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.


Salvador Lopez

For over 12 years, Salvador has been a passionate advocate for underrepresented communities in Kent County. As a leader in diversity, equity, and inclusion, he continues to focus on developing system-level strategies to address racial disparity gaps and ultimately improve outcomes. His extensive experience in healthcare, higher education, nonprofit leadership, and collective impact initiatives strongly positions him as the leader of KConnect, Kent County’s Collective Impact backbone organization. His recent work in co-creating the housing system in our community is one example of how Salvador uses his expertise to convene and facilitate cross-sector partners in order to redesign inequitable systems. 


Salvador’s visionary leadership has earned him an appointment to the Grand Rapids Community College Board of Trustees. He also serves as the chair of the board for Advocates for Latino Student Advancement in Michigan Education and previously served as an integral member of the Garfield Park Neighborhood Association. Salvador is a member of the 2021/2022 cohort of Leadership Grand Rapids through the Grand Rapids Chamber of Commerce and continues to serve as a leader in the broader community.

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 has a passion for empowering others and his personal story of struggle, grit, and perseverance motivates him to make a positive impact in his community.

Salvador is proud of the fact that his post-secondary education began at GRCC – a path that culminated in earning a Master of Science in Communication with a concentration in Diversity, Inclusion, and Equity Management from Grand Valley State University. 

Salvador lives in Grand Rapids with his six-year-old twin daughters Isabella and Sofia.

Download Salvador’s Headshot Here 


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.


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.


Director of Communications

Katie Hop

Katie is a fierce advocate for those in our community that are disproportionately impacted by inequitable systems. She is passionate about the work that KConnect does and strives to advance equity by doing her part in supporting the network and backbone team. As Director of Communications, Katie works with partners in the KConnect network to illuminate the inequitable outcomes for children and families in our community. She also tells the story of the network’s emerging strategies through digital and print media, social media, and KConnect’s growing online presence.


Katie has over 12 years of experience working in local nonprofits. Her most recent position before coming to KConnect was working as the Marketing and Public Relations Manager at an organization that provided access to basic needs such as food and utility payment assistance, as well as access to vital services like low-cost therapy and assistance with job placement. She has a bachelor’s degree in nonprofit leadership as well as an associate’s degree in early childhood education. 

Katie lives in Grand Rapids with her ten-year-old son and dog. She can often be found learning more and advocating for LGBTQIA+ rights, access to affordable mental health, and women’s rights. In her spare time, Katie enjoys spending time on the water or curled up on her couch reading a book and listening to music (probably the Hamilton soundtrack.) 


Director of System Building

Maegan Frierson

Maegan has a long history of working with marginalized youth across the country. She has professional experience working in behavioral health, higher education, and in the nonprofit sector. In her role at KConnect, Maegan will be leading systems change within the core workgroups and advancing equitable outcomes across the prenatal to career continuum. 


Maegan was born and raised in Grand Rapids, MI. Prior to KConnect, she served as the Assistant Director of Admissions at Grand Valley State University, where she managed the group visit program providing access to education for underrepresented youth. At GVSU, Maegan partnered with the Fostering Laker Success program, working with admitted students that experienced foster care and/or homelessness. She also partnered with the Oliver Wilson Scholars program, which provides academic, professional, and social support to students. Maegan has a Master’s in Higher Education from Grand Valley State University and a Bachelor of Arts from Western Michigan University. Maegan has also worked in both Prescott Valley, AZ and Sheridan, WY at two nonprofits specializing in providing services to youth and families. 

Maegan currently lives in Kentwood, MI with her husband and three kids. 


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. 


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. 


Executive Assistant & Operations Manager

Stephanie Salamone

With nearly 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 makes the team stronger thanks to her hard work and dedication.


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

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. Stephanie lives in Grand Rapids with her husband and two dogs.


Board of Trustees

Jamon Alexander

President & CEO
West Michigan Center for Arts and Technology
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

Shana Lewis

Vice President, Talent Acquisition
Workforce Development Programs 
Trinity Health

Jacob Maas

West Michigan Works

Dr. Brandy Lovelady Mitchell

Deputy Superintendent of Preschool-12 Learning & Leadership
Grand Rapids Public Schools
Juan Olivarez

Dr. Juan Olivarez

Community Member
Kevin Polston

Kevin Polston

Kentwood Public Schools
Diana Sieger

Diana Sieger

Grand Rapids Community Foundation
Stacy Stout

Stacy Stout

Director of Family-Center Philanthropy
Steelcase Foundation

Randy Thelen

President and CEO
The Right Place
Michelle VanDyke

Michelle Van Dyke

President and CEO
Heart of West Michigan United Way