Press Release: Access of West Michigan Moves Forward with New Leadership Team

Access of West Michigan Moves Forward with New Leadership Team

This past spring Access of West Michigan launched a new four-person, Co-Executive Director Team. This team is composed of Christina Swiney, Co-Executive Director of Operations; McKenzie VanPatten, Co-Executive Director of Programs; Nikeyia Perkins, Co-Executive Director of Engagement; and Alaina Dobkowski, Co-Executive Director of Advancement.   

Access of West Michigan’s mission is to strengthen and develop wholistic solutions to poverty by cultivating equitable systems through education and collaboration, with the values of collaboration, anti-racism, and shared leadership at the forefront, Access has been utilizing a co-leadership model for six years. In 2016, Emma Garcia and Christina Swiney took on the roles of Co-Executive Directors; their leadership resulted in Access both stabilizing financially and growth through strategic, value centered change. This past Spring Emma Garcia stepped down from her role, a planned transition. She served Access for over twelve years, six of them as a Co-Executive Director. Garcia’s strong vision for shared leadership helped to guide Access into our new organizational structure as she transitioned out of her role. Access Board President, Julie Benson shares, “Emma led with such focus, integrity, and compassion that the preparedness for the organization is in great hands moving forward with a new leadership model. The Access of West Michigan Board are enthusiastic and excited as we look forward to a renewed woman-led Co-Director leadership structure.” 

Beginning the previous fall, the entire Accessstaff team reviewed possibilities for  future leadership structures, which included a continuation of a two-person co-directorship as well as more traditional options for executive leadership.The result was acollective vision forthe next evolution of shared leadership:moving from two co-executive directors to four. The staff also agreed that they had the leadership within, affirming executive leadership roles for Swiney, VanPatten, Perkins, and Dobkowski. This multiracial team brings a diverse and complementary skill set that will lead Access into the future as they do the work to create equitable systems as an organization and with their partners.  

 Alaina Dobkowski shares, “Innovative solutions are needed to address root causes of poverty and equity, and we believe this leadership model will not only further the work of our mission, vision, and values at Access, but we also hope that it will serve as an example to our communityof an equitableorganizational system.We do not pretend these changes will be easy, but we stand ready to continue to do the challenging work of implementing change together.” 

Access of West Michigan addresses root causes of poverty by leading capacity building and systems change for nonprofits, congregations, and other change-making organizations. Access’ three initiatives currently include Poverty Education, Congregation Connections, and Good Food Systems. Learn more about the Staff. Access will be hosting an end of summer event on Tuesday evening, August 30th at the Grant Pavilion at Millennium Park, save the date for this great opportunity to come and meet their new leadership team.

Contact: Alaina Dobkowski, Co-Executive Director of Advancement
Phone: 616-747-0988, Email: 

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