Our Team

Picture of Michelle Kees, PhD

Michelle Kees, PhD
Principal Investigator
View Bio

Dr. Michelle Kees is a Clinical Psychologist and Associate Professor in the Department of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry at the University of Michigan. She holds a Without Compensation (WOC) appointment at the Ann Arbor Veterans Affairs Medical Center (VA), and an Adjunct Appointment in the Department of Psychology at the University of Michigan. Dr. Kees’ expertise centers on risk and resilience in women and families, including female veterans and military spouses; peer programs supporting veterans on college campuses; and large-scale evaluation and dissemination of evidence-based programs. She is the Principal Investigator for HomeFront Strong, a Department of Defense funded resiliency intervention for military and veteran spouses and their children. Dr. Kees also leads a resiliency program for women veterans, After Her Service, that focuses on the intersection of mental health and professional success. Additionally, she oversees Peer Advisors for Veteran Education (PAVE), a national peer mentorship program for student veterans returning to college on the Post 9-11 GI Bill. Dr. Kees received her PhD in Clinical Psychology at SUNY Stony Brook, completed a clinical internship at Children’s Memorial Hospital in Chicago, IL, and completed a 2-year postdoctoral fellowship at the Center on Child Abuse & Neglect at the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center. She has been at the University of Michigan for 17 years, and was a founding member of M-SPAN in 2008.  She is also the spouse of a former National Guard soldier.

Photo of Kali Lake

Kali Lake, MSW
Program Manager
View Bio

Kali Lake is a Program Manager for Peer Advisors for Veteran Education (PAVE), a peer support program for student veterans offered through Military Support Programs and Networks (M-SPAN) at the University of Michigan. Ms. Lake oversees the implementation of the PAVE program, including supporting partner campuses, building partnerships, and managing program grants. She was involved in the initial design and development of PAVE as a Program Coordinator when the program formed in 2012 and rejoined the M-SPAN team in 2020. Ms. Lake completed both her Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in Social Work at the University of North Dakota. She also has experience as Director of Operations for the North Dakota Air National Guard where she was responsible for day-to-day leadership and management of 60 targeting analysts, and provided oversight for developing long-term training, intelligence, and readiness plans. Ms. Lake has over 19 years combined experience between her time in the Army and Air Force. She joined the ND Army National Guard as a Combat Medic in 2001. She later transferred to the ND Air National Guard and was a firefighter from 2004-2013. During that time, she deployed to Iraq and worked there with Iraqi firefighters on developing training. In 2013, she received her commission as an intelligence officer.


Brittany Risk, LMSW
Program Manager
View Bio

Brittany Risk is a Program Manager for Peer Advisors for Veteran Education (PAVE). Ms. Risk began as the Program Coordinator for PAVE in 2013, and was then promoted to Program Manager in 2014. She has held a lead role in the program’s expansion and development of the curriculum and hybrid technology training model. She currently oversees the sustainability planning and grants management of the program. As an appointee of the Governor, she served on the Michigan Board of Social Work from 2016 through 2019. Additionally, she has been Field Instructor for the University of Michigan School of Social Work. Ms. Risk completed her Bachelor’s Degree in Social Work at Michigan State University, and earned her Master’s Degree in Social Work at the University of Michigan. Ms. Risk also has experience as a Project Coordinator at the Department of Veterans Affairs implementing programmatic research in the areas of veteran mental health, inpatient psychiatry, and substance abuse. She is interested in reducing stigma and barriers to care through innovative approaches for service members, veterans, and their families.

Photo of Riva Riva Szostkowski

Riva Szostkowski, MFA
Program Coordinator
View Bio

Riva Szostkowski is the Project Coordinator for Peer Advisors for Veteran Education (PAVE). She is responsible for supporting the partner campus teams in the implementation and delivery of the program. A veteran herself, Ms. Szostkowski served as an aircraft maintainer in the Air Force for 8 years. She completed her Bachelor's Degree in English at the University of Michigan in 2017 and her Master's of Fine Arts in Creative Writing at Texas State University in 2020. Since separating from active duty, Ms. Szostkowski has been involved with several national veterans organizations and knows firsthand how instrumental veteran-specific programs are. She believes that everyone can be successful with the right resources and support, and she is interested in connecting veterans with the tools they need to succeed.

Chrysta Meadowbrooke, MA, MSI
Senior Research Specialist
View Bio

Chrysta Meadowbrooke is the Senior Research Specialist for M-SPAN, working on research and evaluation for multiple projects, including Peer Advisors for Veteran Education, HomeFront Strong, and After Her Service. She earned her MS in Information at University of Michigan and her MA in Clinical Psychology at Antioch University. Through several years of experience with community-based health and clinical research projects, Ms. Meadowbrooke has developed skills in both qualitative and quantitative research, such as study design and management, data collection through surveys and interviews, and data analysis. Her professional and personal experiences with veterans and military families help strengthen her person-centered approach to research and her commitment to helping people improve their quality of life.

Photo of Alyssa Wealty

Alyssa Wealty, MA
Communications and Marketing Manager
View Bio

Alyssa Wealty is the Communications and Marketing Manager for PAVE and coordinates the various marketing communications activities for it and all M-SPAN programs. As a native of Military City, USA (San Antonio, Texas), veteran spouse, and former military base employee, Ms. Wealty has a firsthand appreciation of service members, their families, and the sacrifices they make for our country. She earned a Bachelor’s degree in English and Communications from St. Mary’s University and a Master’s degree in Integrated Marketing Communications from Marist College and has diverse experience working in marketing communications, particularly for non-profit organizations. She focuses on how to use strategic, targeted communications to increase PAVE’s reach and connection to its partner campuses as well as the student veterans it serves.

Photo of Iris Hadziegric

Iris Hadziegric, BA
Research Assistant
View Bio

Iris Hadziegric is a Research Assistant for all M-SPAN programs, assisting with implementation and evaluation activities such as data collection, review, and analyses. Additionally, she provides support to the PAVE's communications and program coordination activities. She graduated from the University of Michigan with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology and continues to pursue a focus on understanding the adverse experiences that individuals face, as well as ways to positively influence the outcomes that may follow. Prior to joining the M-SPAN staff, Ms. Hadziegric volunteered on the child team for HomeFront Strong. Her educational studies, past research experiences, and volunteer work with at-risk individuals and unique populations have all led her to M-SPAN, where she has become interested in working to reduce mental health stigma for service members, veterans, and their families.

Photo of Emma Czajka

Emma Czajka, BS
Research Assistant
View Bio

Emma Czajka is a Research Assistant for all M-SPAN programs, assisting with implementation and evaluation activities such as data collection, review, and analyses. She completed a Bachelor of Science degree in Biopsychology, Cognition, and Neuroscience with a minor in Biology from the University of Michigan in 2019. Prior to joining the M-SPAN staff, Ms. Czajka volunteered on the child team for HomeFront Strong and assisted with After Her Service research. Her educational pursuits, volunteer work with M-SPAN, and experience as part of a military family have all fostered her desire to help improve the mental health and well-being of service members, veterans, and their families.