MANISTEE — Getting good people in the right position is the key to success for any organization.
The Launch Manistee initiative that supports children with a variety of programs from cradle to career has been fortunate to have people like that in its organization over the past several years. This week Launch Manistee program director Mary Ann Behm announced the addition of two more key players this year.
Hannah Rodriguez is taking over as program director for the Manistee Commitment Scholarship program, while Haley Doyle will be the new Americorps Vista worker for Launch Manistee in a variety of capacities from early childhood up to some of their career access and college opportunities.
The Manistee County Commitment Scholarship Program allows children who might not otherwise get a college education to receive a free West Shore Community College education thanks to local philanthropists Bill and Marty Paine.
The program was put together thanks to the generosity of the Manistee couple who are financially supporting it, and through the coordination of Launch Manistee. It is also a joint effort of West Shore Community College, Manistee County Community Foundation (MCCF) and six local school districts: Manistee, Manistee Catholic, Bear Lake, Onekama, CASMAN and Kaleva Norman Dickson.
Rodriguez is a native of Benzie County, who is very familiar with students from northern Michigan. Behm feels will be a good fit for the position.
“I am a fourth generation Benzie County native and went to Benzie Central High School and the University of Michigan for undergraduate degree and then went to Michigan State University for grad school and have a master’s degree in social work in organization and community development,” Rodriguez said.
Rodriguez moved back to the area in 2014 and worked for the Traverse Bay Advocacy Center where she did all their outreach and education programs serving a six-county region.
“I am very excited about it as I have a little bit of background in community and economic development,” she said. “I actually conducted research in doing my undergraduate work on youth engagement in rural communities and post secondary aspirations. So I am really excited to work with the students and motivate them about what their opportunities are and what they can do beyond high school.”
Rodriguez said she can relate very well to the commitment scholarship program.
“I think it is really exciting for me as well as I am a first generation college student myself,” she said. “I had a wonderful family who were a great support to me, but filling going to college and asking the right questions was something we didn’t know as a family. I think there is a great advantage to go to that community college and get some of that experience.”
Doyle also is no stranger to the Manistee community as she is a graduate of Manistee Catholic Central.
“I went to the University of Michigan for one year and then transferred to Central Michigan University and am currently pursuing my bachelor’s degree as this is my last semester,” she said. “I am majoring in child development.”
Doyle said she feels the Americorps Vista position will help give her a good perspective on what direction she wants to go in the future.
“I like how it is a commitment of one year and like that within that time you are getting a broad range of seeing everything from early childhood through post secondary education,” she said. “This is giving me an opportunity to see what I would like to do and where my interests are located.”
Doyle said knowing the community will reinforce some networking options for the position. She said having those connections will help in this position.
Behm said Doyle is scheduled to work in a variety of capacities in the upcoming year.
“She actually has a formal group of assignments she will be working on in both the areas of childhood piece as well as the post-secondary piece,” said Behm. “She will doing some things with our preschool scholarship program all the way to our Launch clearinghouse scholarship program and helping with the commitment scholarship program as needed.”
Other duties will be working with the chamber on the Career Expo and the new initiative with the USDA grant Launch Manistee just received to build up connections with businesses and schools.
“My goal is to give her exposure to all these areas and to use her skills for bringing that new vision to Launch and the things we should be doing,” Behm said. “Having a recent grad from Manistee County on staff like her is invaluable in helping some of the things we are trying to do with Launch for students.”
Shared with thanks from Manistee News Advocate article by Ken Grabowski, September 6th, 2017.