Ethel for 8 years, then on Milton Street for about 10, and has now been living on Rosewood with his wife and 2 boys for the last 5 years. Matt is an Eastown landlord and has fixed-up a number of old homes in Eastown. He loves working and living local—his longest commute is about 6 blocks! Matt has B.A. degrees in Political Science, International Affairs, and Spanish. He likes running, sailing, camping, and just spending time with his family.
David Jirousek – (Incumbent, Vice President)
David enjoys giving back to the community as a “go-to” volunteer in Eastown. Serving as a community planning consultant, David works with citizens, boards, and elected officials on planning, zoning, and development related issues throughout the state. In his spare time, you may see him cruising around on a bike, running his dogs, tending to his garden, or representing Eastown United on the Wilcox Park soccer field. David is proud to call Eastown home and has been a resident and ECA volunteer since 2013. David has also served on the Board’s Executive Committee since 2017.
Noah has lived and worked all over but settled down in Grand Rapids in Eastown. His family loves Eastown, especially the walkability and the vibrancy of the people who live here. Noah’s career has been focused on law and education with an underlying passion for helping people in need. He currently provides legal assistance to members of the Grand Rapids community. Noah would like to serve the Eastown neighborhood with a focus on ensuring that the community continues being a diverse and welcoming place. In Noah’s free time he enjoys running, playing Ultimate Frisbee, traveling, watching live music, and spending time with his family.
Kristen started as an Eastown renter during her college years. After completing her BS in Sociology at Grand Valley State University in 2007, Kristen and her husband purchased a home on the southeast side of Grand Rapids. Drawn to the diversity and vibrancy of the Eastown community, they decided to return to Eastown and buy their forever home. They’ve been in their Eastown fixer-upper for a year now. They have enjoyed watching their two boys (5 & 8) play with wonderful new neighbors and enjoy the beautiful green space at Wilcox Park. Kristen’s background in the social services has provided her with experience engaging with local agencies and the community at large. She is passionate about maintaining the diversity, vibrancy, and uniqueness that is such a big part of Eastown’s identity. When not attending school events, she can be found hiking, camping, mountain biking, and drinking local brews at Harmony Brewing Co.
Stacy and her two Great Danes (Hudson and Hamilton) moved to Eastown from Boston in May of 2017 after falling in love with the big orange house on the corner of Lake Dr. and Benjamin. Since then, they have enjoyed working on the fixer-upper as well as sharing the charm of Eastown with family and friends from near and far. Stacy grew up in Saginaw but spent 14 years in Minneapolis and 3 years in Boston before moving back to Michigan finding her forever home in Eastown. She loves the walkability of of the area and enjoys sampling all of the wonderful restaurants and business Eastown has to offer. Stacy works for Bissell as part of the Business Ventures group where she has been tasked to grow Bissell’s business into the pet care space. Stacy enjoys walking her pups, cycling, running, and working on the big orange house. If you see her out in the yard or walking to the dogs, make sure to stop and say hi.
An Eastown resident since 2011, Amanda Sterling is a Grand Valley State University alum, a grants manager for Michigan State University, an amateur photographer, and an avid follower of politics. She began attending the Eastown Streetfair and Bizarre Bazaar well before she ever bought a place in Eastown and always knew this quirky little pocket of Grand Rapids was exactly where she belonged. She is passionate about protecting the environment and would like to see Eastown become an even more bicycle and pedestrian‐friendly part of the city. In the warmer months, you’ve likely seen her riding her blue Schwinn cruiser around the neighborhood in her pith‐style helmet.
Dan Wells (Incumbent)
Dan has been a resident of Eastown since 2005. He moved here from New Mexico with his wife Lynee, and they have lived on Robinson Road since then. Professionally, Dan works to help redevelop Brownfield properties and create great urban places across the state, and has served on the Historic Preservation Commission and Parks and Recreation Advisory Board. He is mainly concerned with enhancing Eastowns already great walkability, and improving amenities and safety for residents who wish to walk, ride bikes and bus.