Joni Thompson, Director & CEO
As co-founder and Executive Director for Angels of Action for the past 6 years, Joni Thompson takes a lead role in the fight to alleviate hunger in Mecosta County. Born and raised just outside of Detroit, Joni has lived with her husband, son Luke and daughter Amanda in Mecosta County since 2009. Joni’s son Andrew lives and works downstate. She brings 20 years of Sales and Marketing experience to her role as Co-founder and Executive Director of Angels of Action. Joni has had a lifelong passion of giving back to children. She was adopted at a early age and believes in helping children. Joni dedicates her time first as a stay-at-home Mom to her son and, second, to overseeing and running the day to day operations of Backpack Blessings. She also volunteers her time at St. Peter’s Lutheran School and teaches 1st and 2nd grade Sunday School at Faith Lutheran Church.
Kayla Kesting, Vice Chairman
Kayla Kesting moved from Chicago to Big Rapids in 2004 when her husband assumed the anesthetist position at the local hospital. The Kesting’s wanted to raise their son and daughter in a small, supportive community. Since moving to Big Rapids, Kayla instantly became an involved member of many community organizations and worked with Wise, Stage M, and ArtWorks; she is currently a member of the General Federation of Woman’s Club Big Rapids. She recently earned her real estate license and is working at Big Rapids Realty. Kayla graduated with a BS degree in dietetics and food management from Illinois State University and served 11 years in the U.S Army Reserves with a combat surgical unit. She has over 10 years of management experience and enjoys working with people from all walks of life. Some of her interests include fitness, painting, interior decorating, home staging, traveling and outdoor activities.
Julie Miller, Treasurer
Part of the Angles of Action founding trio, Julie Miller has wanted to start a non-profit organization that would benefit children and bring awareness to the serious issue of hunger within our community for some time. Her goal is to motivate people to become involved and to realize they can have an impact on a child’s life. A graduate of Central Michigan University with a business degree, she has previously worked in sales and management positions. In addition to her work with Angels of Action, Julie enjoys volunteering at St. Mary’s School and Church along with spending time with her family and friends.
Lori L. Suppes, President
Lori Suppes grew up just north of Reed City and graduated from Pine River High School. She has worked in the financial arena for the last 29 years holding varied positions from teller to new account customer service representative at Reed City State Bank, FMB – Reed City, and Huntington Bank. In 1998, Lori joined Lerner, Csernai and Fath Financial Group where she enjoys working as a securities licensed assistant. Lori learned about Angels of Action when she participated in the Firestarter Center Leadership Journey program in 2013. Always passionate about the causes that help women and children in need, she has volunteered her time to W.I.S.E. Dinner theater silent auction, organized her entire office to “adopt a family” every holiday season since 1999, and has been a member of the Angel Ride committee since 2014. She presently resides in Reed City with her husband, two children, and her two cats. Her interests span the areas of reading, crafting and antiquing.
Katy Bengel, Assistant Director
Katy grew up in Howell, and earned her bachelor’s degree in Business Administration at Western Michigan University. She and her husband raised their three children in Grand Rapids. Over the years, Katy was active in her children’s education and volunteered at the schools in many different capacities. During this time, she also owned and ran a successful embroidery company. She looks forward to combining her love of helping people with her business background to make a difference in the community. Katy enjoys living in Canadian Lakes, spending time with her family, crafting, golfing and paddle boarding.
Anne Gielczyk, Member at Large
Anne Gielczyk grew up in Big Rapids and attended Central Michigan University to pursue a marketing degree. After living in New York City for a short time, Anne moved back to earn a teaching degree at Ferris State University. She taught for a few years before marrying and starting a family in the Big Rapids area. Anne currently manages the business and industry division of Nocti Business Solutions. In her spare time, Anne volunteers at St. Peter’s Lutheran School and Church and enjoys watching her boys participate in all of their sporting events!
Sarah VanAlstine, Member at Large
I came to Big Rapids in 1994 to attend Ferris State and fell in love with the State of Michigan. I married Andy VanAlstine, a loving and generous man. We have two boys Colby (14 years old) and Blake (12 years old). We love the outdoors and especially enjoy fishing, waterfowl and deer hunting. For the last 12 years, I’ve worked for Wesco where I am presently an Operation Supervisor. I’m passionate about giving back to my community. Working together and taking care of each other is what makes a community strong. I first got involved with Angles of Action because I love mission of this organization.
Marian Benedict, Secretary
I moved to Big Rapids in 1975 with my family when my father, after a 26-year career in the U.S. Air Force, retired and located back to his home town. A few years later, I met my husband, a Big Rapids native, to whom I have been married for 36 years. We raised 3 children and now have 3 grand children. I was the school secretary at St. Peter’s Lutheran School for many years. Over the years, I served terms as Financial Secretary and Chairman of the Board of Education for the school.
Growing up in an Air Force family, we moved every two years and lived in many different states and countries. Many of these experiences instilled in me a great sense of compassion. I look forward to being part of this Angels of Action because it helps our community’s children.
I like to spend my free time cooking, kayaking, traveling and spending time with my kids and grand kids.