Board of Directors
Oasis Board Member Biographies 2019-2020
- Steve Johnson, CFP: President. Steve co-founded Oasis along with Grace Smith and Lynn Surdock. Steve is a retired Certified Financial Planner® and the owner of Envision Media Group LLC, the production entity of the podcast “Navigating Life As We Know It.” Prior to his retirement in 2015, Steve worked primarily with special needs families helping them plan for their own futures as well as the financial security of their special needs children. In 2015, Steve was appointed to the Michigan Developmental Disabilities Council. Steve and his wife Kerry are the parents of five adult children. Their son, Lliam, has cerebral palsy, autism and epilepsy. In the course of his work with special needs families over the years, Steve identified with several of their heartfelt and persistent concerns. “We all want our children to enjoy a life of choice within a supportive community, surrounded by friends and opportunities for personal growth. It is the Vision and Mission of Oasis Community of West Michigan to help them create such a life.”
- Grace A.M. Smith, R.A., LEED AP: Oasis Vice-President. Grace is a founding member of Oasis Community of West Michigan and currently serves as its Vice-President. She is an architect who brings to the group long term planning and organization skills, an understanding of housing development, and many years of experience as a project manager. Grace serves as President of SEPAC (the Special Education Parent Advisory Committee) for Rockford Public Schools, is a representative to PASE (Parent Advisors for Special Education) for KISD (Kent Intermediate School District), and chairs the Our Treasures Parent Network. Her son has unbalanced genetic translocation and is cognitively impaired. Through Oasis, it is her desire to help lead him to a path of independence and a life of successfully accomplishing the goals he sets for himself.
- Jeanne F Marek, BS,BA: Oasis Treasurer. Jeanne is a member of Oasis Community and currently serves as Treasurer. Her background has been primarily in non-profit accounting and management. She has 3 grown children and 2 grandchildren. Her oldest child and only son, Anthony, was born with cerebral palsy. Anthony is now an adult and is living independently in a barrier free (HUD supported) apartment and working part-time at the Cascade Walmart. As Anthony’s Guardian, Jeanne orchestrates his independent living through a combination of sources. They include Community Living Supports (CLS), an employment coach, a social worker and a DHS paid Home Helper who further supports his independence.
- Ken Soper, M.A., M.Div.: Secretary. Ken is a Certified Career Counselor (National Career Development Association) who has been working in career coaching, counseling and job search training since 1979 including work with the Area Agency on Aging of West Michigan helping persons age 55+ find work. He believes that Michigan’s “talent shortage” can be addressed by breaking down barriers to employment for those with disabilities. Ken’s known for his wide business and non-profit connections in Michigan and has served on the board of a housing ministry on the lakeshore with his church denomination as well as on the board of the Down Syndrome Association of West Michigan, in its early years. Ken has been active in Special Olympics in Barry and Kent Counties since 2003 (basketball and cycling) and co-coordinates a bowling league that integrates those with developmental disabilities with the general public. An avid reader, researcher and networker, he’s developed interest in housing and work settings (particularly use of modified shipping containers in creating strong, scalable structures) that are conducive to creating success for those with developmental disabilities, such as his son (mid 30’s) and his niece (early 20’s).
- Lynn Surdock, P.E.: Membership Chair. Lynn is a founding member of Oasis Community of West Michigan and past Secretary. She is a licensed electrical engineer, partner with WPF Engineering and has been involved in building design since 1995. She is a founding member of the Grand Rapids section of The Society of Women Engineers. Lynn has three daughters; her daughter, Yulia, has mental illness and struggles to control her anger and impulsiveness. The amazing support from other families and a drive to provide housing for all is the passion Lynn brings and receives from Oasis.
- Camille Lieffers: Camille recently retired after working 20 years at Rest Haven Homes. She directed the laundry, housekeeping and maintenance departments. Before that she was a stay at home Mom to her 2 daughters. Laura is married with 3 children. Younger daughter, Alice, was born with NOMID (Neonatal Onset Multisystem Inflammatory Disease). Alice and her family had many visits to University of Michigan’s Mott Hospital. Alice was enrolled in a protocol at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, MD. That lasted 10 years and it was very successful in treating her disease. When Camille’s children were young she was very active in volunteering in their schools. Her goal now is to introduce Alice to more adults her age and find friends to live in a safe, secure, happy home together.
