Our Co-Executive Director Leadership Team: McKenzie VanPatten, Alaina Dobkowski, Nikeyia Perkins, and Christina Swiney
Our Full Team: Top- McKenzie VanPatten, Manuj Sharma, Christina Swiney, and Jamiela Owens. Bottom- Leila Villa, Nikeyia Perkins, Gratia Lee, and Alaina Dobkowski. Not Pictured: Nancy Veldkamp-Brubaker.

CHRISTINA SWINEY
Co-Executive Director of Operations
christina@accessofwestmichigan.org

Christina joined the Access of West Michigan team as the Senior Caseworker with the congregation network in the fall of 2015.  The following Spring, she moved into the role of Co-Executive Director.  Christina comes to Access with a Bachelor of Social Work degree from Kuyper College and 10+ years of administrative and program leadership in urban ministry. Christina is a follower of the Christian Community Development Association, having worked in member organizations throughout her career. Over the years she has practiced radical welcome and proximity in neighborhood ministry. Christina lives in the Northern Wyoming/ Southwest Grand Rapids area with her husband and four boys, who attend The Potter’s House Christian School and Grand Vally State University. Christina has loved working with the amazing staff at Access, supporting the work of system change to build thriving communities. Outside of work, you can find Christina at many different sporting events connected to her boys’ schools or hosting a bonfire to bring neighbors and friends together.    

NIKI PERKINS
Co-Executive Director of Engagement
niki@accessofwestmichigan.org

Nikeyia has been with Access for the past five years. She began her career as the caseworker and quickly moved up to the roll as Congregation Casework Director, managing program staff along with supporting casework and training needs for congregations. She has been a visionary team member at Access for the past five years. Nikeyia has spearheaded bringing together congregations via geographical networks, creating pods for them to work together and alongside their neighbors for positive change. She meets with outreach teams and church leaders to train them on best practices of benevolence, understanding poverty, as well as antiracism and social justice. Nikeyia sits on the Essential Needs Task Force Energy Committee as well as the Coalition to End Homelessness. She studied Psychology at Cornerstone University and holds 15 years of social work experience, some of which include serving as a Utility Caseworker at The Salvation Army as well as supporting at-risk youth through Bethany Christian Services where she created a respite care program for youth on the weekends. This work led to her passion for creating more equitable and just systems for the community. Other passions that you’ll find Nikeyia advocating for include anti-racism, mental health, self-care, and world peace.  

MCKENZIE JACKSON
Co-Executive Director of Programs
mckenzie@accessofwestmichigan.org
www.linkedin.com/in/mckenziecvanpatten

McKenzie has been a part of Access of West Michigan’s team since 2017. She has called West Michigan home her entire life. McKenzie began at Access in our Good Food Programs, coordinating our vegetable prescription program and becoming the program manager for all Good Food Systems programming, ensuring that all partners were supported in our best practice work. In her current role she supports all Access programs with strategy, vision, and team development. McKenzie serves as strategic support of Access’ board, and specifically the governance team of the board. McKenzie has worked to support Access’ Anti-Racism journey as a co-chair of the Anti-Racism Team. McKenzie was a student athlete at Davenport University, graduating with a Bachelor’s degree in Medical Case Management. She sits on the board of Grow and is a part of their governance committee. McKenzie has a strong network as one of the Urban Core Collective’s Transformational Leadership Program Alumni. She is extremely passionate about wholistic health (mind, body, and spirit), anti-racism, and growing relationships with the beautiful people of this world. In her spare time, you can find her doing something active, loving her friends and family, reading a book, or cooking a delicious meal.    

