BIG BROTHERS BIG SISTERS OF NORTHWESTERN MICHIGAN
Big Brothers Big Sisters of Northwestern Michigan provides children facing adversity with strong and enduring, professionally supported one-to-one relationships that change their lives for the better, forever. The organization currently serves children in a 5 county region in Northwestern Michigan including Antrim, Charlevoix, Emmet, Grand Traverse and Kalkaska counties.
Since 1970, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Northwestern Michigan has been bringing smiles to the faces of children by matching them with adult volunteers in fun and rewarding mentoring relationships. The impact it has on children in the program is priceless, and the heartwarming stories we’ve collected from Big and Littles in our program over the years are endless.
Mentoring is a powerful thing. It’s fun, most anyone can be a mentor and it’s life-changing. By simply participating in fun activities together and forming a trusting bond with a child, it can potentially rewrite a child’s future, for the better. However, for as big of an impact that mentoring makes on a child, you’ll be amazed at what it will do for you, too.
Create and support one-to-one mentoring relationships that ignite the power and promise of youth.
All youth achieve their full potential.
Big Brothers Big Sisters is the most well-respected and well-recognized name in youth mentoring – and now we’re proud to share our accountability ratings as well!
- Charity Navigator
- American Institute of PhilanthropyAmerican Institute of Philanthropy
- Independent Charities of AmericaIndependent Charities of America
The Independent Charities Seal of Excellence is awarded to the members of Independent Charities of America and Local Independent Charities of America that have, upon rigorous independent review, been able to certify, document, and demonstrate on an annual basis that they meet the highest standards of public accountability, program effectiveness, and cost effectiveness. These standards include those required by the US Government for inclusion in the Combined Federal Campaign, probably the most exclusive fund drive in the world. Of the 1,000,000 charities operating in the United States today, it is estimated that fewer than 50,000, or 5 percent, meet or exceed these standards, and, of those, fewer than 2,000 have been awarded this Seal.
- Children's Charity of AmericaChildren's Charity of America
Big Brothers Big Sisters is proud to belong to the Children’s Charities of America fundraising consortium! CCA is a nonprofit federation that pre-screens and certifies high quality national charities working to protect and assist children in the U.S. and around the world.
Big Brothers Big Sisters is a proud participant in the Combined Federal Campaign. The mission of the CFC is to promote and support philanthropy through a program that is employee focused, cost–efficient, and effective in providing all federal employees the opportunity to improve the quality of life for all.
- Cecilia ChesneyExecutive DirectorCecilia ChesneyExecutive DirectorA 20+ year resident of Traverse City, Cecilia joined BBBS in late August 2010. Cecilia’s background includes ten years of experience in Communications and Public Relations with the Traverse City Area Public Schools, and most recently in the private sector in Sales and Marketing. “Cecilia’s excellent leadership, strong interpersonal and communication skills, coupled with her past experience makes her a great fit for our organization”, said Tony Anderson, Board President. “I am confident that she will make major contributions to our organization with her ability to build solid, collaborative relationships and respond to changing business and social environments. We’re excited to have her on board”, he said.Since joining the agency, Cecilia has been working with the board and staff in implementing our fund development and marketing plan which was developed in May of 2010. “Greater community awareness of our mission and the work our staff and volunteers do is critical to the success of our program. In order to re-energize our mission, we must work through our fund development and marketing efforts and create the awareness that is necessary for people to see that there is a huge need for mentors and financial support for our programs.” “I am truly honored to be a part of this organization. As the leading agency in our community providing vital one-on-one youth mentoring services, BIGS is uniquely positioned to not only continue providing these services, but to analyze how collaboration with like-minded organizations might benefit our youth and energize our existing program,” said Chesney.
- Krista GoldmanDirector of MentoringKrista GoldmanDirector of Mentoring
Krista Goldman is a Traverse City native and joins the Big Brothers Big Sisters staff after serving the Traverse Symphony Orchestra as its Executive Director for five years. Krista has 25 years of administration experience in the non-profit sector, with leadership experience in the areas of strategic planning, human resources, financial planning, marketing, relationship building, infrastructure strategies and community outreach.
Krista is a volunteer and board member of Child and Family Services of Northwest Michigan and serves on the Board of Directors of Building Bridges with Music, an organization that through music, promotes understanding, tolerance, respect and peace to youth throughout the state of Michigan.
“I am honored to join the staff of Big Brothers Big Sisters and serve its mission of providing children facing adversity with strong and enduring mentor relationships. A child’s well-being is of utmost importance to me. I feel a responsibility to take care of the children who may not have the benefits and blessings I had in my youth. Through our work at Big Brothers Big Sisters, we provide enrichment experiences and opportunities to nourish and encourage a child’s growth. Together, we are shaping the future of our children and community,” says Krista.
