The Team

KConnect Backbone Staff

KConnect has a dedicated staff that provides support and key functions for the sustained operation of the collective impact initiative. A backbone support infrastructure is needed to foster the cross-sector communication, alignment, and collaboration required to achieve population-level systems change.

President

Salvador Lopez

Salvador facilitates place-based, cross-sector collaboratives for social transformation. As the President of KConnect, a collective impact organization based out of Grand Rapids, Michigan, he develops system-level strategies to address racial and economic disparity gaps and ultimately improve outcomes for all. Salvador is also an elected Board Trustee for Grand Rapids Community College (GRCC) and the Board Co-Chair for Advocates for Latino Student Advancement in Michigan Education (Alsame). 

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Salvador is influenced by his experiences growing up in Salinas, California, before moving to West Michigan during high school. He understands failure, motivation, and success. His message is simple: “Exposure can change a life.” Salvador is passionate about empowering others, and his personal story of struggle, grit, and perseverance motivates him to positively impact his community. He lives in Grand Rapids with his wife and three children. 

Download Salvador’s Headshot Here 

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Vice President

Mark Woltman

Mark takes complex data and makes it accessible and understandable to a wide-range of audiences. As a systems thinker and analyst, he has a talent for identifying issues and moving groups to practical solutions. He believes that quality data helps illuminate a community’s successes and opportunities and is the foundation needed to solve complex social problems.

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Mark finds inspiration in helping communities, governments and organizations become more responsive to their constituencies through outcome-based problem solving.

Mark has a Bachelor of Arts in Finance from Michigan State University and a Master of Social Work with a concentration in social policy from the University of Michigan. He joined KConnect in 2014 following over 10 years in policy, advocacy and social service in New York City.

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Director of Communications

Katie Hop

Katie is a dedicated advocate for individuals in our community who are most affected by systemic inequities. She is deeply committed to KConnect’s mission and works to further equity by supporting its network and backbone team. As the Director of Communications, Katie plays a key role in highlighting the disparities that children and families face in our area. She tells the stories of community efforts to create more equitable systems and develop strategies that promote justice. Through her work, Katie aims to raise awareness about the systemic changes needed to improve outcomes for everyone.

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Katie has over 15 years of experience working in local nonprofits, including in the areas of basic needs and homelessness. She has a bachelor’s degree in nonprofit leadership and an associate’s degree in early childhood education. She is currently attending Michigan State University to obtain her master’s degree in Strategic Communications with a focus on organizational leadership. 

In her spare time, Katie enjoys being out in nature—either on the beach, hiking through the woods, or camping. She loves exploring Michigan’s beautiful scenery with her blended family and their dog, and she has a special fondness for the Upper Peninsula.

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Director of System Building

Maegan Frierson

Maegan brings a wealth of experience and a robust professional background in working with youth and families. With a diverse career spanning behavioral health, higher education, and the nonprofit sector, she has demonstrated a commitment to fostering equitable outcomes for all.

As the Director of System Building at KConnect, Maegan spearheads the coordination of cross-sector leaders, facilitating collaborative efforts to drive systems change. Through action teams, she guides strategy initiatives aimed at advancing equitable outcomes along the entire continuum from prenatal to career.

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Prior to joining KConnect, Maegan served as the Assistant Director of Admissions at Grand Valley State University, where she played a pivotal role in recruitment efforts, expanding access to post-secondary education for underrepresented youth. Additionally, her partnerships with programs such as Fostering Laker Success and the Oliver Wilson Scholars underscore her dedication to supporting students facing unique challenges, including those who have experienced foster care and homelessness. In addition, her previous nonprofit work in Prescott Valley, AZ, and Sheridan, WY, highlights her commitment to implementing programming and services tailored to the specific needs of the communities they serve.

Maegan remains steadfast in her commitment to advocating for equity and inclusion for marginalized populations through her active engagement in various community initiatives. She lends her expertise and leadership to committees such as the West Michigan Teacher Collaborative, To College Through College Leadership Council, and Experience Grand Rapids’ Diversity Advisory Committee. 

Maegan has a Master’s in Higher Education from Grand Valley State University and a Bachelor of Arts from Western Michigan University. 

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Postdoctoral Fellow

Dr. Shayla Young

Dr. Shayla Young is the student that she serves! As a Grand Rapids native and a Gates Millennium Scholar, Shayla is passionate about increasing postsecondary success for Grand Rapids youth. Her commitment to education and the blessing afforded to her through the Gates Foundation has led Shayla to obtain her terminal degree from Michigan State University in Educational Leadership and Administration in 2020. She graduated from The Ohio State University with a Bachelor of Social Work and a Master of Educational Leadership and Administration from Purdue University. 

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Previously, Shayla served as the Director for the T2C Studio: Grand Rapids Center for College Success, a place-based response established by the To College, Through College Initiative. Shayla has also served as the co-chair for KConnect’s High School to Career Workgroup. At the most recent ELO Network Awards, Shayla received the 2022 Champion for Quality Award for her work with TCTC. Currently, Shayla is an adjunct instructor at Michigan State University, where she advocates for increased support for Grand Rapids Public School graduates attending MSU. Additionally, she is a contributing community partner to the University’s development of a peer review process for an undergraduate studies course. Her growing expertise is rooted in elevating students’ voices and needs, incorporating community perspective into academia, and creating active partnerships with collective responsibility. 

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Executive Assistant & Operations Manager

Stephanie Salamone

With over a decade of experience working in fast-paced office environments, Stephanie is vital to the success of the KConnect backbone team. She ensures that the organization runs smoothly thanks to her organizational skills, attention to detail, and robust knowledge of office management. Stephanie consistently goes above and beyond to fill in the gaps and make the team stronger, thanks to her hard work and dedication.

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Stephanie attended Grand Valley State University and earned a Bachelor of Science in Studio Art. She recently returned to GVSU to complete a certificate program in Data Analytics. She went on to work at North Carolina State University before heading back to GVSU to work in their admissions office. Stephanie most recently worked at Mary Free Bed Rehabilitation Hospital as a Senior Administrative Assistant to the Chief Medical Officer. 

Stephanie lives in Grand Rapids with her husband and two dogs. When she isn’t working, Stephanie and her husband enjoy live music and attend multiple music festivals every year. She has a healthy obsession with plants and has more than 50 in her house (they are slowly making their way to the KConnect office!) She studied interior design for two years, and it’s still something she’s passionate about. 

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Board of Trustees

Jamon Alexander

President & CEO
West Michigan Center for Arts and Technology

Kate Berens

Deputy City Manager
City of Grand Rapids
Andrew Brower

Andrew Brower

Program Officer
W. K. Kellogg Foundation

Krista Flynn

Midwest Regional Executive
PNC Bank

Vanessa Greene

Chief Executive Officer
Grand Rapids African American Health Institute

Jacob Maas

Chief Executive Officer
West Michigan Works

Dr. Brandy Lovelady Mitchell

Deputy Superintendent of Preschool-12 Learning and Leadership
Grand Rapids Public Schools
Kevin Polston

Kevin Polston

Superintendent
Kentwood Public Schools
Diana Sieger

Diana Sieger

President, Retired
Grand Rapids Community Foundation
Stacy Stout

Stacy Stout

Director of Family-Centered Philanthropy
Steelcase Foundation
Randy Thelen

Randy Thelen

President and CEO
The Right Place
Michelle Van Dyke

Michelle Van Dyke

President and CEO
Heart of West Michigan United Way