- Alice Lieffers: Alice has been a member of Oasis since early 2014. She was born with a disease called NOMID (Neonatal Onset Multisystem Inflammatory Disease). She has an older sister, Laura who is married with three children. Alice graduated from CBOT (Community Based Occupational Training) in 2011. She has been on the Grand Rapids Eagles Disabled Sports Team since 1995 and is enrolled in the Noorthoek Academy at Grand Rapids Community College. Alice also volunteers at Beer City Dog Biscuits and at the YMCA. She is also looking for roommates who would like to share a house or condo.
- Helayne Sherman, MD, PhD: Helayne is a member of Oasis Community of West Michigan and currently serves as a board member and volunteer coordinator. She is a non-invasive cardiologist who worked for West Michigan Heart and Spectrum Health for 18 years. During that time, she served as Director of the Spectrum Health Women’s Heart Program and Founder and Director of the Spectrum Health Cardio-Oncology Program. She and her husband have three children. Their oldest daughter is disabled. “Disabled adults deserve the same opportunities in life that we want for ourselves and other children. Over the years, I have found it very difficult to identify resources available within our community for disabled adults. I am passionate about my goals for our daughter which include providing her with long-term safe and secure housing options, opportunities to develop friendships, socialization and a sense of community. Oasis Community is a valuable resource for helping to meet our daughter’s needs.”
- Ron Irvine: Ron has been part of Oasis Community since its inception. Since 2014, he has been an independent supports coordinator working with people with developmental disabilities through self determination arrangements based on person (and family) centered life planning. He has served on the board of Genesis Non-profit Housing Corporation, the Institute for Global Education, and Oakdale Neighbors. He has a B.A. degree and a Masters of Management degree from Aquinas College. Since 1981 Ron has been working with people that have significant challenges in life. His career has had a lifelong focus on working with people to remove barriers, create access to equal opportunities, and assist people in discovering and using their gifts, talents, and strengths. Ron is certified as a Global Career Development Facilitator through Ferris State University and as an Employment Training Specialist through Michigan State University. Through a wide variety of work experiences, Ron has assisted in school to adult transition, segregation to integration transition, life coaching and planning, community development, career development, and small business development; with social justice and equality being the underlying foundation.
- Cheryl Warner, BS, CPM: Webmaster. Cheryl is a volunteer for several organizations in the art & disability communities in West Michigan. She helps organize art shows, golf outings, fund raising and just about anything that needs to be done. Cheryl holds a Bachelor of Science in Accounting and was a Certified Purchasing Manager for many years. Currently she assists her son in managing his art business at fine art exhibitions. She is the mom of three adult children as well as a host mom to many exchange students from all over the world.
Ex Officio Members:
- James White, BSBA, MPA: James White joined Cinnaire in October 2007. He is a Disposition Relationship Manager within the Disposition Dept of Cinnaires’ Asset Management Division. James manages the transfer and disposition of Investor partnership interest among numerous types of investment partnerships. Prior to joining the Cinnaire, James worked as a Senior Deputy Director in the Community Development Division of Fannie Mae. In addition, he is an experienced real estate developer and served as Managing Partner of LuDell-White Development. James is also a licensed real estate broker. He has a Bachelor of Business Administration from Davenport University and a Master’s Degree in Public Administration with an emphasis in Urban & Regional Planning from Grand Valley State University. James spent four years as a City of Grand Rapids Planning Commissioner as well as having served as a board member for several organizations and charitable groups. He currently sits on the boards for Habitat for Humanity Kent County and OASIS Community of West Michigan. He is an avid football and boxing fan and enjoys spending quality time with his kids.
- Ann Meldrum, B.S.W: Ann Meldrum is an ex-officio member of the OASIS Community Board of Directors. Ann also serves as the West Region Director within the Home and Community Division for Samaritas. She has worked for the agency since 1995 and is responsible of oversight and direction of specialized licensed adult foster care homes and community living services for the west side of the state. Ann is passionate about serving and helping individuals with disabilities within their communities who need support to gain a stronger voice and accessing community resources.