Krista has three teenage children and resides in Traverse City with her husband Jeff Goldman.
- Kris HoxieDevelopment CoordinatorKris HoxieDevelopment CoordinatorKris, a native to Northern Michigan, has been a staff member at heart since she began working with Bigs in 2011 assisting in event design and planning. Kris officially became a full time staff member in February 2014. She comes from a background in Sales & Marketing Coordination and as an owner of a local boutique event design and décor business. Kris was drawn to the program from the first moment she met Executive Director, Cecilia Chesney, and heard the stories of the children who have been positively impacted by the program. It has been a lifelong dream of Kris’ to work for a nonprofit and utilize her skills to help grow the vision. She is also a Big Sister in the program and is so blessed to be able to see the difference the program makes from all angles. She says, “I feel so fortunate to work in an environment alongside compassionate and dedicated individuals. Every day we work together to change the lives of children – is the most rewarding, fulfilling and inspirational journey.”
- Alyssa BrightOffice ManagerAlyssa BrightOffice Manager
Alyssa joins the Bigs team providing extensive professional capabilities with emphasis on business leadership, community-outreach, operations and event management experience. With her vast skill set, she will serve as the agency’s liaison to communicate and facilitate cohesion among our program events, support fund development and strengthen program opportunities within the region.
“I feel so fortunate to be part of the Big Brothers Big Sisters organization and cannot express enough the level of fulfillment I have knowing my role is a contributing factor in changing a child’s life for the better.”
Having served as Board Secretary for the DTCA (Downtown Traverse City Association), Alyssa is eager to continue to have a direct impact to help improve the community around her. “I am excited to bring my professional experience and community connections together to build upon community relationships for the Big Brothers Big Sisters Northwestern MI agency.”
- Christie Ward-StrahanSenior Mentoring SpecialistChristie Ward-StrahanSenior Mentoring SpecialistChristie joined the program staff as case manager in 2006. She oversees volunteer recruitment, screening, child enrollment, matching mentors with children, and match support for mentors and families in Grand Traverse, Emmet, and Charlevoix counties.“We have a wonderful mix of mentors and families that are doing great things in the area and I want to be able to give them the support they need to flourish.” Christie says that “having been a Big Sister for 6 years prior to finishing my degree and being hired by the agency as a case manager I know what it takes to be a mentor and I what kind of support they need. I keep this in mind each and every day as I do my work.
- Steve AndrewsMentoring SpecialistSteve AndrewsMentoring SpecialistSteve joins us with previous experience working for Big Brothers Big Sisters of Marquette and Alger counties, where he was a case manager as well as a Big Brother for two years. Steve earned his Bachelor’s degree in Political Science from Central Michigan University. Steve is overseeing volunteer recruitment and match support for our community and school based matches in Grand Traverse and Antrim Counties. "I have always had a passion for youth development. Helping ensure that at-risk kids in our community have access to the support structure they need to thrive and excel is why I come to work each day." When Steve isn’t at work he enjoys playing rugby for the local Men’s club team, the Blues and enjoying Michigan’s great outdoors with his wife and son.
- Jane LeeMentoring SpecialistJane LeeMentoring Specialist
Jane is a Chicago native and joined Bigs as a Mentoring Specialist in December of 2018. She attended Calvin College and earned her Bachelor’s degree in Education with a focus on Elementary Education & Integrated Science. As a Mentoring Specialist, Jane is overseeing volunteer recruitment, child enrollment, screening, and match support for Grand Traverse County. She looks forward to working with the organization utilizing her background in education and expertise with at-risk children in the school system. In her free time, Jane enjoys hiking, being on the water, traveling and painting.
“Looking back on my childhood, I remember individuals that played a significant role in my life. I feel so honored and am excited to be able to work with an organization that believes every child has potential and it is a matter of one adult that can help them realize it.”
- Graham BrinklowMentoring SpecialistGraham BrinklowMentoring Specialist
After growing up in Milan, Michigan, and receiving his BA from Michigan State University, Graham worked for over 25 years with, or on behalf of children, primarily at the Indiana Youth Group and The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis. In his role as a Mentoring Specialist, Graham will provide volunteer recruitment, child enrollment and match support for both community and school-based programs in Grand Traverse County.
Graham is extremely grateful to be back in the social service world as a member of the Bigs’ team. “It is so rewarding to help children and their families recognize their current strengths and abilities. Encouraging and supporting a relationship with a Big Sister or Big Brother allows us to help each child build upon those strengths and flourish,” Graham said.