Meet Our Board

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

The Governing Board meets bi-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.

Kara lives in Suttons Bay with her husband and 6 children ages 21 – 7.     

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 lives in Traverse City with her husband and 4 children.

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 lives in Saginaw with her husband and two sons. She maintains all the financial records, purchasing, and the day to day financial operations. She also handpicks and orders new books for our programs.


Nancy Pringle

Fundraising Chair

BBA Adrian College

Certified Public Accountant since 1989

Nancy is a Controller for a privately-held company. She has a love for reading and a passion for serving her community. She and her husband live in Interlochen and have two sons, both serving in the military. She is in charge of our Friendraisers and creating other fundraising campaigns.

Connie Riopelle

Grant Writer

M.A. University of Michigan in Curriculum and Administration

B.S. Eastern Michigan University in Physical Education, Health & Psychology

Connie is the former Director of Jubilee House, Grace Episcopal Church, Traverse City.

Professionally, she taught K through graduate courses in Physical Education and coached for 14 years. She was also the Secondary Principal at Bellaire High School and the TBA Career Tech Center. Connie was also a Grant Writer for her own business, as well as for multiple non-profit organizations. She is always a champion for the underdog and underprivileged, and is passionate about PoWeR! Book Bags as a way to help those in need in our region.


Northern Advisory Board


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

  • Penny Campo-Pierce - Supervisor Grace Episcopal Church Food Pantry PBB program and librarian, Volunteer Coordinator, Community Site Monday Boss

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

  • Gloria Dean - Fundraising Committee, Gratitude Committee, Volunteer Site Tuesday Boss

  • Kelly Slater -- Gratitude Committee, Fundraising Committee

  • Mary Woods – Community Sites Deliveries

  • Leigh Fairey – retired English teacher, librarian, coordinates book give-aways for Mancelona schools

  • Anneke Wegman – Coordinates services for clients at Leelanau Christian Neighbors, Volunteer Site Wednesday Boss

  • Denise Palmer – Co-manager of PoWeR! Book Bags Volunteer Site, Volunteer Site Thursday Boss

  • Kim O'Connor - reading consultant for Benzie County schools, Coordinates school book give-aways for Benzie County Schools

  • Margaret Lott -Co-mangager of PoWeR! Book Bags Volunteer Site, Coordinates school book give-aways for Leelanau County Schools, Volunteer Site Friday Boss

  • Dawn Shields - Fundraising Committee, Grant Writer, Sewing Coordinator


Southern Advisory Board


Lake, Manistee, Mason, Oceana, and Roscommon Counties

  • Lisa Makowicki – coordinates schoolbook giveaways for Catholic Schools and foster care programs and Salvation Army

  • Ed Makowicki – Ludington community outreach and Public Relations Committee

  • Mykila Althouse – coordinates schoolbook giveaways for Covenant Christian School and Community Events,

  • Jacquie Gerould – manages book inventory for the South Board and supervises PBB at Lakeview Food Club, Sr. Center, Coordinates School Book Give-Aways at Ludington Schools

  • Kathy Bromley- Supervises Help, COVE, Catholic Charities Food Pantries, coordinates the monthly work bees

  • Susan Boes – Sewing Coordinator, Fundraising Committee, Public Relations

  • Kerri Wood – Community Event Give-Aways and School Book Give-Aways.

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.