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Meet Our Board

PoWeR! Book Bags is comprised of a Board of Directors and two Advisory Boards. 

The Governing Board meets monthly. The Advisory Boards meet quarterly. 

Board of Directors


Kara Gregory, Ph.D.

President, Executive Director, and Founder

Ph.D. from Michigan State University in Family and Child Ecology with an emphasis on child development, social-emotional development, literacy, play and early childhood education. 

M.A. Eastern Michigan University in Early Childhood Education

B.S. Central Michigan University in Child Development and Education

Kara co-authored multiple editions of two textbooks: Guiding Children’s Social Development and Learning and Scaffolding Emergent Literacy. She created Playful Literacy and You! (PLaY), an early literacy training program for teachers for the State of Michigan. It was developed in early 2000 and is still in use. Kara taught Child Development and Early Childhood Education courses at Michigan State University and in private and public schools working with infants, toddlers, kindergarten, first graders and college students. She has also worked as an independent education consultant for the Oakland Intermediate School District.

Her volunteering activities in the community include serving as Vice-President of the Suttons Bay-Bingham District Library Board, a member of the Front Street Writers Advisory Board, and the National Writers Series Mentor to Front Street Writers' Writer in Residence.


Karla Gerds


Paralegal in the public interest law firm: Olson Bzdok & Howard

Post Baccalaureate Paralegal Certificate, Oakland University

B.S. Oakland University in History

Karla has a lifelong passion for reading and is PoWeR! Book Bags' official historian. She has contributed her legal understanding to PoWeR! Book Bags since the beginning. She brings a problem-solving energy and a positive attitude to every situation. In addition to keeping the board organized, Karla categorizes all important material relevant to the organization and volunteers at many events.                     


Leslie McInerney


BS degree in Education from Central Michigan University with a major in Child Development and minor in Reading.

Leslie successfully taught school for 28 years, including 15 years in Kindergarten. She owned a private business, directing, and teaching in her preschool, Come Grow With Us. She worked with students in all grades teaching, reading, and tutoring. Leslie maintains all of the financial records, purchasing, and the day to day financial operations. She also handpicks and orders new books for our programs.


Sue Smith

Fund Development and Community Relations 

Retired Attorney, member of the Board of The Refuge (Otsego Shelter Program), as well as a Board Member at Otsego County United Way 

Aimee Lehmann 

Communications and Fundraising 

Author, MPH of Maternal and Child Health, member of the Board of Weave 

After teaching English to children in the Peace Corps in Kenya, and running refugee camps in Southern Sudan, Aimee is now a writer and works in community engagement. 

Penny Campo-Pierce

Volunteer Coordinator

Penny manages PoWeR! Book Bags programs at Grace Episcopal Food Pantry. She runs a tight ship coordinating volunteers at PoWeR! tirelessly. Her volunteers love her! Penny has served with many community non-profit organizations before she fell in love with the mission of PoWeR! Book Bags.


Northern Advisory Board


Antrim, Benzie, Crawford, Charlevoix, Cheboygan, Emmet, Grand Traverse,  Kalkaska, Leelanau, Otsego, Missaukee, Montmorency, Presquelle, and Wexford Counties

  • Dawn Shields - Fundraising Committee, Grant Committee 

  • Gloria Dean - Fundraising Committee, Gratitude Committee

  • Kelly Slater -- Gratitude Committee, Fundraising Committee

  • Mary Woods – Community Sites Deliveries

  • Leigh Fairey – Retired English teacher, librarian, coordinates School Literacy Giveaway for Mancelona schools

  • Anneke Wegman – Tuesday Volunteer Corps, Leelanau Christian Neighbors liaison 

  • Denise Palmer – Social Committee er Site Thursday Boss

  • Kim O'Connor - Benzie County Schools liaison 

  • Kathy Walter – Supervisor for the Immaculate Conception Church Food Pantry & PBB program within the IC pantry, Sewing Coordinator


Southern Advisory Board


Lake, Manistee, Mason, Oceana, and Roscommon Counties

  • Lisa Makowicki – Coordinator of School Literacy Giveaways for Catholic Schools and manages our Foster Care and Salvation Army programs

  • Ed Makowicki –  Coordinator of Ludington Community Outreach and Public Relations 

  • Mykila Althouse – Coordinator of School Literacy Giveaways for Covenant Christian School and Community Events

  • Kathy Bromley- Supervises H.E.L.P, COVE, Catholic Charities Food Pantries and coordinates the monthly work bees

  • Susan Boes – Sewing Coordinator and a member of the Fundraising Committee and Public Relations Committee 

  • Julie Sherlock- Community Relations

All of our Board of Directors and Advisory Board Members are active volunteers in PoWeR! Book Bags, as well as other local non-profit organizations.

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