ALAINA DOBKOWSKI
Co-Executive Director of Advancement
alaina@accessofwestmichigan.org

Alaina joined Access’ team in 2019. But this isn’t her first time at Access, when she was a social work student at Calvin University she worked as an intern in our Congregation Connections program! She has been working in the non-profit sector for over fifteen years with a background in leadership, program development, fundraising, communications, antiracism work, partnership building, and event planning. Currently Alaina also co-chairs the Access Antiracism Team.  Alaina has a Bachelor of Social Work from Calvin University, a Master of Urban Studies from Eastern University, and is currently a Master of Divinity Student at Anabaptist Mennonite Biblical Seminary.  Outside of her work at Access, Alaina co-leads Grand Rapids Mennonite Fellowship and is a member of the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services Children’s Service Agency Antiracism Transformation Team.  Alaina passionately believes that addressing racism is critical to creating a more just and equitable world for youth and families in our community. Alaina loves spending time with her family- baking, enjoying the outdoors, and playing games. She also loves meeting with friends over a good cup of coffee or a delicious meal.    

GRATIA LEE
Good Food Systems Director
gratia@accessofwestmichigan.org

Gratia joined the team in January of 2022.   She looks forward to engaging with the community around shared goals of increased health equity and improved food access.  She is passionate about the environment and sees food as an important entry point to connect people to one another and our planet. She sits on the Essential Needs Task Force Food and Nutrition Coalition in Grand Rapids.  Gratia holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in French from Denison University, and a Master of Science Degree in Environmental Education from Antioch University of New England.  Prior to Access, Gratia worked in the education field for the past fifteen years.  Most recently, she was the Director of Sustainable Agriculture at the Loomis Chaffee School in Windsor, Connecticut, where she also taught environmental science.  Outside of work, Gratia enjoys reading, gardening, cooking, and spending time with her family. 

JAMIELA OWENS
Congregation Caseworker
jamiela@accessofwestmichigan.org

Jamiela joined the Access Congregation Connections team in 2018. She loves working with congregations and community members to provide needed support. Currently Jamiela represents Access in the broader community as a part of the EITC Coalition, Kaufman Institute gatherings, and at the Heartside Agency network. Jamiela has plans to further her education in social work at Grand Rapids Community College. Her past experiences include working with and providing guidance and teaching to children. Jamiela loves to travel, sing, and cook. 

MANUJ SHARMA
Accounting and Business Manager
manuj@accessofwestmichigan.org
linkedin.com/in/manuj-sharma-5621055 

Manuj joined Access’ team in September of 2019 on a part-time basis. He manages the financial and business operations of Access.  He comes to Access by way of Chicago where he worked in the financial services industry, moving back to his hometown of Grand Rapids in late 2017. When he’s not at Access, he advises startups and other entities on growth initiatives; while spending time reading, being outside for jog, hike or golf and in general being a foodie! 

 

LEILA VILLA 
Advancement Manager
leila@accessofwestmichigan.org

Leila Villa joined our team in July 2021. She is excited to expand her knowledge in fundraising, communications, and events with an organization that is continually working to grow alongside community members through innovative solutions. Her previous experience includes working in development at the Boys and Girls Club. When she is not at Access you may find her supporting and planning events at The Goei Center as well as coaching children in cheer. Or, you may find her enjoying a delicious meal with family or friends, as also enjoys being a foodie!

NANCY VELDKAMP-BRUBAKER
Volunteer, Intern, & Work Study Coordinator
nancy@accessofwestmichigan.org

Nancy has been a part of Access of West Michigan since 2015, originally serving as the Program Coordinator for the Nutrition Options for Wellness Program.  She then moved into a Program Manager role with the Access’ Good Food System Team, and now she serves with Access, as the Volunteer, Intern, and Work Study Coordinator.  She is passionate about leading Access in further developing and building a vibrant and engaging Volunteer and Intern Program.  With her background as a registered nurse, health education and coaching, Nancy is passionate about food for health and lifestyle medicine as a root causes approach to health promotion and health equity.  In each of her roles at Access, Nancy has been closely involved with precepting and mentoring interns and volunteers, and is passionate about Access’ opportunity in shaping future leaders and engaging more deeply with community members and our community partners.  Additionally, Nancy has served on Access’ Shared Leadership Team, Retreat Planning Team, and Broad-Based Community Organizing Team. Outside of Access, Nancy enjoys volunteering with the North End Wellness Coalition, spending time her four adult sons and their families, traveling, gardening, cooking new plant recipes, enjoying time with friends, and continuing to find new learning opportunities.